Professionals Do Sweat the Small Stuff

The popular phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” might be good advice for a happy life, but you may be sure that phrase was not coined by a professional photographer.

Why hire a professional in a trade?

Why? Because for professionals in any given discipline, it’s all small stuff.

When you hire a professional, you assume that person or firm will attend to details you might not consider. You can be confident a professional knows the tools and knows how to be business-like.

If that professional is a plumber, it might be tight solder joints.
If that professional is a woodworker it might be perfect dovetails.
If that professional is a roofer, it might be sealing the roof/chimney joint.

Professional photographers likewise look for the things a non-photographer appreciates subliminally but might not be trained to pay explicit attention to. It’s less about the equipment we bring and more about the experience we bring.

For portraits, we look at hair, highlights, and neckties.
For product, we look at angles, texture, and intersection.
For interiors, we look for stray wires in the corner and cushions askew on the sofa.
At events we are attentive to distractions in the background. (You know, the hilarious lampshade on the head.)

Professionals don’t have supernatural powers. We have just learned to look for things other people might not pick up on.

Like what?

Let’s consider portraits

If that professional is a corporate portrait photographer it’s looking for fly-away hair, shiny foreheads, loose necktie knots, and glare (or smudges) on glasses. It’s sensing when the subject is anxious and uncomfortable, and helping them get past that. It’s making sure garments look crisp, necklaces are centered, and a myriad of other small details.

Consistency from session to session, year to year is another mark of a professional corporate portrait photographer, because it’s not uncommon for firms pitching a new account to assemble a team using photos taken many years apart.

And then there’s post production

Post Production is what happens between the image capture and the image delivery.

No matter how careful and attentive the photographer is at the photo session, final touches applied in post production are equally important to the final result. Since corporate portraiture is a significant part of what FayFoto Boston offers (as distinct from fashion or editorial portraiture), let’s look at …

Some examples

I do a lot of business portrait photography, and I do most of the post production on the images my colleagues and I capture. In case you ever wonder what the value of post production is (or why retouching might be an additional fee) I’ll show you a few examples to illustrate why hiring a professional can be money well spent. All of these examples are tightly cropped to preserve the anonymity of the subject while at the same time illustrating one specific area. The differences are obvious when you look at the before/after views, but in real life it’s only the retoucher who sees the difference. Your audience only sees your personnel in their best light.

By the way, none of these corrections were done at the special request of the subject. This is just what a professional who is proud of his or her product brings to the craft. This is what you can expect when you choose to work with FayFoto Boston.

local retouching refinements to portrait image
Smooth the shoulder, trim the neck and tighten the necktie!
retouch chapped lips
Digital lip balm
hair at neck removed
A subtle trim
bump removed from suit jacket shoulder line
Refine shoulder line contour
retouch fly away hair spikes
Hair will do what it wants to do

 


Sometimes at the end of an editing session I say “you’re welcome!
But only to myself.
To say it out loud wouldn’t be… professional!

Evolution: FayFoto’s Transition to Digital Services

early digital camera

Office Archeology

We have been working at clearing out old and unnecessary stuff recently. After more than 25 years in our current office, you might well imagine there’s quite a lot of that. Recently Wayne unearthed the very first digital camera FayFoto purchased. That got me curious, so I started sifting through old assignment log books for the first evidence of actually capturing assignments digitally.

They started showing up in the Fall of 1999. Given that we’re into the second quarter of 2018 as I write this, that feels like quite a long time.

We weren’t the earliest of adopters, but our market moved us into providing digital services before a lot of other photographers made the leap (or else said “to heck with this” and moved into some other endeavor). Pro-level digital cameras at that time were beyond our means. We eased into the inevitable by scanning negatives and transparencies for years before investing in digital capture equipment. Our first cautious investment in a digital camera was at the upper end of what was then the consumer level. (It was a Kodak DC265, purchased in the Fall of 1999 at the CompUSA around the corner from our office. You can still read the camera’s review in DPReview’s archive!)

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Managing a Successful Group Photo

empty room waiting for group to arrive

A group photo is like a piece of performance art

I personally find group photos at once terrifying and exhilarating.

If you have never observed a professional photographer organize and capture a group photo, let me outline the stages so that remark makes sense.

The Stages of a Group Photo

  • Your photographer arrives early to get ready. The set is empty.
  • People gradually assemble and make small talk. There is amiable chaos.
  • Your photographer encourages people to pay attention, and starts to arrange people by height so faces aren’t obscured. (This stage is often humorously described as “herding cats.”)
  • Chaos gradually diminishes and the group quiets down.
  • Your photographer fine tunes the placement of subjects.
  • For 5 or maybe 7 minutes there is an splendid sense of order.
  • After the last exposure, people mill about, resume conversations, and gradually drift away. Chaos resumes.
  • The set is empty. Your photographer packs up and departs.

It’s predictable, and yet it’s magic every time I witness it.

Why would you want a group photo?

University reunion groupFayFoto is called to do groups for, among other things, College and University reunions, graduating classes, professional organizations, business units, award recipients, and workshop attendees.

What can you do to ensure that a group photo goes smoothly?

Advance Planning makes all the difference. Following are some key areas to consider when planning and preparing for a group photograph.

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Head shot portrait retouching

portrait retouching notes

Head shot portrait retouching

What’s in a word?

I’ll begin this article with a few words about the word retouching. We understand that this is the word everyone uses and understands, so we use it, too.

Reluctantly.

Frankly, most of the connotations about that word are negative. At best it implies fakery. At worst it suggests repair work on a flawed subject. We don’t want our work to suggest either of those! We are much more comfortable using the term polishing, which suggests making something good even better. So we’ll continue to honor the term which is used by most of the world but, between you and us, polishing comes closer to what we do.

These days, just about every head shot portrait image we release to our clients has been looked at carefully by an experienced digital technician. 1

You don’t have to specify or explicitly request the basics of retouching – you can count on that being done as part of our service. It’s built into our pricing.

Read moreHead shot portrait retouching