Why I Plan for RAW and Photoshop

Yep, I rely on RAW and photoshop and I’m proud of it. So… let’s go back to the beginning of RAW. Ok, our cards held 256MB or some ridiculously low amount of memory that won’t run a watch now. The pros all lamented the transition to digital and had the “get it right in the camera” mentality. (They were right then and they are still right now.) Why on earth would you take a RAW image at 12 MB when you can take the same image in JPG at 1 MB?!? Even good ol’ David A. Ziser used to say “RAW is for Sushi” (Mmmmm Sushi.)

Ok, let me once again establish that “getting it right in the camera” should be the goal of every professional. Let me also follow up with saying, you can get a 64 GB card for your camera, so size isn’t really an issue anymore. Having said that let me tell you how I plan ahead to use on RAW files, Lightroom, and Photoshop.
I started off resisting too. Storage space was the real issue. I’m an event photographer really, and I take a lot of images (3000-4000 per wedding). When that space limitation was lifted I started shooting RAW a lot more. The cool thing was when Lightroom 1 came along. WOW! Now that was something! I could push or pull an image 2 or 3 stops! Wow! That’s handy! I didn’t even get into the other features, this one alone was a huge asset!

So why is that useful? Have you ever been shooting a wedding or an event and had someone do something cute right in front of you? You are shooting for bright sun when a mother and son embrace in a hug in the shade behind you, or the Groomsmen play a prank on the Bride under some tungsten lights. If you take the time to adjust the camera settings the moment is lost forever, so you just click one off. **Rewind back to 1990.** That cherished moment is never captured. It’s never even considered. It was just something that happened, not a special memory. Well all that is over. I clicked off that photo even though the settings were off and now I might be able to save it. I’m thinking of RAW and Lightroom as a tool here. I wouldn’t ever recommend using RAW as a crutch for being a bad photographer (get it right if you can). I just keep it in my mind that the possibility is there, the technology is available! Even though I haven’t had the time to prepare I’ll still click when the unexpected moment unfurls before me with the hopes that I can use the new tools that were developed for photographers to capture as many valuable moments for my customers as possible.

Saving images is one thing, but abusing this “save” is easy to spot. If all the photographers images have that brightly overexposed washed out look… that’s a sign. If all of the images are exposed ok, but they are super noisy (indicating they jacked up the exposure)… that’s a sign. Once again, don’t call yourself a pro if you can’t consistently deliver high quality images in ALL situations.

Now the point! What is the ability to plan for Light room, RAW, and photoshop afford you as a photographer? Lots of things, but lets take it from the perspective of a portrait photographer. What this ability to use the available technology of today to create more and better products for your customer in a shorter time affords you is TIME! Time to devote to your clients! Time to make them feel comfortable, to give you feedback on the art you are creating for THEM!

Let’s put some things into perspective. As a portrait photographer, your customer’s are your lifeline! There would be no product without their need for it, and what a better way to say to them “Thank You” than to spend a lot of time listening to them and fulfilling their needs?

On a shoot I make sure that I know how I will to create the images I have planned. That planning will allow me to feel comfortable about being able to deliver something of value to the client. Those photos are my goal. Everything else that I can create while I’m on that shoot is “icing on the cake!” It’s what makes me better than the next guy! I’m not selling only a photograph. I am selling peace of mind that the customer will be able to choose the work of art featuring themselves they like best out of several! I’m selling them on the idea that in addition to what they need, I’ll give them more! What’s more, I’m showing them that I care about WHAT I’m creating for them by making them my priority, taking their feedback to make my product better for their specific needs, and spending as little time as needed working the camera.

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