A lot of our clients are curious about the work that goes into the photos after we're done shooting. We're glad to share the details of that process, because we believe the development of the image is nearly as important as the capture of it. As Ansel Adams observed, if the negative were a musical score, the print would be its performance. We want to portray the best possible performance for every moment we capture.
Before we dive into developing the images, we have arguably the most important step of all—making sure the original captures are stored safely. We've listened to other photographers tell the story of their lost wedding, but luckily we've never had a story of our own to share...even after record-breaking tornadoes swept through our neighborhood in 2011. This is why.
As soon as the shoot is over, we take the memory cards out of the cameras and store them safely away from the rest of our gear. If there's a theft or accident after the shoot, we at least want to make sure we still have the photos.
Then we download the cards and two separate backups begin. The first is an automatic onsite backup onto a separate drive. This is primarily to protect against the failure of our primary working drive, and against accidental deletion. The second backup is over the internet to Backblaze, our offsite backup facility located in California. Until recently, it could take up to a week to upload the 30-40 GBs we generate from a typical shoot, but with the tremendous speed now offered by fiber optics, this step takes just hours.
So in a matter hours from the initial download, the images are safely stored on three separate drives and on opposites sides of the country. And the backup process is completely automated, so there's no risk of us forgetting to safeguard the images.
BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP.
FINDING THE PERFECT MOMENTS.
Editing, also called culling, refers to the process of choosing the best images, or “selects,” which will move on to development.
Part of presenting a unified narrative after the shoot is selecting a tightly edited portfolio that reflects the best and most compelling images we've created. Images might not make the cut for a number of reasons, such as being too similar to the better, selected, images, or for having a significant technical flaw, or they otherwise may not meet our standards. We never edit towards a specific number of images—the editing decisions are based strictly on the merits of each individual photograph—but there are some common averages. An eight hour wedding usually results in about 500 selects, an engagement or portrait shoot typically results in 40-50, and a commercial shoot with specific parameters might simply result in one or a few finished photos. But every commission is unique, and every client can be sure that we'll create the best edit from their shoot.
DEVELOPMENT & RETOUCHING.
In general, our post-production process is based on a darkroom philosophy. That is to say, we develop the final selects through brightness, contrast, color, and tonality adjustments, and avoid the more gimmicky treatments that the computer offers. That keeps the images timeless and authentic, rather than having an overly processed or artificial look. Our favorite photos from the set of selects often receive a further round of development, including even more carefully tuned adjustments and creative experiments. This is the phase that requires the most attention and focus, along with a practiced eye, so it can't be rushed.
While we can't retouch every photo that's developed, we do routinely retouch minor areas of some of the finished photos during post-production. We do this on a case-by-case basis and only at our discretion, before the complete gallery is published to you. And we often give the most prominent photos (such as canvas gallery wraps we order for you) some extra attention at no charge. If we do our job well, you won't know which images have had retouching and which haven't, and that's our goal.
Special Retouching on Request
After we've released the gallery to you, if you see an image that you'd like retouched, get in touch and we'll discuss the details. Some requests may be easy and quick, some may be complex, and some requests may not be possible. Custom retouching is billed at $60/hour in 15 minute increments, and we'll give you an estimate before we get started.
Developing refers to the process of perfecting the color and tonality of an image.
Retouching refers to the process of manipulating a photo's pixels to add, remove, or reshape elements.
PUBLICATION & DELIVERY.
Even after our editing process narrows the complete set down to a few hundred photos, there will still be an even smaller number which are our favorites. So as part of our effort to give you a very curated experience, the next step is to pick the ones to showcase—the Highlights set. A photo can be a Highlight for several reasons: it might reflect an important moment from the day, it might reflect a powerful detail or emotion, or it might simply be beautiful. But they all contribute to our version of the story. So this set serves as the foundation for our finished presentation to you.
First, we assemble the Highlights into an online slideshow. These are set to music and published to an individual video page on our website, so you can share them with friends and family. We create a slideshow video for each time we photograph you (one for the engagement shoot, one for the bridal shoot if you have one, and one for the wedding. You can see an example slideshow here. And we often publish summaries and excerpts from our shoots to our public blog, though you're welcome to opt out of that if you'd prefer to keep the photos private. After we've sent you the Highlights by slideshow, we go back to finishing the rest of the selects. Those will form the complete set, and will be published to your online gallery after we've finished developing them.
Next, we design your album with our selections from the Highlights set and others from the complete set. We love weaving this design together for you in a clean, uncluttered layout. Thanks in no small part to our background in the graphic design industry, we take a lot of pride in giving the images the best presentation possible. During this phase we also finalize any canvases or other products included in your collection. Once you've approved the digital design proof, we send the album into production, where expert bookbinders print and assemble the final product. Most of our albums are bound by hand, and the all undergo 2 separate quality control checks.
To learn more about the various albums, canvas gallery wraps, fine art prints and more that we offer, please get in touch! We'd love to chat by phone or by email.