Four things a milliner should ask a photographer before commissioning them.

I thought this might be off use if you are thinking of instructing a photographer. The answers you get can be revealing and hopefully give you the reassurance to instruct.

Can I see your portfolio?

A good photographer be they pro, semi pro or hobbyist will have taken the time to create a strong portfolio. How it is laid out and presented tells you a lot. Viewing a portfolio allows you to see if they shoot well and expose their images correctly.

Within the portfolio do they shoot a genre that is right for you? I am not a great wedding or landscape photographer so would never target that genre. Millinery photographers are rare as it is a niche area but has the photographer you want to commission ever shot fashion, which is pretty close to millinery.

Answer should be – “yes here is a link to my work.”

How do you white balance your images?

White balance is a check that all good photographers do before a shoot commences. They will take a shot of a grey card over the subject’s face (and hat). Then they will take a sample from the grey card, check the colour temperature and adjust their camera settings. Not doing this can make whites look a bit ‘muddy’ or slightly off white.

White balance balances the colour temperature of an image. It adds the opposite colour to the image in an attempt to bring the colour temperature back to neutral. Instead of whites appearing blue (too cool) or orange (too warm), they should appear white after correctly white balancing an image.

Smartphones are not great at white balancing. I see a lot of hat images where there is poor white balance and a good photographer should overcome this.

Answer should be “yes, I white balance my images pre-shoot” or “yes I edit my white balance in RAW after the shoot.”

What mode do you shoot in?

I always shoot in manual mode; manually controlled aperture, shutter speed, ISO and sometimes manual focus. This provides me with complete control of the exposure so I can tweak it how I want to get the best image.

Most cameras these days have additional modes such as ‘aperture priority’ ‘shutter speed priority’ ‘programme’ and ‘automatic.’ These modes are fine but a pro photographer would always choose to have complete control of the camera via manual mode. Using the other modes is not necessarily a bad thing but manual mode means the photographer understands the camera.

Answer – Ideally “yes I shoot in manual mode.” (But other modes can work).

Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?

When a photographer photographs they will typically shoot in RAW or JPEG file formats. The immediate difference is file size. When I shoot a hat in RAW each image is about 40mb! I also shoot JPEG at the same time and that is usually about 1-2 mb’s. So why the file size difference? When I shoot an image it is recorded as RAW data. If the camera format is set to JPEG, this raw data is instantly processed and compressed before it is saved in the JPEG format. If the camera format is set to RAW, no processing is applied, and therefore the file stores more tonal and colour data ergo much bigger file size. If a photograph is under exposed it is far easier to recover the details in a RAW file than a JPEG. Similarly white balance adjustments are a lot easier and achievable when editing in RAW.

The advantage of JPEG is the speed to view them on the Web or on social channels because they are smaller. When a file is fully edited and processed it can then be converted/exported/saved to JPEG so it can be viewed quickly. For a client to review an album I will send JPEG files for speed of delivery but edit the RAW. RAW and JPEG don’t look that much different on say a phone but they are in terms of what data they contain. More data, more editing freedom.

RAW images are typically processed in a RAW editor such as Adobe Lightroom or Capture One to get the perfect exposure and then sent as a JPEG (or TIFF) to Photoshop for additional retouching. Lightroom and Capture One are the market leaders and considered the professional’s choice.

Your images taken on your phone are most likely to be JPEG files.

Answer should be “yes I shoot in RAW.”

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