Pics that would never have seen the light of day

PNG’s Goroka Mudmen (and boys), rescued from “the darkness”


A silver lining of this wretched virus is that I’ve had some spare time to dive into my digital archives to strengthen my commercial Photo Library and expand my range of Limited Edition Prints (it’s also given me the chance to practice some of those advanced post-production techniques I’ve been rabbiting-on about in the past few posts).

Fact is, before the virus hit, I was kept so busy running from assignment to assignment that I rarely found time to look back on what I’d shot beyond delivering the top tier of photographs to my clients at the end of each shoot.

As you might imagine, given I shoot several thousand images during a single assignment from which I deliver a small selection of the best photos, there’s a fair bit of ground to cover. And I’ve been doing this for more than two decades.

The process begins with me scrutinising the raw files captured during an assignment (thank heavens for Lightroom) and choosing images that I think have some commercial potential, then processing each of them individually. It’s a hard call a lot of the time, with variations of my most popular photos to consider, weighing up where to draw the line in terms of the amount of post-production time that’s practical to put in, and ditching images I love, knowing they will only appeal to a limited audience (that said, if I love em enough, they make it into my Limited Edition Print Gallery). Once that’s completed, they need to be uploaded to my library and captioned (I don’t add much detail beyond the location because of the time involved, figuring buyers will get back to me if they want more than I’ve provided). Finally, everything’s catalogued and stored on dedicated hard drives. Phew.

It’s only been a week since I started putting in a couple of hours a day, but the process has been surprisingly fruitful. First cab off the rank was Papua New Guinea which I’m only quarter of the way through and already my PNG gallery has doubled in size to more than 2,000 prime images (link follows):



Once I’ve completed each of the galleries and stepped away for a while, I’ll go back and cull the selection.

Here’s a couple of the pics I salvaged today from my raw files of a shoot I did for the PNG tourism authority in 2011 that didn’t make the client cut. I spent about 20 minutes playing with them in post-production – time I probably never would have found, and two pictures no one would have ever seen, without the opportunity this plague has given me to wander through my archives.


drag the cursor across the image to compare the raw file with the final edit.

Post Production: This is a good example of some of the post-production techniques I’ve been studying recently which I can now draw on as options to apply to my images. We’re talking colour grading, temperature adjustment, radial and graduated filters, layers, tone curves, colour calibration and saturation adjustments, vignetting, sharpening …..and so it goes on. Of course, I wouldn’t apply this much time to every pic (or I’d be out of business) – but I particularly liked this series of two Mekeo women sitting beside a glowing lamp.

Business Tip: For those interested in my business model, I offer my destination clients access to any of the images from a commissioned shoot that I subsequently add to my commercial photo library for a nominal processing fee, which I believe adds value to our association. It sees more promotional photographs of their destination in circulation and it underwrites the time I invest in the process. The average price of a Royalty Free Image in my library ranges from AUD$50 – AUD$200, depending on the size.

David’s personal blog

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A successful promotional photograph starts with knowing what you want it to say and who you want it to appeal to - before you even bring the camera to your eye.




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