"Can you send the rest of the pictures just as they are? You don't need to edit them, I just want to have them. If that's ok."
This is one of the most horrible questions you can receive as a photographer. Because you do not want to disappoint your customer. But the answer should always be "NO." and it's a delicate subject. With a wide explanation.
You need to understand this.
There is a fairly obvious reason why I decided to write this blog post, and whether it is for my own clients, or anyone else..
I get this question from a lot of my couples. And I know other photographers get this question also.
To whomever this may concern, If you are wondering "why in the world doesn't my wedding photographer transfer all of my photo's?!" Here is your answer. And you'll be glad I shared it with you.
I shoot in "burst" mode.
The burst mode is a function on any professional camera. When shooting in this mode, you keep on taking pictures whilst your finger is pressing the shutter button. This allows me to capture that One great shot during, for example, the throwing of the bouquet or the first kiss as a betrothed couple. But it also means that I might end up with 5 photos per second in various situations.
Sometimes I use one frame out of two, but sometimes I use one frame out of twenty.
To me, I am not only hired for my capabilities to press a button and my quirky personality, It is also my duty to not leave you hanging with thousands of photo's you have to go through to pick out the best ones.
It is my job to leave you with a manageable amount of photographs that form a gorgeous gallery you would happily share with your loved ones.
The group pictures.
For me, the most tricky part of the day is probably the time we are making the group pictures. It requires a lot of organisation. (It's all about teamwork. Between you and me, and your friends and family members.)
But there's another reason why this is such a stressful time of the day: People like to move, to talk and close their eyes when they wink. (duh..) So when you have 10 different groups to take a portrait with, I'll probably take about 150 to 200 images. I like to be sure I have some good frames to choose from, and nobody get's the bad deal. Can you imagine, as sister, cousin or uncle of the bride - being the only one that looks like Chandler Bing in the group portrait?
There will be a great photo of every group, sometimes even a second one. But let's be honest, you don't need the other ones.
Above all, I am a story teller.
I am a story teller.
It is your task to enjoy your special day, and make the absolute most out of it. And my job is to capture the best parts of that special day and reconstruct a beautiful, romantic story.
You wouldn't want me to just push the button on the day of your wedding, and just forward you all the photo's.
Unedited and uncut.
I am not hiding anything from you, I am just showing you the best of everything.
When I am shooting your wedding day and when I am culling your images I am on the lookout for cute moments. the parents of the groom sharing a quick kiss in the background? I won't leave it out. Don't worry.
When you are watching a movie, you know you are watching the final edit, and some scenes didn't make it to the final cut. The same can be said of your favorite book - or your wedding gallery.
I am preserving the perfect memories of your day.
I am writing this part as a wife, who once was a bride herself. And it is going to be very honest.
My friend Ha came over from Paris to capture my own wedding day - and a couple of weeks later I received the online gallery.
On every photo of myself (and because I was the bride - trust me, there were a LOT) I looked radiant, gracious, happy.. And thin too!! It reconstructed the memories I had of that day, but from my family's point of view.
Now, I also received some photo's via Messenger from my friends.. And I didn't look half as good!
To be clear, Ha didn't Photoshop me - but she left out the photo's which were unflattering. Maybe I was bending over, and my little belly was more visible. or maybe I was talking, and my mouth would be frozen into this crooked position..
I do not ever want to see those photo's. Because they will probably stain my memories of that day and make me feel insecure.
Nobody wants to feel un-photogenic or doubt how beautiful they looked on the most important day of their life.
You see, photographs are very brief moments - that stop time. And sometimes those moments are a bit unflattering. Because it has nothing to do with movement. Imagine sitting across from someone for a romantic dinner. They made a real effort, and look gorgeous. Even though that person is chewing, they still look great.
But now take a picture while they're chewing.
Have I said enough?
Editing takes time.
Being an independent photographer takes up a lot of time, and so does editing your wedding photo's.
The day after your wedding I start backing up your photo's and then I go through each and e-ve-ry one of them to cut out the bad ones. Next time, I go through all of them again to have a second look and pick the best ones.
After that, I start editing.
I shoot in RAW, this allows me to keep all of the information and adjust all of the settings from my computer.
I like to shoot underexposed, this means that all pictures are very dark to begin with - and later I add more light. Like this I make sure I do not over expose your photo's and do damage that cannot be undone.
I have made my own presets I use for my sessions, but for every lighting situation these preset-settings still have to be adjusted. Sometimes I need to work away some flaws, smooth the skin or change the color temperature.
This all takes up time and effort, but result in beautifully edited images that have the signature style I worked so long for to create. It has a touch of nostalgia inspired by the analog lifestyle I yearn for.
This is what you see on my website, and this is what I want you to receive in your online gallery.
May be, but I still want all my photo's.
You are still not convinced and you don't mind going through thousands of photo's..
Having thirty photo's of you walking down the aisle, or your spouse having his/her eyes closed in almost half of the pictures.. You want to see everything, even if the photo's are blurry, not centered or cropped, and haven't been edited in your photographer's signature style..
It's your wedding, you are paying. So what's the big deal?
You are paying for the end result: To be sure you do still understand the concept,.. If you commission for a portrait by a professional painter - you do not ask for the sketches. And if you had a sculpture made - you wouldn't claim the chipped of pieces of marble. Would you?
OK, let's continue..
What's the harm in claiming the photo's that didn't make the cut?
Seeing numerous of blurry shots due to shifting Auto-focus and crooked frames, or seeing yourself portrayed in a very unflattering manner, may cause you to doubt your photographers abilities. The lighting is so different compared to the edited end product, the colors seem flat or maybe overly saturated.. You wouldn't see a gorgeously captured love-story. You would see a big amount of mediocre frames that doesn't represent the work you have seen on their website.
And what if you were to show these photographs to your family? Or worst of all- upload these "below standard" photos on social media? It would make the photographer, who was hired to capture and reconstruct a beautiful story, incompetent and unprofessional.
Seeing a bunch of unedited cut-outs with my name on it floating around on the internet would make me seem like an inexperienced and unprofessional photographer, you wouldn't have hired me for those pictures, and nobody else would either. Basically, I would lose customers. Remember, the culling and editing is all part of the investment you make by hiring your photographer. It is years of experimenting, shooting, trying new things,.. It is years of experience that come with the camera.
But what if something's missing?
Before any wedding I like to meet my couple. Preferably in person, and then again for an engagement shoot.
This gives us plenty of time to go through your special day and what will happen.
If we need to go over a few more details, I like to plan a video call to be sure we get it all right.
If there is a special event you'd like to be immortalized, like your first dance, or aunty's speech - tell me about it and let me know when (approximately) it will happen.
If, after you receive your gallery, you feel like there is something missing, or someone- there is no harm in asking nicely. I'll be happy to look for some extra pictures of your under-presented event.
The bottom line.
No, I will not hand over all the photos I took on your wedding day.
And I will not hand over any RAW or unedited images either.
But this is a good thing!
I am the one who will do all the hard work. You just enjoy your wedding day and your honeymoon. Sit back, relax.. And when you will receive your online photo gallery you will be blown away by the fantastic memories you have made.
You have now hired a passionate and perfectionist photographer who will not do any less than to provide you with a gorgeous photo story of your special day, perfected from beginning to end.