As I near my 20th year on my photographic journey through life, I can’t help but reflect back on my beginnings. I got my start in 1993 when I purchased a fully manual Canon AE-1 and began taking photography classes in North Carolina. I learned the craft of photography through processing my film, and printing my own color and black and white prints. My path led me to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where I received top notch technical training and learned all of the little details that go into creating artful photographs. I took advantage of that training and pursued a career as a photojournalist. Within a few months of being hired, the transition to digital was being made. As I have continued to work as a digital photographer, I brought my knowledge and experience with me.
A recent post on the state of professional photography got me thinking about my own approach. The blog talked about how drastically the industry has changed. When wedding photographers were shooting film, eight-ten rolls was a lot of images. Depending on the size of your roll of film, that would give you 240-360 frames to work with. Once edited and put into an album, anywhere from a quarter to a half of the images would be used.
With the advent of the digital age, there was no longer a financial concern or time factor in changing rolls of film during a shoot. The results: many photographers will often over-shoot. Many of today’s wedding photographers will on occasion shoot 5,000 images or more during a wedding. Recently, a local photo processor told me a story of a bride coming in to him with a hard drive containing 8,000 images from her wedding, which happened in November 2011 (nine months ago!). The images were time coded April as their edit date, meaning that it took the photographer five months to edit! The bride was overwhelmed and had no clue where to start. In my opinion that is a true disservice to the client.
Unfortunately, many new “digital photographers” adhere to what many call the “spray and pray” method of photography. In other words, shoot tons of images and you will increase your chances of getting some good images. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think 8,000 images is way to many to choose from considering most albums contain around 100-120 photos. It may be because of my photojournalist background, but I believe in quality over quantity.
I know my camera equipment. I have an understanding of light, exposure, and technique of what I consider the craft of photography. Therefore, I do not shoot a lot of needless images through the course of a wedding. This allows me to get a higher ratio of quality images and keeps me from spending too much time at the computer editing my images. Because of this, I am often able to get the images edited and prepared for the client within days rather than months.
Sometimes clients feel that a certain high number of images will make them feel that they have gotten more for their money. Instead, what they get is more headaches. Armed without proper editing software, it can be easy to get frustrated while looking through a large quantity of images to pick what you would like printed. Trust me, selecting the best out of 300 images is a whole lot easier than pulling them out of 3,000. So while it may seem like you are getting more value, you really are just getting more work for yourself.
Needless to say, I believe it is important to stick with the Art of photography and choose quality over quantity. You will be a whole lot happier as you are reliving your wedding day memories in the weeks following your special day rather than several months or a year later.