Tuesday 28 August 2007

What's Important?

I was talking to another photographer about their workflow the other day and they said something like "I use raw for important stuff and jpg for everything else". I replied with 2 questions - "Why? and how do you know which is which?".

For me the best thing to do is to stick to one workflow and treat everything as important...

Take 2 workflows into the shower?...I just want to raw and go!

The important part about setting up a workflow is that it should become automatic for you. Once you have taken the time to work out what you do at each point, and made sure you have each part of the process protected from failures, the hard work is done. The workflow should automate as much as possible so you can concentrate on creating fantastic images and not worry about filenames/directory locations/backups/etc.

If you have two workflows, each will be slightly different and you have to think what you are doing - and that's not good. It also adds an extra stage when you come to access the images at a later date as the first thing you need to decide is "did I think these were important?" before you attempt to retrieve them.

So what's important to you?

The thing to note is that the importance of an image changes over time.

Many pictures simply have value through their age - take a look at any of the shops selling old photos of street scenes. At the time they were taken most of the photos were as dull as ditchwater, but now they have a value just due to them representing the time they were taken.

In The Meadow
(Click to View Large)

Pull out an old photo album and shots that had little importance then, seem to have a magic all of their own as you discover long-lost events and friends smiling back at you from the page.

I have misjudged the importance of an image too many times:
  • A simple snap of a friend became very important when that friend died a few days after.
  • Some snaps of dogs playing on a beach weren't important to me but one of the owners loved it and wanted a large print.
  • Whilst staying at a farm/nature reserve - I just took some shots of the wildflowers to get to grips with a new lens, not important top me, yet the farm has asked if they can use them as 6 foot high posters in their new education centre.
A snap today could be an important historical record today.

In Praise of the snap


Anonymous said...

great article, so true ! every picture is important.

Chris Shepherd said...

Thanks for the comment, sorry for the delay in publishing it. Youu got lost in amongst some spammers.