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proof files

In the past 

Today, we use proof files to show customers what we have shot and allow them to choose the photos they would like to make prints from and have us do any retouching that is needed. But in the days of film photography, the process of showing what we, as professional photographers had shot was much different. 

We would start out by first taking the photos, (that’s kind of a needed step, take those photos) then we would send the film off to the lab and have what was called proof photos made.

When the proofs were returned to us from the lab, we would have the customer come back into the studio and most often pick up the proofs and take them home to make the selection. For weddings, there would be a proof book. An album that had photos with order sheets interleaved among the photos, the customer would select the photos they wanted to go into their album.

Once they made there selections, the customers would bring the proof book back to us and we would organize the order. Each negative had to be affixed to what was called an aperture card, then the entire order was send off to our lab again to have the prints made.

For wedding proofs

For wedding orders, we placed an order for their album with our album supplier, Merit Albums in Northridge. They would stamp the album with the couple’s name and wedding date for us. Once we had both the prints and album in hand, we could start putting that album together. Making prints and putting together a wedding album was the only way to look at their photos. It was a labor-intensive process and not many armatures wanted to tackle. That’s why in the 90s and early 2000s there were just a handful of “professional” photographers in the Visalia area.

As our studio moved from film to digital in the mid-2000s we went through several stages of how to present the images, the “proofs” so to speak. At first, we did just what we were doing with film, we made proofs prints and put them in a proof album. But, as time moved on, and we were sometimes shooting hundreds of images, (especially at a wedding) this system became overwhelming. In the days of film, shooting a couple of hundred shots at a wedding was a lot, but now, with digital, if I came back from a wedding with just 200 images, I would not be doing my job very well. Portraits sessions result in fewer images, but still, a lot more than in the film days.

When we moved into the digital age

As we moved along with digital, we began using software that would produce proof files that looked like the proof album we used to use, only now on a CD. It would produce something that would have pages that would flip just like a regular album and that worked OK for a while. it was a transition so to speak, for people who were used to having a physical album. As the world progressed that whole process went away and we began just putting compressed jpg images onto the CD.

A few years ago, CDs began disappearing from computers, new laptops were coming w/o a drive and the use of CDs and DVDs diminished. I used to buy CDs in bundles of a hundred and use them in a few months, now, I use just a handful each year and buy them in packages of ten. Now it’s memory sticks and more often than not, the cloud.

Posting proofs files to the cloud allow us to get them into clients’ hands quickly, it saves them a trip into the office to just pick up a memory stick and it allows customers to share them with friends and relatives. We use a site called pCloud because I find the interface is easy to use, for both us and clients, it has a photo and video viewer, and I can use it to sync files to all my computers. I can send clients a link from pCloud and they can click the link, see the photos online, download the photos, and send the link to friends and family.

So that’s what proofs are. 

So that’s the story of the way we have shown “proofs” to clients throughout or more than 35 years in the photography business. It’s become much more accessible for people to see and view photos than it was in 1984, I was going to say easier, and in some ways, that’s true, easier for the client for sure. For us, as professionals, some of that back end work is easier, but we are now shooting more and with the ability in Photoshop to edit and create so much on the back end, I would say that there is just as much, or more, work involved now. But, I would never want to go back to film.