The Role of the Editor
anything might not be what you think it is. It's gonna be a little bit of understanding it from, Ah, a little bit from a business perspective, because I think it's a lot to gain from how a photo editor in a professional world in a magazine will review images. And that process is very helpful to how I like to review my images, whether it's for a commercial project and assignment or features for pleasure. I think there's a lot of knowledge to be gained out of that. And so I've set up kind of a walk through of what the photo editing process is like. And one thing I want to remind viewers as well is that we're gonna be joined tomorrow afternoon by the editor of National Parks magazine. Scott Kirkwood, who will be who has been my editor, has been judging my work for many years, almost nearly a decade. We work together. Scott will be joining us. He's super insightful, incredibly knowledgeable. Andi. He will really give the editor's perspective. He's a photographer, were not a professional ph...
otographer in this sense of doing assignments. He's the other side of this fence. There's me and then there's him and the two of us have to come together to get a final selection of images and ultimately, that's what the editing process is about. So I'm gonna take a C, and I'm actually gonna walk through a little bit of the editing process with you and talk about it. And then what we're gonna do is actually edit the shoot. We're gonna actually start to edit the, uh, all of the videos that we've watched me photographing waterfalls, everything. We're gonna actually go through the selection, the image selection process actually go through the post production process. So you show you my steps and explain why I do what I do and how I do it and obviously take your questions along the way as we go through it. So the editing process getting started is a really interesting thing. Um, you know, the role of a photo editor really is about finding the perfect image to support an editorial need. And one of the things that I have said repeatedly throughout this entire workshop is something that you rarely hear photographers talk about, and that its story story represents characters and all sorts of different themes. And you know what people think about nature photography? They don't. As I said, Think about having an some sort of a protagonist. There's no subject. It's not like photographing a story with five different actual human characters in it. But rather your characters are the landscape of the elements in the natural world. I remember the first assignment I ever got. The editor called me up and said, You're we want you to photograph the best wild flower bloom that's ever happened in Northern California in the last 25 years. And I'm thinking, this is like a dream assignment Usually very complicated, but it's go make beautiful pictures, a wild flowers, very rare to get an assignment that sounds like that, Then if she's about to hang up the phone, she goes. But don't forget, Tell a story, and I'm thinking, Ah, story. There's nobody out there. There's no science taking place. There's no there was nothing. It was me. A camera and fields of wildflowers remember sharing this thought with with a colleague and we started to kick it around. And so how do we tell a story that we started to realize that the characters were the fact that not all flowers of the same not all flowers grow in the same place. And so I needed to tell that story of how finding a burn area where fire had come through a wildfire. And now that all of this charred ground in these trees that were way in the back country had flowers that only grow after an intense heat comes through, pops the seeds and you get this bloom. Some flowers only grow in disturb soil. Some grow right alongside the road or on a path where a lot of people travel like California poppies. They love disturbed soils. So I looked at places where there were trails and disturbed soils, other flowers growing your water. Others grow higher elevations. Some only grow at lower elevations, and so they weren't just wildflowers. But there were wildflowers that were taking place at different places, different conditions and the point of illustrating the story was toe not only be beautiful and expressed that, but also show all of the different conditions to tell their story the perspective of the wildflowers. And so when you think of nature, you have to think of it from all of the different angles, the biological angles and the characters as they may be in. In this case, it was for wildflowers. So the professional photo editor has the job of taking my photographs, my whole take and merging them down. And you have to remember that professional photo editor will only have the option of picking six or eight images. How many images have we taken here in the process of this course in the last several days? Hundreds and hundreds, and usually it's thousands of images for May, an average assignment. I'll probably produced around 10,000 raw files. From that, I'll probably narrow down to about 100 we're gonna go through that process today in a bit. And then from there the photo editor will usually make their final selection, which will be as few as six. No more than usually 12 and hopefully get a covers. Get that extra shot in that. So the role of a photo editor is to take my edit and edit it even further. They're also going to look at two key elements in order of importance, the applicability to the subject matter. How relevant are these photos to supporting the theme of the story and then, of course, the quality of the image. And so those are all things that they're gonna look at. These are all things that we should be looking at and thinking about understanding this process when photographing again. Whether your intent is to sell your images or not is still critical in thinking about the process of how you're going to execute compositions. Because, as I said, a great photograph isn't just technically sharp or masterful, or even necessarily colorful but rather great photograph is about making people think about what's around the next bend. Make them ask a question. Make them feel an emotion, make it about something that tells a story. And I think those are the elements that will really help your photography get to the next level. In most cases, more than a single image will meet the criteria of a photo editor, as regarding this story and equality. And in 0.3 here, I said, the photo editor also does not have the final sandwich ultimately selected. Many people don't realize that you might be working with a photo editor magazine, and Scott's different and in particular situation for National Parks magazine. But a lot of photo editors at the big, big magazines that you see are actually just providing a set of images that will then go through a whole nother process, including design and all of the other elements that may come with it. And we've talked to a lot of photo editors, certainly in the outdoor world. So this really more applies to the professional world. But they'll actually start to look at the elements and say, Is there enough room to put the title of the magazine on the top of this without having any disturbed lines? And so a photo that I might take as a professional photographer and what I'm thinking about might be different than somebody who doesn't really care about that because they're gonna hanging on their wall? Or so If you were to look at these three examples right next to me, there's really no room to put a title without it being overlapping with the actual subject matter, which may be fine and maybe okay, depending on the design. But I would also probably shoot several more versions of the same photos. So without Capitan on the left in Yosemite, for instance, I may actually increase the amount of sky in the shot so that there's plenty of room for the title. And then where does the text go throughout? Not only does the design get a say in the image in the image selection, but a lot of magazines will even market test several images to see what audiences think about the images. So there's an entire process to it, and it eventually means all of those wonderful images start to get down to just a few. That worked perfectly. Um, and there have been cases, including from myself. I will admit where I've gone out of shot 8000 images and after getting all the way to that process, we're not exactly sure that we have the right image and we go back out and shoot again, this time with maybe, hopefully more specific goals clearly outlined. So the process is not a perfect process, and that is why you hear a lot of professional photographers out there just firing away and getting a lot of frames. And there's a lot of reasons for that. I spoke about yesterday, but the a lot of some of the reasons really relate to the fact that every little element, every change in a scene in every situation will be looked at and will be analysed, as we're about to do on an edit. From this, you hear creativelive number four, the photo editor will pass their selects on, as we just said to a lot of different places, the CD is actually a creative director, will soon to the photo editors done their job matching images that relate to the story. And then they go on whether they market tested or not. Depends on the outlet. Um, and onward. How is specific, voter? What is this? How specific is a photo editors need I like this particular screen. This is something that we put together at tandem. JP actually is on the front line of sales, and these air actual cut and paste from what magazines and magazine buyers are looking for. What I love about this is it gives you a very specific example of what people are looking for in the market. But it also gives you something to shoot towards so inside to interrupt. I just want to make sure that not everybody has been with us the whole time. You could talk a little bit about what tandem is people who might be joining. Introduce this. That is a great point. Eso Tandem is a photo agency specializing in photography and motion clip licensing. It is a company I started to bring my experience of outdoor photography and the business of outdoor photography to my colleagues in that world. And so we work exclusively in the genres of adventure, sports, travel, outdoor nature, conservation, culture, geography and healthy living lifestyles. And so we get many images, all with many requests, all within that brand, and we represent now 1000 photographers around the world in our team helps match the needs of photo editors with the library's existing libraries of photographers. In many cases, we also do assignment work, and so our company tandem stills in motion. If you want, check it out. It's always very inspiring. If you're looking for inspiration. Tandem stock dot com eyes the U. R L We actually live feed of images that are coming in from our photographers all over the world. I find it inspiring and a lot of other people find it inspiring as well. And so tandem and our sales and headed by JP hairs and assembled this little this little card here in the presentation to show what actual people felt. Sorry, what actual editors need and what they're looking for and weather again to reiterate your shooting. Professionally or not, these are the things you should be thinking about. These have just been very clearly articulate, articulated by the professional community. You think about your location, your subject. Are you trying to express an action or activity and emotion or feeling that one is a huge one, especially for national park photography? You know the idea of when you go to a lake and its serene How would you convey that in the shot? It's a feeling. How would you convey that? You wouldn't want the waves to be crashing on the shore. You might use a long exposure to convey the idea of serenity. Um, if you feel exhilarated by a view, share that exhilaration and maybe that needs a human element with someone's hands up in through the air emotion feelings of really big one brand message or editorial illustration. If you're doing a story and it's about wildflowers, I'm not necessarily going to go out and show something that's a tree unless it relate somehow to the editorial or if it's for a commercial entity like a clothing company, for instance, what is their brand? What is their message about but a lot of these on? We'll go through each of them individually, but just to give an idea of the concepts, people like the idea of looking ahead, a request we get all the time. A tandem is the idea of stability. Show us what stability is. What do you think would convey the idea of stability in nature? There's actually a request we've heard many, many times before, from from from buyers to represent stability. It I've been curiously think. How would you express that? Anyone in the national park? How did you get the idea of stability like think of financial markets? Think of, um, you know, that's actually a really great one. Think of planning for your future. What would be a great idea for stability? How would you do that? Stone? Certainly the dome, right and even a step further would be somebody standing on a rock in the middle of the river. Slow exposure with the river going around them. That is the exact description we've been given by buyers in the financial world to show stability to nature, which somebody hiking, going out, enjoying a moment but standing there as a river turmoil around them. But there, on that stone or on that bridge? Um, that is an image that illustrates those sorts of themes and those sorts of concepts. I always go into the field, not just with the idea of pre visualizing my work, but also with the idea of executing some sort of theme. You know, the idea of multigenerational, of, of diversity, of, of a vacation, of escape or success, these air, not words that immediately jumps out when you think of nature photography. Instead, we always think of the obvious of solitude, quiet, beauty and all of that. And that is fantastic, because that is the basis of everything. But when you start to think broader and you start to think of those other themes of success, how would you convey that? And not now? Whether you actually achieve that goal in the photography or not isn't necessarily the most relevant in the sense that if you're going after the idea of showing success, and you're simply thinking of a theme. You might get a shot that shows the top of a mountain that jumps out above other tops of other mountains, and now it conveys a theme. It tells a story, but it's not always, apparently often it obvious. But in your mind you start to process that you start to think of it cause we're very visually oriented people. So these are just some ideas. Obviously, we have a lot of healthy living lifestyle type of requests that we get at the agency, you know, climbing in March and hiking and camping in March and obviously the seasons and so on. And and that's a huge thing. So every national park is a new opportunity. In every season, every national park feels like a new national park if you're just joining us. We talked about this yesterday as well. It's the idea that you know going to Great Smoky Mountains in summer is very different than fall, a little bit more crowded and good luck, but a very different fall, very different. The winner when the water starts to freeze over and the mill is shut down on and then come spring, when everything starts to bloom, it's like four different parks. It's four different opportunities. And if you are thinking about trying to get your work published, that's a great way to do it. If you can cover the same place as we said, own your own backyard, you cover the same place in all four seasons, and you have incredible library of work that absolutely increases your opportunity of actually seeing your work go into print. This is the magazine that will be talking to tomorrow. Theo, Editor Scott and National Parks. It's the member benefit magazine of the National Parks Conservation Association. It's an organization I've worked with now for almost 10 years on bees air images that were slight for the cover. The Channel Islands story is I mentioned yesterday, but if you didn't hear it, when and how that image became part of this was actually personal project. I was not shooting in the Channel Islands on a professional assignment, but as a professional photographer I had the same goals in mind. I knew the process off a photo editor and how that was actually going to come about, and so I was thinking about the Channel Islands, and I said, Well, you think Channel Islands, What do you think about islands? Right. But what about all of the water that surrounds the islands? There's a much below the surface in the Channel Islands as there is above. And so I slowly went on diving trips, learned to dive when on diving trips for snorkeling, then diving trips, then covered the land than hyped. I looked at all of the different angles, all of the different things, the aspects that made the Channel islands what they are. The wildlife, especially the island foxes, the recovery of the Highland foxes. They represented not just wildlife, but they represented a successful ecosystem in an effort underway between the national parks and the Nature Conservancy. On Ben, of course, you see lines it doesn't love him in the wildlife there, the kelp forests. So I looked at all of the different angles. I looked at the themes and how they were all represented and ultimately ended in a ah cover story. But that's not the only one you know. He had vacation stories like drift away in Glacier National Park, actually going to show you that image a little bit later and talk about how it was executed and then the image that has been used as the creativelive background in Big Bend National Park, Texas, on the right hand side, common ground. And that was a story about about the Rio Grande River and the interesting relationships around an international peace park between Mexico and the US and how that all works so fascinating things. A lot of different stories, um, great photograph Obvious, isn't said, doesn't meet just the technical requirements but requires you to look around the next bend and think about the emotions of everything. This was taken in Big Bend National Park in Texas. People are obviously a huge part of my nature photography. The human experience should never be overlooked, and it is how we feel and interact and connect and also gives us a sense of scale all of the same techniques of nature photography, slow shutter speeds, polarizing filters, neutral density filters across the top of the sky in nature that goes beyond that in this case, recovery efforts taking algae that is invasive on the Hawaiian islands and literally vacuuming it off of the surface and thinking about all of the elements and how they're framed. All of the same things that we did in just straight nature photography becomes an element I'm looking at. Is it telling a story? Is it doing that? So I have the rule of thirds going on. I have different I lines, different focus. We see the background, we see the action going in there. These are all the different things that I'm thinking about in this case photographing a story about the recovery of the Ganges River Ganga and went to this off Schramm out here and part Martin Yucatan. You could see the going in the background and I focused the entire trip around photographing this river and doing these beauty shots. But there was a cultural and a spiritual element that was part of that story. So I'm thinking again, all of the different angles and all of the different components that will come together to tell that actual story applique ability of the subject matter quality the image I do want to talk a little bit about this photo editing begins before you pick up a camera, you decide what you're going out to photograph and why Now, I'm gonna be really careful with this. About two completely kind of reverse that thought process in a second. But you should be thinking about why we're going out to photograph in wire, going to a national park. Why? Why would you go to Mount Rainier National Park? What's the first? Those obvious thing that comes to your mind and we want to make a guess. Recreation to see the science even more so right in the title. Mt. Rainier. Right. So you think about it. And I said this when we were filming creativelive. We had bad weather, and I said, We cannot leave without Mount Rainier when we go to Mt. Rainier National Part. Now, had we known how difficult Mount Rainier might be to come out, Um, maybe, you know, maybe you think it'll differently, but obviously planning it helps you figure out what are what is my shot list. And I think somebody asked online. They said, Do I go into the field with a shot list? I do. It maybe is basic is including Mount Rainier. It may be, you know, and it wouldn't obviously be one item, but it might be a list of all of the different waterfalls were saying at least that What are the primary aspects for recreation, which is a great point? What are the primary aspects of recreation? How do people enjoy the park? You know, the waterfalls, the bridges, the scenic stops as a national park photographer shooting both professionally as well as very often for recreation. I'm thinking about it as how what will people be writing about later on? And most people are going to write about the things that you go there to experience. They may also be looking for stories that no one's experience before, but that's what you want to decide and understand before you go into the field. How do you plan to make it different from what's already out there? We're gonna really dig into that in the iconic section next, when we after the break that we take after photo editing. But really, you know, the subject on that is how do you make a difference already out that you got to think differently and tell a different story or find out what store it is that you're going after? And that's not It's not as easy as you might think it really can be probably the greatest challenge. But I'm going to save that question a little bit more for iconic because that really is almost the entire session will really address. How do I change the way I photographed places that are classic? I'm not the first person photograph a national park. So how do you do it differently? We'll definitely get to that. Um, secondly, is this a subject matter that people are gonna care about? I mean, let's go outside the parks. What about national wildlife refuges? What if people don't necessarily know about it? How can you capture them in a way that will really shine and stand out? If you're selling your work, Whether you're selling this prints at a local market or stock photos at an agency deciding your subject and approach, it will connect with people simply based on who, what and where. So meaning popular subjects. If I'm gonna go to Paris, I'm going to get a shot of the Eiffel Tower because that is the most frequently written about thing. Even though everybody has photographed it, who's gone to Paris and every agency has it. You also have the highest frequency of people running stories about it, which then they're not going to always run the same photos. Find new porches, new rooftops, new alleys, new places where you can see the Eiffel Tower and showed in a new way. Simple is that But I can guarantee at some point you're gonna have a shot at selling it. And in fact, actually, oddly enough, maybe the way my brain is wired we actually just sold a shot of the Eiffel Tower last week for one of our contributors. And it was a really beautiful shot. It was really well done and very different from what you would normally see out there. So no matter what smaller niche agency is ours or a very large agency, I think the opportunities are equal. Um, obviously, you know, you want to decide on your subject If you're not selling your work and it's just for you, ask yourself, Why have I chosen this place? And I think we kind of covered that with Mt. Rainier, but also just keep asking what makes it special. And how can I express why I personally find this place so special I walk into a field and it's filled with wild flowers. Is it special or not? Or am I gonna walk right past that? Well, no, that's pretty obvious, but what else makes it special? Is it the quiet evenings around a campfire? Do you want to capture that, or do you want to stay? That just for yourself, for your memory? Those things you have to decide? Obviously, equality. We're going Teoh, Talk more about that. And I know that a lot of courses on Creativelive have really addressed the execution and post production. We're going to see my version in a minute, so obviously check that out. Um, you may never submit your images professional outlet for publication or consideration, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't hold yourself to the same standards. I'm you have to be your own honest, brutal editor. And I would actually say I am a better editor than I am a photographer, And that's because I have absolutely no room in my person to let a photograph go through that I don't absolutely love of my own. You have to be honest, and if you can't be honest with yourself, have other people around you that are also honest that you trust their opinion on. And obviously, if you start to get publishing, start to work with photo editors, I can assure you they will be definitely very honest as they have been with me in my career. And I benefitted from that. But I've also been very honest with myself. If something is a little crooked and I can't fix it the right way or I have something sticking into a frame, I'm gonna show you an example again in a minute, editing the wildflower section of Mt. Rainier and I had this landscape and it could have worked. And I had one flower that was judging in that I didn't see. It was a very busy scene, and it's completely out of focus in every frame. The rest of the frame is sharp. The rest of the frame is in focus. There wouldn't even be a good, easy way digitally to do it, and I wouldn't add or remove anything from a frame. That's not my style. But if you're in the shot and I cut it and that was it done, I'm gonna stick on Lee the absolute best. Now, if you are shooting professionally then you have to think about it in the sense of do I want that work out there to represent me everything that you go out into the world with. Which scares me because I'm about to show you all my raw files. But every photo that you go out into the world with is a represents you as as a photographer. And so by being honest with yourself, you're also increasing the way people perceive you as a photographer. So the ability to edit your own work, I think is really important. A Z a z I learned from my mom early on. When in doubt, Leave it out. If you've got any doubt, leave it out. Just cut it and, uh and that'll be the end of that. Um, as I said, have people that you trust a community of people is very important. Yes. Question. Sure point. You're talking about the flower that was out of focus. If you hadn't noticed an item in the frame that didn't quite belong, how true would you have made the image? How much would you have altered it? Maui. Above the seven sacred pools, the bamboo forest. I was up there. I've been planning this trip for a long time. Got there just after a storm. So you had these vertical uprights? Gorgeous. But there were a few that were misplaced. Next time I go, I want to take PVC cutters. How far do you go? I wouldn't go that far. Um, I represent a scene exactly as I encounter it. And everything in photography and we could probably talk about this for days Is an interpretation of how, whether our interpretation of a scene three camera manufacturers interpretation of the scene when it was film, it was how film perceived and interpreted the scene velvety being more rich, Kodachrome focusing more on the yellows and reds, right? A little warmer. Everything is an interpretation ultimately. So I don't want to go down the road of how authentic or true is it? As long as you're authentic and true to yourself and you have a standard that you're comfortable with, I think everyone has to make that call on their own. That said, for me, that line exists in that I have never added anything into a nature photo that didn't exist in the scene. And I have never subtracted anything from a scene in nature photo. I've certainly done my share of dodging and burning, but I have never done my share of cloning something out. But we're putting something in. The reason for that is, has a conservation photographer. My goal is to represent a landscape as authentically as possible. It may be my interpretation, artistically and in color and in time of day and filters and everything. But I don't want people to feel like if they go there, this is what they're going to see all the time. That's a hard thing to balance, because I'm also photographing everything at the best moments in time so you could even argue that one way or the other. But regardless, nature's already so incredible that I feel like I try to find balance in the chaos of it. And so, in the sense of of maybe going into the band. But the bamboo is amazing there, by the way, it's an incredible place to photograph. If you go and there's things falling anything, I would probably just spend an exorbitant amount time trying to find the right spot or visited another time, or try and find a composition that would incorporate it or make it work. I've also never altered anything within the frame. Certainly not with a no saw or something like that to remove a shot. I've had a leaf here and there that have maybe been blown off of Iraq. I won't say that. I have felt like there's one distracting leaf here and there. But generally speaking, I would not want toe impact the scene in any way. I try to find his originals possible, but it's a great question and a relevant question for asking that because that question had come in from the folks at home as well from hero Ad and I had a few votes on it, too. So everybody remember, you can vote on those questions right there next to where you watching. So thank you so applied to just compositionally cropping. Um uh, how does it apply to compositionally cropping? It applies. No, not necessarily trying to think of how that actually works. Um, I would I would crop compositionally and that is OK. Um, and that's again the interpretation of the scene. It's the physical manipulation of the scene and journalistically based on ethics, which have been set by the National Press Photographers Association of America is generally the standard for ethics on that and P p A, um you would anything that you actually physically alter or manipulate within a scene is, uh is considered unethical. That said, if you're doing artistic work and you're hanging in a gallery and your don't care necessarily about journalistic standards because you're not shooting for a journalistic outlet, then you know that really is going to be up to you ultimately on where that line is or not. Um, I've always again I'm a conservationist, so I don't just take a strictly journalistic perspective, but also take the perspective of advocacy in the type of journalism that I go. And there's many different forms of journalism. Opinion, of course, toe advocacy and advocacy takes a specific position on something. And so for me to alter a scene in support of for me to alter scene in a way that makes it unauthentic does not support the ultimate message or goal of the organizations that I typically work for. Um, so you know that venturing Maurin ethics than editing necessarily. But it's a great question for his compositional, and whether you actually create something include something in your composition or not definitely a good question