Wedding Photos: Less is More

Years ago, wedding photographers captured a full day’s memory on film. Afterward, he or she would deliver about 200 printed proof photos to the clients. The newlywed couple would look through these proofs and select their favorites – maybe 50 or 60 – to be placed in an heirloom album or used to purchase prints.

Back then, digital cameras weren’t readily available, so wedding photographers didn’t even consider taking hundreds or thousands of pictures in one day. It was wasteful of film, but it was also an insult to the photographer’s the skill and talent, who carefully and artistically posed his clients and metered his shots.

The times, they are a-changin’

Nowadays, with most photographers using digital cameras, the need to conserve film is gone. All that’s needed is a memory card with plenty of space. Many wedding photographers still possess the skills to carefully compose a beautiful photo. But all too often, less-skilled photographers are guilty of the practice of “spray and pray” – taking dozens of photos that are nearly identical. Sometimes that produces a variety of images to choose from; but more often it actually hinders the selection process for the clients. The really beautiful images in the set become lost in a sea of “sameness”.

After an event lasting 6 hours or more, it’s the photographer’s job to comb through the images and remove any that are duplicates, “blinkies”, or unflattering. Further, the photographer uses his/her experience and skills to select the best image or two of each subject and setting. When the photographer delivers every image to a client, it’s easy for the client to feel overwhelmed with too many images to sort through.

It’s a lot like going to a great restaurant that has a menu with too many choices: instead of focusing on one dish that sounds great, you get overwhelmed with the number of choices. You don’t feel confident about any selection, and you keep wondering if you should have chosen something else.

So what is the right answer?

Every photographer sets different expectations for their clients. I always encourage wedding clients to ask how many images they can expect to receive; and if those images will be proofs from which they will make final selections, or if they will receive all the proofs to keep.

When I photograph a wedding, I shoot as many images as I need to capture the entire day’s story. I take all the photos that have been requested by the wedding couple; I use my experience to suggest additional detail photos and portraits; and I pay attention throughout the day, watching for unexpected moments and authentic expressions. When I deliver the proofs to the client, they have a comprehensive set of images from their special day, beginning to end, without feeling overwhelmed by extra photos.

But what if I want ALL the images?

That’s a fair question. Talk to your photographer. However, remember that you won’t miss what you don’t know you’re missing. If you are happy with the images you receive from your day, and you feel the photographer captured everything you wanted and more, then that’s what matters.

Gretchen Willis is a wedding photographer serving Wisconsin Dells, WI and the surrounding area including Reedsburg, Portage, Baraboo, Westfield, Montello, Poynette, Lodi, and beyond. Please visit the Gretchen Willis Photography facebook page to see all our latest photos and updates!