how much editing do you pros include?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by BekahAura, May 24, 2010.

  1. BekahAura

    BekahAura TPF Noob!

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    I'm working on starting my own business, and so far I have business cards, and the start of a website. When I finish that up I'm going to start a promotion for free sessions that include a CD of the images in exchange for model releases. (I know how you guys frown upon giving so much away, but I need to build a decent portfolio before I can justify charging people)

    I currently use the levels adjustment in Photoshop to edit my photos, and I'm worried that this may not be enough. Should I be doing more than this? I do know how to retouch with the cloning tool, but I think it would be too time consuming to retouch every proof, and I planned on doing this for an additional charge. Good idea? Bad idea?

    Tell me what editing techniques you use on your proofs so I can do some web research and learn more about editing photos. (what comes standard for each of your clients). I want to impress these people so I can get recommendations from them in the future.

    Any help is appreciated!
     
  2. JasonLambert

    JasonLambert TPF Noob!

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    Build your portfolio and your reputation by producing the best photographs that you can and don't worry about how much work or time you put into them.
     
  3. BekahAura

    BekahAura TPF Noob!

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    I guess I contradicted myself there, huh? LOL Your absolutely right, if the photos need retouching I will just do it. At least for this beginning stage in my career.

    Thanks
     
  4. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I do general retouching (blemishes, smile lines, etc.) on absolutely every portrait I print. I don't retouch previews (proofs) nor do I sell files to retail customers.

    For my commercial work, I prepare one completed file of each view.

    -Pete
     
  5. Azriel

    Azriel TPF Noob!

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    For my portraits, I remove blemishes, bags under the eyes and smile lines. If it's a studio shot or I've used off camera flash, I'll whiten and adjust the eye colour, and then do an overall skin smoothening.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Most successful businesses start with a business plan and don't give anything away until the "Grand Opening". An old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

    Giving away your time and work to build a portfolio has repeatedly been shown to be mostly ineffective and quickly establishes you as a freebe photographer. Raising prices in very much more difficult than lowering them.

    Offer a 50% discount as a 'portfolio building' discount. Charge full price for the sitting fee, which is your time. You don't sell the images, you sell yourself.

    Many people seem to think a photography business is somehow different from other businesses. It's not.

    It's little wonder so many fail or wind up being a hobby business because the photographer never actually makes any money, having to support the hobby business with a day job.

    If you start taking federal tax deductions for your 'business', be mindful the IRS may want that money back in 3 or 4 years if you don't meet their definitions of a business (profitability), as opposed to their defiinitions of a hobby.

    Which begs the question....Why do you think you need model releases?

    You can sell photos of anyone and anything whether or not you have a model release. The key word there is sell. Model releases are required by 'publishers'. Publishers of images need model releases. Photographers don't need model releases, unless they are the publisher.

    Does self-promotion constitute publishing, or 'advertising', or commercial use?

    - Dan Heller, author A Digital Photographers Guide to Model Releases (page 127)

    Be aware, if people in your images are perceived as being advocates or sponsors of your business, you need a model release. (page 127/128)

    Sounds like you're giving away the store, to get something you don't really need.

    I recommend a concerted effort to better understand what starting a business entails.

    A couple of great resources are www.sba.gov and www.score.org, check them both out. :thumbup::D
     
  7. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'll couch this by first pointing out that I am not a pro as defined by making 51+% of my income w/ photography.

    To answer your question, you need as much editing as it takes to say that the image is the best you could produce. Not just 1 image, but all you deliver to your client b/c each and every image is, in effect, your calling card out there everyone who sees it to criticize and decide to choose you for their next event or to pass on you. So it depends on your quality straight out of the camera. Is your philosophy similar to that of the film folks "one shot one kill" and you actually take time w/ composition, lighting, posing, etc. Or do you "spray and pray" ...shoot 1000 shots hoping for 100 decent ones and of those hope that photoshop will cover your mistakes.

    Honestly, I rarely use the level adjustment as a correction tool. If shooting with the mindset that you are going to get as much right in the camera as possible, your white balance and levels, at the minimum should be right in camera. The editing should probably consist of saturation adjustment, maybe vibrance/contrast, and sharpening. Cloning should be limited to what you can not correct in camera such as blemishes, scars (if they want them removed) and the like. You shouldn't be cloning out things you missed (clutter in background, trees growing out of heads, etc). I would think that most pros probably have created a quick action that they batch process the majority of their pics with and then hand edit a small amount from there. The action would include the things I've already mentioned like saturation, contrast, vibrance, etc.
     
  8. BekahAura

    BekahAura TPF Noob!

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    Keith,

    Your post has been really helpful, you brought up a lot of issues I had thought about, but never really dedicated any time to. I had no idea that I don't need a model release to post pictures on my web portfolio. I was really concerned because I have a lot of pictures of kids (I've done a few birthday parties) and I didn't want to deal with getting sued by a parent for using these images.

    I will definitely check out those sites. I am serious about making photography my main source of income, and I want to do it right! Thanks a lot for your input.

    Johnboy,

    My philosophy is somewhere between the two you described. I do take time to arrange things and pose people, but sometimes I forget to examine the whole picture, and I get an odd photo with a distracting element in the background. I also like to shoot a lot of photos. But not near 1,000.

    When I said retouching, I meant blemishes and scars, not so much the backgrounds I mess up. I don't always use levels, but I always check my histogram to see if there is any empty space. I sometimes use contrast, but I will definitely try out saturation and vibrance. Thanks for these suggestions!

    I do aim to get the picture right when I shoot it, I'd rather not rely on Photoshop at all. I just want to have the ability to fix something if I need to. Hopefully with practice I'll get better at seeing the whole picture before I click the shutter.

    Thanks guys!
     
  9. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Bekah

    You have received some good info here to get you thinking of the business side of business.

    I have helped thousands prepare and procure licensing to get into business for themselves. Here are a couple of questions I ask them to think about the first day I work with them.

    1. Are you sure you want to go into business for yourself?
    2. What does it mean to be in business for yourself?
    3. Have you crossed the street to see just how green the grass really is?
    4. How many more hours are you prepared to work once you own the business?
    5. Did you calculate what your hourly rate will really be once you figure out how many hours you may actually be working where you are not producing money?
    6. Where is your business plan?
    7. How much money have you put aside to work the business?
    8. Are you aware of the tax structures?
    9. Do you have a relationship with a good insurance company?
    10. Have you spoken with an industry attorney to help you with a contract that protects you, not your clients?

    The list does go on, but I think you get the idea.
    I have seen people who try to take a hobby and turn it into a business and some wind up hating the business side of it. If you cannot make the business side work you stand a chance of losing a lot of money and time.

    Bekah
    We are from the same area. There are a ton of "professionals", take a peek on the internet and phone books. Peekskill has a whole community of photographers.

    Even with all that, I wish you well.
     
  10. mcopan

    mcopan TPF Noob!

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    pbelarge has got the right idea. I have also seen a friend who was a good photographer try and make a business out of it and it didn't fly.

    There is so many things to worry about. Especially budget. From my friends experience he spent hundreds of dollars on buying a fancy easy to remember domain and then sprending thousands of hours keeping the site fresh.

    In the long run he didn't have any business plan or for that matter knowledge. The websites are still being hosted but haven't been updated or making money in a long time, and the friend has dropped off the face of earth because he running away from collectors since his so called business only built up debt.

    I don't mean to scare you but plan it out. Maybe start building the business plan while working on getting published and building a portfolio.
     
  11. BekahAura

    BekahAura TPF Noob!

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    Pierre,

    I appreciate your addition to this thread on some more things I should take into consideration. I have looked through the phone book and I know there is a lot of competition out there. I understand that there will be much more to do than simply shooting photos. I'm a very organized person, and I think I will enjoy the business side almost as much as the photography. My father is an underwater photographer and just started experimenting with astrophotography (as hobbies), but he also runs his own business that has nothing to do with photography. He's been my mentor so far.

    My plan is to spend as little money as possible, until I start making money. The equipment I have now will be sufficient for now. I've read "The Business of Studio Photography" by Edward R. Lilley. So I'm not completely in the dark when it comes to the business side of things. I'm probably going to read it again to help me organize my own plan. Browsing through random photographer's websites has also given me some great ideas for promotions once I start charging.

    I do have plans... they just aren't organized yet. I'll get there. A couple of months ago I took pictures of my friend's grandson and I gave a CD to the family. I just found out today his mom wants to hire me for her father's 60th b-day party! Hey it's a good start.

    I appreciate everyone's concern, but you haven't made me concerned... just more determined to succeed. Thanks for all your helpful advice.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    That's the ticket! :thumbup::D
     

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