In response to a number of inquiries concerning how to make sure the photos at a wedding or portrait session look their best, I have decided to write some articles in an effort to help people answer these questions and get the best out of their photography.
I believe that when you hire a photographer for a portrait and especially a wedding, you would like to get what you pay for. Yes, we professional photographers with many years of experience are quite expensive. At least that is how it looks but I will explain this a bit later. First I would like to say that if you are going to hire a competent professional then it would make great sense to do things that will make his/her job easier.
The best professional will always be limited by the setting they find themselves shooting in. For example, in an outdoor wedding we will get you good photos at midday, we are trained and experienced enough to do so but that said, we will get you better images in the morning or later after hours when the sun isn’t beating straight down creating all kinds of unflattering shadows on the faces and clothes.
Light is the most important aspect in a photographic image, it is what creates the drama, beauty, and mood. It is what creates the image in the first place. So, why settle for less than wonderful lighting? Again a professional photographer has the experience and equipment to add and subtract light as needed but there are so many things you can do while planning your wedding that will make for wonderful images that you will cherish for years to come.
When you are looking for a venue check out more than just the area the actual wedding will be performed in. Look at the dressing rooms where the bride and groom will prepare for the wedding. These are very important, because a good photographer will be able to use these areas as props to capture wonderful images. It might be good to book your photographer first and get their input on various venues and what ideas he or she might have to capture magical images at these venues.
Decorations are an important part of the event, so take the time to think how they will look, not only on the day of the wedding but in the photos, don’t be afraid to ask your photographer about this as well. It is our job to think about these things. For instance, if you plan to have an evening wedding, add candles to the tables and other areas, as that will give beautiful and dramatic light for the photographer to work with. Adding twinkle lights will give your photographer more ways to create mood and emotion. A good photographer can use twinkle lights in in several ways - in the background out of focus, creating a pleasing bokeh, a Japanese term for blurred background, adds interesting layers in the images.
As a note, keep a watch out for the Luiten Images page on Twitter where we will be continuously posting tips and links to things that will help you make your wedding memorable, beautiful and easier to plan. We will do the research so you may have one place to find links to answer your questions and get ideas.
As I promised, I will quickly address the cost of photography. I have run into a number of people who have said that anyone can take a good photo because of digital cameras. True they can take “a” good photo. But, to take consistently good photos throughout the course of a wedding or portrait session takes someone who knows what they are doing and more importantly has the experience to do it.
The experience to work and deliver under pressure is a must and cannot be learned any other way than being in such a position over a long period of time. I can remember traveling out of the country to some fashion shoots that would include sometimes over fifty models, each having multiple outfits. I was working with only one assistant, sometimes alone, and I had to produce. Problems occurred, equipment failures, you name it! And being out of country, where I did not know the area or have access to the stores and things I was used to I had to improvise. I have had camera failures at weddings, flash failures which is why we professionals bring multiple cameras, I never bring less than three cameras and flash units. Even when we check our equipment things can happen. A pro is ready.
The money that we sink into professional level photographic equipment is tremendous. Sometimes I laugh when I load up my truck, because the gear is worth more than the truck and I have a nice truck.
Another reason why professional photographers are worth what they charge, is because of the amount of time we spend before, during and after the wedding and reception. I spend six to eight hours shooting a wedding, (I always have two photographers and sometimes and assistant), but after the wedding and reception, while the happy couple is away on their fantasy honeymoon, I continue working.
I process an average of about one thousand photos (between both photographers). We shoot all of our photos in RAW format, which gives us the best image quality, but that high quality means I have to process them all. Just doing basic color correction and pulling the best image out of each photograph takes time. For example, I always retouch the formal Bridal Party portraits, and this can take up to an hour per photo. The basic color correction and processing can take five or ten minutes per photo. I am usually looking at least a couple weeks working full time to accomplish the post processing of a wedding. With all things considered our hourly rate isn't very high at all. This is just to give you an idea of what is involved. Professionals can perform under pressure, do the work, make sure it is done right and provide you with beautiful images that will last a life time.
Well, in this opening post I gave a few general ideas, and of course, a bit of an explanation of why you should spend the money to have a professional photographer record the memories of your wedding. Please, check in with us often, as I will be placing further posts concerning ideas and tips that will help you plan your wedding in a way that you will get great photo memories. Also check out Luiten Images on Twitter where we will continually post tips and links that are intended to take some of the work out of your research. We are here to serve you, any questions you may have are totally welcome and I will do my best to answer them!