Good editing, trade secret revealed.

I believe it was Jay Maisel one of the all time great photographers, who once said  “good editing was next to godliness”. It is so true in our business, but so many people seem not to have gotten the message. Daily I see photographers advertising that you get every shot they take on a disk. Or if you’re based in the USA wedding coverages with a guaranteed minimum of 5000 photos.

Can you imagine 5000 photos of a wedding… I can and it’s not pretty.

The art of photography, if there is and art to it is in editing. However lots of people are scared of editing. Even our clients who decide that they prefer one picture over another will often ask that we keep the non hero picture, because they might want to order it one day. Of course one day never comes, because if it wasn’t interesting enough to order first time around… there is little chance of the rejected shot being elevated to hero status at some later date.

When I work one on one with a portrait client, I often take several images of a pose. People mistake this as just taking as many photos as you can to hopefully get one that is ok. However with adults, it is morea case of working toward getting my subject comfortable and into the flow of things. Generally I would edit out the preliminary photos, although while I’m editing excitations work I edit entirely differently to editing for Ian Mckenzie. Working for excitations dictates that I leave a good selection of images in after an  edit. If I was to edit a portrait session for myself, my preference would be to edit down to maybe half a dozen strong images.

When shooting a wedding we try to capture the day, including all the must have images, even if those images are not strong. Telling a story of the day is what photographers do. The hard part for me is getting all the must have pictures often takes me away from getting the WOW pictures. And when it come to editing a wedding shoot a lot of images, while not bad photos as such, are included in the final selection, not because of their pictorial strengths, but because they are a record  of the day. Never will they see the light of day as enlargements or parts of an album coverage, instead being nothing more than small slices of time captured forever as a reminder of someones special day.

High contrast black and white grainy photo of groom smoking a cigar. Photogrphy by excitations, all rights reserved.
Often on a wedding shoot the edit process starts early. I’m actually editing when I decide whether or not to shoot a particular sequence or event. The rule is if in dought, shoot it, because you can always edit something out but never edit a shot not taken back in. With this image of Anthony, enjoying a Cigar with his grooms men, we shot probably 20 images as it was primarily a video set up. Natuarally we had to set the scene with a couple of wide frames showing the whole group. However the shot for me was always going to be the groom. I wanted to single Anthony out from all the noise going on, get a good shot of him and short of tell the story in one shot. I deliberately framed Anthony to one side of the frame and looking out of frame, so that the majority of the picture was empty background. The empty background was my attempt at saying, here is Anthony spending quality time with his group, totally involved with them and largely oblivious to everything else going on around him. Incamera editing we call it. Decisions made on the run taking only a few seconds to make and execute. This image made it into the final edit process, the wide safe shots did not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.