Your session is over, you’re excited about the images you’ve seen on the day and now you’re looking forward to viewing the contact sheets and making your final selection.
But just what should you expect from the editing process and what is it that you’re paying for?
After The Shoot
Once the memory cards with your images leave the studio there’s a lot that needs to happen before you even see the contact sheets. When I shoot every image is written to two separate memory cards so that there’s an instant back up. But after the shoot all of the images are carefully imported into specialist editing software called Lightroom and backed up onto two external drives.
Every single image is then reviewed at full size to ensure focus is sharp and any shots that don’t meet quality standards are removed, along with any random shots of you with your eyes closed or in-between poses.
Every shot is then colour profiled to ensure accurate skin tones and very minor adjustments are made to exposure where needed. I’ll often shoot a few hundred images, even for a one hour session, so there’s a lot to do even without any editing before you see the images. Your final set is then uploaded to Photo Workflow and you’ll receive an email to let you know your contact sheet – a page showing all your unedited headshots – is ready.
Contact sheets are normally ready within 5 working days.
Reviewing Your Contact Sheets
At this stage you’re reviewing completely unedited images, so the focus is always on expression and pose – everything else can be tweaked in the edit. I’ll shoot some images a little wider, but the files are very high resolution so these can always be cropped for a more traditional head and shoulders headshot without any loss of quality.
You’ll be able to see just the images that are standing out to me as strong headshots by clicking on the photographer toggle at the bottom of the page. You can also ‘like’ images to create a set of your own favourites, share the contact sheets with your agent or anyone you choose and everyone can comment on each image.
Once you’ve made your final selection just add them to the shopping basket, add any retouching notes you have for me, pay for the edits and the order comes straight through to me.
Edits are normally completed within 7 working days and you can order additional edits at any time – your contact sheet be available to view for two years.
The Edit – Adding More You
I love the editing process and I always say that the shoot is only 50% of the journey. So I personally edit every image. But I really don’t like unnatural editing – heavily airbrushed skin, overly shiny cat like eyes or washed-out skin tones. Agents and Casting Directors are looking first and foremost for a headshot that looks like the person who will walk into the audition. Over the years I’ve cast many times and I can tell you first hand that when someone walks into the room looking nothing like their headshot, it’s almost always an immediate no. So, my job is to add more you – to show you at your best while enhancing who you are, not erasing it.
So how do make you look your best and add more you?
Firstly, I carefully review any imperfections which aren’t permanent features. If it won’t be there in two weeks, it won’t be on your headshot or portrait. So flecks of mascara, shaving cuts, the odd blemish or spot are all removed. Sitters often worry about little imperfections on the day, but there’s no need – they’re all tackled in the first stage of editing. Fly away hairs or stray hairs over the face and so on and also removed. I may subtly alter hair shape or the round of a shoulder to enhance your pose but as a rule I won’t do anything that changes your appearance.
I’ll then adjust the exposure, contrast and colour saturation of the image paying careful attention to shadows and highlights, but also the mood and personality we want to achieve for you. Is it bright and friendly, moody, dramatic, bold and colourful – this is where I start to enhance your personality and bring your brand to life.
Skin and Eye Details
Modern digital cameras capture detail with an almost forensic zeal which can in itself start to look a little unnatural and create too much skin texture. So the next steps are to lighten and darken areas of skin pixel by pixel, through a process called dodging and burning, just to even out your skin tones in the same way a make-up artist would work on set. I also add a little grain to each image – it gives your headshots a more natural, cinematic feel and prevents them looking to digital and sterile.
The eyes are an edit in their own right – adjusting the lights and darks of the iris, adding a little pop, cleaning up the whites of the eye a little. Again, it’s all about enhancing the eye and my lighting on the day so it holds the viewer while keeping everything natural.
Now I’ll look at the colour grade. Do the colours overall need to feel warmer or cooler? Do I need to alter highlight and shadow colours to enhance the mood and that sense of you and your casting? For portraits these creative choices and the edit overall can be pushed a little further, but for headshots it’s important to preserve your skin tones. So colour grading needs to be handled sensitively and often with a less is more approach.
To finish I’ll cast my eye over the image in detail one last time to make sure I haven’t missed anything and if needed alter the crop. I’ll also double check to ensure I’ve carried out all of your retouching notes.
The edit is now complete and this is the process I follow for every single image you order. I then upload them back onto Photo Workflow and you receive an email to let you know they are ready for you to download.