FAQ: What happens after the shoot?
After almost every shoot, I talk to my clients about what's next and when they can expect to receive their photos. I decided that this might make for a good FAQ, and it might also be helpful for clients as a reference in case they forget. This will also provide a more in-depth look at I put into editing.
The first thing I do is I put the files onto the computer. This normally happens the second I get home, but sometimes I have another shoot, or life happens and i won't get the files imported until a day or two after the shoot. Once all of the files have been imported, I go through them and delete any photo that's out of focus, has someone making a weird face or might not have been ready for the photo, and photos that are the same as another. Usually I keep anywhere from 25%-50% of the photos that end up being imported. I usually go through the photos two-three times until all of the photos that don't meet my standards have been deleted. During this, I also make very quick, general adjustments. Typically, this means getting the exposure in the ballpark, and maybe adjusting the contrast, but that's about it. This entire process can take anywhere from an hour or two up to a week or two, depending on the amount of photos.
The next thing that'll happen, is I'll send the client an email with a link to the photos that are remaining. These photos are rough edits (also commonly referred to as "proofs"). I send the rough edits to the client either so they can choose which photos they'd like, or to give the client a general idea of how the photos turned out. While looking through the rough edits, please keep in mind that they're exactly that and not the final product. Since the photos haven't really been edited yet, this isn't necessarily the time to point out things or make a final judgement on them, since they're nowhere close to being done. This is especially true for converting files to black and white. If a photo needs to be converted to black and white, chances are I won't know for sure until I begin the final edits. On that note, the only reason I convert files to black and white is if it makes sense. I've had clients ask me to convert files with absolutely beautiful colors in them to black and white before.
By the time the client has received the link to the rough edits and looked at them, chances are I've already started the final edits. This is where the bulk of the post-processing occurs. I go through each and every photo, adjusting things such as exposure, contrast, white balance, the angle of the photo, cropping if necessary, chromatic aberration, removing anything that doesn't belong, reducing the amount of noise, adjusting the sharpness, smoothing the skin if necessary, whitening teeth if necessary, enhancing the eyes if necessary, and any other necessary adjustments. This entire process takes about an hour for every hour I spent shooting, except for portraits. Editing portraits usually takes 45 minutes of editing for every 15 minutes I spent shooting.
I usually go through the photos and make adjustments until it gets to the point that I'm just going through the files and not changing anything. This usually doesn't happen until I've gone through the photos six or seven times. When I first started, I'd send the photos to the client at this point. What would typically happen though, is I'd look at the photo and realize I missed something, or something didn't look as good as I thought anymore. It didn't take me long to realize it was better to have the client wait an extra day to receive their photos than to receive two batches of final edits from me. Now I wait at least a day after I think I'm done to make sure I like the way the photos turned out.
After I make sure I like the final edits, I send a link to the client. This is probably the best time for the client to make requests, since I've done pretty much everything to the photos that I'm going to. Please keep in mind though, I've just spent hours and hours getting these photos as close to perfect as I possibly can. If I didn't do something a certain way, there's probably a reason. With that being said, it's always possible that I missed something, so definitely feel free to ask.
An example that comes to mind that's always a tough call are birthmarks/moles/scars in portraits. If something is permanently present on someone, I almost always leave it. Sometimes, a client wants it removed though, which isn't a big deal. Examples of requests that I usually don't end up doing are black and white conversions, which I already touched on, and cropping. There's a direct correlation between cropping and reduced image quality. The more a photo is cropped, the lower the quality of the photo. Usually, a photo can be cropped a certain amount before the drop in image quality is all that noticeable. If a photo needs to be cropped, I'll usually take it up to this point. A lot of times though, I won't crop a photo at all, so again, it doesn't hurt to ask. Another reason why I might not crop a photo, is that cropping a photo can completely change the way a photo looks and feels. It's pretty likely that while I was doing the file edits, I played around with the composition of the photo if it seemed too far away, or seemed like it might benefit by being composed differently. If the photo benefited from being cropped, it was left, and if it didn't it was reset to the way it was. It's important to keep in mind that this is all very general though, and that it is quite possible a photo might benefit from being converted to black and white, cropped differently, or changed in any other way. I know I've said this a million times now, but the best thing to do is ask. If a client makes a request, I'll always try it. If it doesn't work out, I'll let the client know and explain why. Honestly though, I think I've had clients request I change something three or four times in the past four years. It happens very rarely.
If the client is satisfied with the final edits, I'll most likely go through them one more time just to make sure. If the final edits still look good to me, I'll send them to the client either as an email attachment, or on a CD, depending on how many files there are. This entire process can take as little as three or four days, or up to four or five weeks depending on how many photos there are and how busy I am with other shoots.
As you can probably tell, I put a lot of time and effort into editing and trying to create the highest quality work for my clients. I've always felt that post-processing is crucial to making good photographs, so I'm always surprised if I hear a photographer doesn't edit their work at all. I hope this post answered any questions you might have about what goes into editing!
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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary.
Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.
In 2016, expertise.com ranked Dan Pomykalski Photography the 2nd best portrait photographer in Madison, WI out of 204 others in the area.
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