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What happens "Behind the Scenes" for a Photographer

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

We often on the day of the shoot see the Photographer arriving on the day with a camera, some accessories and snapping away photos in some acrobatic positions. Thereafter we usually think it would be a simple download and done... What if the "pre-& post photoshoot" work is 80% of the work. Does that mean a Photographer is doing something else besides taking photos?

So what really goes into it?

The basics - Equipment, Skills and a Portfolio

To provide photography services, one needs some basic equipment and skills & staying up to date with them.

- Equipment ranges from a Camera Body to extra lights, spare batteries, memory cards, Lights and a PC to edit (This implies backups and software and insurance as inherit) Camera's also often receive software updates with new features and viruses also spread through cameras risking content taken.

- The skills to be able to use the equipment, software and people skills require training and development. This means getting trained up and gaining necessary experience through classes, practical work, online learning, research, conferences and any great opportunity.

- A Portfolio - Prospective clients will first look at your portfolio of work to decide whether they would like to work with you. So having a website or visible portfolio is key to market yourself. A portfolio is built up over time to showcase your work.

What are the events before a shoot is booked?

1. Pre-Shoot Admin: Responding to enquirers on email, social media messengers or calls and whatsapp's until a booking is confirmed. This also includes finalising a booking which includes contracts, invoices, scheduling, accounting for costs and so forth. We also love showcasing prior work on social media, so look out for photographers who are also experts in social media.

2. Preparation:

  • Researching ideas for themes such as outfits, poses, creative concepts, looking at the venue and searching for spots. Basically doing any prep work to meet the clients brief in the best possible way for what can be done before.

  • Preparation of Gear: This means cleaning all the lenses of dust, charging all batteries and spare batteries for the camera, lights and accessories. Literally follow a checklist for these items. It ranges from clear the memory cards, to carry a "lindt remover" & First Aid Kit. This could take from 1 hour up to 3 hours.

  • One the shoot day, its simply setup, shoot and pack up.

So what happens "Post Photo Shoot":

  • So up to this point was 20% of the effort. The remaining 80% resides in this space

  • After the shoot, there is risk in any delays to download the images. So usually the photographer will not divert and get straight to the office to download images. Think about theft, an accident or any crazy idea that could cause the photos to get lost. So risk management is key to make copies of the photos just taken.

  • Most Photographers use software such as Adobe's Lightroom to download the images & make backup copies. Think of it as a catalog type software which allows for basic editing. So adjustments like Brightness, Noise reduction, Contrast can all be adjusted. This involves analysing every single image taken to remove close eye shots or have the lightning, crop or basics adjusted and categorized. Usually for a 3 hour shoot, this could take about 5 hours minimum of Lightroom work. More information about Adobes Lightroom can be found here

  • If there is further editing required, the album may need to be shared with the client for shortlisting. Once the shortlist is chosen, only then would the high-- end editing begin.

  • Portraiture Retouching is what makes good photos great! Using tools like Adobe's photoshop or similar, a photographer could spend from 1 hour to days editing a single image to perfection. The skill to retouch images is an art which involves skills, experience and some high end tools. We personally use Photoshop with plugins from various providers like Nino Basista's frequency separation tools to photoshop actions acquired through the years. We also don't use a mouse and instead use a Tablet with stylus which could be described as a Pen with a tracker pad. This allows for precision editing. Some photographers are also using Ipads and tablets with a screen to retouch as well. The point is to edit with a stylus for better results. Having to trace stray hairs or isolating spots on skin is always best done with a stylus. So point here is that majority of the time is spent is on retouching. Imagine on average 3 hours an image for a high end commercial edit. So its hours and hours on a PC editing. Do note that not all photographers will edit to this level so try and understand what is the level of quality you would need on your edits. A Lightroom edit would be much cheaper because it is not as intensive as photoshop editing in simple terms. If you would like more information on Photoshop, click here

  • Delivery of the Images. This is our favorite part! Some are delivered online and some through a print.. Print is our favorite because it brings the image alive. After the hours of work, its truly rewarding to see the end result of a picture that tells a story and captivates an audience when it is in a frame or in a book.

  • While all of this happens, new tech is released from new camera tech, to new software to social media apps where your presence is always required. So keep up and stay abreast. Have a learning mindset and keep up with the trends too.

About "enVogue Image":

A photography brand all about ELEGANCE * STYLE * SOPHISTICATION which started from a love for people, photography and fashion. ​A Johannesburg based service launched in May 2018. Known to incorporate the South Africa's gorgeous surrounds and architecture in editorial style portraiture.

So hope this little peek gives you a better ideas of what happens behind the scenes. Did you know this before? What questions would you be asking your next photographer when you are choosing one?

If you are a photographer, is there anything to add? What does your checklist look like? For everyone else out there, what would you suggest we add to our checklist?

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