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Think Like a Photo Editor

Lesson 3 of 7

The Dirty Secret of Secret Photography

Jared Platt

Think Like a Photo Editor

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

3. The Dirty Secret of Secret Photography

Lesson Info

The Dirty Secret of Secret Photography

I wanna show you some images here. Just so you can see. It was a foggy day in Phoenix. So any time there's fog in Phoenix, I immediately run out and start photographing. You can see, that over the course of time, this is kind of what I'm looking at. So this is a contact sheet. This is everything I've shot. You can see, that at first I'm driving around and I see telephone polls in the fog, I start taking. Then I look across the ro-- or actually not across the road but to the left there's like a man-made pond there, to the left of the power lines. Then I start seeing like a crane there. Then I start getting interested in that, photographing the crane. Then the crane leaves. The crane flies away cause I'm sneaking up on it. I'm walking as close as I can to get the best picture of it. Then it flies away. Now I'm back to my telephone poll. You can see in my head what's going on, by looking at the contact sheet. It's very useful to show other photographers your unedited images. If you really...

wanna get a good idea of where you are, where you stand as a photographer, and get advice from someone, don't show them your finished work. Show them this. Show them what your taking, show them all the outtakes, show them everything. If you shot 3000 images on a job, show the entire 3000 images to someone and let them see how you think. Also let them see whether or not your good at exposing. Because someone might be able to help you if you show them the truth. But if you just show them the last image that you finally chose to put in your portfolio, that doesn't tell anybody anything. Alright? So you can see how I'm thinking. I see the telephone polls, and then I see the bird. I go to the bird. The bird flies away so I go back to the telephone polls and then I see birds. Just over to the other side of the telephone polls, all of a sudden I see these birds. These birds are just congregating around this wire. I start to see something really interesting here. I start to see, music notes. So then I start looking at these birds as music notes. If you look at the birds, don't they just kinda feel like they're music notes on a stand? Then some of 'em, they start to fly away. Then they become like the hold on let me see If I can find, there we go. They start to become like the higher notes above the staff. I realize there's only four lines. It's missing one of the lines, I could add that later if I wanted to. The point is that I'm seeing a story evolving and so that's where I settle on and start looking at these for a very long time. So I look at them and mostly I do it horizontal because I'm just interested in the music notes. Then you see that I start to think, well I should show some perspective and show like how close they are to the ground and give some kind of overall perspective as to where we are. So I do two larger horizontal shots and I do one vertical shot. But again I get bored with that and I go right back to these birds on this wire. Right? So that's how I'm thinking in my head. I'm looking at these images, I'm finding them interesting because they look like music notes to me and I'm very interested in music. The point of that discussion is that, it's okay in the field to take a lotta photographs and to investigate a subject to death. That's absolutely okay. Don't let anyone ever tell you, well you should slow down shooting and not shoot as much, so that you don't have as much to edit in the back, end. That's the wrong way to think. Any photographer who's out in the field, who has an opportunity to take a photograph and doesn't, because they think they should slow down to help their post-production be faster, is going about photographing the wrong way. When you're in the field, look for as many opportunities to take as many pictures as you can so that later on you have every opportunity for the absolute best photograph. I'll give you an idea of how many photographs you should be taking. So David Hurn, we just looked at a contact sheet of his. He's been shooting with Magnum photographers for a very long time. This is one of the best. Best and brightest, documentary photographers around. He, was asked how many images he needs to take in order to get seven images for a photo story? His answer to that is, in order for me to get seven pictures, for a photo story, I'm gonna shoot 20 to 30 rolls, of film. So you calculate out 30 rolls of film. That's about 1000 pictures. So to get seven pictures, he's gonna take 1000 pictures. These are the best. The best photographers take a lot more photographs. How many do you think he shows to you? So that's, basically one in, every, what 200--250-- you know something like that. Every 180--200 photos. He's only showing in a story, he's only gonna show you one outta of or one outta, 180 or something like that. Right? That's a very small number. It's 0.007% or something like that. It's very small.

Class Description


  • Expertly edit a photograph
  • Enhance your photography portfolio
  • Think like a photo editor while capturing images


In this class, you’ll learn how to improve your photography portfolio. With just a few critical lessons, you will be on your way to making better decisions in your photography and post-production that will not only enhance the value of your portfolio of images but every photo story you tell, every job you shoot and every family vacation you share, all you need is a shift in your thinking.

The best photographers know the importance of great photo editing. In fact, the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer has less to do with camera skills and more to do with their selects (i.e. what they show). The very best show very little and the unimpressive photographer can’t wait to show you every image they took today. All of the greatest photographers either have a photo editor making the decisions or are great photo editors themselves. Learning how to think like a photo editor from the camera through the selection, editing and publishing process will change your photography forever.


  • All levels of photographers
  • Photographers who want to better their post-processing skills
  • Photographers looking to create a portfolio


Adobe Photoshop CC 2019, Adobe Lightroom CC 2019


Jared Platt is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer from Phoenix, Arizona. Jared holds a Masters of Fine Arts in the Photographic Studies and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography from Arizona State University and has been a professional photographer and college educator for the past 12 years and has been a speaking, debating and lecturing for the past 17 years. His attention to detail and craft make him a demanding photography instructor. Jared has lectured at major trade shows and photo conferences as well as at universities around the world on the subject of photography as well as workflow. Currently, Jared is traveling the United States and Canada teaching and lecturing on photography and post production workflow.

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