A few months ago, I promised to write about the different factors that make quality custom photography cost what it does; i.e., more than the chain studios or hobbyists charge. As tempting as it is to talk about some of the obvious business factors (ie, taxes, insurance, equipment), I’m going to start with the actual differences in the images themselves. Some people look at their images simply as a way of documenting a particular stage in a child’s life; the quality of the image is not as important to them as, say, the cost of that image especially if they deem it “good enough”. Over the next few days/weeks, I’m going to share the qualities of an image that pro photographers strive to control, so that the final images are so much more than a photograph…they are ART!
First we are going to talk about the most important first step in a great image – proper exposure. Cameras have an automatic exposure meter that works pretty well for regular snapshots. It works by analyzing the amount of light, shadows and highlights in a scene and adjusts the exposure to balance it all out. But there are many instances where the camera can be fooled…in backlit scenes where the background is much brighter than the subject, for instance. In this case the meter tones down the bright background, but in the process the subject is underexposed. Experienced photographers know how to handle this situation, either by positioning the subject so that doesn’t happen, by filling in the light difference using reflectors and or flash, and by overriding the automatic exposure meter to increase exposure for the subject…and sometimes all three! You can see in these next before-and-after images that the bright background caused the images to be somewhat underexposed. In the first set of Genevieve, I was able to increase the exposure in Photoshop to help it along…the “after” shot is corrected for exposure only, no other tweaks yet so that you can see the difference:
These images of Natalie & Ben were taken fifteen seconds apart, long enough for me to see that I needed to adjust the exposure somewhat for the second one. It also has some additional sharpening & contrast, but you get the gist of it – and we’ll talk about those issues soon!
(educating the client about photography basics, consumer guide to custom photography)