Why Editing Pictures is as Important as the Photo Shoot?

Katya Gaydukova in Fear © Benjamin Kanarek

I decided writing this essay after going through and editing close to twelve hundred (1200) images this afternoon. Why? Because I want to share with you the importance of editing and how it defines what your style is and what your state of mind was at the time of your decision to make the choices you made. I have observed  that depending on the time of day, the mood I am in and how I am feeling about myself, will have a dramatic effect on the choices I make and the outcome of the final published work. When having to make that very important decision it is important to be aware of the state of mind you are in. If you are willing to make the commitment at the time you are editing, that will be what those who view your image as you the artist photographer will see. They will interpret you and your work based on that juncture in time. That is why I usually go through several stages during the editing process.

1. The adaptation period which is based on the first 10-20 images per series. This is were I observe the images and  get a general feel of what I might expect from the expression of the model, general sense of composition and overall feel.

2. The settling in period. Where I am finding indicators of where I think a sequence is going and I am starting to define preferences.

3. The marking of choices marked and noted generally from 3 to 5 stars. I am usually overly generous at the onset, until I see a knock me out shot, where I then go back and mark the now not so great image accordingly.

4. The moving of the selects in to a separate file.

5. A resting period. I do not look at the images for a few hours before making the final choices.

6. The final selects from a reduced selection from the original selections.

7. The commencement of the post production

The editing process really expresses more about you than what was expressed during the actual photo production.

Photo shoots are frenetic at best and there are a multiplicity of concerns that do not allow me to delve as deeply in to the scenario as does the editing process. It is akin to shooting a film and viewing the rushes. My general rule of thumb is, if I have not gotten that “WOW” moment during the shooting of a sequence, I keep shooting till I do. If I don’t, I know that the only thing that will save that sequence is a good rational or some damn innovative editing and post production work.

The photo shoot and production is not over until the editing and post production is completed. If you have poorly edited your images the outcome could be catastrophic. I cannot tell you  how often a good editing job made the difference between an OK acceptably professional job and something very unique and special. If you saw some of the out takes of mine you would understand why choices in editing are so important. I could use all of the RAW material from the same photo shoot and produce what would look like two totally different photographers. Moods expressed as cold and detached to intense and passionate from exactly the same source.

That is why I said that the editing of the photo shoot or film is an extension of who you are and were during that process. Your mind set and emotional state at the time can be seen by those with discerning eyes.

I will end this with a short and rather amusing story. A wonderful Art Director named Martin Schmollgruber from Madame Figaro in Paris once said the following to me after I presented my photos from a shoot for the magazine to him, “I see that you have quit smoking Benjamin…”  I said,  “Yes I did.  How did you know that?”  He responded,  “I could tell by your images!”

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • Wayne Henry

    Unintentionally, I do very similar, but more drawn out. Being a part-timer I usually shoot after hours and have to work the next day. So I get home, copy the images from the camera to the PC so there’s 2 copies, have a 1st cut of the obvious “no” images and a 1st pass of the ‘yes” images ….. then it’s usually bed-time. The next day my mood can be totally different and what looked good the night before is now average and vice-versa.
    Nice to see it’s not unusual to have that “settling in” period either, and shooting till that “wow” moment happens.

  • I’m happy to see that the process I follow (and that I somehow developed naturally) matches exactly what you are describing here. Taking breaks between going over the pictures and deciding what’s interesting and what’s so-so and……….what’s crap is very, very important. It’s like putting a different pair of glasses each time.