I’ve been hearing stories from various sources lately about customers asking photographers to slash their budgets, even going so far as to completely slash the funds needed for the digital tech on the photo shoot. Bad economy all around, I guess. Selfishly, of course, I think this is a bad idea. After thinking about it in further detail it truly is a bad idea not just for digital techs, but photographers and clients alike. Here are six reasons you need a digital tech on-set:
1. You need a lab
In the days of film you wouldn’t have even considered trying to slash the photo lab’s budget, or even omit the photo lab entirely, from your photography process. The lab (digital tech, in today’s parlance) ensures you get a properly exposed, focused, color-accurate, clean, high-quality image for your business use. This hasn’t changed in results, merely in name and location.
2. You need another set of eyes
To ensure you receive a usable, printable, transmittable, high-end image, you need somebody who isn’t worried about operating the actual camera, or the studio/location lighting, or is in constant discussions with the client or art director. You need somebody whose role is to take care of only the images. After all, you are already spending enough on the entire photo shoot. Rely on the digital tech to ensure it is money well spent. See reason 1 above.
3. You need graphic ability
In today’s digital world, everything can be fixed in post (“Fix it in Photoshop!”). Not that everything should be fixed in post, far from it, but with the pace of the world today and the rapid cycles of the internet (and reduced budgets), it is in your best interest to rely on your digital tech for image processing before final image delivery to you or your production personnel. Depending on the level of comfort and experience with your team, and your business agreements, you may have retouching and color-corrections, perhaps even compositing, done right in the photo studio. This could pay for itself on the spot as you save an exponential amount of time in avoiding the inevitable in-house production logjam (and all that messy paperwork).
4. You need repurposability
Ok, that probably wasn’t a word until now (it is), but what you need is somebody who understands the various ways your images are going to be used: the print process (hey, a huge part of the world is still ink on paper, despite the huge contractions in the news/media landscape), the web process (color-space, compression, file formats, delivery formats), and even the video process (similar to the web). A great digital tech knows these things and gives you exactly what you need right from the start, saving you time in the production process.
5. You need metadata
To get the various images into the various modes of delivery, you probably also need to find a particular image at any given moment in your ever-growing archive of assets. To do this, you need metadata (data about the data). Your digital tech knows efficient methods of entering this data and can accurately tag and keyword your images during, or immediately after, capture. One less thing for you to worry about.
6. You need redundancy
Your digital tech is also responsible for ensuring you have complete and accurate backup copies of your photo shoot. These are your negatives, if you are still thinking in terms of the film days. The beauty with digital, however, is you actually have more than one set of masters. Your digital tech makes these backups, perhaps even delivering a set right to your hands.