There has been a recent trend in wedding photography to hire candid photographers who don’t have the experience or equipment or expertise of a professional because the perceived need to hire a professional has decreased because of the immediacy of digital.
In the past, people obviously hired a professional because with film no one knew how the picture would come out until it was developed and professionals were hired to give more insurance and confidence that better pictures would be produced.
Now, people have the perception that they are seeing the picture that is in front of them by looking at the back of the camera. That really isn’t true, but it IS the perception. Plus, pictures are now emailed and posted to web pages instead of being printed, and the quality of the picture (or lack of quality) isn’t perceived or cared about.
And so, the value of pictures and photography has plummeted. The experience and equipment and expertise of professional photographers is no longer valued and the worthiness of what we are capable of is no longer cared about. And so anyone taking candid pictures at a wedding is thought of as being “good enough.”
Well, it sure is easy to take hundreds of great candids at a wedding!
But there IS something missing. And I think it is an important ingredient that needs to be understood.
As a professional photographer for the last 20 years, I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings and designed hundreds of wedding albums. Because my livelihood depends on BOTH photographing AND selling my pictures, I approach each assignment with a different mentality then someone who is just there to be a candid photographer for the day.
Yes, I’m looking to SELL my customers my pictures which is why I’m a bit more conscious of the pictures I take and DO take more pictures that I believe have more value then just the easy hundreds of candids.
Why would anyone want to spend more money and hire a photographer who’s intent is to sell them more pictures?????
The answer is to provide the customer with valuable pictures that are worthwhile that they are willing to pay for because they wouldn’t have them from the candid photographers who aren’t thinking that way.
Here’s the reasons that what I’m suggesting is important: I’ve trained many photographers over the years, and the most difficult photographers that I’ve had to train were the so-called “photojournalists.” The reason is because they think that they should ONLY be doing candids and should NOT be “interrupting” or doing any “hands on” involvement with the action of the day. Now, please understand that I have been considered a very candid photographer going back 20 years. I’m NOT suggesting “interrupting” or “getting in the way” or being heavy with posing. I AM suggesting having an awareness and a consciousness of what we are doing and what is needed and projecting into the future of what will be needed to make sure every valuable moment gets photographed.
Here’s an example: Years ago, I was training a photojournalist and they got a beautiful picture of the Bride’s Mom looking at her while she was dancing with her Father. They didn’t use the picture in the album because there wasn’t a corresponding picture of the Groom’s Father watching him dance with his Mom. Now, that might have been a bit of an anal reaction, but a professional THINKS and PROJECTS that he should get the complementary picture just in case.
Here’s another: It’s very easy to get great pictures of heads over shoulders and looking at each other during the First Dance or parent dances, but it’s also important to get at least ONE picture looking at the camera. Again, I don’t want to interrupt, but I WILL try to get their attention so as to get that one picture that invariably SOMEONE wants and has been commented on when it’s missing.
And there’s the huge difference. I’ve listened to my customers when they complain or comment that a picture that they expected or wanted is missing and I’ve made sure to add such pictures to my list of “must have” pictures BECAUSE of the feedback from my customers. And there’s the rub: If a photographer is NOT GETTING such feedback, how can they know what pictures to make sure to get, beyond the obvious and easy candids?
And more: A few years ago, I was a guest at my wife’s cousin’s wedding in the Berkshires. I went up to the main photojournalist and asked if he wouldn’t mind if I take some funky pictures that wouldn’t conflict with his work. I was squatting down at the back of the aisle taking pictures that would produce an impressionistic look (combination of lens and film.) As they were exchanging vows, I looked up and didn’t see either photographer. This was distressing to me, since I was set up to take different kinds of pictures. I looked further, and there they were: Both photographers were up on the hill (on the same side) far from the main event! What I found out later was that the bride had requested overall pictures of the entire scene with the Berkshires in the background. Well of course! I would normally take those pictures (without being asked) and then run down to take front views of the bride and groom and family and guests and bridal party and then been in the center aisle for the vows, rings, candles, and kiss while my second photographer found different viewpoints to complement mine. Both “photojournalists” missed those crucial pictures and only had wide views of the whole scene. They BOTH stayed there for the WHOLE ceremony. Every picture must have looked the same. They didn’t move!
Also at this same event I got to witness (and be involved with) how this particular photojournalist posed a group portrait. There was a request for a large group family picture (basically everyone there – maybe 40 people.) He brought us to a hill (good!) and got us into maybe 4 or 5 rows (good again.) However, he didn’t check to make sure that every face could be seen (bad.) Yes, I pose my groups quickly, and yes, I tell them to just “come together” but it’s REALLY important to see every face in the picture! I just do a little fine tune moving – it doesn’t take much. That makes the difference between a disappointing picture and a satisfying picture. My daughter and her cousin thought it was such a joke that they actually hid behind people on purpose!
There needs to be SOME compromise and SOME overlap between traditional and completely candid. Please understand that all candids is the easiest method for any qualified photographer. It’s knowing what pictures are needed that makes the difference.