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All of the images edited – explaining the oxymoron

‘All of the images edited’ has become a frequently used phrase by some suppliers of photography services. It has only been in existence since digital photography became an easy route to access photography and social media an easy way to advertise your services. The advertising blurb that I saw recently in an advert for a person advertising wedding photography typifies that. Below are a few thoughts on how both people offering photography services and those consuming them need to have a somewhat better understanding.

Let me explain.

‘All high and low resolution images from the day on a CD-ROM’

  1. If I am supplying a few hundred images at full size after cropping ( ‘high resolution’ ? ) then I need to use a few DVDs, very few resized images will fit onto a CD unless the JPEG compression is high and / or the camera / image has a low pixel count.
  2. ‘Resolution’ is usually measured in pixels per inch, ppi. It is the pixel dimensions of an image that determine the relative size / amount of detail in an image. If you have an image that is 3000 by 2000 pixels at 1000 ppi that would be a very high resolution image but would only be 3″ by 2″ in size. Many print labs will use 300 ppi ( Epson printers 360, some labs 401, some 254, it does vary ) which would give an image that is 10″ by 6 2/3″. If you change the resolution to 1 ppi then the image will become a monstrous 3000″ by 2000″. It is the pixel dimensions in combination with the ppi that actually determines the size of the image when viewed in software that uses the full image data. What many people advertising photography services actually mean is that you will get large pixel dimension images that are suitable for printing and low pixel dimension images that are suitable for web use.
  3. From the way it is written it implies that photographs will be taken at 2 different resolutions.
  4. ‘All of the images’ – I can assure you that you do not really want my test shots, white balance target shots, the ones where someone walks in front of the camera or nudges me at just the wrong moment. Quality over quantity, definitely edit out the rubbish, testing the lighting setup and the ones to assist in my post-processing.

Do you really need my whitebalance shots included ? No’ I’d edit them out.

‘Professionally edited images ……..’

If you combine this with the previous one, ‘all ….. images from the day’ it is an oxymoron. That is they cannot both be true. Until Adobe Photoshop was rebadged as ‘photo editing software’ it was quite clear in professional photography that editing is selecting the images and how they might be cropped. The classic is the use of a chinagraph pencil on the contact print of the negatives where the editor will indicate which photos are to be printed and what portion of the negative to print. In photography editing is selection, choosing. What these people offering photography services actually mean by editing is not that but it is also usually not clear as to exactly what they mean. The usual sequence is edit – post-process – post-produce and / or retouch. These people might mean that they are just post-processing or they might mean the full sequence. Because their use of language is  erroneous you do not know what they actually mean. When I’m printing onsite at events the client does the selecting (editing) and I might crop the image, that is it. For a full beauty / fashion photo session the client and I will edit the photographs by reviewing them as we go along and making selections. I will then post-process the raw files, retouch and post-produce where necessary. Separate stages exist with different skill-sets required and with different outcomes.

‘Full copyright of your images’

This means that the photographer cannot use the photographs for their self-promotion etc without your permission and you can charge them if they want to use them. What people who say this usually actually mean is full usage rights. That is you are free to use the images but the photographer will retain the copyright.

Digital photography has transformed what is possible in photography and the linked digital art. Accessibility to photography has never been easier. However, this ease of access has led to people jumping on a bandwagon / seeing an opportunity without their actually having a background understanding of what they are doing or saying.

That is a problem.

Some people will say that I am just being fussy. Some will use the ‘language use and meaning changes’ get-out. However, if there is to be clarity in communications and understanding then language needs to be used consistently and accurately. The more people who profess to know what they are talking about misuse language the more people will not actually know what they are talking about and the more problems will arise. This will particularly be so if someone who does not use the language accurately starts talking with someone who only uses the language of photography accurately.

In other words, professional photographers, please do not dumb down your language use and if you supply photography services and do not know the correct language to use, please learn. The client deserves to accurately know what they are getting and what they can expect.

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