Workflow Prep to Post
And what I wanna do is do a little bit of a recap through my workflow processes and how, when, as a food photographer and as somebody who is starting from scratch, which a lotta you are gonna be doing, I wanna talk about the workflow from the time the recipe arrives, or it's developed in some cases, all the way through to deliverables. Now, when we say deliverables, we're talking about the images that a client is gonna receive at the backend of your job. And I'm gonna talk through a bunch of that. And then what I'm gonna do is talk about the digital workflow after that. And you're gonna see how I kind of go through the process of taking them out of the camera, putting them through my computer, and then how I go from there. And also, kinda sorta the minimal processing. I'm gonna go through the step of showing you how to process one of the pictures. And actually, I'll pick one of the pictures that we played with before when we were doing our demo. So, with that being said, we talked abou...
t the, the beginning process of this was with propping. So, the idea is that when I, I'm picking props, I wanna set out on a table, like I'll put a table out or I use the table that's in my studio, to pull and pick out all the things that I think I might wanna use. There's going to be a number of things that don't get used, like we did here later, earlier, before, after, somewhere. Where are we? Seattle, yes, okay. We had a big selection of things to choose from because you wanna have options when you're working. Now, you know, you can't get locked into just one particular thing. You wanna have a vision in your head, you obviously wanna be able to create the thing that you think you want, but as we saw when we were working, that doesn't always happen. You always wanna trade things out and see what it looks like and have a range of things to choose from. So, I pick a series of props and a series of things and have them at my disposal. Or if you're working with a client in a neutral space, you have to have all your props sent ahead of time, have them all laid out, grouped them according to the shot. Even put a little piece of tape down possibly and say okay, this is for the tomato soup, this is for the dessert. So you have all the things that you want in front of you. That's the first part, right? Because you can do that before you even start to shop for the groceries 'cause you already have the recipe in mind, you already know what you're gonna be shooting, and you already have it planned out. So now my prop table is filled, ready to go. Now I'm gonna go shopping. Now, whether you do your shopping yourself or you're trusting that you have an assistant or somebody that can do that work for you, you have to make sure that the person who's choosing that has your aesthetics in mind. Whether it's your assistant or yourself, you wanna be picking, your food that you're picking is innately the image that you're going to create. So, if you start with, you know, the garbage in, garbage out kind of theory? It's the same thing with food photography. If you pick bad ingredients or you pick things that don't look good to start with, they're not gonna really look good on a backend. So that goes for your meats and your fish, and all the things that happen, you know? You become attuned as a shopper to look at the aesthetics. And quite honestly, the things that look the best are usually the freshest anyway. But also, when you're talking about cuts of meat, you're looking at the marbling and how that might translate either raw or cooked. You're looking at fish, are the eyes still bright? Or are they glazed over and not looking so fresh? All of that stuff matters because the idea is that there are times when we have to photograph food before it's cooked, or in process of being cooked. So if it's not innately a prop on its own, it's probably not gonna look great in the backend. You wanna kind of form relationships with the, with the vendors and the people that you use. You should have a butcher that you trust who knows the cuts that you want and how you want them cut, and if you want a specific idea. I need a porterhouse with a bone that's really beautiful, so you wanna be able to pick that out. You wanna be able to give him instructions as to how you would like the fat trimmed or whatever. Same thing with your fish guy, same thing with your grocer. Shopping at the farmers market is always preferable to shopping at a supermarket. But, with that being said, the farmers market is great for certain things because you can find things that you may not be able to find in a grocery store. But on the flip side of that, there's no refrigeration there. So you have to keep in mind that if you're buying things that are delicate like some of the herbs that we were playing around with, if they're not potted, if they're loose, farmers market's not always the best place to get that stuff 'cause a supermarket has it in a crisper and it's being watered constantly, so it looks a lot fresher. So also, kind of plan out the idea of your workflow, which markets are gonna be on your list to go to. And honestly, the order in which you do those things matters as well. 'Cause you go buy the things that you know are least perishable first, and buy the things that are most perishable last. And in my mind, the things that are most perishable are your greens and your leafy stuff and your herbs. So that's the last thing I buy. And if I'm prepping two days ahead, I save that last morning before I go to the studio to pick up the herbs. Because like, we saw that here. It's so hard, and that can either make or break your shot. So you really wanna do that. Lemme take a breath. That was a lot, right? With shopping. So the thing about food prep. And you know, we in food use the fancy terminology, the French terminology, mise en place, mise en place. Means all the stuff that's prepared ahead of time. This is really kind of the building blocks of what you're gonna do in food photography. And a lot of this can be done ahead. I have no objection to things being prepared ahead of time as long as they will retain their visual kind of integrity. So if you are, you know, you have a trusted assistant, which I do, I have several that I trust to know that when I want things cut, they know that I prefer things cut on the bias as opposed to cut straight. They know that I want them to pick the freshest parts and make sure that everything is soaked and vibrant before they put it away. Everything is in airtight containers. Everything is in not in anything that can be smashed or destroyed in the kitchen. So all of that stuff is being done, that can be done ahead of time. It makes your life easier on shoot day. 'Cause if it's all laid out for you, everything is labeled in the refrigerator, okay, we're going for the stir fry. Pull out all the stir fry stuff, put it in the work station, get ready, get at the stove. And then, as soon as that thing comes off, it's right out on the table. So, being able to plan out your shoot appropriately, it saves you the problem of running around with your hair on fire. Probably not the best analogy for me, or you! But the reality is that the less you have to think about, especially when you're doing a lotta these things yourself. One of the challenges that I find, occasionally even still when I decide I wanna work by myself, is the idea that I have to use different parts of my brain to think about different things. And I feel like if you are concentrating so hard on one thing, something else is going to be left aside. So, if I have to concentrate so much on chopping and getting all these things ready before I get to the stove, I'm gonna forget something. I know I'm gonna forget something. And I don't want my creative energy, the thing that's gonna help me kinda create that visual image in my head of what I wanna see, I don't want that to be compromised. So I wanna make my life as easy as possible on shoot day. The other thing is that if you're working with other people, it gives you the opportunity to direct rather than just react. So you say, okay, Paula's in the kitchen not making dessert. Paula's in the kitchen, and she's my food prep person for the day, so she's doing the cooking. But she's gonna be taking direction from me. Pam is prop styling, and I'm trusting that she's gonna get everything out that I want on the table and get it ready. So now, I trust that those two people know what their directions are. So now I can concentrate on, what am I thinking about? Where do I want my camera set up? What do I wanna do for this? Am I drawing my storyboard? I'm good. This is all part of your workflow. It's all important to understand that before anything gets started on a food shoot, the more that's already locked into place, button one, button two, button three are all flipped, we're good, food is ready, props are ready, I'm ready, cameras are set, let's go. So now the food comes out. Now we're in that window now. We have that window of about like, 40 minutes before this food is no longer viable to shoot. But because I don't have to think about anything else because you're prepared and you're prepared, then I'm ready. Now, if you're doing that alone, as much as you can do ahead of time, it's gonna help you. My prop table is set up. My prep is ready, I'm gonna cook that food, I'm gonna get it over to the table and I'm gonna style it and I'm gonna go. So all of that is part of this workflow. The plating aspect of this, too. You know that the clock is ticking as soon as the food hits the plate, right? We just talked about you have a very small window of time. So when you're having this kind of struggle with my creative energy. Am I a cook today? Am I a prop stylist today? Am I a photographer today? Who am I today, right? With the rest, the more planning you do, the more you can be a photographer, and the less you have to be everything else. Now, obviously, we're talking about a very specific set of skills that we've been talking about throughout the last couple of days that not everybody who does this kind of work is gonna have, right? Somebody's who's just watching this because they're a photographer is saying, "Well, I know I'm gonna have a prop stylist, "and I know I'm gonna have a cook, so it's not a problem, "I already have that part settled." And I say no, I say absolutely not. Because you are the director of your photo shoot. You're not just the photographer. If you're just there to take a picture of what's on the table, okay, then you're a still life photographer. You're not a food photographer. You're a food photographer if you understand what's happening in every aspect of what's going on in the job. You need to be able to step in and help direct any of those components to make the shot that you wanna make. And this is why it's really good to learn from a perspective of doing it alone. Because then you understand everybody's job. And then if you get fortunate enough to be in a position in your career where you no longer have to do all the work, you know what everybody's responsible for, and you know how to do it well. And I think that's the important part. And what I've been working with you on and going over is the idea of train yourself to learn the whole process so that when you really have an opportunity to concentrate only on photography, you knock it out of the park every time because you know everybody else's components. Okay, we're at the shot now, we're shooting, right? And we've talked about the workflow and the idea of getting the shot, the safe one, the one that the client wants, we get it in the can. That's the first one you go for and you map it out in your mind. Okay, I got that shot, it's in the can. Like when you did your blueberry, boom, right out of the box, five minutes on the set, done, you had your shot. You were proud of it, it was well thought out, it was good. Now, you start to take your chances, and you start to do the things that are outside the box. But the idea is that that's the one that has to wait. You have to get the one in the can first, be satisfied, and then move on. Then you're again, you're on the clock again. We're shooting five dishes today, right? So now, I'm saying okay, I got this much daylight. I have these many dishes. I have this shot, let's move on. And you gotta be willing to say that. Because I'm victim of this myself. I'm falling in love with what's on the table. But I got four more behind it, and I could shoot this all day 'cause it's great. And I love it, I love this, I love this, I love this, and I'm all, I'm like, enamored with what's on the table. You have to know when to cut the cord and go back to the kitchen and get set up for the next one. That's just the workflow. This is the thing that is important when you are managing a food shoot, is that everything is time sensitive, including the light that you're working with. Because the idea is that if you're shooting here in a studio with all these lights and stuff, you can shoot until midnight, nobody cares. But that's not the way we work, right? We saw the way we work is with daylight, and daylight is sensitive. And the time of year, the orientation of your building, all of these things matter. So, we had a food shoot for, we were shooting for The Chew. We did the second cookbook for the television show The Chew just recently. The first one we shot, we shot in February, the darkest month of the year. It was so dark, we had sunlight for maybe three and a half hours a day that was appropriate for shooting. The following year, we shot in April. And we were finished so fast, and everybody was looking at me like, well why didn't we plan out more shots today? I'm like, well, because last year, it was really dark. So, the idea is that we could've stretched it out, maybe done the shoot in four days, and you know, pushed it a little harder, but honestly, it was easier because we were able to relax and take our time with each shot instead of rushing to push every one, we had maybe 30 minutes a shot. And everybody was scrambling from time to time. So the idea is that the more you can plan it out and give yourself that window of opportunity to shoot, then we're in really good shape. So now, I'm just gonna run through the last couple of things verbally, and then I'm gonna show you what we're gonna talk about here. So okay, now your shots are done, now what do we do? So from this point on, until you deliver your pictures to your client, or post them on your blog, or whatever you're gonna do with them, this is the time where you need to protect your images. So the first thing I do before I even get to the point now where I'm sitting here with the card in the slot and I'm ready to start working on pictures is I back up my files. I have an external hard drive, I plug it in, I back up my files to that. So now I know I have two sets of files. No matter what happens, I already have two. If that card fails, if it falls in the soup, if my camera gets stolen, the house burns down, I got two sets of files, so that's primary. Come off the set, take it out of your camera, plug it right in, done. Back it up, then you take, at the end of the day, if you're in a studio, or you work and you live in two different places, put them in two different places. I keep my files at home, and I keep my files at work. Because your files are valuable. Especially before you deliver them. That's the sensitive time because if anything happens to those files, you've lost that entire day's work. And it's so much that goes into it, you don't ever wanna have to go back and do it again. So, here comes my backup, done, okay. Then I go back to the card, and I'm gonna, first I'm gonna do a rough edit. I'm gonna go through everything, and I'm gonna pick out the ones that I wanna convert. Now, I use what's called a digital negative. Now, every camera that shoots RAW files is a proprietary, it's proprietary to that particular brand of camera. Now, it seems a little paranoid, but when you think about it, okay, I shoot Canon. Is Canon going outta business any time soon? Probably not, but if you're thinking about these things in perpetuity, who knows what's gonna happen with any particular proprietary brand from now until eternity? Where if one day, those files are no longer viable because there's no software to read them. So this is what Adobe has been thinking about, right? So they created what's called a non-proprietary digital negative, which basically is the same thing as a RAW file except it strips away all of the proprietary branding of it, and it's supposedly be there forever, or as long as Adobe is around. So, again, it's just a level of kind of paranoia, or consolidation as well because let's say you're shooting two cameras, which I do, I shoot a Fuji and I shoot a Canon. If I convert everything I work on into digital negative, I have a digital consistency with everything I work with. So that any file I drag into Photoshop to work on is of the same ilk. It's not a CR2 file, it's not a whatever they call the Fuji file. Yeah, but the idea is that you have a nice consistency of flow in all of the things that you're working on. So, okay, so then we convert them to DNGs. From there, that's where I do my final edit. I get it down to exactly how many images I wanna send to the client, so now I have those. So now, the client says, "I want DNGs," another client says, "I want TIFFs," another client says, "I want them to be left in layers "because I want to be able to access them and have my team "process them." All of these things are totally up to the client, and you need to understand what they want when they say I want this type of a file at this type of a resolution at this type of a whatever. So typically, we use like, between 300 and 350 DPI for resolution. And typically, we are using either JPEGs or TIFFs. So that's, in the workflow that I've experienced, those are the two main formats that we've, and TIFFs are really big files, they're huge. They're almost as big as the RAW file. And I think a lot of magazines and commercial entities wanna use those files because they're gonna use them in a lotta different formats, so they're much easier to work with. I mean, they're heavy, they're big, thick, heavy files, but they're definitely more flexible, so. Did you have a question?
Sorry, I did. Those digital negatives referred to, what's the file format? Is it DNG?
DNG. .DNG is the--
Yep, that's exactly right.
Great, thank you.
Okay, cool. Yes?
Are you using Lightroom for those conversions?
I'm gonna actually work in Lightroom today.
I've actually worked through a number of different kind of workflows, some choppier than others. The one I'm most comfortable with is probably the one I used for the longest, but it's super choppy, meaning I use multiple programs to work on. And I think Lightroom is one of those things that kinda consolidates it down into one thing. So in Lightroom, what I'm gonna show you in a minute, what I'm gonna do in Lightroom is I'm gonna import my files, select the ones I want, convert them to DNGs, and then drag them into Camera Raw. And then I'm gonna work from there, where I'm back into my comfort zone. But I'm from an older kind of digital generation, before all this stuff worked, and I used an editing program, which I still have and I still use, it's called Photo Mechanic. I don't have it today, I'm not gonna show you that 'cause again, that's that kinda clunky weird workflow that none of you are gonna use because you probably have never heard of the software. But Photo Mechanic is basically what a lot of the magazine and newspaper editors use, and that's the kinda software that I had in my computer. So, but it basically does the same thing. It throws up a contact sheet, you choose the ones you want. Then you view the ones and you narrow it down to just the things you want. So, it's essentially the same. And then, what I would do from there is drag it into a DNG converter, convert them, then I would, you know, so again, like I said, it's choppy. But Lightroom streamlines the process for you. It's a good piece of software. And one of the things that I've learned recently with my new computer is that Adobe now sells what's called the Creative Cloud Suite, where you don't have to download the software into your computer anymore, you don't have to buy it either as a whole. You basically lease it month to month. And why this is important for people in this business is that by having it that way, your software's never outdated. 'Cause I found that, you know, when you get caught up in a workflow, especially when you're working professionally, it's very easy to allow your updates to lapse. And then all of a sudden, you're looking at your Photoshop and it's three generations old, and you can't update it with your software, and it's not compatible, and you don't have all of the accessibility that some of the newer software has. That's what this kind of Cloud mentality has changed, in that you can always have updated software, and you're constantly on top of where you need to be. And you don't have a lot of conflicts, too, because if you process something in an old version, and then send it off to a client who's using a new version, they're not always compatible. So it's better professionally to work this way with the most updated software. And Adobe, you can contact me if you want me to endorse any more of your products. (audience laughing) Okay, so. Once I get into my editing software and I'm working on my files, the first thing I do is convert, the next thing I do is do a basic light adjustment. And then once I've got a final light adjustment that I'm comfortable with in Camera Raw, then I'll convert it to a JPEG. And then I'll work on it from there. And basically, my basic process with working with JPEGs at that point is I re-correct the white again. I correct white twice. I correct it in RAW, and I correct it in JPEG. And I find that once you get that second white correction, you know, constantly finding the right white point, I think that helps kind of give vibrance to the image. From there, sometimes I'll run a soft filter over the image, just to give it a little bit of clarity, of crispness. It's called a high-pass filter. Yeah, so everybody who's nodding here, there's people nodding, yes, the high-pass filter. But I mean, you can overdo it with a high-pass filter very easily. You have to be very gentle with it. And then, what happens to your image if you kinda overdo it with a filter like that, is it gets what we call crunchy. Where you start to see contrast in places where it's not really normal, or it's not--
Adds noise, too.
Mmhmm, yeah, it definitely adds to the noise. So, you wanna be careful about that. It's sort of a gentle gloss. It's like putting a little bit of urethane over your tabletop. It just gives it that gentle gloss to kinda really make your image nice and tight. It's not always necessary, but I found it helpful in my workflow from time to time, so, it's something I like to do. Once they are filed and finished, creating orderly and repeatable saving procedures is essential to the workflow, where everything is labeled the same way all the time. The way I label my work is I put it in a folder by client. The client folder is inside of another folder. Inside the client folder is which job it is. And then, inside each job folder, there's your DNGs and your JPEGs. That's my workflow 'cause now I know I have everything in an orderly fashion. It's repeatable, it's consistent, and it's reliable. So that when I'm looking for things. Now, Lightroom has this great option where if you meta date, meta tag all your stuff ahead of time, if your library is looking for something, and you type in a word. So let's say I'm working for Melissa Clark, and I'm doing the Appetite column. And I'm looking for Appetite, plum pie or whatever. And I put that, just those two keywords in, boom. Anything with plums, pies, or Melissa Clark comes up on my screen. So that when a client calls me and says, "I wanna purchase this image from you for reusage. "Can you send it to me?" I don't spend days looking through my hard drives trying to find it. Yes?
Do you have a process for backing up what's on your local hard drive? Because Lightroom will put everything in your Pictures file or create, automatically create that file, and I just get so bogged down. And I just, and I get behind on backing up, and, it just gets outta control.
Yeah, I think that the way I do it is I have my portable drive that's my initial backup drive, so when I'm working onsite or I'm working in the studio, the first thing that happens is I back up on a small backup drive. I keep everything on those until I'm done. Once the images are delivered, then I bring them back to the studio and I go to my RAID drives. And my RAID drives are set up. I have one RAID that I access everything from, which is like five terabytes of information. And then I have a double RAID that does the double backup. So once everything is in my triple backup, I wipe the small hard drive clean, I wipe my computer clean, and it only lives there. So if you make your--
I need to do that.
Well, if you make your Lightroom only read the RAID drives, then you don't have to worry about that. So basically, it's a little clunky that you have to plug into your RAIDs, you know, your RAID array. And I can explain a RAID array. It's basically these, it's external hard drives that run, like, parallel to one another. So if it copies onto one, it copies onto the other. So you're creating duplicates of everything you do. So I have one working RAID, and then two backup RAIDs. And that stays at the studio and you plug it in when you need it. But if you make your Lightroom read that, rather than read what's on your computer, that's where you're gonna have a better situation when you're trying to find your files.
And like, when you do that, because I do have two terabytes of externals, two separate externals, but when you unplug and then you try to access images, you're still seeing that question mark because it's not connected, right?
That's what I mean by it being a little clunky.
Because then it's, you know, you have to, and that's the issue. Unless you're hooked up to like a giant server where you can access stuff all the time, you have to make concessions. And that's the safest concession to make. Because that means that once that stuff is living in the externals, and they're backed up in triplicate, they're not going anywhere. And that's where you should access your files from. And if you get into the habit of clearing out your mini drives and clearing out your hard drive on your computer, you won't be tempted to do it that way. And if you point Lightroom in the right direction, it'll know where to look for what you're doing, so.
Will you also show the meta tag thing when you get into showing us?
Like where to put it in?
Yeah, 'cause I don't use that.
Yeah, it's in, it's in one of the things and we can walk through it where it comes up in the file. Okay, so, you're finally finished with your files, you backed 'em up, you've put 'em in your RAID arrays, everything is organized properly so you can find it, and you're gonna send your pictures to your client. Now you need to ask them, again, you already know what file format they want, but now how do they want them delivered? Did they want you to put 'em on a disk? Do they want you to send them through an FTP service? Do they want you to put it on something like DropBox or YouSendIt or one of these other Internet file format things, file sharing things? You need to know that, and it's good to know that ahead of time because if you're constantly asking your client, oh, how do you want your files sent? And then, you know, I don't know, let's ask the tech girl 'cause she's gonna know that better than me, and blah blah. If you know that ahead of time, then you look more professional. You present yourself in a way where okay, I'm done, I sent you an email, here's a Dropbox folder, here's who's getting the files, we're done. That's a great way to go about it. I think that clients that have their own FTP server is really helpful 'cause it's the fastest way to send files. And if you can send 'em that way, it's helpful for you because things like Dropbox and YouSendIt, the load up times on 'em, especially if you're doing TIFFs, take forever, they really, really do. They take a long time. But you know, unless you got like a T1 connection where you're working or you have really, really fast Internet, FTP is definitely the best way to go. And then what I do is I keep a folder on my computer of every client I have and what's their preferred method of delivery. So I have one client where you have to request an FTP window. You have to say, "I'm ready to send files." And then they send you a window of opportunity. It's like a 48 hour window and codes to pop in, and then you have to send them off. So that's, again, a little clunky. I have other clients where it's like, "Oh, just put in on a Dropbox and I'll pick it up "when I have time." Whatever, but the idea is you need to know that ahead of time, keep a record of who likes it which way, and also keep a record of what preferred file formats your clients like. So I also keep a file that says this client likes JPEGs at 300 DPI. This client likes TIFFs at 350. My stock service likes things at 100 ASA, or you know, or ISO with all these other kind of things, no filters, no layers, no this, no that. So, you keep that on file so that when you're thinking, oh, no, what do they need? I don't remember. You don't have to write back to the client and go, "What was the file format you wanted?" Again, about being professional, being organized, keeping yourself in a way that those are things that always seem, they always seem like you know you're on top of your work. So, that's where we're at. So, now your client has their pictures and they're happy. Or hopefully they're happy. Yes, Pam?
Do you have any clients who request a flash drive sent to them rather than--
You know, I have--
In the past, but you know, a lot of the clients I've had recently, I mean most of gotten kinda up to speed, and I think these kind of other services have kinda caught on. People are more comfortable with them now, so. But that's, yeah, I mean, it's happened in the past I've had to deliver hard drives, flash drives. I mean, I've delivered everything. CF cards, just throw the card, put it in there, that's what they had. So, it's just a matter of what, you gotta be flexible enough to understand that some people don't have the technology that we have. Yes, Steve?
Are you typically getting specifications from a client that say I want a certain aspect ratio, so you're having to resize different than what the camera?
Not really, basically what I do to combat that when I know that we have somebody who's not very specific about what they want or they have these kind of, a weird format that they're working with, is I give more room when I'm shooting. So there is definitely room to. So like, I'll shoot what I want, but I'll also shoot something a little further back, so that they can be cropped in at whatever size they want. So if you have a client like that, that's something to keep in mind in your shooting workflow, to understand that they're gonna need some kind of a specific format and they want you. So, shoot what you want, and if they can use it that way, great. And then shoot back further for every frame that you, you know, for every setup. Give them that option where you're comfortable with something that's a little further away, so they can cut and push. Yeah, Kate?
How many options are you generally delivering?
That's a good question. You know, depends on the client. You know, when there's an art director on set, it makes things a lot easier in certain ways because they know exactly what they want. And sometimes, I will have them sitting at the computer while we're working, and I'll say, "Tag the one you like." Take the pressure off of me to edit and get inside your head. If you know what you like, tag it, and that way I can, you tag that one, that's the one you like, I know that's the, and then I can move off from there and choose a couple. But typically, if I'm on my own, and I'm art directing myself and I have to send a client a number of pictures, I would say probably three variations per plate.
Yeah, I think that's a safe way to go, unless you fall in love with five or six of 'em, and then send those. But lemme give you a piece of advice about editing and putting things into your workflow. Don't overburden your editor. Be concise. Show them only what you want published. Don't try to think along with them and go, well, you know, they're gonna think I want, I think they might want this, and I think they might want that. They hired you. You make the decisions. You're the one who took the pictures. Don't send things in that you're not proud of. Because if you put in something in your edit that you don't wanna see published, I can guarantee you that's the one that's gonna get published. I'm telling you. I made that mistake early in my career. I was trying to think along with the photo editor. I was trying to think along with the, or say, well, I don't want them to call me back and say I want this and I want that. Why not? Send them what you want, and if they have an issue, they're gonna call you and say, "Hey, "do you got another variation of that?" There's no shame in that. You shouldn't be afraid of that. You should be more afraid of looking indecisive. Sending an editor 100 pictures when they want 10. You know? I mean, we're in a different age now. This isn't like you turn over your contact sheets, and the editor makes all the choices. They expect you to be the editor first. Edit yourself, learn how to do that. Put in front of a photo editor great choices where she can't or he can't make a mistake. Everything that's in front of them is something you're proud of and something that fits the art direction that you were given. Yeah?
If you're sending three variations, will you try and send three quite different shots, or three with like, subtle differences?
It could be angles. The variations, I could be talking about a vertical versus a horizontal. I could be talking about an overhead versus a table level shot. Or I could be talking about a completely different setup. It all depends on what your flow is. Like, let's say the pictures you were taking earlier. That first setup was your ace, right? So I would make sure I gave a couple of variations on that one 'cause that's the one you were really proud of. And if you found one from the later set that you still liked and you still think might fit the art direction and you would be happy to have it published, then you can include that one as well. But you in your mind know when it comes out of the camera, that's my ace right there, I'm happy, and I'm gonna go with that and variations off of that. So that's where, that's how I approach the editing process for sure. So, yeah?
Quick question. Do you ever show dailies to art directors?
How does that process work?
It's weird sometimes because if the art director's in the house, it's easy.
But if they're not, what we can do is, I've Skyped in the past. I've done a screenshot of a contact sheet. And you know, so you got your contact sheet up on the screen, and you give it a, what is it, a Command F4, and you kind of take a screenshot, and you email them the screenshot, and then they can take a look and say, "Oh yeah, okay, you're on the right track," or "No, don't do that, do something else." So, there are times when that is appropriate, and I think it can be helpful, but you should also have it in your mind that that's a possibility. And then if you are asked that question, "Can we do some dailies or can we show?" The other thing that's helpful to do is in some of these editing programs. So let's say they wanna see the shots from day one. You put it up in your editing program, you choose the ones you want, and then you can select them all and email thumbnails to your client, which they're small versions. They're obviously gonna be transmittable through email. And then they can flip through them quickly and go, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, let's reconsider this." Blah, blah, blah, so yeah, for sure. It's a helpful thing. It doesn't always happen, but you should be prepared for it. Cool, any other questions before I go on?
Quick question from Dina D. Do you include any digital watermarks for things a client will use on the Internet?
No, I mean, I haven't. I never really worried about it so much because if you understand Photoshop, you know that watermarks, at some point, they just, they'll crop, if they wanna steal your pictures, they'll crop around them, they'll Photoshop them out. Your best defense in these situations is if you have a client that's purely digital, don't send them anything over 72 DPI because then it can't be used anywhere else. You know stuff is gonna get lifted off the Internet and used in other places. And I'll talk about this when we talk about business tomorrow. You can't combat that. My stuff is pirated all over the world and used on every blog imaginable. Because it's the Time's connection, it's the writer's connection, it's the fact that there are people who like food photography who wanna write about it. I don't take exception to it, I really don't. Because 90% of it, nobody's making money off of it. If somebody was making money off my pictures, then you know, we're gonna sic the lawyer after you. But the reality is that most of it is harmless, it's promotional, and some people have the courtesy to ask you first, and say, "Can I give you photo credit "and post your picture?" Or if you see somebody used your picture without a photo credit because they didn't know it was you, send them an email and request a photo credit. Because quite honestly, it's nice that people wanna use your pictures. And if they're not making money off of it, it's okay. And the idea is if they give you credit, it's promotion. So, consider that the trade-off for digital in that you're gonna lose some images to, you know, to the Internet. It's just the nature of the beast. And the more you put out there, the more susceptible you are. So, watermarks are fine if you feel that that's gonna help, but quite honestly, I think it distracts the image. And if you understand the business, you realize that there's not that many people who are gonna make money off your pictures that, you know, by stealing 'em off the Internet. And like I said, protect yourself by keeping 'em at a low res. 'Cause the Internet client doesn't need 'em any bigger than that. Paula?
I know this is more appropriate for tomorrow talking about business, but, talking about art direction and stuff.
Generally how much guidance do you get given? And what're the good questions to ask for an art director so you know you're doing the right thing?
That's a good question. I mean, I think there are certain art directors who are heavier handed than others. The ones that'll give you very explicit directions. I think sometimes that's helpful. I mean, I find it sometimes creatively stifling, but the reality is that it's good that when people know what they want because that way, there's no guesswork involved. You give them what they want. And then, if somebody just gives you general parameters and a general feel and they trust your vision, you can check in with them. But that's a vote of confidence. That's a pat on the back that says I know you know what you're doing, and go for it. I trust that you're gonna make the pictures we want. And again, if there's a problem, they're gonna talk to you about it. The good art directors, who will give you more leash to let you kind of experiment and do certain things, and give you kind of general parameters, I find that those, the ones that aren't as stringent with their every single, they're in there and they're helping put the last fleck of garnish on the thing, look, there's all types. And you have to be patient as a professional. You have to deal with the fact that certain people have a lot of pressure back at the office to make sure that you're right. Especially if that art director's taking a chance on you. 'Cause you're the one representing them. So if they feel like they need to be a little heavier handed to make sure that they get the shots that they need to bring back to the office, you have to deal with that, and that's okay. And then, the ones who cut you loose and let you kind of experiment and flex your muscles a little bit, prove them right. Make sure you prove them right.
Do you push initially though, to get a bit more clarity? Or do you just really take it?
It depends on the client. If I know a client has a tougher time with other people behind them. Meaning if I feel like the art director I'm dealing with makes the decisions, I don't worry about it. But if I feel like there's other people behind the scenes that are pushing the art director to make the decisions, then I want much more clarity. 'Cause I don't want any of the problems that come with, we've done the whole shoot, and then, you've made your art director look bad, for whatever fault that is, whoever's fault that was, whether they were less clear or you didn't shoot the way they wanted it, or whatever. But if there's a disconnect between the people that hire you and the images that come out of the camera, that becomes a problem. So you have to read the situation and understand that if your client is somebody that is a little bit more high maintenance, then you need a lot more direction. For sure, that's a great question. I'm really happy that you gave me that question.
How much do you tip your fishmonger? (laughing)
I just keep coming back.
Because we work a lot.
Yeah, I bet.
A lot of people, when we had started talking about copyright, or when we started about watermarking, people--
Well, we have a copyright section coming up tomorrow.
Okay, good. Well let's just wait, we'll wait for that then.
Don't worry, we'll get to copyrights. It's an important component.
All right, let's see.
Let's keep rolling. Yeah, so, one question that we had from Joel. Wants to know is when you're shooting, do you use a polarizing filter?
No, I don't. I think that they're really helpful when you're out in bright light, but considering I'm managing the light in the studio, I don't really need it. But I think that when you're shooting video, in particular, outdoors, those kind of filters are really helpful.
All right, this is also a little bit off-topic, but, and we had kind of talked about this before. So, this is from Fashion TV, and this is when we were talking about the cookbook earlier, and Fashion asked how to ensure a consistency of feel? This is a followup question. Do you remember us talking about a cookbook?
Consistency of feel.
Yeah, I mean, I think that when you're planning out a cookbook with a particular stylist, or even you're planning it out for yourself, you want to have the opportunity, hey, look at me. (laughing) You wanna have an opportunity to plot out your recipes and plot out your styling and plot out all of the things that are gonna happen. And then, you start to decide in editing afterwards. Now, you know that all your propping is consistent, and you know that all of your, you know, all of your planning is within the same framework. The idea is to have that visual consistency be preplanned, so then, and then when you're shooting and the editing process, you say, okay, we got three overheads, we got four table shots, we have three of this, and you make sure that you have a balance along with the visual consistency, so there's a flow. So it's not just consistency, it's flow. 'Cause if you do overhead, overhead, overhead, overhead, overhead, it's gonna get really repetitive. So you wanna have a push and pull. But the planning ahead of time with the stylists, or if you're doing it yourself, and the idea that you have the variations of shots, that's the important part when you're shooting a cookbook, for sure.
Cool. And how much sketching do you do? Do you like to do a little thumbnail sketching?
Yeah, a little bit.
And then it look like that?
I mean, when we have a bigger project, it's helpful to kind of talk about, I usually kind of break things up into pieces. So I say okay, and with a cookbook, one of the things I find myself doing over and over again is breaking it down by meal. So we got dinner, lunch, breakfast, snacks. This is about every cookbook in the world is broken up like this, right? And then, you start to look and say okay, we got five dinners, five breakfasts, five lunch, and you balance it out that way. And if too many of the things look the same, you wanna pull some stuff out and pull some other stuff in. Paula?
Do you make a mood board or something to get a consistent color palette, or something for like a cookbook, where you're working within a, some parameters?
Yeah, you know what helps is a Pinterest board. That's what we've been working with lately is, I have a client kinda pick out a bunch of things that they like, props, other pictures, pictures of mine, things that they might wanna get the mood and feel going, create the Pinterest board, and then you can look at it, and immediately know where that client's head is at. You know that they're thinking about pastels, or they're thinking about more rustic, or they're thinking more modern because of the influences of that, so that's really helpful.