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Why is Editing as Important as the Photo Shoot?

Benjamin Kanarek , Jul 23, 2009; 08:04 p.m.

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!"

Fear of Death


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Kate Callahan , Jul 23, 2009; 11:22 p.m.

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

Gary Watson , Jul 24, 2009; 07:31 a.m.

What's up with these expository pieces you're suddenly "publishing" on PN and elsewhere?

Charles Heckel , Jul 24, 2009; 03:38 p.m.

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.

Jeff Marten , Jul 26, 2009; 12:55 a.m.

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?

Tom Meyer , Jul 26, 2009; 01:01 a.m.

Who cares? Let the man go if he wants.

Don't read it if you don't like it. Loosen up... t

Gary Watson , Jul 26, 2009; 11:24 a.m.

Google him, Tom--and tell us what you see. He's using PN like a Kleenex.

Jeff Marten , Jul 26, 2009; 02:04 p.m.

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.

Tom Meyer , Jul 26, 2009; 04:23 p.m.

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

Steve Levine , Jul 26, 2009; 05:21 p.m.

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.

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