After coming home from a test shoot it is generally the photographers responsibility to sort through hundreds or possibly thousands of frames to find the "best" images from the bunch. So, what constitutes as the "best"? Isn't it all just perspective?Well, yes. Yes, it is.
Here are the things I look for before starting the retouching process:
1. The Expression
The model's expression is the very first thing I look over, particularly the eyes. This may seem obvious, but allow me to go deeper because you wouldn't believe how many images don't pass the first inspection/glance. This part takes a little insight and intuition into human beings in general. Firstly, do I believe it? I look directly in their eyes and discard any images that hint at VERY subtle nervousness, unsureness and or just general "not being present" (Yes, these shoots can be long and models can lose their focus particularly when in the sun).
If I believe their expression or it appears natural within the context of the environment I move to #2..2. Body Language Body language goes hand in hand with the models expression. Generally, if they are slightly nervous, unsure or not present they're body language will be saying the same thing. I particularly don't like big or exaggerated mainstream poses you see often in model's books. I completely understand why this is done. It's done to show off the clothes the model is wearing of coarse! To me, it just looks kind of silly & definitely not my cup of tea. Basically, I want the pose to look comfortable and effortless.
3. LightingThis is the one, I am most obsessed over.
a. The lighting should create beautiful shades and/or shapes on the models form in a manner that complements them. Specifically does the lighting compliment the models skin, hair, body, general "feel" of the image ect.
b. The photo is properly exposed. 4. The CompositionAre there any distracting elements in the frame? (e.g. Is the scene too busy behind the model, Is the framing just "off" ect)
I generally look over the big lines within the frame (imagine a basic outline drawing) and how these big lines and small lines intersect. It's hard to explain, but at this point I generally get a good feeling looking over it or the thought, "mm..not quite right." This is where I can tell if a photographer had natural ability, even if they are relatively new to the craft.
At this point you should have narrowed the hundreds or thousands of frames to somewhere between 30-50 images.
It is then that I do a second run through over the narrowed bunch. Now, this is where most photographers signature style comes into play.5. Which images have the most affect on you?Sometimes, I wont know that day. Often, I wait a few days and will undoubtedly have random lingering thoughts about certain photos contained within the 30-50 frames. Trust your gut and work on those photos! Those photos contain small fragments of you and that's why they affect you. For example, the image with the model on the stair case is one of those images that lingered in my mind for the past few days.
Well why this image?!?
What I like about that image is the way the models toes are pointed slightly inward. It honestly reminds me of when I was going through my growth spurt and I was just a skinny little lanky thing with big feet. I would too, often point my toes slightly inward. I remember vividly because I was very shy at that stage and instead of making eye contact with others I would look at my feet. What is your internal process of selecting images for retouch??