Why Shoot and Burn is a Bad Idea Everytime

Think about this for a minute. You go to a nice restaurant. Great chef, great reputation. You order your food, and they come back with a head of lettuce, a tomato, and tell you to create your own masterpiece.  The waitress says to you: "Oh, did you bring your own knife and cutting board? We don't supply that."

That's exactly what happens when you hire  a photographer who supplies you with all your files, off the camera, and for a low, low price to you. Also known as shoot and burn photography.

You basically get nothing. Most time not even half decent photography. More on that idea soon...

The truth is, you actually wasted whatever money you did invest in that 'photographer'. Why? Most people, the vast majority, will take that CD of images, maybe post a few online, look at them a  few times on their computer, maybe post some on facebook and then put it away, never to be seen again. Unless of course, they do something creative with the CD.

Like this:


Okay, joking aside, the worst thing is, besides the fact that you may forget you even had the image, and banish the CD to some long lost forgotten drawer or box, you may not even like the images. (they might even disgust you- this happens more times than people admit to- maybe because of the high level of disappointment)

After all, just because they called themselves a photographer and owned a nice camera, doesn't make it so. I can type. Does that make me a Hemingway? Or a J.K Rowling?


[box] Do you want to know why we don't sell or giveaway our files from our portrait sessions?[/box]

99% of our clients by the way don't even ask for them. They get it.

They understand that it's not about owning files, which for the most part never get looked at.(and by the way look like crap because the 'photographer' wanted the fast buck, quick sale, and didn't care what they looked like. Handed them off without any professional enhancing, retouching and such. I bet they wouldn't know the first thing about photoshop. Do you? It takes a long time, and many, many images artistically enhanced to get good at it. Just like cooking. Or writing. Or playing the piano)

So, why do so many go for the "shoot and burn" photography? In my opinion, there are two reasons.

  1. Reason number one why so many go for the shoot and burn session- It seems like a great deal at the time, so it's all about saving money. Who doesn't like that idea!
  2. And number two, many don't know any better. You can't blame anyone for not knowing any better  can you? You don't know what you don't know!

My job is to try and explain that last one a little bit. In other words, I'll explain where and why professional portrait photography is different, way different than shoot and burn photography.

First off, a finely crafted image needs to be prominently displayed in your home. Portraits are very, very personal, and have deep personal meaning to the family members included and to their other family members and friends.

Add to that an artistic element, and you have  an ideal combination that lets you show off your masterpiece with pride. Homes get a lot of attention. Think about the time, the expense, the painting, the furniture, the flooring....everything that we put into our homes. We make them...well, "ours". Right?

It's our home. Where we live with our families. So when we create a family portrait, a shoot and burn image doesn't come into the equation, does it?

A finely crafted portrait will have the following elements:
*impact. It stops you in your tracks. Years from now, you still love it like you did the day you picked it up. A complete stranger can look at it with admiration, and think : "what a great image. It says something..."

Impact just is. The eye, the heart, the emotions just know: "this is something special."

*composition. This is where an artist can bring a portrait together. You don't look for it, again, it just is. As a photographer, composition is something we know on a technical level, without over obsessing about it, but using and applying our skills to create an images that is well composed. Often, it's an intuitive skill, but a skill that comes from years and years of photographing.

*expression. You can't fake this one. When people aren't relaxed and having fun, it shows. It may not be obvious, but it's there. Something just ain't right.

*color harmony. Nothing says distraction worse than a badly harmonized portrait. Create an image that is coordinated with the proper use of background, location, lighting, posing and, of course, everyone wearing the best clothes that not only define them, but doesn't "take away" from the colour harmony with the final image.

*lighting. You might say this is where we separate the pros from the wannabees. Bad lighting, or lack of control and best use of lighting isn't say as bad as a really bad musician trying to perform o stage when they sound awful, but in a visual sense it's the same idea.  It's just not in your face as much. Bad lighting says "I don't know what I'm doing. I have no or very little control over lighting. These people in my portrait look bad in this lighting, because I don't know much, on a practical level, on how to best use lighting for overall effect and the most flattering use." Yes. Lighting is that simple. But so are musical notes, don't you agree? But a true master, a craftsman can bring it all together in a beautiful symphony.

*treatment. The final treatment and preparation of a finely crafted portrait can be made or broken here. If you are using canvas, or matted and framed, the right placement in your home, the best size, the best cropping and colours used in framing, matting and all the details that go into the treatment. This is a completely different universe than images living on a computer hard drive, don't you think?

[box type="warning"] I consider myself an artist who has honed his skills over decades of hard work, study and application. This shows during the actual photographic session itself. My clients tell me so. They believe in me and place total trust in my abilities. This didn't happen over night. Success is something that I need to work at constantly, without end. Always honing, relearning and pushing myself. A shoot and burn is a complete and total farce. A fraud. Let's call it what it is, can we? I mean seriously.

I am an artist, a documentarist and a visual journalist. Whatever your personal style is, and the value you place in the images you display, the albums you cherish, all your valuable memories, will show up in my ability to interpret that for you. I make it look easy. In a sense, it is. Like when a musician rips though an awesome solo, or a concert pianist astounds everyone with a beautiful concerto. They all make it look easy, don't they?[/box]

[box type="bio"] If you value and cherish your memories as works of art worthy of the skills and talents of a craftsman, then you get the difference. Sure, the investment is more. But when you compare the final outcome, you now know why.[/box]