Tracey Paddison is a full-time event, PR, and press photographer in Cardiff, Wales, UK. Her passion is telling a story through pictures. In the world of press media, fast photo editing is hugely important. Tracey talks about her experience using Exposure for a unique social documentary photo project with Cardiff University in the interview article below.
Can you tell us about your photo-essay project?
Ffoton, (Welsh for Photon, as in light particle) is a photographer-led community who promote photography across Wales. I was approached by one of the founders who invited me to take part in a project to revive the long-form photo-essay, and also to produce a 36-page zine to explore and document social issues within Cardiff and the surrounding area. The project was funded by the City Region Exchange, and was a collaboration with the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. I was partnered with a student journalist and given a choice of various project themes to document.
I chose the theme Cake, Jam, and Bees. This entailed documenting a research and community engagement project involving the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pollen8 Cymru, the Women’s Institute, and local schools. The project involves the installation of beehives, and pollinator-friendly gardens in the region’s schools to create bee-friendly habitats and to inspire the next generation of conservationists and scientists.
The zine took a different direction and we focused on the symbol of the bee. This story took us from Wales to Manchester, to Lancashire and back again; a total of 400 miles (640 Kilometres) round trip. The worker bee is the emblem of the city of Manchester and the bee emblem is everywhere.
What is a photo essay? What about the long-form photo essay appeals to you?
A photo-essay is an account of something told essentially through photographs, usually with some accompanying text. I think it’s important for a photographer when creating a photo-essay or documenting anything, to have an initial interest in the subject they are going to photograph.
The whole process of creating a long-form photo essay appealed to me; the challenge to tell a story visually and inform people through the photography about what I’m trying to say. I enjoyed the research, making new contacts, and the journey it took me on.
What can other photographers learn from creating photo essays?
From my experience, I would say photographers can learn a great deal of lessons from creating a photo-essay: how to tell a story visually, research techniques, making connections, knowing where to go, who to talk to, asking the right questions. Putting all this together is the job.
Tell us about your favorite editing tools in Exposure. How do they help you finish your images?
I shoot in the RAW file format, which allows me to make adjustments in image processing should I need to, though I aim to get it right in camera in order to deliver images to newspaper picture desks within minutes of taking them. If I’m shooting an event for an organisation they might need images soon after for their social media, website and printed marketing materials. Speed is vital and this is where Exposure’s fast photo editing really holds its value for me. It doesn’t clog up my workflow with additional files when editing.
Exposure’s quick export for social media is another bonus for me; my client deliverables include a set of high resolution images for print, accompanied by a duplicate set of images optimised for social media and website use. Exposure enables me to do this quickly and easily ensuring that my images will look sharp online instead of relying on the client to do this correctly. They are often not aware that large high resolution files lose quality if they are uploaded straight to social media as they compress the image and quality is reduced.
When working on the image set for the Women’s Institute, I noticed how easily I was able to make selective modifications with the brush tool. Additionally, I could manipulate the lighting of the image using subtle vignettes; the ability to move the vignette’s centre point with the vignette location tool helped me quickly create an atmospheric look and draw the viewers’ attention to the subject. I used the brush tool to erase unwanted darkened areas easily and fast. I liked the creative freedom Exposure’s non-destructive workflow gave me.
I added frames to the Women’s Institute images. The Overlays tools included in Exposure is a great feature. There is a wide choice of frames, light effects and textures available.
In what ways does Exposure help you work creatively?
For the Women’s Institute set of images, I wanted to achieve a vintage look to reflect the long history of the Federation, which started in the UK in 1915. I found the captioned presets; the snippets of information, some captioned with film origin dates, useful in defining the picture style. I then made modifications to create the exact look I wanted, easily saved it as a custom preset, and applied it to my image set.
What are some of your favorite presets? Why do you like them?
I used the B&W Vintage presets with the orthochromatic preset in the colour sensitivity panel; this helped me create the early photographic look for the Women’s Institute pictures. I like the aesthetic of old photographs and Exposure’s presets span the entire history of analog photography.
How does Exposure’s design help you work more efficiently?
I find Exposure’s layout much more visual than Lightroom; the option to view presets in thumbnail view helped me find a good starting point for my images within minutes. The function to indicate my favourite presets with a star and categorise favourites makes them easily identifiable and speeds up my workflow.
Thanks, Tracey for sharing insights into your experiences using Exposure on your project with Cardiff University’s School of Journalism. It’s fascinating to learn about all the different ways photographers use the editing tools in Exposure. We’re glad to know that Exposure was involved in making it happen. It sounds like the world of press media demands fast photo editing turn around, which Exposure’s fast workflow is ideally suited to handle.