By Gary Rabenko
How you shuffle through your images is up to you. But you need image-viewing software that allows you to rapidly shuffle forward and in reverse while somehow tagging any images of interest. A tag may be a check mark or slash, but software that allows multi-tiered marking with, for example, 1–5 stars or a variety of colors, can be even more useful in choosing your images.
You can’t use a purely analytic approach to arrive at an artistic result. Try to make much of your image selection from the hip and the heart, which is the best way to get images that have a feel. It is possible to use an analytic approach to choosing images—for example, scrutinizing each for the perfect expressions, carefully selecting those with balanced family members, and then picking some representative shots of key moments. Many go to great pains to parse their photos in that way. The result often is a bland, uninteresting, and disappointing album!
Often the most meaningful and exciting expressions coincide with incidental moments at unpredictable times. Suppose the most important persons in the key moments are much more expressive during in-between moments, when they are less guarded. Going for that “perfect” smile is also skipping out on the individuality and twinkle that makes the person so special to you. Good photography with good post production and image enhancement should keep most of the personality while minimizing the less-than-ideal baggage that excitement over an exciting life can bring.
Instead of picking favorites and perfect shots, you may try tagging shots that help to tell the emotional story of the event. Have you noticed that some people tell a story in an exciting way and others are boring, straightforward, and predictably less captivating? Which kind of album might you enjoy sharing with others, or even passing down to your kids? Because today’s album pages are larger than the old 8×10 page, or even the 10×10 page, and many pages will have multiple images, you could pick a series of photos—actions shots, traditional shots, and even portraits—with a mind to them being seen simultaneously on a page of similar kinds of shots. If your photographer offers creative options, you might pick your key shots, with the idea that the studio will then add a bunch of supportive shots to help your selected shot work best.
Over the last 50 years, many have learned from personal experience that after the event, all that is left of your investment are the photography and the video. Of those, most find the photography more important for many reasons. Is the photo album important to you? Then don’t approach it in the same rigid way it has been handled for decades. Because today so many more photos are created at an event with more cameras and photographers, and there is no end to possibilities or limits on rolls of film, it is natural that albums could and should contain many more images than ever.
Having many images is where a meaningful design can make a huge difference between chaos and creativity. Design requires creativity, but that needs the right variety of images to work together. That means having different facing images, different poses, different angles, different shapes, and different expressions, which can all work together. It also means at times having similar shapes and other factors in common, as needed to work together. One good way to get a powerful and beautiful album is for you to choose just a few of your “must” shots. Let your photographer choose the rest. Alternately, you may feel that with the abundance of great shots in your proofs, the only thing you need to do is to specify the few shots that you don’t want due to content—you know, the party crasher, or your best friend who suddenly isn’t. If you want an album that is more than just a holding place for your favorite images, then it becomes vital that your images work together. If you have a creative photographer/album designer, then letting them choose the images should make a huge difference in what can be done, rather than forcing them to work with ill-fitting building blocks you have chosen.
You may ask how the photographer could know what is important. Well, some photographers have great experience working with very particular clients. Those photographers know what questions to ask to get the right answers. They would have some brief in-person or online consultation with you, so you could give them the input they need on your friends, family dynamics, and your favorite shots. I have written in this very paper about clients who have taken decades to make their image selections, as well as those who have gone to great lengths in choosing their exact images which led to an album devoid of any excitement. There are many more stories, and I have decided to write this series of articles because there is obviously a great need to address this bottleneck that many seem to be experiencing.
If photography is important, certainly your album is a significant goal. It is what you invested in. Sure, you can enjoy some photos online, and you may have made a few prints here and there. Maybe you think that albums are old, and want slideshows played on large screens or available online to view from everywhere virtually, which is the same as viewing virtually everywhere. But all that can be in addition to a meaningfully complete album, so this bad habit of album delay is worthy of in-depth discussion, detailed understanding, and remedy.
This discussion of image selection and album completion is a really great way to consider many good and bad conditions in the event-photography industry and to help the public and photographers to appreciate each other more which will lead to a more positive, enjoyable, and pleasant experience all around. Photographers who just show up, do a job to get paid, and have little involvement with album completion and event storytelling are never going to understand what images were needed in the first place and likely will disappoint you. Similarly, clients who hire a better photographer, then go select images with the mindset of their great-grandparents for the book to be a collection of photographs, may be frustrated in many ways neither they nor their photographer are pleased about.
You picked images that got your attention as small thumbnails; next, you chose images that made a statement when viewed full screen; and now you’re going to pick sequences. Try gathering a bunch of story-advancing tisch shots; before the badekin shots; under the chuppah shots; and some collection of images between dance sets or to show what was happening between all the dancing excitement. Grab a bunch of bar mitzvah boy shots—just him—from each of five different phases of the event to show the many emotions that he lived through from arrival, portraits, guest greeting, speaking/listening, and celebrating.
Don’t pick too many images right now. Wait for my next column in which I will explain the problems with too many images.
Rabenko Photography & Video Arts is located at 1053 Broadway in Woodmere. To learn more, contact Gary@Rabenko.com, 1-888-RABENKO, 888-722-3656, or visit Rabenko.com.