Wedding Photography – Traditional Or Trendy?

Wedding photography offers styles to choose from. Professional wedding photographers provide help for the bride and groom which wedding photography style they think would be appropriate for their taste. It is always time consuming and confusing for every bride and groom to decide on and pick a photographer with the precision in visual style, expertise, ethics and professionalism.

Professional wedding photographers employs the latest techniques in photography to keep up with the trend but one style doesn’t fit all. The best thing to do is to focus on how you would want the images captured to create a prized possession. Have a detailed discussion and bare what’s in your wish list to your photographer and come up with the best photography design appropriate and acceptable to you. These days’ photographers boast of and rely on their sophisticated digital cameras to get the best shots. Providing quick and easy reviewing of the photos and probably retakes if need be.

There are two types of wedding photography styles to choose from: traditional and photo journalistic. Most couples need to understand the difference and it will help in decision making as to what style they would want for their wedding mementos.

Traditional Wedding Photography

Traditional wedding photography captures pictures of course, the traditional way with traditional poses. This is when all family members from different generation are present and has to be in the pictures. From the side of the groom’s to the bride’s family plus the combination of family, friends and the entourage take turns posing with the bride and groom for posterity. Not as pretty as the photo journalistic style but for those who value family from one generation to the next typically go for this style. It is the style that dictates the setting.

Photo Journalistic Wedding Photography

This is a very trendy approach and is ideally chosen by young and hip couples. It is more like taking pictures for a magazine and is like telling a story as it unfolds, a story of how it all began laid out in order. Wedding photojournalism “is characterized by its candid, creative and natural results spanning serious to humorous scenes as your wedding photojournalist documents the moment as it naturally happens.” Photographer tries to take candid snapshots and capture best moments as well. This style usually devotes a day before the actual wedding to take photos of activities the bride and groom are into and captures images.

The most important decision in choosing a wedding photographer is to understand and identify what and how you want the images to come out. It would be helpful to allot more time when choosing and not regret on the decisions made. Remember, there is no way to fix the style of your photos once they are taken. It isn’t something that you can return and exchange. You and your groom need to make sure their style is in sync with yours. The outcome will be a lifetime keepsake so make sure to go for the best flowers to the food and the gardens. Your wedding pictures will be a lifelong keepsake, so the wedding photography must be top-notch.

Getting Started in Wedding Photography

Introduction

Is your photography equipment gathering dust because your desire to be creative is gathering dust as well? Don’t let it! By sticking to some basics, and doing your homework, wedding photography can be a very stimulating and rewarding pastime. People are always getting married, so the opportunities for photographing weddings – and making some cash to boot – are there if you want to inject some life into your hobby.

Wedding Photography Has Challenges!

I’m not silly enough to suggest shooting weddings is a walk in the park. But it is worth pursuing for the artistic and financial rewards. Think of any challenge that makes your senses tingle – mountain climbing, acting in a live play, catching that 12 pound trout with your fly-fishing gear…. it’s stimulating and rewarding. And because these pursuits require preparation, practice, and immediate focus (pun not intended), they require a direct cooperation of your intellect and creativity. Sounds like serious hobby material to me!

This was my reason for going pro. Hobby-level photography just wasn’t cutting the mustard, so by advancing my skills, equipment, and experience, I can still have fun with my favourite pastime, yet increase the rewards ten-fold.

What is “Pro”?

The definition suffers various interpretations, but “going pro” has more to do with acting professionally than it does with owning $20,000 in camera equipment. And you’re pretty well there if 1) your equipment is reliable, 2) you have backups, 3) you can take sharp photos that are well-composed, and 4) you maintain a professional’s attitude that includes friendly respect for your client. There’s more to it than that, but it shouldn’t be shrouded with mystique, snobbery, or elitism – you have the tools. Going pro doesn’t mean you’re primary income is from photography, but rather it refers to your approach, mindset, and maturity. So – want to be a full or part-time pro? Dust off your camera – and creativity – and start your research.

As Always: the Basics

The major elements to consider when shooting a wedding are no different than any other subject matter: lighting, film choice if you’re not digital yet, and equipment. Emphasis on preparation is needed for weddings for obvious reasons, so, cover the basics by doing the following:

-a recon visit to the chapel/church/synagogue/whatever 2 weeks before and knock off a number of exposures.

-have 2 camera bodies at your disposal, and preferably the same for lenses and flash

-install fresh batteries in all equipment

-make sure you have more memory cards or film than contracted

-hire an assistant to re-load your film camera if you’re still shooting in this medium

-have a signed contract with the couple which covers the checklist of photos to be shot by you, and various disclaimers (see the reference section below)

-beg/borrow/steal/buy a 28-200 or 28-300 zoom. (You’ll love me for this).

So, that’s most of it. A wedding isn’t a formal portrait sitting, so although posing is involved, keep in mind every shot isn’t gonna be a keeper.

Equipment

I assume that if you’ve read up to this point, you’ve got some good equipment, with hopefully more than one camera body. Duplicating your equipment is a good idea if you’re stuff is between consumer and “pro-sumer” level. A Mamiya or Hassablad medium format with a Metz flash will likely not fail you, but that’s the stuff of a full-time pro who has lotsa $$$ for equipment. Your gear may be cheaper than this, yet will create images comparable to the more expensive – BUT but it doesn’t have the lasting power. Anything mechanical suffers from what’s called MTBF: Mean Time Before Failure – it’s an engineering term that basically separates the high-end well-designed gear from the cheaper grades… Don’t argue – I experienced this principle on the very first wedding I shot. Please duplicate all your equipment.

Have your camera bodies cleaned every year or so. More often if you shoot a lot. Dust and dirt create havoc in the best equipment, because every time you change lens or film roll, environmental contaminants (dust and flying particles being the worst…) will find a home in the nooks and crannies of your camera. The expensive high-end cameras that Nikon and Canon make have amazing dust and moisture resistance… as long as they are closed shut!

Also, I can remember instances where not having complete command over my equipment caused hiccups in the photo shoot. Whether it’s a manual flash for which you can’t remember the gain number, or a piece of failed equipment that you have a backup for at home (like a sync cord!), excuses don’t cut it. If this is what you want to do, then practice enough to gain the knowledge and respect for your inventory: you need to master every technical aspect of your equipment.

Remember I mentioned using a zoom? It’s a life-saver if the officiator gets crabby when you get too close for his or her liking. You can be 12 feet away, yet zoom in on the ring exchange, the “kiss”, etc. The added bonus is that people’s faces look more natural when shot a distance away, because you’re avoiding what’s called perspective distortion. Too close, and noses look bigger and more prominent.

Do Your Research

Find the wording for a contract that suits you. Include disclaimers for failed equipment, botch-ups at the lab, etc, stating that you’ll refund on a pro-rated scale if not all was lost. Also, get paid before-hand. Don’t do the job unless they agree with this arrangement. Pre-plan with the couple using a detailed checklist; there are many examples to be found on the Internet. Agree on the various family shots and portaits, as well as the standard ceremony pictures. It’s well worth doing a dry-run before the wedding. By dry-run, I mean travelling to the location, finding a parking spot, and take a few exposures of a human subject at various distances. Then you’re familiar with the environment, and will feel prepared on the big day. You won’t need to do this as you gain more experience.

If you’re shooting film, brand and type is a personal choice. Print film, when processed and printed at a good lab, will include colour compensation, which is great for removing colour-cast produced by light sources such as fluorescent bulbs. And the bride’s wedding dress will be pure white. I’ve read on the net that Fuji film adds a green hue… I’ve yet to see it! Their Reala film is sharp, with nice skin tones. Other films to look at are mentioned in the reference section below; only use pro film stored in a refrigerator.

Let me emphasise the importance of using a professional lab for developing and printing the photos… so many one-hour shops and chain stores do not maintain the quality control they’re supposed to. The general public seem to be satisfied with grainy, out-of-focus prints, mainly because it’s status-quo I guess. After getting introduced to the quality product of a pro lab, I’ve never gone back… VERY sharp pictures, far less grain, nice colour balance, etc. My subjective experience is that Fuji film printed on Fuji paper is awesome. Now that I’m digital, my proof albums are printed by uploading the high-res photos to my favourite local lab. Most labs now have a web interface for uploading photos for printing, and are often ready in a couple business days.

Another good exercise is to look at others’ wedding albums to get ideas of where to stand for the important shots. Remember – you’re the pro, so don’t worry too much about being conspicuous during the ceremony. Research the net for “wedding photography”… you’ll get tens of thousands of hits, most with example photos.

Practice

Try and get invited to as many weddings as possible! Bring your camera equipment, and you’ll find that the shots you take may not be covered by the “official” photographer. Give your prints (or copies of…) to the couple, and you may be surprised at the results. Word will get around, or at least you’ll have a reference or two when you take the plunge.

Assisting an experienced photographer is a good way to get your feet wet as well, although you may not get paid. I didn’t start this way, but I occasionally see ads here and there from people offering to assist. Give it a shot if it interests you at all.

Once you feel prepared, create a web site and advertise. Look on the Internet for other examples, and if you’re not web-savy, have a friend do it for you, or hire someone. I’ve garnered enough business from my own web site to justify it’s effort and expense for the next long while! Plus it’s another creative outlet if you’re at all slanted towards graphic design and creative writing.

Pricing

Typically, wedding packages are offered at three levels: basic, deluxe, and premium. The first is for the budget-conscious, and can range anywhere from $400 to $1,000. This will cover the basics of the ceremony, plus some before and after shots, candids, preparation, etc – all at the prime location, all taking up somewhere under 250 exposures. Level 2: $800 to $1,200 or $1,500 will generally include pre-ceremony shooting of the bride and groom getting ready (at home or the chapel), bridesmaids, etc, and some of the reception. It will also cover portraits during that time. Running time: 2 to 4 hours, up to 350 exposures. These figures are very general, and some wedding photographers charge way more, and shoot tones of exposures.

The big kahoonah is the whole day: pre-ceremony, ceremony, and formal portraits including travel to some outdoor park with luscious greenery, many shots of relatives, etc. Could very well include portable studio lighting. Then you’re at the reception till the couple leaves… that could be 10 o’clock in the evening! Be prepared to shoot up to 400 exposures or more. The price for such a day of shooting can start from around $1,500 and go as high as three to five thousand, depending on a number of variables such as whether there’s a second shooter, custom leather album, etc.

The majority of wedding photographers fall within these price boundaries, but there are also exceptions… this is just a rough guide. Some photographers (such as myself) simply charge by the hour.

The Big Day

Show up early so you can get candids of people arriving, getting prepared… or perhaps even the bride getting ready at her home. The more expensive packages will involve a lot of pre and post wedding shots, so again, whatever is contracted, have enough film or memory cards available. Just before the bride arrives, check your remaining exposures (film or memory card), and swap it out if you’re getting close to capacity… this is where having an assistant is invaluable, handing you another rig so your coverage is seamless.

I won’t go into every shot you SHOULD take; there’s lots of other places to find that info. I’m just covering the high points; the important things to have prepared, and to remember. This is HER big day, and you’re answerable to the bride for the results. It’s important the couple see a professional doing his job, covering all the important shots, and producing an end-product they’ll rave about.

If your day includes shooting the reception, stay alert, low, (don’t drink…) and take tons of candids of people smiling – using that zoom I mentioned! The reception may be where the relatives are photographed; remember – you’ve checked the place out, right? So you know where people will be standing for the various mother/father/grandparent/sibling shots.

Oh – and by now, you might need new batteries in your flash unit. You DID bring extras, right?!?

Shoot away like mad, but make sure you get the couple leaving. This’ll be the last shot in the…

Wedding Album

There are as many approaches to this part as there are weddings you’ll shoot. But a good formula to start with is to offer an album with all the good shots, start to finish, as part of the over-all package. For film shooters, the negatives are sometimes handed over, but some times kept. Professional studios will not release the negs, as they stand to make significant income on reprints for the in-laws, etc. Another good reason for this is creative control – the client only sees your best work, making you look better, so – the approach it up to you. For digital shooters, provide a burned CD-ROM of the photos, less any garbage shots.

A tip here… provide something extra over and above the agreement as a gift to the couple… giving is better than receiving. I usually print a ready-to-frame 13 x 19 enlargement for the couple.

You may ask – “Should I shoot digital?”

Well, DUH! This article was written a few years ago, long before I began shooting digital. The answer to the question is an emphatic “yes!”. A good DLSR made by Canon or Nikon is a perfect match for wedding photography, as the turn-around time is decreased significantly. I simply offer a burned CD-ROM of all prepped images to my client as part of the package. By prepped, I mean adjusted for color, contrast, highlight/shadow, sharpness, and any cropping or straightening that may be required. And do shoot in RAW format, as it gives you a couple more stops of wiggle room both ways. I picked up a 4gb Extreme II card on eBay for less than $60.00, so there’s no reason to not shoot RAW. With my 8 megapixel camera, I can shoot over 400 exposures!

As for the wedding album, use a reputable lab that offers uploading over the web, or just bring them in on CD-ROM. The lab I currently use only charges 22 cents for a 4X6, and they can turn around a 300-exposure job in a couple of business days.

Conclusion

Why go through the bother and expense it takes to photograph weddings? The thrill. It took my favorite pastime to another level, and although I’m not athletic, the challenge and the experience must be similar to going “extreme”! If this sounds interesting to you at all, then do your research, get prepared, practice, hang a shingle, and make history. You’ll love it.

Jim.

A Unique Style of Wedding Photography

When you consider engaging a wedding photographer to photograph at your wedding it is important to remember that every photographer has a different ability. With the advent of sophisticated digital slr cameras at affordable prices there has been an explosion of individuals who have purchased a medium range or even a fully professional digital slr camera and set up shop as a wedding photographer. Some of these photographers are actually extremely good at what they do, even to the point of being able to make it as a professional photographer. However the vast majority do not have the technical expertise or understanding that will enable them to capture the perfect wedding picture time and time again. Wedding photography is actually one of the most difficult areas of photography because there is so much that is out of control of the photographer. From poor lighting to crowded venues, from a tired bride to a screaming child, inclement weather to guests who refuse to have their photograph taken there are literally hundreds of things that can cause a problem for the average amateur. Everyone needs to gain experience but do you really want them gaining the experience at your wedding?

Every wedding is unique and your wedding is no exception. You can find a really cheap photographer who may well have an expensive digital slr camera but unless the photographer actually understands how to use and control the camera then there can be a real problem that will affect the results of your wedding photographs. Most of these amateur photographers use the camera in either full automatic mode or programme mode. For taking snapshots when you are on holiday the his options are fantastic for the amateur, letting the amateur photographer create decent images just like using any other point and shoot digital camera. A little anecdote at this point may help to illustrate an extreme of this happy amateur photography. I was taking photographs of a newborn baby when the mother said that her oldest daughter was at college studying photography. She asked if her daughter could take some photographs two, of course I said yes, I’ve always try to accommodate the requests of my clients as long as it does not affect my work. I asked her daughter what camera she was using for her photography course. Her reply was something of a surprise, “I use an iPhone” she remarked. I’m not too sure I was able to hide my amusement, but you could just imagine the reaction I would have got turning out to photograph this new baby if I then pulled out my smart phone and started taking photographs. There is far more to photography can simply pressing a button and this is especially true when it comes to events that can never be repeated such as weddings.

Every bride and groom has an idea, or should I say usually has an idea of what they expect from the photography that their wedding photographer will give them. Unfortunately there are so many bride and groom’s who have been so disappointed with the results of the photography they have received from a so called professional photographer who actually was an amateur who set up his own or her own website after purchasing a digital slr camera. Some brides want the photographer to capture the whole day from having their make-up and hair done right through till the first dance. For others they are only looking for the wedding ceremony to be photographed. Occasionally the bride or wants photographs of the groom getting ready rather than herself; as I said earlier I’d try to accommodate the wishes of the client and when it comes to the photography that they require. I have been known to arrive in order to photograph the groom and best man getting ready for the wedding only to be turned away due to the fact that they were still in bed and an asked to return in a couple of hours when they have finally sorted themselves out.

Sometimes the bride and groom are happy to be led by the photographer and when this is the case there is a real opportunity for the photographer to really show why it is of such value to book an experienced wedding photographer. There are of course some cheesy photographs that some brides asked for, the one that is often requested is where the bride is lifted horizontally by all of the groom’s man. I’m perfectly happy to take said photographs but for myself I never suggest it. Now there are some images that I have taken that I get requested by a other bride and groom’s to take because they think the images are perfect or standing or original. The problem with anything that is original is that the venture he is copied. So I’d try to take some images at each wedding where the bride and groom are happy to let me have a little free rein, that are as unique to that wedding as the bride and groom our unique. Sometimes of course when you client sees a particular image they can’t understand why such a photograph would be taken or indeed why somebody would want to have a particular image. This is perfectly understandable, but because I spent a time getting to know each client I have never taken and image where the client has said why have you taken that. This again is something that comes with experience as a wedding photographer. I once had a couple of clients who were getting married near Leicester who only wanted what they termed ‘traditional wedding photographs’. The groom commented that one of my images from a previous wedding was a “waste of a photograph.” So what was this disaster of a photograph? It was a picture of four Bride’s Maids all of whom were under 12 years of age. Needless to say they had no children at their wedding; they were not an old couple but were in their twenties.

So having established with the client exactly the style and result that they are expecting from their wedding photos I then set about trying to be as creative as possible within the boundaries and constraints that are set by the bride and groom’s expectations. The purpose of wedding photography is to capture the story, joy and the uniqueness of the wedding day. There is nothing better than bringing a sense of delight to the bride and groom when they recall the events of the day while looking through the wedding photographs I have taken for them. By understanding how to control the camera in order to get the very best results possible by using the Manual settings and customising the results for each photograph of a professional wedding photographer is able to produce a record of your wedding that can far exceed your expectations. You may have ‘uncle Bob’ with his new super duper digital camera standing over the shoulder of a professional photographer taking almost exactly the same photograph from the same place in the same light, yet each with totally different results due to the fact that the professional wedding photographer understands how to control the camera to create the result that is designed, while uncle bob simply takes a snapshot with inexpensive camera.

Any real professional photographer will have developed a particular style of photography, but with an understanding of the client he or she also has an expectation that may require that style to be subtly altered in order to create the effect and results that are expected by the photographer and exceeding expectations of clients. There is a lot of advice on the Internet regarding finding the cheapest possible wedding photographer, but I would recommend that you consider the fact that this is one day there will not be repeated and therefore you need to make sure that you have booked a photographer that has the technical ability and artistic creativity to capture your wedding or other event in such a way that will give you the very best memories.

Please ensure that your photographer is a member of a professional photography body.