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Old Nov-29-2012, 09:33 AM
#1
anonymouscuban is offline anonymouscuban OP
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Lets talk workflow.
I have some question for pros and semi-pros....
  1. First off, for an average portrait session, about how many different shots do you typically offer?
  2. Do you upload proofs so that the client can select the images they like and then do full edits only on those selected?
  3. If you do proofs first, how much edited, if any do you do on them before upload?
  4. During your culling process, do you only eliminate shots that are technically flawed, like focus issues, maybe blinking, and leave it up to the client to select from whats left or do you also remove shots that are technically solid but you find some subjective issue like pose, etc.?

Thanks in advance for replies. It's something I'm struggling with now that I'm starting to get more photography work.

I'll probably have more questions but I'll start with these.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 10:05 AM
#2
zoomer is offline zoomer
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Well I will probably be the anomaly.

I take around 500 pictures in a 2 hour session.

I load them all into Lightroom. Then I go through and Pick only the shots I like (excluding technicals and ones where the client does not look their best or I just don't like the shot, including picking the best from a series).
Now I will normally be down to about 150 or so.
Then I process all those all in Lightroom, including adding any effects, color variations, cropping ets.
Takes about 2 hours.

I look at them all in my photo viewer. Choose any closeups that need skin work, and then do a few in Portrait Professional usually 5 to 10.
15 minutes.

Then I take 5 to 10 of my favorites and fine tune them in Photoshop.
30 min to 1 hour

Then I make one more pass through all the photos in my photo viewer. I write down the numbers of any that still don't meet my criteria and delete them.
10 minutes
Done. I deliver them all their photos on a disc.
Typically 60-100 photos delivered.

Once I start them I do not want to stop. Once I start working on a shoot I work straight through till they are finished.....I don't want to have a bunch of different shoots in different stages of being finished.

I don't require the clients input as to which shots they like and I never show anyone work that is not completely finished...but that is me :).
Old Nov-29-2012, 10:52 AM
#3
Qarik is online now Qarik
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take about 300 shots in a 2 hours session
load them up in LR, cull about 2/3 of them for various reasons. I don't let a "bad" shot out the door technical or otherwise. (unless it is a wedding and this is the only shot of auntie there is for example..then i might include even if I don't like the shot)
process them all in LR. I won't spend more than 10 min on a photo ever...if it needs that much work then I delete it. 100 shots will take me 2-4 hours depending on how much local editing I need to do.
upload them to gallery and burn to DVD.
I process every photo as if it will get printed. I don't ask customers for feedback while editing or ask them which ones they may print. If a customer makes a request then I oblige as long as it isn't ridiculous.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 01:35 PM
#4
troopers is offline troopers
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My workflow is pretty similar to Qarik's. Answers to the specific questions:

1. I give all the best of the best images, fully edited...typically 25 on an one hour session.
2. No.
3. N/A
4. Client doesn't get to pick and choose. Clients only see what I deliver.

FYI...here's my concise workflow that I prepared some time ago for a photography group that I co-lead:

1. Preparation – Make a list of equipment I’m going to need (which camera bag, step ladder, lenses, flashes, tripod, stands, reflector, toys & lollipops, props, stools, etc). Bring extra cards and batteries…better to have it and not use it rather than miss a shot. Brainstorm for poses and types of images. Bring contracts, paperwork, business cards, etc.

2. Shoot – Show up 15 minutes early to set up (if required) and scope the location. Look for shooting opportunities (background, lighting, etc.). Adjust camera settings to be ‘right’ in-camera (this minimizes post-processing time). Format cards, turn auto playback off, check/set auto-ISO, focus mode, etc. Be relaxed. I always shoot RAW, for maximum latitude later when post processing. Shoot bursts where possible, both to get duplicates (insurance just in case blinking eyes) and a choice of images to work with later…not to be confused with ‘spray and pray’. I use the minimum amount of equipment to get the job done so that I’m not ‘wasting’ time carrying / setting up equipment.

3. First edit – Delete the obvious fail shots (out of focus, eyes blinked, etc) in camera during downtime (e.g. client is changing outfits) – but ONLY during downtime. I don’t want to miss a shot because I was looking at the back of the camera. I’ll probably trash about 20% of the images at this point. Repeat step 2 if appropriate.

4. Post-shoot – Unpack, clean equipment – lenses, filters, LCD, etc. Recharge batteries. Put everything back in its appropriate place.

5. Download cards – Repeat step 3. I download cards to my laptop (directly into Lightroom) and leave the cards unformatted back in the camera, just in case.

6. Second edit – Flag images that may work (flag, rate, quick collection in Lightroom) and ‘reject’ (but do not delete) images that don’t work. Many images are not ‘rejected’ nor added to the quick collection. Probably half of all my images have been trashed or rejected now.

7. RAW conversion – Self-imposed RAW conversion time limit equal to shoot time +/-. This varies job to job (depends on $ paid, how much I like the clients, etc). Review quick collection, and remove any unneeded images. Develop images in Lightroom. Common adjustments I make are:

* Ratio size (typically 1x1, 1x2, 2x3, 4, 4x5, and 5x7), cropping and rotation
* Black and white conversion
* Exposure, contrast, saturation, highlights, shadows, toning, etc
* Vignette, sharpening

About 3 to 5 minutes is spent on each photo. I avoid using Photoshop. Export to JPEG at 100% quality with Bay Photo color profile.

Side note specific to Lightroom – each client/photo session is a unique catalogue.

8. Delivery – Upload images to my website for client delivery. My service includes full size digital images available for printing and downloading via my website. I do not require prints to be purchased from me nor is there a minimum purchase print amount. Delete ‘rejected’ photos. About 5-10% of images are delivered to the client, and about 60% are deleted.

9. Backup – Time Machine backup and manual backup of client Lightroom folder.

Other related items not to be overlooked:

* Maintaining client communication…before (pre-shoot consultation, setting and managing expectations), during (necessary to achieve a good flow and a relaxed atmosphere…if everyone is nervous it will show in the pictures) and after the photo shoot (offer photos adjustments, show appreciation and an opportunity for client to provide feedback).

* Critically and methodically evaluate the images and photo shoot…what worked, what didn’t, and why. I have a “journal” full of notes, ideas, sketches, etc. This is absolutely necessary to become a better photographer.
Old Nov-29-2012, 02:03 PM
#5
divamum is offline divamum
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My workflow is similar to the above, although I DON'T "deep edit" all of them, only the headshots the client chooses. They'll all get basic processing (since I shoot raw), but I only retouch/edit/fine-tune a couple of teasers before sending out the proofs.
  1. Upload cards onto computer via Picasa or Lightroom (I still prefer Picasa for this, but it doesn't always like 5dII files). Shoots organized year/month/name. I don't start a separate LR catalog for each, although I'm beginining to wonder if I should.
  2. First viewing, usually immediately after the shoot, and then start the culling process. I tend to overshoot (particularly the shallow dof parts of my shoots), so usually have WAY too many pix to go through. I'm trying to keep it to 400 or less, but I don't always manage it :(
  3. Cull - deleting any which are obvious tossers (out of focus, blinkers, mis-fires of the flash etc etc)
  4. Cull and select. I tag each image I want to keep 1*. Ones I REALLY like get 2*. Ones that I like but are going to need PS work to fix an issue (eg fix a background, or do an eyeswap even before I show it to the client) get 1* plus tagged red.
  5. Deep edit and fine tune the one that jumped out at me as the megashot of the session even before I went through them in detail - I usually send that to the client and/or post to FB as a teaser within 24hrs (with their permission)
  6. Continue to cull/select. Basic processing on the rest of the 1* images: WB, contrast, crop and other raw adjustments needed to make them presentable, although NOT deep editing or special treatments.
  7. do the work on the ones tagged red.
  8. Go through the * photos again, making absolutely sure I haven't missed a technical problem that's going to be a pain to fix if they choose the image.
  9. Upload low resolution proofs for the client to view (I have a 2 week clause in my contracts to get them available to view (and another 2 week clause to finish them after the client has made their selection(s) . It doesn't usually take me that long in either case, but I have it there as a CYA since I don't do this full-time and sometimes my singing/teaching schedule means I need the extra time). My mini package usually yields 30-50 proofs; my full session a minimum of 130 (and often as many as 200). Yes, performers really DO want that many to choose from.
  10. Once the client has made their choices, I tag those 5* and then get to work on the deep editing - skin work, finetuning contrast, any special treatments, black and whites (I always deliver headshots in both colour and BW - I'd rather I do the conversion and that way they have one ready if they need it).
Lather.Rinse. Repeat.
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Last edited by divamum; Nov-29-2012 at 02:24 PM.
Old Nov-29-2012, 02:57 PM
#6
Hackbone is offline Hackbone
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With my seniors I offer three sessions roughly 20 shots, 50 shots and about 100 shots. I try to stay within those limits because more than that is too much work on my part and too confusing to the client to pick from. At what point does a client become overwhelmed? Why take several of the same pose.......if they blink or you dislike it delete and redo. Older photographers remember the days of film where you had 10, 12, 20 or 24 shots per roll and each shutter click cost you, not like today with digital. Oh and you couldn't look at the back of the camera to see what it looked like.

I retouch 3 on the first batch........about 10 on the second........and about 15 on the last.....just to show them what can be done and telling them that whatever they order from will be finished.

Unfortunately proofs can be copied and some folks don't care about the quality of the result. With the first grouping they have to come in and view the photographs, with the 2nd and 3rd selection they get thumbnails on Xerox paper and a CD made from "Flip Album" to view at home.


I only show what I feel is a quality photograph and no doubles. Each photograph will be different. I show a variety because they then will want them all not just a few.

Make sure you get a session fee or hourly fee up front before the session so they show. Get a hefty deposit on ordering and make sure they sign for what they wanted. Remember you don't want to photograph everyone.

There are some you should turn away. Market yourself for the client you want. Some people will only eat at Subway in Walmart, others will go to Cracker Barrel and others will go to a fine restaurant. What group do you want to work for? Market to them. Another example if you saw two brain surgeons one in coveralls and one in a suit honestly which one would you want to operate on you at first glance?

On those bad shots others were talking about.....turn them into B&W and call them Art.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 05:58 PM
#7
anonymouscuban is offline anonymouscuban OP
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Thanks guys. Lots of great info.

I'm doing pretty much what Trooper is doing sans the journal entries which is a great idea. I don't require prints to be purchased. I charge them for my time/skill and for the digital downloads. I do recommend that they order prints from my smug gallery (Bay Photo) for print quality but not required. I have a mark up on my prints, so I make some money on those as well. I'm surprised that so far, quite a few clients have ordered prints.

And Charles, I have turned down people. Fortunately, I don't make my living from this so I can afford to be choosy. I don't want to make the mistake of becoming the "Cheap Photographer" in town. Living in Los Angeles, there are plenty of those already. I realize that once you establish your price point, it's hard to change it and attract a new level of client. My thought has always been that if I don't think my skills/product are worth market value, then I'm not ready to have people pay me to photograph them.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 06:17 PM
#8
divamum is offline divamum
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I do think how many proofs offered etc varies for different markets. If I do a family shoot, i do NOT give them unedited proofs, and I do NOT give them 150 shots! That's usually about 30, and they're all already edited; typically I make some print sales on those too (although like you Alex, I don't insist they buy through smug, although I recommend it if only so I have greater control over the final product).

Thirty proofs for a full 4hr headshot session would be unacceptable, though - clients WANT lots of shots to choose from, and understand the only the final picks will be retouched and deep edited. I get paid up front, and prints are a non-issue - I explain to them about printer calibration and suggest they get a "master print" from smug via my gallery, but that's up to them.

I'm considering raising my rates, simply because a few clients have asked about a price level in between my two packages; haven't decided yet if I want to do that or not. I will say that typically when my clients choose the smaller package (with fewer included edits), they usually buy a few extra edits and often wind up spending *more* money than they would have if they went for the full package.....
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Old Nov-29-2012, 06:17 PM
#9
Hackbone is offline Hackbone
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You are an intelligent man!!!
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Old Nov-29-2012, 06:42 PM
#10
anonymouscuban is offline anonymouscuban OP
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Diva... I totally agree that it's dependent on your market. As you said, headshots are very different than a portrait session with a family. I can see the need of providing proofs to a headshot client. No way you're going to waste your time editing that many shots when you're pricing is based on each shot they get and they're not going to buy 150. Also, this type of client requires a professional, fully edited, high res image so they are less likely to "steal" your proofs. It's in their best interest to get the finish product.

Right now, I guarantee 25 fully edited shots for a typical session. Say up to two hours but so far, I've averaged about just over an hour up to 1.5 hours.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 06:49 PM
#11
divamum is offline divamum
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One real problem I have is overshooting - I make SO much more work for myself. It's not that I spray and pray, as such, but just that if I see something I find myself firing off a series of minor changes of expression etc; it's more that I get so into it that I'm just shooting away, and because I like to keep things flowing I prefer not to stop>pose>shoot, but just get client responding>grab good expression>grab another good expression>and another. Obviously, with digital, this is no big deal OTHER than the number of images it means I have to go through afterwards. My technicals are by and large ok as long as I remember I need to stop down more on the 5dII (vs the 7d) to guarantee two eyes in focus (oops!), so I often wind up with way more shots than I need and certanily more than I want to have to trawl. Trying very hard to build a session flow that will give me the freedom I enjoy to get the most out of the client, but doesn't result in overshooting so much....
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Old Nov-29-2012, 07:28 PM
#12
Spotzo is offline Spotzo
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I just wanted to thank anonymouscuban for asking such good questions, and everyone who replied in such detail.

It's very much appreciated.
Old Nov-29-2012, 07:33 PM
#13
anonymouscuban is offline anonymouscuban OP
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Do any of you guys use a posing checklist? Basically a list of poses to remember to run through during a typical shoot. I don't but have been really thinking about creating one. Maybe not to stick to religiously but more as a guide for the shoot to flow and so I don't forget to shoot anything.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 08:45 PM
#14
michaelglenn is offline michaelglenn
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1. For a 2 hour session, I typically shoot around 300-400 images.

2. The proofs I upload are the final images. I use it so they can choose their print. Sometimes I will offer specials or "print credits" for a limited time which will get the client to choose more prints. I suggest with every client that you sit down and show them some sample print work. This is where I profit the most.

3. For the end product, I end up with about 150-200 edited images.

4. I always choose the photographs I think are best. This is how it should be. Being the photographer, you should know which shots would look best to print/are the most appealing. If the client wants a particular posed shot, I make sure to respect their wishes.


A summary of my workflow goes like this: I use Photo Mechanic to cull through my raw images and pick the ones desired to edit. Then I bring the work into Adobe Camera RAW where I will do my first round of edits (white balance, tonal curves, correct exposures, cropping if necessary). Then if the session is really appealing, I will blog about it; I'll talk about this process later. After the images are saved as JPEGs from ACR, I'll double check for any noticeable blemishes and use Photoshop to clone them out. I'll have two sets of images at the end. One set saved in Adobe RGB color space (best for professional prints) and the other saved in SRGB color space (best for posting online and good for clients to make cheap prints themselves). After that, the high quality images are uploaded to the online proofing gallery. The client will receive a "resized" disc of the images in the SRGB color space. The resized images are roughly 900x600 pixels. These images are great if they would like to post a couple images to their facebook and for small prints. The incentive for the resized disc is that they would have to go through me for the big prints.

Now to the blog process!

I'll take my favorite photographs and do a bit of color toning and masking to have my images pop. After those images are edited, I'll batch save them to the SRGB color space. Then I'll take those images and resize/piece together with some custom templates I made for my blog. Then I will upload them to my website and write something short and sweet about the session. I'll post the link to my facebook, my photography facebook page, and the client's facebook. Most of the client's friends and family will hit the "like" button on the blog post which causes that link to be posted on their facebook. From there, it turns into some kind of sick explosion of photography amazingness which will lead to more business..well..at least sometimes!

I also enjoy blogging just because I really enjoy piecing together sessions. So it happens to not only be a marketing tool, but also some kind of weird hobby of mine haha.
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Old Nov-29-2012, 08:50 PM
#15
zoomer is offline zoomer
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I don't do much posing. I am more looking for background and light. Once I find the setting and light I place the subject in the frame and then let them do their thing...if they get stuck with the posing I help them out. I try to get them in a rhythm and every time I interject it retards that process.
I never use a checklist even for weddings....just go with the flow.
Old Nov-30-2012, 05:38 AM
#16
VayCayMom is offline VayCayMom
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I mostly do families and newborns. I shoot too pictures many but with kids on the move and my hand not as steady as it used to be, I don't want to miss a good shot.

I shoot RAW and use NikonViewNX2 to get them up fast and begin to cull. I might have 400 images. 1st cull I go through and mark the decent ones. COPY those into another folder marked 2nd cull where I go through and aim for my goal of 70-90 images. When I am near that number I mark a third folder FINAL and copy the images that now are all marked with a 3 here. I don't delete as I go I just begin marking with 1, then 2 then 3.

I put the final images through Lightroom,fix them up a bit, making sure there is nothing in there that I cannot make into a good image with some work .

With Kodak online ordering gone I have changed things. I used to recommend them as the only lab unless they used me. So NOW I have my client pick 12 images from my Smugmug gallery out of the 70-90 I posted. I give them a 5x7 print of each of the 12, I want them to see what they are supposed to look like. Then they can either order from my gallery or pay an extra $25.00 for CD and right to print. AND in addition if they want the entire proof gallery , I edit those enough to be "suitable to print" ( afterward) for another $25.00 . I always be sure to have a few teasers in gallery and if they don't pick them in top 12 they get them when they buy the gallery so it is an extra incentive.

My prices are low on prints, I make my money upfront in the session which is 1 - 2 hours.
I charge $200.00 for the session which includes 12 prints. Most people know they want the cd and pay $225 right away, even $250.00 I encourage them to use the gallery for friends and family that might want pictures and they don't want to take the time to make everyone copies.. they can order what they want at low prices direct. I always leave time to edit before it prints.

My prices recently went up and I cut way back on the number of images in a gallery making things easier for me. I used to do this without prints for $150, included 10 images on a CD and for the entire proof gallery $100.00. That was a lot of work if someone did not buy the gallery CD.

This is more efficient and the price is attractive. EVERYONE buys at least the top 12 CD.

I am pretty happy and proud of how I set this up, plus I make more $$$ with less work and no one cares about the price. Breaking down the price of the cds works great, prints are affordable but everyone wants the cd, no problem. $25 is easy to ask for for a CD. BUT they don't have to spend more than $200 if they don't want to. My clients want to print them their way but I make sure they SEE what they should look like.
I get the cd of 12 out right away but the cd of the entire gallery always comes later.

This has been my BEST season by far, I have had as much business as I can handle, FACEBOOK is the way most people find me.. through my kids or friends, people remember the pictures and then think of me when they need someone. If I can manage to average 3 clients a month that will meet my goal to keep us afloat in this nice rental home with my husband's disabilty checks, other wise we have to move to an apartment and bye bye in home studio. But I am almost there after 1 year!!
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Old Nov-30-2012, 08:19 AM
#17
FlyNavy is offline FlyNavy
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Thanks everyone for great tips.
Old Dec-01-2012, 07:47 AM
#18
kevingeary is offline kevingeary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouscuban View Post
I have some question for pros and semi-pros....
I'm going to assume you're talking retail clients -- the gen. public.

Quote:
  1. First off, for an average portrait session, about how many different shots do you typically offer?
  1. Do you mean looks? Outfits? Poses? I tend to want to capture real interaction so not a ton of posing. But to answer your question, we want to pack as much into the hour or two that we have. Could be 50 images, could be 350. Just depends.

    Quote:
  2. Do you upload proofs so that the client can select the images they like and then do full edits only on those selected?
  3. In Lightroom, it's easy to get the colors and tones you want, apply that to all of the images and do a base sharpen. Then show those as proofs. And after the client selects images and places an order, the selected images get fully retouched -- remove the sharpening and take the photo in photoshop to finish it.

    Quote:
  4. If you do proofs first, how much edited, if any do you do on them before upload?
  5. I'm switching into home viewing/sales at least for the initial run and then uploading to a gallery for future purchasing. I firmly believe starting with online selling is losing people lots of money.

    Quote:
  6. During your culling process, do you only eliminate shots that are technically flawed, like focus issues, maybe blinking, and leave it up to the client to select from whats left or do you also remove shots that are technically solid but you find some subjective issue like pose, etc.?
I remove every image I don't personally care for. I only show what I'm happy with. Some people might say that I'm throwing away images that the client might buy, but the truth is that I have to be 100% proud of what I'm selling during the sales process to justify taking a check.
Old Dec-01-2012, 08:18 AM
#19
anonymouscuban is offline anonymouscuban OP
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Good info guys. Very helpful. Just a little bit of what I've been doing.

First of all, my model is not based on print sales. I charge for my time/talent/digital copies. I've tossed around the idea of charging an upfront sitting fee and then selling prints but I'm not too sure I want to go that route. I guess if this was the way I made my living, I would consider the print sell model but I just don't want to invest the time/effort involved. Also, so far my clients have preferred to pay for the digitals. When all is said and done, I get $450 for a 1.5 hours session and about 30 (avg) fully edited shots. I think that's a fair price for the market I'm in. I've checked a lot of photogs in my area. There are the CL guys with cameras that charge $150 for what I offer but there product is garbage. Then there are those that charge $250 for a sitting fee and their print prices start at $40 for a 5x7 and I feel my work is at least on par with most of theirs.

I don't do proofs of any kind. My workflow is a lot like troupers. Although I don't do the journal (great idea) and I don't blog (thinking about it).
  1. I do an initial culling where I flag all the technicals/uglies for delete.
  2. Then I do a second pass where I flag the keepers.
  3. Then, for the similar flagged shots, I use the "compare view" to narrow down the keepers.
  4. Then I correct WB, fix any crookedness in LR
  5. Next I bounce each shot to PS and do my edits there. I've timed my normal "recipe" and spend about 3-4 minutes on each shot. I sharpen, set black/white point through curves and add a slight vignette.
  6. Back to LR. Double check all shots and then upload to my smug.
  7. I also select a handful of favs and upload watermarked, low res copies to my FB page.
  8. I export all the shots to a CD and deliver it to the client, along with the link to the gallery where they can share photos with friends/family and order prints (optional but encouraged).

As far as shoot day. I double-check all my gear before I leave. I arrive about 20 minutes early to scope out light and get my bearings, run through a location shot plan and I'm set.

It's working for me so far but I wanted to see what others are doing to see what I can learn/improve. I've gotten some good info in this thread that is going to help me improve as a semi-pro shooter. I do appreciate all the information.
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Old Dec-01-2012, 07:19 PM
#20
Hackbone is offline Hackbone
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Create a favorites folder and every time you see a photo you like copy it to the folder. Make one for men, women, child,family etc. It really helps.
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