In the photo editing world, outtakes are those images that don’t survive the multiple rounds of editing that allows the cream of your shoot to rise to the top. The first images to go are the obvious mess-ups: closed eyes, hair issues, equipment elbowing its way into a shot, poor exposure. The next rounds of editing then refine the selections further until a handful of images remain that I feel proud to submit to my clients: technically strong, of course, but also appropriate for their brand and their unique story.
Of these, only a small percentage make it to print or screen, meant for public consumption. In this digital version of the Hunger Games, the rest are discarded and are usually never seen again. It’s a ruthless, never-ending process.
That’s why I like to go through my past shoots regularly, pulling images that I like that weren’t used. They may not fit the purpose at hand, but out of context they still are interesting and strong images.
Here are a few from the first couple of months of this year. I like them because in each case there’s moment that strikes a chord in me. The lighting, the environment and body language all work together to tell a story of sorts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I like seeing them again.
What makes a good image a great image?
Conventional wisdom is that great images should be perfectly formed, flawless, masterpieces of technical expertise combined with a singular artistic sensibility.
If that were true, Robert Capa’s blurry, darkroom-damaged images taken during the Allied landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day would have never seen the light of day.
Instead, they are considered among the most iconic images of the 20th century. Once seen, the haunting images are never forgotten.
Capa’s images are compelling not because they are perfect, but because they tell a story of the hardships, danger and drama of war.
Brands looking to create connection with fans should keep in mind that when it comes to great imagery, ‘story’ is Job One.
Visual content—whether still images or video—should reflect a unique brand story.
All the rest of it—technical aspects like framing, layering, rule of thirds—are just icing on the cake. For some brands, where refinement and elegance is part of their ‘story’, such precise technicality becomes a critical part of their story. For other brands, images that are too highly polished and contrived would be out of place.
So when you think about your brand and the images you’d choose to represent it, think first about what your brand story is and approach your content creation with that story in mind.