In this day and age, a large percentage of our clients purchase digital copies with a photo session, in fact it is pretty rare for clients to only purchase printed copies. It’s a shame to me that fewer people purchase printed materials because there is a whole different level of quality of the images that cannot be appreciated by just looking at on a computer screen, but that is a whole different topic for another day!
So what does “Digital Copies” mean in the photography world? It can mean different things depending on the particular business you work with so I can’t vouch for anyone but our current offering through Sunker Creative Studio. But for us, it means that you will receive a digital version of all of the final images from your photo session. But that is the very short version of explaining what you get, and not everyone realizes what exactly goes into the delivery of those digital copies. So hopefully this will help you understand what you are paying for in that fee.
First of all, as most serious professionals do, we shoot in Raw image format on our cameras. Without getting too technical on our explanation, that means that the pictures aren’t ready to be used when they come off the memory card. Think of it like taking a picture on your phone with a filter on, that picture looks done as soon as you take it because you already chose the filter to use and as you take it your phone processes it. Professional cameras can do the same thing to a degree, but that can greatly limit your ability to edit or change things later during processing. So our pictures are all taken in a “Raw” format so that all editing can be controlled by us back at our computer. This allows a full range of creativity and options for how we make the images look, versus a pre-determined filter that we could decide later doesn’t look great. So as much as we would like to just take the pictures straight from the camera and deliver to you, there is a step of processing that has to take place just to make them presentable and in a file format your computer will recognize.
Once we begin the processing of your Raw images back on our computers, this is where the corrective and creative processes take place. When I was studying photography in college it was right around the start of digital photography becoming a new trend in the photography world, so we were still taught on film cameras. If you’ve ever used a film camera, you know that you didn’t just have an unlimited number of chances to get a picture right, as well as you wouldn’t know if you got it right until you got the film developed and had prints made. What that did is forced me to learn how to shoot correct the first time, and not just take a million shots and hope I got a good one. I was a broke college student like everyone else, I couldn’t just buy tons of film and shoot as much as I wanted! So although the images may look great coming out of the camera when I take them, there is still some corrections that can take place in the digital processing phase that enhance what was very difficult to accomplish in the film days.
The first phase of our process for producing your digital copies begins with skimming through all of the shots to eliminate any bad shots or unnecessary duplicates. So if someone closed their eyes, or is making a bad face, or if the shot just doesn’t look good, we remove those from your pictures. Once we narrow down the group to what we want to process, we begin the processing phase. This means making general exposure adjustments and noise reduction adjustments and various other tweaks to the color and white balance to make everything look correct. After an initial round of general adjustments, we will run through all of the images a second time to match things like the warmth of the pictures, to make sure there is a unified “feel” to your session. The next step can be a little more time-consuming, but is necessary to make sure we are providing the highest quality pictures to our clients every time. This is when we do touch ups and corrections, some would refer to this as “photoshop-ing” the images. We don’t go too crazy on this stage because we want your photos to be natural looking and stay looking true to you, as well as the high level of editing and Photoshop work does come with an extra price if that is something you desire. We do this step because we want you to love your pictures, regardless of the fact that you may have woken up with a pimple on the tip of your nose! Working with babies and children, it is near impossible to keep noses free of boogers, and faces without scratches. So we clear up these types of minor blemishes.
If you do use us already you may not even realize that we go to this level, which means we’re doing it right! A week or two after your photo shoot you have likely forgotten that your little one had a huge scratch across their cheek, and the last thing we want to do is deliver your pictures to you with a reminder of the stress you probably went through when that happened right before your scheduled photo session. We clear those things up so that when you get your final digital copies you won’t see them and hopefully forgot that it was even there to start with. We have kids, we know how hard it is to keep noses clean, keep the ketchup off their mouths from the snack right before heading out for pictures… so we look for those things when we shoot, but sometimes they’re not noticeable until we see them on the big screen. As you can imagine, if someone has a pimple that shows up in every shot, it can take some time to go through each picture and clear that up, which is why it takes a week or two to get your digital copies ready.
The last phase of the editing process is the creative aspect. Once we have good images to work with, and all blemishes are cleared up we go through and make any creative adjustments to your images. This can be as simple as converting pictures to black and white, but also adding dramatic effects to give a unique look and feel to your portraits.
This final creative step is where our style comes in and what helps separate us from other artists. Although we can re-create any style out there, we tend to produce images that follow our own style and look which is different than most of the photographers that just follow current trends. This last step is what helps us put our stamp as Sunker Creative Studio on your pictures which is more of a timeless look that you can hang on your wall for years to come, that won’t be phased out as a trend of the time. When people ask how I define my style as an artist, the best description I can provide is dark and rich. I try to capture all of the colors and provide a full range of them from light to dark so that you can see every detail in this crisp and colorful look.
Once we have fully processed your pictures for aesthetics and corrections, we convert all of the final images to a usable and recognizable Jpeg format that your computer or mobile device will not hesitate to read. And we keep our images at full-resolution, which means you are seeing every possible detail in the pictures you receive that we see in the originals. And from there the pictures are yours. Although we would strongly like you to consider getting any printed materials through us for a lot of different reasons, the digital pictures are yours and you may do what you choose with them. Just please give consideration to us and our printing services, and although they may be a little higher than your local drug store photo lab, there is a very drastic difference in the level of quality in our prints compared to those other options. As well as the fact that we will make sure the colors are matched before you receive them, and since we took the pictures we know exactly what they should look like when printed. We can also turn prints around in a very short time, sometimes the same day you order!
Hopefully this helps you understand a little bit about the processing of your pictures after a photo session and why it can take a little bit of time to get them back in your hands. We treat every picture we take as if it were a memory for our own family, so we never rush or cut corners. We hope that you will love the photos we take for years to come and appreciate the beauty for a lifetime!