Photographer Megan Maloy came our way looking for a new and refreshed look to her online portfolio. Initially her needs were “a second set of eyes to tidy up my site, and add some focus.” Megan wanted to make sure she was giving her potential clients a clear and concise idea of who she was as a photographer. Megan is a talented lifestyle and portraiture photographer based in Jersey City. As we are all aware, the northern NJ/NYC market is chock full of competent photographers, so we sought to help Megan present herself in a way that shows her skills and aesthetic within her body of work.
Our objective was to curate Megan’s photos in a way that would create a rhythm and flow of her work within each of the galleries, as well as match her skills and interests with the opportunities of the commercial photography marketplace. As I began editing Megan’s photos, my goal was to have the viewers respond to her photography on an emotional level as much as an intellectual level. I wanted this new edit to “feel” good as well as make strategic sense in promoting her business to clients.
One of the first steps in this editing process was to send Megan a written questionnaire to learn about her photography business, her needs, past clients, and goals for future clients she wanted to attract. As I read through Megan’s questionnaire I looked through Megan’s existing portfolio to get a grasp on the type of photographer I saw. One of the first things I noticed was that she has recognized her specialties and has listed them in her galleries. I was excited to get cruising on the edit and looked forward to fleshing out those projects and specialties further. At the time, Megan’s gallery titles were Portraits & Projects, Lifestyle, Kids, a project called Tiny Portraits, Dance, Iceland, Gifs as well as Work & Tearsheets.
After this initial assessment, Megan and I scheduled a consultation call so we could chat about her work, what she enjoys photographing, and how she’d like to present herself to clients. It’s important for me to have each photographer’s objective expressed in the form of an elevator pitch — something along the lines of, “I want to shoot blank specialty pictures for blank client type.” All of this information will be a big help as I begin to look through the images Megan sends me as I start to separate them into appropriate categories.
Megan uploaded around 800 images, including tearsheets, for me to dive into. I downloaded Megan’s work and grazed through it all with fresh eyes, cup of coffee in hand and (most likely) the Grateful Dead playing in my speakers. My process for editing work is I enjoy going through all the images quite a few times in Lightroom. The first pass is to get an overview of the work, and with each additional pass I rate the images 1-5 stars, whittling down the image count as I go. My star rating system isn’t unique by any means, but is:
★★ = MAYBE
★★★ = PROBABLY
★★★★ = MOST LIKELY
★★★★★ = Final images, after the edit has been approved by the client.
At this point I had all the images as 3 or 4 star ratings, I started to think about the galleries for Megan’s new edit and copied the images into folders that made sense. These folders initially had working titles, but will be fleshed out into better titles later.
The next step in my process is to print out all the 3- and 4-star images around 3”x5” each and physically move them around on a large work table as I create the sequence and flow for the images. This edit should look great in the thumbnail view as well as make sense when a client clicks from one image to the next. Some images hit the cutting room floor here too. Literally. I love the tangible quality of moving images around on a table, moving myself around the room to get different views of the colors, lines, to help guide the sequence. My process is maybe a little antiquated, but it has worked for me over the years, and I’d rather look at prints than a Lightroom catalog any day!
Once I have a physical edit in place and am happy with for each gallery, I then mirror each gallery sequence in Lightroom and would send the entire collection to Megan for her thoughts.
The initial call Megan and I had after her first round of editing was lengthy as I presented the images I loved, each sequenced gallery, and why I chose to not include certain images. That, to me, is one of the hardest parts of editing your own work as a photographer. We are so close to our own images and sometimes cannot see them objectively without our own emotions attached. Sometimes, with my own work, I print out the images hang them on a wall and stare at them over time, squinting, turning my head, cropping with fingers … the time spent helps me assess the work and be sure it’s actually a good image and that my opinion isn’t steered by something else.
While commercial photography is certainly a service industry (and we cater to client’s timelines and budgets), all photographers are artists. We use light, f-stops and shutter speeds as our mediums to create art… and art is emotional. There is laughter, tears, fits of rage, long sweaty hours in the sun, and utter exhaustion where you don’t want to pick up a camera again for days afterward. During our initial edit conversation, Megan and I walked through and felt these emotions on our call. The call was close to two hours long, but in in the end we solved the puzzle we first encountered with her work.
There was too much work. There were too many styles, and Megan was (at first) very attached to a lot of the work that needed to be left off the site. We needed to simplify things and present her fittingly as a talented commercial photographer to her clients!
I then listed all the updated gallery titles and presented these to Megan for approval as I moved forward editing her images within each section. These category titles can and will probably change in the future, but establishing this framework now will help us move the edit towards her goal.
I don’t like to work in a vacuum and consulted both Honore and Bill as I was working through the edit. Presenting my decisions to them and posed questions I had about flow and gallery structure.
We went through 3 rounds of edits. While I was working I sometimes requested additional images to round out a gallery or a story that might be lacking. In the end Megan was delivered a sequenced edit that consisted of the following:
–Over & Out
Travel & Landscape
It was great to meet Megan, and I was honored to help her solve some editing issue and present a concise and gorgeous body of work to her clients!
As for Megan, she seemed very pleased by the final outcome:
Not only did Bryan get [my work], he had some great ideas about how to organize my work. He was also really helpful in showing me what work I needed to let go of. That’s something I always struggle with, and it was a much needed relief to have him do that for me. Plus, it shifted my focus onto my strengths I can build from moving forward with new work.