The number one misconception about wedding photography is the belief that the photo is done when the shutter is clicked. After all, that’s the way most people take vacation photos or photographs of family and friends. Click. Done. So why on earth is wedding photography so expensive?
The reality is that wedding photography is a MUCH more involved process that only starts with the snap of the shutter. It varies from photographer to photographer, but it can be quite extensive.
Step One – The Shoot
Photographing on the wedding day is the smallest part of the whole process. However, this is all people actually see of the photographer. Here the foundation is created for all that comes after – the raw materials from which to work. There are no do-overs. This is when the emotion and story is immortalized, camera angles are selected, and lenses are used to best effect. Here’s where some differences between photographers come. The higher end photographers are not trying to create a finished image in the camera. They capture the most information (raw files) from which to work. Right out of the camera an image often looks flat, but that’s intentional as it gives a solid foundation for further development. The cheaper priced photographers are going for a “final” jpeg image. Many will give you images right out of the camera without enhancement or finishing.
This is the original photo.
Same photo edited. Fire Hydrant removed. Cropped.
Step Two – The Selection
Here’s another area when two photographers will differ. The higher end photographer will carefully select photos that best tell the story. Not every photo is included – nor do you really want them all. All photographers will have a lot of duplicates, photos where people blink, and an image that just doesn’t really tell the story. Think of how many hours of film ends up on the cutting room floor to create a two hour movie. The photographer who fails to cull and delete bad photos just provides an overwhelming number of images, and provides a disservice to the wedding couple.
Step Three – Enhancement
The higher end photographer will take the selected photos and mold them into something beautiful. They adjust skin tones, color, and composition. Some dodging and burning will be done to lead the eye through the image. It’s not uncommon that over 30 to 40 hours will be spent creating images that will tell your story like a cinematic movie. Your photos will have a depth and richness, tell a better story, and will be far more visually compelling.
All of these steps are part of the entire process. Additionally, the experience of the photographer, the photographer’s use of high end lenses and cameras that can adapt to quick capture and dark conditions, and the photographer’s dedication to his client all matter.
So don’t be tempted to use a family friend who takes good photos because these photos will be a part of your next 40 to 50 years, to be share with family friends, kids, and perhaps grandkids. Hire a skilled professional. While it might seem expensive now, in years to come these images will be priceless.