Monday, August 9, 2010

The Value of Your Time

August Pug Meeting with special guest Jared Platt

Before I get into a recap of Jared Platt’s lecture for August’s Pug meeting, I want to thank Pictage for putting on absolutely amazing monthly workshops!  If you are a wedding and/or portrait photographer in the NYC area and you are not involved in Pug meetings, then you are really missing out.  Once a month, Pictage brings in a well-accomplished photographer from all over the U.S. to host a FREE meeting.  I have definitely become a regular at these meetings.

This month’s speaker was Arizona-based wedding and portrait photographer and photography educator Jared Platt.  He gave a 2-hour lecture at Calumet about post-production workflow in Lightroom, the value of photographer’s time, and why clients hired YOU.  Let me say, I attend a lot of lectures around NYC, but I have never heard anyone speak about workflow like Jared did.  I was truly blown away by the end of this lecture!

Jared’s lecture began with him giving the two reasons why clients hire you: 1) They want you!, and 2) Your eye and your vision.  As photographers, we see the world differently.  We see angles, movement, composition, light, shapes, colors, etc.  Clients hire us for the way we see the world.  As professional photographers, we trust our eye and gut instinct in the field and now we have to learn how to trust our eye and gut instinct during image selection.  This means letting go of your old way of selecting images and changing bad habits.

Jared compared a film workflow to a digital workflow.  What he said really resonated with me and got me excited to try a new way of post-processing.  He said that when photographers worked in film, they would use contact sheets of 36 images.  From the contact sheet, series of images were identified.  Within the series, individual images were selected and compared to each other.  Select images were picked for closer inspection.  The photographer would then use a loupe to closely inspect an image and mark which images were going to be used with a grease pencil.  Only images that were going to be used were marked, which means none of the rejected images were marked, saving the photographer a considerable amount of time.  All the images that were not picked for closer inspection ended up on the cutting room floor, i.e. rejected.

When photographers switched to digital, most of them completely lost their film workflow resulting in a lot of lost hours. We started spending hours upon hours looking at every single image individually, instead of using a comparison system (like with film contact sheets).

Jared applied a film workflow to digital photography and came-up with the following system:  1) Survey, 2) Positive selection, and 3) Gut instinct.

His workflow in Lightroom started by looking at a group of images in grid mode, which acted like a digital contact sheet.  When I did this, I zoomed out and had 21 images per “page,” or 3 images down and 7 images across.  Next, he would pick a series of between 2-6 images and pull those up in survey mode.  This is where the challenge of letting go of old habits began.  He DID NOT look at every image up-close in the series, but instead compared images to each other by either flagging or starring them.  He used positive selection and trusted his gut instinct.  Images that were not starred or flagged were out, rejected, done.

When he found an image that he might want to use, he zoomed to 1-to-1 and checked sharpness and facial expression.  If he liked the image he marked it and moved on.  The number of images he picked per series varied between 1 to 4 images.  He then closed the series and moved on to the next group of images.

Ok, here’s where another big shift in post-processing habits occurred.  Once he closed a series, he DID NOT revisit any of the images that were not selected.  Those images were done, out, rejected.  He wasn’t spending any more time on them.  He trusted his first and only selection and his gut reaction to images.  This process allowed him to pick his best images quickly and efficiently while spending significantly less time on image selection.

Jared had several photographic philosophies about why this type of workflow can be incredibly beneficial.  First, it saves a tremendous amount of time.  Jared said that if you use the image selection method described above then the amount of time you spend on image selection would be cut in half. 

I tried out Jared’s new workflow system yesterday on a large batch of Roller Derby images I had shot and I have to say, I was amazed at how easy and efficient Jared’s system was.  By comparing images, I quickly selected images I wanted to use and rejected those I did not want to use.  I flew through my image selection process and felt more confident in my selection choices.

One of the biggest changes for me will be getting used to not going back through images a second or even third time.  Once I pass an image, I am done with it.  And I have to say, there’s a certain amount of relief associated with this system.  It felt pretty damn good to know that I was done with a very large batch of images in a short amount of time.  I could now spend time on making those select few images that I wanted look awesome.


Zach said...

Nice post, Kaity!

Christine said...

I would love to attend one of these. Great post!

Joseph Mulé said...

Great post Kaity! Jared's presentation was awesome. His selection process makes perfect sense.
It worked in the film days when we were working with contact sheets,and the same process also works in the digital workflow using lightroom.
Thank You Jared for a fantastic presentation!!

Lisa Stein said...

Wow Kaity, you summed it up nicely! I was out of town during the PUG but went to Jared's workshop last year. I think the most I got out of his presentation was just what you posted. How to trust myself and my eye and fly thru the selects. That's part of what really bogs me down and sometimes less is really more!

It has sped up my selection time so much, I am happier, more confident and getting work done so much faster! So worth the seminar!!!!

KaityVolpe said...

Thanks so much everyone for the nice comments! It's good inspiration to keep doing these recap posts.