Apr 6, 2012

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On why I take a long time to edit my photos

I’ve blogged about photography before – it’s one of my passions, both doing it and just seeing the impact of photography around the world. My passion has led me to buy good camera gear and learn how to use it. I love to capture holidays, parties and events for my own memory and I like to share my photos with others, because sharing is awesome.

Take this shot for instance, editing took it from being too dark with bad shadows to be my favourite shot of those two, who have just celebrated one year together :) Who knows if this photo will be used in their future?

I’m not skilled enough as a photographer to have every photo I take turn out as I’d like, but since I shoot digital this is not the biggest worry in the world, because I can tidy up my shots later. Another other big joy of digital is the ability to shoot rapidly, even wastefully and delete the excess later. Every time I take photographs I delete more than half later, I also take photos in the hundreds, so this is no small task. For me, photography is a craft. You wouldn’t ask a craftsman to do an apprentices job, that would be an insult to the hours of learning and practice a craftsman has.

That’s not to say that if a photo isn’t taken with a big camera that it’s bad. Polaroid did instant photos back in the film days and we still love them. The next day you can check Facebook and see pictures from your party already there with you tagged in them. That’s where Point and Shoot cameras (and to a greater extent phones with cameras) excel – they don’t cost a lot and they’re easy to use. The truth is that you may not care how sharp the photos are or that people look ghostly or that some are a bit blurry and I’m not going to ask you to start caring, but you need to know that I care about stuff like that.

I have thought about just taking photos and not doing any editing or deleting but the reason I take photos in the first place is because I’m passionate about photography. I want to capture emotions, tell stories or preserve a moment, all through the lens I’m carrying. I want to take clear shots that are accurate and show what’s happening, without distracting imperfections that capture your attention. I want people looking at my photos to go “wow” at what they see, not because I’m great at taking photos, but because the scene is great and I’ve managed to capture it.

Sometimes I take shots because I’m asked to. I try to show that I care by putting effort into the finished product, but too often I’m perceived as not caring and taking too long to give people their finished photos. In truth I do care and because of that I come, take photos, leave, review, delete, edit, edit again, probably edit a third time, colour balance if needed and pick the final shots for the collection. That takes hours, but I still do it.

I even do it for free, because I enjoy it, but even if you paid me you’d still be waiting, because that’s the nature of this type of photography. Couples wait 2-3 months for their wedding photos because pro photographers also take time to practice their craft. I work full time, so I have to balance my life, my job, my other commitments and my photography work into each week – sometimes weeks get busy and some things don’t get done, that’s life and my photos have to wait too.

I have also been known to forget to edit photos at times. I wrote this post to try and shed some light on what happens when I take photos and explain why it’s not instant like other cameras. If I’m taking a while ask me how things are going, but please don’t ask me “are you done yet?”.

So I hope that explains it a bit more, because until now I don’t think I’ve properly explained that editing takes hours to do, or that if you ask me to take photos you’re also asking me to edit photos. I enjoy taking photos and I enjoy editing photos, so I’m not going to stop doing either, but both take time and effort, which I give freely. In return I ask for your patience.

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