My Photo Editor Mind - Autofocus can hurt you

One of the major drawbacks of autofocus is that photographers sometimes rely on it to compose their images. But there’s a problem. The focus is smack dab right in the middle of the image, and the image reflects that. You end up with either a poorly framed image or an image that seems off balance with too much sky or too much ground. If you go through a variety of your images and notice this pattern, try various focus settings to help solve this problem. Don’t let this technology get in the way of your vision.

My Photo Editor Mind - Keri Oberly says…

Mary came highly recommended by multiple photographers when I was in need of a photo editor to help me edit down a photo essay to a solid 20 and 5 edit. Right away I was impressed with her honesty and thoroughness. She asked me for specific images that originally weren’t in my first selections. She is easy to talk to, listens, and is sincere in her feedback. She listened to my concerns about images that weren’t in the edit and gave me honest feedback why they didn’t fit.

She not only edited a strong, fluid story but also gave me pivotal advice on what was missing and what to look for on future shoots. Her edit helped my project get selected as part of The Fence, North America’s largest outdoor traveling exhibit.

Keri Oberly, freelance photographer/cinematographer

My Photo Editor Mind - Words Matter

You only get once chance to make a first impression, and if that first impression is poor grammar on your website, my opinion of you just sank. I’m not saying you need to write poetry, but for goodness sakes, the grammar and spelling should be correct. I’m talking about simple things like, “I worked [on] the New York Times.” Seriously?  Which leads me to captions, if you can’t write a simple sentence, I’m guessing your captions won’t be very good either. Take some time; have a friend look over your website. Your pictures can be great, but oh those words matter. Poor grammar and misspellings take away from your professionalism.

My Photo Editor Mind – Photo Stories – Visual Novels

One of the biggest mistakes I see on photo stories is a lack of sequencing that makes sense. Remember, you are telling a story, and it has to have a beginning photo that sets the tone about what the story is about or who it’s about. It should also be one of your strongest photos. Then, you have to have a middle and an end. Next, take me along the journey of this story, whether it’s a person or town or an event. Make the sequencing make sense; subjects can’t be inside, then outside, then inside; you need to consider photos that are transitional. Help me understand where they are going and why. It’s always easiest to sequence like a day in the life; start in the morning, then go to night. Or start at an event and then take me through the process of how that event is dealt with. Consider the arc of the story; where is this positioned in the sequence? Good single images are great, but to make a photo story really sing, you need a solid storyline just like a great author does in a novel. If this doesn’t make sense, or you are having trouble, you can always contact me for help. 

My Photo Editor Mind - Best Editing Advice

After I have completed a rather large edit for a project or story or even a website, there is one thing I always do – go through all the outtakes. Seriously, all of them. I recently edited a project and had decided on my final selection. The sequence was right, the flow of images was right, each photo building on each other, telling the story. I felt it was complete; I was done. Then as I always do, I went through the outtakes.

The process of editing is a process of elimination, so you finally have a set of photos that works, but through this process, you might have deleted an image that actually works with the final edit that may not have worked with your initial thoughts on the edit.

I always check my outtakes, and on this recent project I actually pulled images back into the edit that were initially discarded. Be patient with the process; you’ve spent an awful lot of time to get these images, now take as much care in editing them. And if you need help, you know I’m here to help.

My Photo Editor Mind - Getting work - Shoot what you love

Recently, I’ve been talking to a lot of clients about freshening up their websites, getting on a better path for work, talking about redefining themselves to get work, and shooting what they love.

When you love what you shoot, it becomes really evident in your work. “That’s your best work,” I recently told someone. “Oh, I love shooting stuff like that,” he said. It’s really that simple. It seems like every time I see a photographer that is really good at some specific kind of photography (portraits, conflicts, aerials, macros), it turns out that they have a certain passion and affinity for it. You might not even realize it, but what you love actually shows up in your work.

Of course, you can’t always just shoot what you love, but you can focus more on finding what you love and bringing your business in line with it. It takes a great deal of effort to generate new sources of work, so why not put your energy into your favorite things? 

My Photo Editor Mind - Kind words

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mary the past few years, where she’s been an independent picture editor. From day one, you can tell she passionately wants you to succeed because of her honest feedback and her willingness to fight for images or tell you flatly something doesn’t work.

She has this great ability to filter out the clutter and find the focus in your work. Even though we’re 1,500 miles a part, you can tell as soon as you start working with her, she’s as dedicated to the project as you are.

A true picture editor, is more than just selecting photos. It’s working with the photographer to figure out the best way to show the story you’re trying to tell. They want you to succeed pulling no punches, but also respecting and listening to your thoughts. That’s Mary.

Matt Gade, Staff Photographer, The Daily Republic

My Photo Editor Mind - Take that off your website

I appreciate that you want to show your new work, and your first thought is to post it on your website, but for goodness’ sake, stop it, take it down. I say this for a variety of reasons, but this is the most important. Let’s say you have a great and new idea, you’ve done your research, and haven’t seen it before. Your intent is to sell it as something new and exciting, right? Well if it’s on your website, (and maybe you even posted it on social media), it’s been seen. It’s not new anymore. Now since this story is public and available to anyone, another photographer might think they could do something similar. Now you have competition for the story. If I’m an editor wanting to purchase this story from you, I don’t want it public until it’s on my site or in my publication. So take that awesome, creative, and unique story idea off of your website.

My Photo Editor Mind - You speak English?

I have a lot of international clients, and one thing that always impresses me is that they all speak and write English. These are clients from Romania, Germany, Italy, Iraq, and Kashmir to name a few. I took French in high school and college and quite honestly the only thing I really remember is how to ask where my aunt’s pen is. It’s on the table just in case you wanted to know. Maybe I don’t need to know another language; everywhere I travel people speak English. But mostly it’s a lazy American thing. Regardless, to all of those who speak a second language and third and fourth (and read it and write it), I’m impressed!