Behind the Scenes

From Shoot to Gallery || Understanding the Professional Photographic Process

Caleb Kerr, a professional athletic, fitness, and lifestyle photographer out of Austin, TX recently wrote an article titled The Value of A Professional Photographer, or, "Can I Have All the Unedited Photos" and I HAD to piggy-back on what he wrote because it was SPOT on and such a well written article! If you haven't had the chance to read his article, PLEASE DO! He does an incredible job at articulating what takes place during photo shoots, and most importantly, what takes place after.

Copyright Michelle Newell Photography

Envisioning The End Product: During a photo shoot I often times have the end product in mind. How I will edit a certain image or compile a gallery. Whether or not the image will be in black and white or what I will add to the image for extra drama. Photography is so much more than "picture taking" for me. It is creating a piece of art that will make someone stop and stare. But most importantly, I feel that I am in the business of creating memories that will be cherished for generations. And what an honor it is to be invited to do that.

With that though, I place a lot of responsibility on myself to be prepared, prep, come inspired and ready to create. I draw from a lot of things for inspiration; nature, the way the light falls through the trees, visual effects, art work that is completely unrelated to my own work etc. My clients know that they can trust me in creating a beautiful product for them. I love collaborating with my clients on images that they have seen in my portfolio or an original idea they might have. What I prefer not to do is take an image that another artist has poured the same amount of effort, time, and talent into and try and recreate it. In doing so, it is no longer my voice, but the voice of another.

Editing by Michelle Newell Photography

The Art of Editing: Having been a professional photographer for almost 9 years, I have learned how to manipulate my camera to produce images that I envision in my mind. However, it doesn't just stop there. Post productions of an image is also a HUGE component to my art and why my clients hire me. I feel as though Caleb Kerr took the words right out of my mouth when he wrote: "My editing is part of my process, my product, and my style. It’s part of why you hired me.

The way that I edit is a crucial component of my photography. My style and skill as a photographer encompass other things like framing, timing, and a whole host of other skills, but the photo is not the finished product that I’m proud to put my name on until I’m done the editing. If you’re baking Thanksgiving dinner, you don’t pull the turkey out half way through cooking and serve it!

The edited images shown here are what I want to represent me. That’s the kind of work that’s on my website, and it’s the caliber that I want people to expect. Below are several more examples of a side-by-side comparison of a totally untouched RAW photo and my completed edits." (click excerpt to read full article)

As you can see, I have included my own side-by-side comparisons of unedited and completed edits to show examples of my own work.

Copyright Michelle Newell Photography

I love to shoot in odd places. Just ask my clients. They know. Haha! For the shoot below I saw this bundle of recycled cardboard and asked my client to sit on it. The outcome and the final edit of the image is one of my personal favorites from the session.

Professional Portrait Photography by Michelle Newell Photography

Newborn photography has its own rules on editing. Because safety is my #1 priority in every session, I will not do a pose or setup without making sure that baby is safe. In fact, a lot of the more "complicated" images are set ups that are created as composites in editing later. That mean I take different images, layer them on top of each other and edit those images to create one final product. It takes time and patience to create these images.

One of my favorite things to do is show my clients a completed image prior to shooting it (like the black and white above) and then create it for them. There is a "Oh WOW!" moment that is so fun to experience with them as they see how their final product is going to be created.

Newborn Photography Before & After by Michelle Newell Photography

This Question: Are there any more to look at? Once a gallery is delivered, I have spent a good amount of time culling, sorting, and editing the images and delivering the contractually agreed upon number of images. Every one of the images I deliver I have an emotional attachment to. Every one. These are the images I am drawn to and have personally hand edited and created for my client. Caleb says it so well when he wrote: "These photos you never see are the outtakes, the blurry shots, the duplicates (my god, so many duplicates)... I’ve spent my time combing through all of them, doing side-by-side comparisons until I landed on the best ones. I will never have two different photos that are both great and only give you one of them. The selection process is to whittle down the excess, exposing the heart of the shoot so I can give you what you need: quality, professional photos."

Understanding the Professional Edit by Michelle Newell Photography

The Gallery: My hope, every time I deliver a session, is that my clients fall in-love with their images as much as I do. It's an emotional process for me. My "job" is one of creating images that will last a lifetime. Images to be cherished by generations to come. The portraits I take are much more than just a "paid gig" or "project." We photographers are emotional creatives that put heart and soul into every project, and I truly hope that it is felt.

I hope this article has helped give a little light to how a session takes place. I am completely humbled every time I receive an email from a potential client asking me to document a certain life experience, whether it be the journey to parenthood, family life, a milestone moment, or love. I also hope that if aspiring photographers are reading this, that it sheds a little light into what all takes place from shoot to gallery.

Be sure to follow Caleb and his work here:

Behind the Scenes || Pacific Northwest Newborn Photographer

I love behind the scenes photos. They provide aspiring photographer and parents with an opportunity to see what really takes place and how much post production (editing) goes into creating that "perfect" final product. Behind the scenes also give me an opportunity to teach, which I love doing. Here are three things that went into creating this image:

1.) Prop Preparation: When having a newborn on their tummy inside a prop, I look for sturdy, anti-tipping props that are large enough for baby to be curled up in. Once the item has been selected, I begin stuffing the inside with soft materials that will be comfortable for baby to lay on.

2.) Posing Baby: Before placing baby into the prop, I will first pose him/her on my lap and then transition baby onto the prop. This allows them to get comfortable with any movement I am making and perfect their hands and legs prior to being transferred. Once relaxed they are they moved into the prop for final adjusting.

3.) Newborn Safety: This part should be a "no-brainer," however, safety is something I do not take lightly. When placing any newborn or baby/child on a prop, parents or an adult should always be within harms reach. For this particular shot, baby's head was wobbly and unstable, so her Daddy helped keep her head stable while I took the shots I wanted. Then in post, his fingers were edited out.

Happy {SAFE} Shooting!

Behind the Scenes by Michelle Newell Photography

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