my profile wrote:
My goal is to produce 1-2 true portfolio-quality images for each wardrobe/hairstyle/background combination, not to see how many unedited files I can cram on a CD. You really don’t want more than one image of the same look in your portfolio anyway, unless they’re very different – do you?
I’d rather be shooting than post-processing, and I’d rather spend my time getting the absolute most out of the best images than post-processing second and third bests and trying to salvage the mediocre ones.
I don’t give out unretouched images. No exceptions. And I don’t allow others to retouch my images, with the occasional exception of a professional working under my direction.
The above paragraphs have been in my portfolios since Day 1. Over a hundred shoots, and nobody ever asked for the RAW files or unretouched photos. Then a couple of months ago three models in a row asked for “all the RAW files” – after the shoot.
As far as I can recall, the most photos I’ve sent to a model from a shoot of one day or less is seven – with one exception. I had eight photos professionally retouched for a magazine submission and sent the model those plus 2-3 more. The professionally retouched photos still aren’t in our portfolios, since they are still pending publication.
The first model who asked for all the RAW files said, “I can retouch them myself. I have Portrait Professional.” She said she had retouched most of the photos in her portfolio. I looked at her portfolio and said no way. I had sent her seven photos of four wardrobe changes, and all of them are now in her portfolio.
Then she asked me for the next 15 best photos. I said no. (Btw, this was a trade shoot. Her profile now says she wants the 10 best photos – for paid shoots.)
We had a second shoot planned, but it never happened. I don’t know whether we’re still on speaking terms or not.
Amazingly, I made an exception for the second model. She has a degree in graphic design and has had several college-level courses in Photoshop, and her retouching is surprisingly good. I told her I wouldn’t send her all the RAW files, but I would send her about 150 RAW files if she agreed to my terms.
My conditions were 1) no use of blur in retouching skin, 2) she would send me the finished, full-size PSD or TIFF files, 3) she would make changes if I requested them, 4) no photos would be used until I approved them, and 5) I would crop the photos, add my logo and embed a digital copyright notice in the final JPEGs. To my surprise, she agreed.
To the third model, I just said no.
In 1962 at age 15, I did a summer internship in photography at the Tulsa Tribune, One thing Royce Craig, the chief photographer and my first mentor, pounded into my head was that as the photographer it was my job to select, print and crop photos.
Unless the assignment sheet specified more than one photo, it was my job to deliver one (1) print to the desk of the editor who made the assignment. If an editor asked to see the other negatives, I was to hide any negatives that I didn’t want used – because 20% of the time, if an editor selected the photo, he/she would select something I didn’t want my name on. Every time I have broken that “rule,” I have proven Royce right.
Maybe the addition of photo editors, most of whom are also photographers, to newspaper staffs has improved photo selection and cropping overall.
The Tribune is the only newspaper I know of that had a policy and process that completely eliminated the editors from photo selection and cropping. The editor selected the column width. That was it.
The photographers cropped and printed photos to size – actually 1/3 oversize (33% larger than the size they would appear in the newspaper). The scales on the enlarging easels had oversize column widths painted on them.
Before the photo deadline, multiple prints were rubber-cemented to 48x48-inch “flats” (sheets of poster board) and delivered to Engraving. The entire flat would be shot at the same time in the engraving camera.
This saved a ton of time (and money), because the engraving cameras didn’t have to be readjusted to size for each photo. (In fact, they were only adjusted once or twice a month.)
Once the photo was engraved in zinc, there wasn’t much an editor could do about it.
The Tribune was the third largest newspaper in Oklahoma – but year after year the Trib ran off with the awards in the Associated Press and Oklahoma Press Association photography competitions. Coincidence?
Another thing Royce pounded into my head. “A photographer who loses control of his images loses control of his own image.” While all prints were filed in the newspaper “morgue,” each photographer filed and retained his/her negatives.
One more anecdote from the Tribune. During lunch hour one day the managing editor came back to Photo to see Royce. Since I was the only person there, he asked me, “How come you can’t re-refrigerate beer, but you can re-refrigerate Polaroid film?”
I was 15 years old, and I had no idea. So I said, “Harmon, have you ever tried to drink Polaroid film after it’s been re-refrigerated?”