Our Release Standard
What is the Eleven 11 Release Standard?
Hello Bryan here and I want to talk a little bit about our editing process. We get asked a lot about what the Eleven 11 release standard is so I wanted to take you through it exactly. It’s really pretty simple. I think the best way to illustrate this is to use an actual session and talk through the pictures.
I think I should say upfront that I’ve shot for several international designers (Michael Kors and White by Vera Wang to name a few) and have published photos in national magazines including 17 covers. So I can edit a picture to that level but I don't think thats what you want for your wedding pictures. I think what you want is to look at a picture from your wedding with your grandchildren and see your best you looking back, not some stranger who vaguely resembles you. So that, in a nutshell, is what we are going for with an edit.
We will start with my sister Niki. She's Helen’s sister and that makes her my sister. Actually scratch that, because as I sit here writing this I’m waiting for Helen to change for some pictures we are taking so actually I’ll just shoot a portrait of Helen and use that.
I guess while we are waiting I could talk about when we use the Eleven 11 standard. We shoot a lot of pictures at a wedding. Then we go through and do the pick, deleting out-of-focus pictures and lots of duplicates. From there every picture that has the bride or groom in it is edited to the Eleven 11 standard, Other pictures may or may not be edited to that degree, sometimes we get a picture of one of you guests, or the cake, or some of your detail shots that we just love and we go a little overboard.
Still waiting. I take a lot of pictures of Helen so I do a lot of waiting lol.
And now she’s here.
I want to start by thanking Helen for agreeing to this. No one wants to be the target of a before and after study, especially if before is meant to be a bad picture to show you the difference. She didn’t even consider it, she just signed off and away we went. I’m truly lucky to have one of the worlds great beauties who also has a very adventurous soul as my partner.
And this first picture is intentionally bad so that you can see whats possible.
So first let’s look at how a picture gets taken. I’m going to walk you through this from beginning to end but it’s worth noting that in our process some of these things are automatic, there is really nothing to do to apply them as we just do it.The first picture here is taken with only natural light. If you’ve been reading the blog for a bit you probably know that I love natural light but I also say it can be problematic. Here’s why.
This picture shows that where Helen has her face exposed to the window there is lots of light and where her face is further away there is a lot more shadow. There are a plethora of other things wrong with this picture, junk in the background, its a little cold feeling, etc, but all of these things are done on purpose so you can see how the problems get handled.
Picture 2 here is the exact same picture except we add a light source. Specifically we add a reflector, not an actual light. I want to take away some of the shadow in Helen’s face but not all of it. The light comes into the window, bounces off the reflector and fills in the darker part of Helen’s face.
You can see the picture has a little more pop to it but it’s still a little flat and it’s slightly cluttered. Let’s work on flat first. Modern professional grade cameras allow you to change how pictures look by changing the settings in your camera. I can control the temperature of the picture, color depth, contrast and the like. Picture three below shows the picture settings for every picture I shoot. They come out of the camera looking like this.
I know when I said earlier that the picture looked cold, you may have gotten confused. But look at this picture and either of the previous ones, doesn’t it just look like the room is warmer to you? The colors are richer, the contrast is deeper. I call it my secret sauce. It’s really how the photographer controls how he/she presents the world to others.
There are two kinds of distractions in a picture. Environmental distractions (events or objects around your subject) and subject related distractions (clothes misbuttoned, hair out of place, etc). The photo above has both so we first deal with the environment. That black pole running through the photo is an eyesore and that doorway in the background with the light shining through it’s shutters naturally draws your eye to it and away from our primary target. In real life I’d just move the objects and/or reframe the photo to exclude them but below I am just cropping the photo tighter so that we remove those distractions. It also has the added benefit of making Helen larger so you can’t help but look at her loveliness.
Now that we’ve removed the annoying background objects let’s look at our subject. Her brow is a little furrowed (I asked for that in this picture) so we should address that. Also around the neck of the coverup some of the fringe is wearing away, I actually noticed it before she put it on. Normally I’d just cut it away right there but I thought it would be a good study in how to fix some things. And if you look closely behind her ear, and along her hairline you can see flyaway hair has come loose. Again we knew this before we took the picture but we wanted to illustrate this, as a wedding progresses this happens to a bride a lot.
While I’ve walked you through how we address these as an exercise in real life it's easier to fix them before you take the picture. We make sure you don’t have dandruff on you shoulder or lint in you hair or spinach in you teeth. If you are standing in a spot and there is something unsightly behind you we either move you or we rotate around you to change your background. While you can’t always control it we are big believers in the easiest way to get the picture you want being to take the picture you want the first time.
So we are really close to the picture we would actually take. Now that we’ve removed the annoying background objects let’s look at our subject. Her brow is a little furrowed (I asked for that in this picture) so we should address that. Behind her ear on the right and actually all the way around there is some loose hair, we’ll address that as well. And around her neckline this coverup is fringing a little bit so we’ll touch that up as well.
Now we’ve got a picture.
While I’ve walked you through how we address these things the truth is we simply adjust as we take the picture. We make sure you don’t have dandruff on you shoulder or lint in you hair or spinach in you teeth. If you are standing in a spot and there is something unsightly behind you we either move you or we rotate around you to change your background. While you can’t always control it we are big believers in the easiest way to get the picture you want being to take the picture you want the first time.
And now we are at where we’d actually start if I control everything (like in a boudoir or engagement session). This is the picture we’d start with. But to be her best Helen we still have to touch her skin a little bit, specifically the wrinkle in her brow, under her eyes and the tops of her cheeks, and then perform just a minimal amount of skin smoothing. The trick to good skin smoothing is to even your skin tone and smooth it’s surface while leaving just the right amount and kind of texture.
I also did some slight last weeks of highlights and coloring, just to even things out. Honestly I’d like it just a touch darker in overall tone and maybe I'd add some light around that right eye, but I try to keep the amount of time I spend on each photo to some reasonable measure. Especially as this is just to give you a sense of what we do.
Now you’ll notice that right in the middle of her forehead Helen has a small and barely noticeable scar. I could easily remove it. But I don’t, its one of the features that makes Helen well Helen. No one who knows Helen will be shocked by this photo.
And there is lots more stuff possible. IF I were editing this for anything but an example I’d put a few more minutes work into to smooth out some of the edits I’ve made, I just did all of this in a couple fo minutes to give you an idea what is possible. I can add makeup, or remove it, change your eye color, thin your figure or accentuate certain parts of it. All of those options are avialblee on my computers, but they aren't things that normally happen as part of the Eleven 11 release standard.
Alright so that’s the end of that, see you next week when we start to publish some sight visits.