To Proof or not to Proof?

It’s been a long discussion between other professional photographers and myself about what the right answer is. Do you allow your clients a ‘proofing’ (whether digital or in person) session before you continue on with the hours of editing?

The answer, to me, isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

While some weddings don’t require proofing unless a print order would be placed (read: PROFESSIONAL print order through your artist and photographer), there are some sessions that benefit from a proofing opportunity.
My example: Seniors. Senior portraits are my main job in the autumn months, when the weather gets cool and the puffy jackets come out. I love this time of year. I love capturing these moments for the kids and for the parents and I love the endless opportunities outside, no matter what the weather.

The one thing I don’t like though is the lack of self confidence that inevitably comes with high schoolers. No matter HOW beautiful or handsome the young person may be, almost all of my seniors have lacked the self confidence in front of the camera. Blame it on the social media epidemic, or just a normal phase that all of us went through – it’s true.

The end result for photographers is a general lack of joy in the final product.

“I don’t like the way I smiled”
“I’m SO fat”
“Ew.  I look so weird in that photo”
“I should have gone with the red sweater.”

None of which, by the way, has ever been true.
The solution? PROOFING.

By allowing seniors (and their parents), a sneak and limited peek at their photos and allowing them to choose their own poses, it gives them a little bit of the creative rein over such an important milestone.

It looks a little like this:

For senior and portrait sessions that require proofing, we shoot as usual. I will then take photos home and do light and basic editing on them. Eliminating the ones that don’t meet my artistic standards and subtly enhancing those that do.

The client gets a private, password protected and limitedly accessible link and chooses his or own photos (a set number decided on contractually beforehand) based on their personal preference and how they feel about the images.
Those images make their way back onto my computer and are fine edited – again, to my own personal artistic standards. I take the time on the photos that I know the person will absolutely LOVE and virtually no time on ones where they feel as though they are a bit unnatural.

Parents seem to love this way of documenting seniors. Especially since a lot of those concerns come from them (“Not your ‘weird‘ smile, Katie! Smile NORMALLY!”…. seriously parents, try to give them a little space).

Is it more work for me? That’s a definite YES! But my main desire is to create art that my clients LOVE!


In Him,

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