Is There More?

- - Working

Three words that make me cringe.

It goes like this: photographer delivers an edit of the shoot, PE delivers that edit (takes out the extra sent along, ya know, just in case) to the Creative Director, layout is presented to the Editor at which point you may hear those three words.

Yes, there’s more… there are hundreds of images taken, I’ve simply given you the best but if you’d prefer we can change our policy of only running great photography and instead run the photos that go with a particular point in the story or photos that go with the preconceived idea you had in your head about who this person is… fine.

Photographers, don’t kid yourselves, there is a best photo from every setup (there may be multiple setups but not multiple bests). A layout has to be designed around the best photos from a shoot and then a headline written to go with the lead photo… the variations don’t matter.

This is an ideal world but I live in the real world, so sometimes I get to hear those cringe worthy words. It’s my job to fight back.

There’s good discussion on the “not a photographer” post about how many images to deliver from a shoot. Finding the best photos takes time and experience and if you don’t have a couple days or weeks to look over the shoot, edit down and live with it or if you haven’t been shooting for eons it’s difficult to do. I work with enough photographers who do it to know it can be done.

After the assignment they deliver final prints with no contact sheets or they cut their contacts apart, tape them to paper and indicate the best photo or they leave the contacts intact but x-out the bad shots and write on top of the good shots or they deliver a disk with a tight edit in a firsts folder and variations in the seconds folder.

Whichever way, find the best photo and broadcast that you want it published.

My favorite editorial photographer of all time sends me 1 print at the end of a shoot. Is there more? No, there’s only one photo.

There Are 19 Comments On This Article.

  1. and that would be Dan Winters because he is probably the best ever.
    I saw him speak at SVA and that is what he said he does. I have never been more blown away and inspired.

  2. A Photographer

    Funny, even before seeing I hearts comment, I knew it had to be Dan Winters.

    I first heard of Dan in 1992 when shooting for the amazing David Armario at Discover. He’s also my favorite photographer. Do you remember the images from Harlem for New York Mag?

    Again, thank you for linking to Dan’s page – I was wondering when he would finally have a web page.

  3. Loved his recent cover shot for NY Times Magazine of Rick Rubin, it’s up on my wall along with the opener. The opener seems to be a serious photograph, but is oozing with underlying humor. Love you Dan!

  4. I remember eons ago one of my photo profs at RIT telling me “If there’s a shot you don’t want the client to use, don’t let them see because they will use that one horrible photo.” I can’t tell you how many times i’ve played with this. In the end I want the client to be happy (BTW- I don’t do much editorial) Since I shoot digital or it all goes hybrid anyways it makes presenting the edit much easier!

  5. thanks for the great post.

    a line also uttered by some managing editors is “Is there anything better?”
    (of course! i’ve only edited for the worst images, did you want to the see the better ones?)
    it’s a wonder I don’t drink… oh wait, i do – never mind.

  6. i think it would get interesting if every magazine behaved like interview magazine, and offered zero money for the creative fee, and only paid the expenses, (if they even pay that). let’s go ahead and level the playing field. because, let’s be honest, if you’re going to fly across the country, and take three days out of your life, what’s the difference between $1500 and zero dollars? not much, in the grand scheme of things.

    i simply think it would change every photographer’s dynamic, and their motivation, if there was zero money involved, and the only reason they took the job was to make an interesting image for their book. i think they’d come much closer to shooting what they wanted to shoot, instead of bowing to magazine pressure, and in the end, they’d be much happier.

    and when the editor or creative director began to ask “is there more?”, then it would make it much easier for the photo editor to simply respond with, “hey, they shot it for free; they flew to albuquerque on southwest; did you really think they were going to do a picture that they didn’t believe in?”

    it might also make it hit home, to a creative director, just how low the fees really are, and in the big picture, it would only reduce the total budget for a photo shoot by $500-$700.

    the more i think about it, the more interesting it becomes. if lachapelle can refuse to have his name run beside his stock imagery, then why not have any other photographer REFUSE the lowly fees that are offered, and insist that he shoot it for ZERO MONEY? the quicker you remove the initial money motivation, and let the Creativity become the only motivating factor, then the whole equation, and the whole dance might change.

    you really think that anyone at dan winters’ caliber is work for those fees, and then take direction on concept? i applaud him, and anyone else, that fedexes one print in a box.

  7. “Whichever way, find the best photo and broadcast that you want it published.”

    That’s a perfect summation that reminds me where to go (as I’m editing a few jobs now).

    Thank You.

  8. I met Bob & Terry Richardson in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont in LA together a few years ago. I was with a mutual friend, an art director, and somehow this topic came up. Bob said, “You give ’em a choice of 2 pictures and you can be sure they’ll pick the wrong one.”

    Nuff said?

  9. Kalmár Nagy András

    This is one of those areas where there’s always a clash between the editors and the photographers. They come back from an assignment and give you ten images, pointing out the one they really really like, but then it doesn’t fit the size given by the layout, or the focus of the article has completely shifted away from the person on the beautifully lit image. And you go and use the one they don’t like, because the person on it doesn’t look off the page, it fits the size in the layout and accompanies the article well… And when they get the printed paper in their hands, you can see the heartbreak :) (I’m picture editor at a university newspaper! :D)

  10. This arena becomes more difficult when your work encompasses an amount of post-production or retouching. There’s no way you can show either all the take or your edit all fully toned etc.

    I normally edit hard and do show the variants from each setup, BUT put a few (my choices) quickly toned variants in a separate gallery as my picks.

    Invariably these do get chosen because although I can envisage the final look from a capture, I’m not sure all editors can – and so they go for the ones that are “ready done”.


  11. Mark —

    Thanks for the link, and for saving me 15minutes by pinpointing the message point! When a client gives you that much leeway (i.e., as Kathryn said “give me your best…the photography drives the layout…”), then, that’s your art direction. It’s when the APE says about Winters…”Could a Photo Directors job get any easier then giving Dan an assignment? Right up to the point where you’re told to give him art direction” – I mean, maybe I’m missing something, but that appears to be outlining a desire to be able to give Dan art direction, and when you try, your job is no longer easy.

  12. I think it’s a mistake to hire photographers of a certain caliber and give them art direction. Many photographers are much more talented then my colleagues and I. My point was that editors and sometimes creative directors will ask me to hire photographers with a strong point of view like Dan and then tell me to art direct them to make their picture more conventional.

    Dan is simply too busy to take editorial jobs with no creative freedom. Why would he? Editorial doesn’t pay the bills.

  13. I have a contrary view.

    I’m a good editor – I’ve been looking at photos since I was 14 and I’m now nearly 50. This is not a point to argue, it’s simply fact. Even thought that is true, is miss plenty in my edits.

    If I have time, I deliver my edit separate from a larger batch. Why do I insist on delivering my rejects? Because others find things I don’t – still – after all this time looking at pictures.

    Everyone projects feelings and experiences into what they see; they have baggage – good and bad. For anyone, no matter how good to assume they’ve found “the best” when you send an “A” level shooter on a job is pure arrogance.

    IMHO – the only reason photographers deliver one photo or a very tight edit to a client is because they feel the job was THEIRS and not a service they’re providing a client. Again – my opinion – under the best circumstances a photo shoot is a team effort. The best perform by absorbing input from many sources including art directors, clients, assistants, stylists – they simply have to be strong enough to take that input and channel it through their viewpoint.

  14. A Newspaper Photo Editor

    I like the trend of photographers editing their own work. I always liked it when I was on the street.
    When one of my photographers complains they ran the wrong picture, I remind them that was their own fault. If the editor didn’t have it, they couldn’t have run it.
    I have no idea what it’s like in the magazine world, but in the newspaper business, especially in the small to medium markets there is a lot of visual illiteracy. The really unfortunate part is that they are like alcholics. They don’t know they have a problem and most did photography at their first job as reporters at weeklies in BFE back in the bad old days so they know everything.

    So many of my editors begin conversations like ” I’m not a photographer….” and procede to tell you exactly what a news picture is going to look like before someone ever goes to the scene. Pathetic.