Sit down, put on some tunes, grab some wine and start proofing!
So your photographer sent you some “proofs”. What does that even mean and what should you do next? Here’s a quick guide with some advice well worth reading before you go about selecting your photos. Let’s get started!
proof |pro͞of| – Dictionary Definition
a trial photographic print made for initial selection.
Proof – Greg’s Definition
“Proofs” are a batch of images that are typically:
- unedited ~ the main purpose of proofing is to determine which images are desirable and should be prioritized for editing
- small in size ~ 800 pixels on the long edge
- low in resolution ~ they will look OKAY on your monitor at 100% size but pixelated when zoomed into or printed
- watermarked ~ usually with the photographers name or logo
Small, low resolution files are created for three reasons:
- to save space
- to increase upload, download and viewing speeds
- to deter unlawful usage of images
Watermarks are applied:
- to deter unlawful usage and distribution of images
- to identify any images that were unlawfully used
- to brand an image / like an artists signature
Proofing – An Analogy by Greg
I love analogies. Here’s the best one I have for proofing… thus far. Think of a proof like a raw steak in your local supermarket meat section. You ALWAYS want to select the best cut to begin with. BUT, keep in mind steak can be prepared many ways and even if you like it raw, it is often significantly better once seasoned, seared, plated and paired with a nice red.
Proofing – Give it 3 Rounds
Round 1: Start with emotion. Don’t focus on technical elements such as lighting, colors, background elements etc, those can all be changed (see below) rather ask yourself if that photo made you feel something in the first few seconds. If it’s hard for you to decide than it probably didn’t. The impulse to select a photo should be a gut reaction. Don’t limit your selections your first time around. You might end up selecting everything – that’s fine.
Round 2: By now you have already seen all the images so it should be easier to discard images that are visually similar. You don’t need three slightly different facial expressions in what is otherwise three identical shots. You may also choose to discard entire segments of the photos session. Maybe those 5 shots in the bamboo just don’t fit with the rest of the story.
Round 3: Okay, round 3 is tough! You need to be relentless an KEEP CUTTING! Remember LESS IS MORE! If you really can’t decide, you can always purchase the extras 🙂
Proofing – Things to Keep in Mind
As mentioned above, it’s important to start with an emotional mindset, not a technical one when proofing. In this day and age we photographers have more ability than ever to change the way a photo looks but even for us there are limitations. Keep these things in mind when making your selections.
- EASY TO CHANGE
- small blemishes, scars, wrinkles, wardrobe malfunctions
Cropping can bring the subject into focus and eliminate distractions. Notice just how drastically you can crop, about 70%) and still maintain a crisp looking image. Cropping any further could lead to pixelated looking images.
Notice how we can recover a very over exposed/bright image.
We can also recover under exposed/dark images. Note I also cropped in to make our subjects a little larger and improve the composition.
Cloudy days cast a very even light which can make images look a little washed out or faded. Contrast can be added a number of different ways quite easily in Lightroom.
Images can be “cooled down” or “warmed up” in seconds so don’t despair if your skin looks too blue/orange.
Colors can easily be desaturated, enhanced or even changed in Lightroom. Not that the colors need to be fairly similar in tone to get a natural look. You can’t turn black to pink, for that more extensive editing is needed.
- HARDER BUT POSSIBLE TO CHANGE *
- facial expressions – IF there in another photo in the same sequence/set with a better expression
- backgrounds and distracting elements
- *These changes often require work in Photoshop ranging anywhere from 3-30 minutes per image
Doh! We missed dad’s great smile in the first shot! He’s looking at the camera in frame 1 but in frame 2 tiny Ted is looking away. There’s a trick we can use called “face/head swapping”. It works here because our lighting, angle and most elements in the frame are identical. Dad’s body is stationary enough in both frames that we can take his head in frame 2 and place it on his body in frame 1 in photoshop. You could also switch Tiny Ted’s head from frame 1 to frame 2 but that’s a much more difficult edit as the background behind Ted’s head (mom’s hair and clothes) is much more complex than the blue wall. Ted’s arm has also moved which could affect body position alignment. As you see for head switching the photos should be nearly identical in every other way.
No one would know even know a head/face transplant had occurred!
See that distracting yellow licence plate in the background. We can remove that! You could also remove the whole car but it would go from a 2 minute quick fix to a 10-15 minute photoshop mission.
- IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE
- emotions/facial expressions that don’t fall into the category above
- body parts that are hidden/cropped
- out of focus areas to be sharp again
Okay, you are now a pro on proofing. Someone asks you “what does proofing mean?” and you be like, “Well imagine a proof is like a raw steak…”. Grab your partner, friend, family, get comfy, grab a drink, throw on some music and enjoy viewing and choosing your images together. Once you’ve finalized your selections let me know by email and I’ll edit and send them to you. One more thing, remember that you can leave a comment on every image so if there’s something you want changed, i.e. you want to swap faces, please give me a detailed description: “Please replace my head in this image with my head from image 132” or “Please crop police man cuffing my fiance out of the frame.”
Thank you and happy proofing!