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Proofs vs. Edited Final Images
|Two questions I frequently hear in the photography industry center around 1) how much editing should be done to an image before it gets shown to a client and 2) how many images should you show them.
Regarding the first question, some photographers feel that clients can't envision what an image could be unless you show it to them fully-edited while others will say that any editing you do to an image before a client sees it is purely speculative and a potential misuse of valuable time if they don't order it. I used to swear by the first school of thought, but earlier this year I found myself buying into the 2nd approach. I see the merits of both postions, though, and ultimately for me the answer lies somewhere closer to the middle. As a result, the process I've adopted that I feel yields the best results is to fully edit/retouch ~10 images before clients come in for their viewing & orderings session, and the rest of the images I show have minimal editing done to them (primarily minor exposure and white balance adjustments and cropping, if needed) to get them to a proof state.. When I show images for the first time at their appointment, I emphasize to my clients that I'm looking for their favorite images based only on expression and composition. I inform and assure them any images they select for a product they purchase will be fully retouched, and I refer to the sample images on the wall in my gallery room as well as the ~10 fully-edited images I've created from their session as examples.
Admittedly this works really well for repeat clients as they are familar with my work and I've already built that level of trust with them, but even most new clients are savvy enough to envision what their final images will look like when they can see a few examples.
About the 2nd question regarding how many images to show, I'll raise my hand and admit that I used to be a card-carrying member "the-more-images-I-show-the-happier-my-clients-will-be" club. On top of that I was fully-retouching every image I showed, so it didn't take long before I was starting to experience burnout. I felt like I had to show a lot of images so that my clients would have a lot of variety to choose from and that more variety = more satisfied clients. In reality, though, more often than not I was finding the more images I showed, the more overwhelming the ordering sessions became because they had too many choices and were afraid of making the wrong ones. With the investment they were making in custom photography, it was easy for them to start worrying that they were going to have buyer's remorse with so many choices. Clients (and I) would get stressed out and mentally fatigued at their ordering session. People like simple, clear choices. This is why nearly every fast-food chain has gone to a simple number-based ordering system... it's uncomplicated with a few options to choose from. Easy.
So, all that to say I typically show approximately 25 images (~10 fully-edited) when clients come in to view their images, and I also present a few recommendations to them based on things we discussed in their pre-session consultation. It's been a win-win situation for everyone involved.
To give a frame of reference of what I'm referring to when I talk about proofs vs. fully-edited images, below are a few examples.
In this first set, the proof image is generally pretty good, but you can see a few blotchy skin areas on little Cassidy that needed to be retouched for the final image. In addition I added a little more contrast, saturation and warmth in the final edit.
In this next example, the couple was slightly underexposed in the proof, and the image in general lacked a little of the warmth and contrast I typically like my images to have. I also felt the composition of the final image was a little stronger when the image was cropped to put their shadow closer to the lower right corner.
Occasionally 2 is better than one. As a photographer, I always want to get everything just right in a single image, but sometimes it just doesn't work out (especially when younger kiddos are involved). In the images below, I loved Hayley's look and her wind-blown hair in the first image, but I liked Juston's expression better in the 2nd image. In this case I was able to swap heads in Photoshop because the images were taken at the same angle and distance and with the same lighting conditions, and I think the final retouched black & white version of the image turned out really well.
In this last eaxample, I wanted the image to have more of a fine art feel to it, but there were a couple things I needed to do first for the final image. I started by editing out the white stripes in the sweater to create a cleaner image with less distraction from the important parts of the image. Secondly, I retouched the skin a bit. To give it a more timeless feel, I converted the image to a black & white, added back some warmth, and then overlayed a couple textures to polish off the image. For this type of finish, I typically fully-edit at least one image like this to help the client see what an image looks like with this treatment since it's a bit more involved than a typical fully-edited image and a little harder to imagine.
New Product - Pimp Your Phone
WHAT: For Clients
| WHEN: March 2, 2010
|Here's a fun new product I'm excited to offer to clients as of today. Customize your phone with a favorite session image and add another to your phone's display background. Then be prepared for an onslaught of phone envy. Don't have an iPhone? No worries, we can pimp out almost any of the newer model phones, so make sure to ask about your phone at your next session!
Remembrance Fine Art Albums
|One of my favorite ways to capture the story of my clients - whether it be a bride & groom, an afternoon with a family or a newborn's first year - is through a remembrance album. These are one of a kind, handmade fine art pieces that are truly a memoir to be handed down from generation to generation.
The cover material options are amazing with more than enough combinations of styles and materials to create a statement that is both stunning and uniquely you. The 1/8" thick pages with full-bleed (edge-to-edge) printing lay flat for a seamless spread that showcases your breathtaking images in a clean, modern and timeless layout. And to top it off, your album is both protected and presented using beautiful sustainable materials like those shown below.
After shedding the presentation/protective jacket, revealed is a memoir that is as much a piece of art as it is a collection of your most precious memories.
A closeup detail of the stunning cover materials. There are many options and combinations available to suit your design taste.
Legacy Series Fine Art Portraits
WHAT: For Clients, News
| WHEN: October 4, 2009
|One of my favorite pieces to create for my clients is the Legacy Series Fine Art Portrait. Much more than a traditional print,it is truly a work of art. Starting from a single image from your session or a personal image you already own (and have the rights to reproduce), I'll add digitally hand-painted colors, texture elements and words to craft an image that tells a personal story about you. All Legacy Series Portraits are printed on canvas or premium fine art water-color paper for an heirloom-quality finish.
Recently, my friend Rachel came to me wanting to surprise her husband Jordan with an awesome birthday/1st anniversary gift. I talked with her about doing a Legacy Series Fine Art Portrait from one of the images her photographer took at their wedding, and it was exactly the kind of unique, timeless gift she had in mind. We discussed a couple different images and ideas and a few weeks later, I was really excited to present to her this 40" canvas gallery wrap. For this particular piece, Rachel and Jordan had written their own vows to each other, so those vows are interwoven as a texture element in the final product. I also chose to remove several elements from the original image and crop it in tighter so the eye is quickly drawn to where it should be, on Rachel & Jordan.
The Final Image:
New Holiday Card Design
WHAT: For Clients, News
| WHEN: October 2, 2009
|Usually I don't start thinking about Christmas until about the 2nd week in December, but Kylie let me know the other day she's already got her gift list started. What? It's October 3rd?? There's still 91 days before Christmas! I knew what was coming next... "What do you want for Christmas?" It's October 3rd. I don't even know what I want for dinner tonight, let alone something that's over 2 and a half months away.
I seriously do admire Kylie's planning skills. Lord knows if she had the same planning aptitude I do, it might be December 27th before we remembered it was Christmas.
Thanks to my wife mentioning the holidays, I was reminded it's that time. Time to get the holiday card juices flowing to have some shiny new models ready for my clients this season. I thought I'd post of one the newbies I've created. FYI, the website URL in the lower corners of these images does not appear on printed cards.