Monday, October 25, 2010

The Select Few

Just edit the few you like and then give me the rest of the unedited ones on CD.” Often followed by, “I’ll edit them.

Those two sentences make my spine contract and I have to bite down on my tongue to stop me from saying something bad.

Umm, how about, “NO”? I think it’s about time I explain:

Photography is an art, I’m sure most of you have heard that line splattered from many a drunk, and often from a professional in a suit. And well, as much as I’d like to agree with that statement, it is fast becoming more of an eyesore.
In the past, when it came to film, when in the world would a model or client ever say “Let me have the negatives after the shoot, so that I can go process my favourites in a dark room.”?

So what has happened? With the advent of the digital age, photography has become more accessible, but sadly, although this has brought with it many advantages, its has also opened the gate to the likes of GWC’s* and many others with good intentions who happen to be filled with ignorance.

Professional Photography has taken a beating, there are few rich photographers out there now, and even fewer professionals who use photography as their only form of income. I could go on a massive rant about this subject, but I shall not, since its only meant to form a basis of understanding as to why I do no want to hand out any of my unedited images – let alone all of them. (Yes, this is a long and round about way of doing it, blame lack of coffee.)

In the past there was 36 shots in a roll of 35mm film and far less in a medium format camera which would have been then main piece of equipment used for fashion and glamour. From those few frames, the photographer had to make each shot count – no reviews.

After that came the dark room, which, if you think about it, is the past equivalent to a whole room, dedicated just to photoshop. You had to know what you were doing, it was all too easy to mess up a negative – no second chance.

From those few shots taken, even fewer shots are developed. Then from those few developed shots, only the best were used.

The photographer then hands over what he knows is the best work he could have possibly done and he is proud to have his name along side his image.

So that was the past, and what has changed? We can shoot thousands of images, even though we can preview images on the spot, we still insist on shooting our memory cards full, after all, blind luck has it that we’ll get at least one usable photo out of every 500. Right?

Then, who ever prints photos anymore? Everybody wants a CD or DVD, and oh my word! We can full up a DVD with hundreds of images (if you think thousands for a DVD – then I’m going to slap your low quality Jpeg ass in another blog).

And of course, since we’re new to this game and don’t exactly know what we want, I’ll just hand over everything so the model can choose what they want. Only thing is, all she knows is that she looks good and had a “good photographer” shoot her so everything must be usable and she gets flustered for choice and next thing she has 20 images online – all looking exactly the same boring same.

Just one year later, you see those photos and you want to cry, since your name is next to them and lets be honest – they are shit photos. ( yes, I am speaking out of experience, I still often see photos of mine online from when I first started and I need to drink just so that I don’t go hang myself.)

So all I’ve done so far is rant, when I could simply say what I want to say in the next two paragraphs.

I only hand out the best 5 images from a shoot, that I am proud to call mine. I have spent a great deal and time editing those images, from experience and knowledge gained over the years. If you want to use an image for a portfolio, then the last thing you want is to have more than one image from one photographer – so you select your favourite from the 5 I’ve given you. Having a portfolio filled up with the same thing is nothing more than boring and a waste of time.

I’m not going to hand you a CD of unedited images, simply because I have no idea what you might do to them in the future. I still hold copyrights to them, and seeing a photo of mine cropped skew with an arm missing, in sepia and a photoshop filter applied, will make me freak out. The last thing I want is for a prospective client to see that shit and think “Damn, and I was going to commission him? Hell no.

It boils down to this: I want my name applied only to quality that I produce. If somebody thinks my photograph sucks, then it is my fault and my fault alone.

*GWC - Guy with Camera.

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