How Your Documentary Photographs can be turned into Editorial Gold! How To Tuesday #20 / by Zack Smith

Today we will show how one photograph and it's contents can be repurposed to tell a larger story while showing you another reason why it is so important to Own Your Photo and Shoot RAW!

A few things to remember 1st:

1. Always keep Ownership of your Images

2. Always Shoot RAW!

As we slide into festival season in New Orleans, I am being called on to provide images I have shot for festivals to be used for commercial and editorial purposes. In How To Tuesday #18 we learned how to photograph a silhouette, and I showed an example of the image I shot of accordion player Anthony Dopsie at Jazz Fest. In that situation I was able to provide my initial client (Jazz Fest) with the image they needed to document his set at the Fais Do Do stage, but then eventually use that same image for the recent Louisiana Office of Tourism campaign. In the first instance I did not need a model release since I was shooting documentary for the festival, but in the second instance I absolutely needed a model release since his image would be used for an advertising campaign to promote Louisiana. 

As a photographer you should always try to retain ownership of your photography so that when situations arise like this, you are in a position to have some bargaining power!

Recently, New Orleans' Gambit Weekly contacted me and wanted to use this photo for their upcoming cover story on Fairs and Festivals:

I love the shot and remembered the day I took it. I think everyone that was outside that Jazz Fest day remembers the skywriter and the messages they were posting up for the city to see. This image for me just came together and I was happy to be at the Fais Do Do Stage again! I positioned myself to get the entire stage in the shot and waited a few minutes for the heart to be in the best part of the composition. 

When Gambit approached me they mentioned wanting to crop the photo to make it work with their layout. After seeing what they wanted to do I was fine with it, but I had to go back and edit the photo to make the editing flow a little smoother. If you notice in the image above I over-dodged the stage and band (props to Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole!). I did this because I wanted the viewers eyes to float back and forth to the other eye-leading element: the sky heart. In this new Gambit crop, I did not have the sky heart and feared that the over-dodging of the stage would be distracting to the new layout. I ended up going back to the RAW file and making the "Gambit-crop" (as i called it), then I desaturated the stage and didn't dodge it as much with the selective adjustment tool in Lightroom. Here is the final version:

As you notice your eye doesn't sit on the stage as long as it did in the uncropped version. I ended up liking what Gambit did in adding their masthead as if it were written by the sky writer, nice touch guys.