My first commission – Processing and selection

This is the third entry in my series charting the progress and experiences of undertaking my first photographic commission.

In the previous entry I wrote about the photo shoot and the locations I visited. Back home, I swiftly downloaded all the shots into Lightroom and backed them up. I wanted to make sure nothing was lost before deleting the files from the SD Cards. In total I had taken 417 exposures and I needed to get this number down to about 30 or so images from which Vail Williams would hopefully choose about 8 for framing and display in their offices at Lakeside.

Old and New Portsmouth
Old and New Portsmouth

As I had never undertaken a commission before, trying to decide which images to process and then include in the shortlist, was always going to be a problem. It’s easy of course to remove those which are technically flawed, of which there were a number, although not that many. This was not so much down to me but the technical functionality of the Olympus EM1.

Lakeside, North harbour.
Lakeside, North Harbour

Other shots simply didn’t work whether for compositional reasons, subject matter, wrong angle of view and so on. Others in my view really had merit and were worthy in my opinion of being included in the final selection to put forward. Inevitably I guess I was drawn to images that I liked but which also fulfilled the brief set by the client. However I was very conscious of the fact that for the first time I was creating a set of photographs not for me but for someone else; in fact a group of people who might have very different ideas as to what they would want and actually pay for!

Processing the images 

Over a period of a couple of weeks, I made my selection and processed all the images in a consistent fashion ready to show Ian Froome, who would then share them with other members of his team. I took a lot of care during the processing to make sure there were no blemishes or sensor spots. I wanted to ensure that all the images were print ready. Given that they were going to be printed on A2 paper, any marks or imperfections would be magnified and more likely to be noticed.

Sunsail 4022
Sunsail 4022

For the presentation I decided to prepare them in three different ways. Firstly I produced a MP4 slideshow which is relatively easy to do in Lightroom. I put them in an order which I considered appropriate and transferred the slideshow onto a disk which I could give to Ian. Using small file sizes I also copied the individual images on to the disk as well, so they actually had thumbnails of each one if they needed to easily share these around the office. Lastly I printed a contact sheet onto the photographic paper I would be using for the finished prints, namely Ilford Galerie Gold Mono Silk. This paper in my opinion produces some great black and white results although unfortunately the factory in Switzerland producing the paper, Ilford Imaging, went into liquidation at the end of 2013 so the paper is no longer available. Fortunately I had a good stock of A2 size paper to complete the commission.

Gosport tower
Gosport Tower

I invited Ian round to my home to see the images and take away the disk and the contact sheet. He seemed suitably impressed but I would have to wait for his confirmation that he and his team liked the photographs sufficiently to want to hang them in their offices. I took nothing for granted, as I did not want to assume they would want any of the 26 photographs in the selection I had provided.

A week or so later and great news. Ian contacted me and they had chosen not just 8 photographs but 10 images. I was delighted but it soon dawned on me that I now had to print, mount and frame all these photographs. This will be the subject of my next and final entry on this topic.

The first entry in this short series can be found here, and the second entry here.

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