Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beyond 'Meeting Code'

I recently started the process of renovating our basement into a home studio (very exciting!) and, like many reno projects, it has had its challenges.  One of the things that thoroughly irritated me (and still irritates but I’m choosing to deep breathe my way through it :) ) is when people with skill and knowledge CHOOSE to not do their best, to cut corners. 

The example that has me thinking about this in broader terms happened during the framing stage of the one wall for the studio.  It is widely accepted/expected, in Canada, to frame walls on 16” centres; however, the city’s inspection codes have apparently been changed to now accept 24” on centre (which I didn’t know).  While reviewing the progress one evening, the studs seemed too far apart and so I got out my tape and, sure enough, they were 24” from the centre of one 2x4 to the other!?  I won’t get into the melee that ensued; sufficed to say that I find it sad that people ‘in the know’ choose to only do what’s absolutely required as opposed to what would easily be considered ‘best practice’, and it got me thinking…
My studio (pre-reno!) with a very special piece of furniture
I have often heard of, and been party to, conversations wherein people are lamenting the prices charged for professional photography.  They find it upsetting that a print costs more than they paid at their local lab for their own photo.  However, I wonder if they have considered the time, effort, education, and money that goes into a professional photographer’s final print? 

This post, and the coming posts on this topic, aren’t going to be a full-on defense of what and why we charge what we do…rather I’d like to simply say that there is a love, a passion, a drive that compels all honest photographers (and there are many) to do our very best.  Sometimes our work will speak to you, and sometimes it might not, regardless, from me to you, I can say that, if you choose me as your photographer, I will always do my very best for you: in consultation, during the shoot, and in post-production (‘retouching’), because I don’t want to only ‘meet code’, I want you to be thrilled and emotional and feeling like you’ve wisely invested in capturing a moment in time.

In the next few days, weeks, I will post a few thoughts on this subject…the first will be “Retouching…yes, please!” in which I will show a photo taken of me (I didn't want to put a client 'on the spot' and so I figured I’d use a shot of myself!), by famed photog and my mentor, Bryan F. Peterson.  I'll include both the unedited and edited shots.  My hope is that these posts might provide a little insight into what goes into the making of an image that meets a professional standard.

I hope you’ll join me in the coming weeks as we talk a little about the value you will find in professional work, some of which is immediately apparent, like the print quality, and other value that may not be as obvious, for instance the software used to library and edit your images.

Meet ya’ back here soon, and life IS great!



  1. I love this "code" talk of yours! My in laws are carpenters and it drives my father in law nuts when people don't do good work!! I love the comparison!

  2. Thanks for the note, Michelle! My family does a lot of construction work (it's a love of my dad's) and this type of 'only what's necessary' attitude drives him CRAZY! I will say that my painters have been AWESOME - want to pay compliments when compliments are due! Appreciate you taking the time to comment!