Post production

Clients often don’t understand what “post production” means, why it is necessary and why they have to pay for it. That’s why they negotiate to have the job done without. Normally just for the sake of saving some money. But would they be happy with the final result if they got the images without allowing the photographer to finish his work? I don’t think so. They will say he’s a bad photographer – while comparing his work with other photographers that certainly DO post production, of course! And they will neither book him again nor recommend him to other prospective clients.

So let’s dive into the subject. Why does it need post production and what is it? Compare the two pictures below. The difference is called post production :)

This is the untouched photo straight out of the camera:

Daniel Zihlmann Photography - Fotograf Hochzeit Baby Portrait, Schweiz

It’s a nice, acceptable shot. Exposure, focus and colors are OK. But not more. That’s what you get (or maybe less) if you hire just the cheapest photographer to cover your wedding or another high end event. Often they work the “shoot to burn” style: shoot the wedding and just burn the photos right from camera to a CD and hand them over to the couple, without any post production or retouching. It’s obvious why “shoot to burn” photographers can offer their services for a very low price. They don’t need expensive tools, not years of learning and acquire skills, no time at all after the wedding for finishing the pictures and no backup strategies. The photos are ready to deliver to the client at the moment they are shot. That’s where their workflow ends.

And that’s where the workflow starts for the “other” photographers.

This is what the picture looks like after some work in Photoshop, called “post production” (click to view it big):

Daniel Zihlmann Photography - Fotograf Hochzeit Baby Portrait, Schweiz

The image has been lightened, converted to black & white, added some sepia toning and the texture of an old paper to give it the taste of an old photo. To make the picture something unique and special.

[Working with “textures” like this is very modern at the moment in photography, check out the website of the master of FineArtTextures, Jesh de Rox!]

In the previous post (open the link in a new window to compare the pictures “side by side”) I used the same photo to announce the slideshow of Sibylle & Jan. The picture is in color but nevertheless did get some post production: lighten, color correction, contrast bump, a little vignette and sharpening.

Post production needs time, knowhow and sometimes special tools and software. That’s what you pay the photographer for. Not just for showing up with his fancy camera for 10 hours at your wedding. Also cheap photographers can afford an expensive camera. That’s not what makes the difference. It’s the photographer’s eye and creativity, his knowhow and professionalism and what the final result looks like. After post production (And that’s also the reason why photographers are not payed for the amount of hours they are “on location”).

If you’re fine just getting average (or below) images of your wedding, go ahead to hire the cheapest photographer you can grab. But don’t expect wonders and don’t be disappointed afterwards.

If your main concern is the quality of your wedding images and the album, examine the photographers’ work well and ask them the right questions before you sign the contract.

Every couple should choose the photographer that fits its needs, style and budget. And it feels comfortable with. It’s OK to hire a “shoot to burn” photographer. If you know the difference and are aware of the limitations this might bring. But don’t expect wonders. As everywhere else in business, what you pay is what you get! The choice is up to you.

Enjoy your wedding day! It will be an unforgettable moment in your life. Hopefully you picked a good photographer and will enjoy his work for a lifetime.

(If you are more interested in the photography business read John Harrington’s great book Best Business Practices for Photographers or his blog Photo Business News & Forum.)

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