Why is Editing as Important as the Photo Shoot?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by my stuff, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Why is Editing as Important as the Photo Shoot?

    I decided writing this essay after going through close to twelve hundred (1200) images this afternoon. Why? Because I want to share with you the importance of editing and how it defines what your style is and what your state of mind was at the time of your decision to make the choices you made. I have observed that depending on the time of day, the mood I am in and how I am feeling about myself will have a dramatic effect on the choices I will make. When having to make that very important decision it is important to be aware of the state of mind you are in. If you are willing to make the commitment at the time you are editing, that will be what those who view your image as you the artist photographer will see. They will interpret you and your work based on that juncture in time. That is why I usually go through several stages during the editing process.

    1. The adaptation period which is based on the first 10-20 images per series. This is where I observe the images and get a general feel of what I might expect from the expression of the model, general sense of composition and overall feel.

    2. The settling in period. Where I am finding indicators of where I think a sequence is going and I am starting to define preferences.

    3. The marking of choices marked and noted generally from 3 to 5 stars. I am usually overly generous at the onset, until I see a knock me out shot, where I then go back and mark the now not so great image accordingly.

    4. The moving of the selects in to a separate file.

    5. A resting period. I do not look at the images for a few hours before making the final choices.

    6. The final selects from a reduced selection from the original selections.

    7. The commencement of the post production

    The editing process really expresses more about you than what was expressed during the actual photo production.

    Photo shoots are frenetic at best and there are a multiplicity of concerns that do not allow me to delve as deeply in to the scenario as does the editing process. It is akin to shooting a film and viewing the rushes. My general rule of thumb is, if I have not gotten that "WOW" moment during the shooting of a sequence, I keep shooting till I do. If I don't, I know that the only thing that will save that sequence is a good rational or some damn innovative editing and post production work.

    The photo shoot and production is not over until the editing and post production is completed. If you have poorly edited your images the outcome could be catastrophic. I cannot tell you how often a good editing job made the difference between an OK acceptably professional job and something very unique and special. If you saw some of the out takes of mine you would understand why choices in editing are so important. I could use all of the RAW material from the same photo shoot and produce what would look like two totally different photographers. Moods expressed as cold and detached to intense and passionate from exactly the same source.

    That is why I said that the editing of the photo shoot or film is an extension of who you are and were during that process. Your mind set and emotional state at the time can be seen by those with discerning eyes.

    I will end this by a little story. A wonderful Art Director named Martin Schmolgruber from Madame Figaro Magazine once said to me after I presented my photos to him the following, "I see you quit smoking Benjamin..." I said yeah I did, how did you know?" He responded, "I could tell by your images!"

  2. The sun could rise and set and I wouldn't even know it. That's what happens when I start working in Photoshop. I love post-production work. The editing of my images is so important to me. It's always interesting to hear how others work. Thanks for taking the time to share! - Kate
  3. What's up with these expository pieces you're suddenly "publishing" on PN and elsewhere?
  4. As I recall, Henri Cartier-Bresson used to say a contact sheet of 36 exposures that had a single frame worth printing was a good contact sheet, so the winnowing process is indeed critical. On the other hand, a very good photography school used to require its students to use 4x5 view cameras partly to make sure as much as possible that the winnowing process occurred before pressing the shutter release. HCB did candids, the school emphasized setup shots, so it's clearly a matter of the appropriate strokes for different folks.
    I used to do a fair amount of studio work, mostly theater portraiture, so it was a collaborative process involving a lot of shots and going up a lot of alleys (mostly blind, of course). In going through the shots, I'd usually find the wowser near the end of a sequence, and if my best shots were at the beginning of a sequence, I'd feel that we hadn't been able to zero in on the decisive element, that the actors and I were somehow adrift.
  5. Excellent question, Gary! Ben, you are beginning to be to PN what Charles Winchester was to MASH 4077, only in a far less amusing and lovable way. Can't someone reign in these self aggrandizing threads of the great Mr. Kanarek?
  6. Who cares? Let the man go if he wants.
    Don't read it if you don't like it. Loosen up... t
  7. Google him, Tom--and tell us what you see. He's using PN like a Kleenex.
  8. I guess that, ultimately, you're right, Tom. After all, Ben's approach isn't too acerbic, just self serving.
    As for me, I suppose I'd be inclinded to be less critical if he were less inclined to stroke his ego with every thread he starts. That said, I still look to see just what, if anything, can be gleaned from everything I read on PN, including Benjamin's long-running infomercials.
  9. Exactly my point, it's a free for all (except for the P of TW forum).
    Caveat emptor... and double your money back if you don't like what a mouse click gets you.
    Moderators will clean it up when the sheer volume becomes an issue (which I'm bettin will be soon). There's a difference between contributing and exploiting... t
  10. After years of shooting weddings on film. I have learned to "edit in the viewfinder". I think that digital has encouraged the opposite of this. Many now shoot and pray that something good will emerge from their over-shooting.
  11. Personally, I enjoy these articles.
  12. I find that I shoot a lot less shooting digital, as I can see very quickly after thinking I got the shot, if in fact I did get the shot. When using 35mm film, I would shoot a minimum of 3-4 rolls and 5-7 rolls of 120 film when shooting Medium Format film. Even though shooting polaroids to test the light, I would have to wait to see the clip tests than another 1/2 for the final slides. That is why I shot more film. Better safe than sorry. Digital tells me immediately if I have succeeded. I am shooting between 30-60 shots with digital for a single page image. That is around half that of classic film.
  13. I start my photo editing the day after the photo shoot when my head is clear of the hard work I put into the shoot. I always look at my photos after 8:00 PM because I think that time I am the most creative/open minded. I will play some music; have a cup of coffee or glass of wine in my hand. Sit back, relax in from of the LCD screen and 'pretend' I am not the photographer of the photographs I about to review. I am someone that has to select the best photos about the project the photo shoot was about.
    After I select the photos I go back with my photographer’s hat. Why because my style of shooting a day shoot there can be around 1,200 – 1,600 photos and is a record of the photo shoot in still photos. I look for what I did right, what I did wrong and learn for it.
  14. Well said. If I have to use the analogy between film and digital photography, a RAW file is a negative and digital editing is the develop + printing process. As a digital shooter, post-processing skill is as important as shooting skill.
  15. Editing is just as important as the shoot because it allows you the power to emphasized the photo's strong elements while eliminating or diminishing the photo's weak aspects. It's often the difference between excellence and mediocrity. Interesting article, Benjamin.

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