Softproofing: What is it and what does it mean to you?

January 12, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

As a photographer and business owner, I am constantly trying to find way to provide better service to my clients.  This seems to be my theme for the year for all the goals I have for my business.  My clients are very important to me and I try to treat them how I would want to be treated.  This takes hard work and requires me to have the perspective that there is always room for growth.  One change that I am making to how I run my business is that I am going to start implementing something called "softproofing."  

What is softproofing?  

Softproofing is simply the idea of showing you, the client, your photos from  your session before they are fully edited.  

In the past, when you had a photography session with me, you had to wait until about 2 weeks after your session before you got to see your photos.  I would take those 2 weeks to edit the best 25 images from your session and upload them into an online gallery.  From there, you had one week to view the proofs in the gallery and choose your package.  After that week, I ordered your prints, got your digital files on a USB, and delivered them to you.  If you were a newborn portrait client, I also designed your birth announcements and had them printed during that time.  By the time all of the editing, birth announcement designing, printing, and delivery were finished, sometimes the baby was well over a month old before the parents received birth announcements.  For the family sessions I do in the fall, time is also critical because of Christmas cards and gifts.  

With softproofing, I come home from your session, narrow down all of the photos to the best 25 and make about half of the adjustments to them that are needed.  I can do this part of the editing quickly because I try to get my photos as close to perfect right out of the camera when it comes to things like exposure and white balance.  The adjustments I need to make are usually minor and can be done on several photos at a time, speeding up the process.  A few days after your session, I am able to send you your "soft proofs," the photos from your session in their semi-edited form.  

a soft proof from a newborn portrait session by erica courtine photography raleigh cary apex holly springs photographera soft proof from a newborn portrait session by erica courtine photography raleigh cary apex holly springs photographera soft proof from a newborn portrait session by erica courtine photography raleigh cary apex holly springs photographer

Above:  This photo is an example of a soft proof.  I tried to find a photo that needs a lot more work in Photoshop.  Most photos don't have such obvious issues to be fixed.  Notice the distracting edge of the blanket in the top right and the wrinkles in the blanket.  But if you can look past those parts of the photo, you can see the adorable little baby.  Other than the wrinkles and top right corner, this photo will not look substantially different when it is fully edited.  

What does this mean to you?

Because you will be seeing your photos before the editing is finished, you will get to see them much sooner, but you will also have to overlook aspects of your photos that will be fixed after you choose your package.  On newborn babies, this could mean that their skin still has little scratches or rashes that haven't yet been removed.  It may mean that you see a wrinkle in a blanket that shouldn't be there.  With softproofing, you need to be able to see past these details and look at your beautiful new baby to decide if it's a photo that you'd like to include in your package.  Once you receive your gallery of soft proofs, you have one week to choose your package, just like before.  Once you let me know which package you'd like, I then can focus on editing your images completely.  Also, I will always edit a few photos to show you with your soft proofs.  That way, you can see what to expect when the photos are finished.  

What does this mean to me?

Softproofing allows me to work smarter, not harder.  Most clients end up choosing every image in their gallery (Collection III is the most popular, by far), but occasionally a client only needs a smaller package.  Instead of spending 2 weeks editing all the photos for that client, I can wait and edit only the ones they choose.  By doing this, you don't have to wait as long for your photos and I can spend more time on other aspects of my customer service, like getting ahead with designing your birth announcements or Christmas cards.  

If you have any questions about softproofing, please send me an email at [email protected]  I'm happy to answer any questions you have!


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