Monday, 28 October 2013

How many photos should I get from my wedding?

Thirty years ago, every time you clicked the shutter, there was a cost. A frame of film was exposed, had to be processed, developed and printed. Every roll of film, 36 frames or less, took time to change in the camera. The number of photos that could be taken at a wedding was limited.

These days, images can be taken as fast as you can click the shutter; faster if you shoot in burst mode. And memory cards are getting bigger, allowing hundreds if not thousands of images before the card needs changed out.

There is a physical cost in wear and tear on your SLR camera, but the cost per click has definitely been reduced - or has it? 

So if it is easy to take so many images, how many should you expect from your wedding photographer?

What do you need?

Knowing that you can take a lot of pictures doesn't mean that you should. How many pictures, after all, are you going to hang on your wall? How many are you going to put in your wedding album to show your friends? For that matter, how many are you going to post on Facebook? 

Are you prepared to take the time that is required to weed through all the images the photographer took on your wedding day? Do you realize what that means? If you are the one taking the pictures, there is an additional cost you may not think of; the additional hard drive space you will need to keep them all and their backups. 

Capturing that one perfect image is not easy, and it can take several attempts, but spraying the subject with images is not the best way. Finding the image, creating it, or anticipating it, and capturing it at just the right moment - that's the trick that will reduce the number of images you will have to sort through, and give you only the ones you really want.

Capturing the right moment.

These days I click that shutter less than I used to. Capturing the right moment in the right way is more important than capturing every single moment as it flies by, and that means pausing for a second to think about what is being captured. It means taking time to pose subjects and place them correctly in the foreground and against the background. It means finding the right quality of light and angle of light. It means creating the image before you click the shutter.

Even when the moments are flying by and there is no way to pose or arrange the image, anticipation is key - trying to anticipate where your subject will be to capture them just as they pass a particular place - the perfect place - and being ready at that moment to click the shutter. Admittedly, a short spray of images at that time might be appropriate, but not a long spray.

The cost in time...

There is an additional cost after the images have been taken when you take so many. It takes a lot of time to sort through them, edit them, select them and prepare them. Let's do some simple math; typically I take between 1000-1500 photos from a full day of wedding shooting. If I look at each image for just 15 seconds to do a quick colour correction and re-render, that's over 6 hours. And that's just the first pass.

From that number, I will select what I consider to be album worthy images and that can reduce the number to 200-300 images. That typically is another pass through the images of 5 seconds each (still of the 1500), moving the good ones to a new folder - that's an addition 2 hours. Each of those 300 images may require some additional attention which can add another 4 hours of time.

Not all of those images will necessarily make it to an album - usually that is reduced to 150-200 images, but they will be arranged into an album of 30+ pages, each page taking a minimum of 15 minutes, so that's an added 8 hours to put the album together. 

As I'm working through those images, I will separate out a couple of dozen images that are "Frame" worthy that can be selected from if the Bride chooses to have a nice framed print for their wall. Each of these images receives extra special attention - perhaps another 15 minutes each, or about 4 more hours.

Have you been adding that up? All of those numbers are conservative, but 6+2+4+8+4=24 hours of post processing... minimum. So, for every 60 images taken, that's about one hour of post processing. WOW. 

It's so much better to get 60 great images than 600 might-have-a-good-one shots!

Time to slow down that frame rate! After all, it's not Video... but that's another story.

So how many should you get?

So how many images should you get? Honestly, in the end, you will probably get more than you need. Really the question is not so much how many should you get, but rather what is the quality of the images you receive and will they be given to you in such a way as to make it easy to find the really great images.

Perhaps in the end, the answer is really ... just one really good one!

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography

Monday, 21 October 2013

That Guy...

Perhaps, if you're not a photographer yourself, you will not have experienced this, but I really hope you have never been "that guy" or "that girl". Even amateur and casual photographers have experienced being "photo bombed", and it's getting more and more likely that just as you go to take that perfect picture, someone steps into the line of your shot to take their own and totally wrecks it!

They are everywhere!

I recently experienced this at a Thanksgiving Day Parade in Waterloo. My son and I went very early to find a parking space, walked about 10 minutes up the road to find a great spot to take photos from at a curve in the road. We stood waiting for about 1 1/2 hours for the parade to start. We probably didn't need to be there quite that early, but I wanted a good vantage point where I thought I had a good view and would not interrupt anyone else as I took my photos.

The crowd started to press in as the Parade began, and as people gathered, they walked right in front of me - many of them sporting their own cameras, getting in front of me to take the view I had waited so long for.


Now, it's one thing with kids - I want the kids to see the parade, and parents with them, many of whom are kind enough to stay out of the line of site. I welcome them. For the most part, I can shoot over the kids heads. But then, there's "that guy" who has a new mic for shooting video on his SLR camera and just has to stand front and center of my prime spot.

You don't even have to have a camera to be "that guy". Some people just aren't aware of their surroundings, or don't care about you and your view. They walk right in front without even a glance behind them.


As a flame juggler went by, I had to duck and dodge several times to get a shot of him around the crowd. At one point, a well meaning grandfather popped in front of me to point out the juggler. "Look, he's juggling fire" he said to his grandson.

Everyone is a photographer

It seems everyone thinks they are a photographer. There was even a guy behind and to one side of me saying all kinds of nasty things about how bad my camera was (my 5D Mk3 with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens no less) as he lifted his point and shoot camera to take photos.

There were lots of pro shooters there as well, of course. You could recognize them. Not because they had big cameras, though many did - worn out by heavy use - but because they were respectful of those around them and unobtrusive. They looked for the good shot carefully, and for the most part, stayed out of the way. Not one of them stepped in front of someone to grab a quick shot. In some cases you might not have even known they were there.

Those who just thought they knew about photography were the ones clamoring to get in front.

Unplugged weddings

The problem is compounded at weddings, where almost every person has a camera of one kind or another. If it's not a DSLR, or point and shoot, it's a cell phone with a camera.

Now, everyone wants to have a memory of the event, and having your own camera can be a great way to do it. I fully understand that desire. But consider the cost! Not only are you possibly destroying the photographs of the professional who was hired to do the job (and who, guaranteed, will have better photos than yours!), you are also missing the whole thing! That's right - you're not present at the event because you are looking at it through a lens!

Corey Ann, in an article on PetaPixel, does a great job of explaining why brides should consider "Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding"

She also explains how sometimes guests, or even those in the wedding party, have posted a picture of the bride or groom on-line even before their future spouse has had a chance to see them for the first time in the church! Can you imagine?

Sabrina on Fox News did a fantastic article illustrating the problem of "That Guy" very well:


As a photographer, I do understand the thrill of capturing the moment. That's one of the reasons I love doing this. But I have spent countless hours training and had plenty of practice photographing weddings. I also make it a practice to remain as unobtrusive as possible (see my previous, similar post

I know I will capture great images for the couple - I'm not sure that everyone with a cell phone will be able to say the same thing.

So, perhaps for your wedding, or even your next event if you hire a photographer, you will want to consider going "unplugged". Not only will your professional images turn out much better, your guests will actually be "present" at your event! And isn't that why you invited them?

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography

Monday, 14 October 2013

Planning with Pinterest

Have you heard about the man in Dallas Texas who recently planned an entire wedding from his wife's Pinterest page? Apparently she had over 250 pins of concepts and ideas for her ideal wedding and had always dreamed of getting engaged and married on the same day.

Everyone I talk to about this is thinking "What if she said no!" Well, apparently he wasn't too worried about that.

Maybe you wouldn't want your future spouse to organize your wedding around your pinterest posts - especially without you knowing about it, but it really is a great place to gather ideas, and a great place to figure out just what you want your wedding to look like.

Before there was internet...

When my wife was young - before the internet (now I'm dating myself! - she had a "hope" chest in which she placed items that she thought would represent her future together with her yet unknown husband. Many girls kept these hope chests and also put in things that they would want for their weddings.

I'm sure her wedding didn't come out exactly like she planned (that's a whole other story), but hopefully at least some of it came out even better. Pinterest has made that whole concept of dreaming about your wedding even easier as ideas are captured and "re-pinned" to the virtual pin-board. Everything from dresses to cakes to poses for photography to table favors to flower arrangements to ice sculptures. And all of them link back to their original post where you can quickly and easily find additional information.

Pinterest and your photographer

As a bride gathers all those marvelous photographs that I am sure she dreams of seeing herself in, they must be thinking how wonderful it will be to have that image framed on their wall and know it is them in the photo... Well, like almost everything, that can be good and bad.

As a photographer, I love new ideas. I especially love the cooperative creative process of working with families or brides to come up with an image that is not just technically perfect, but expresses who the people in the image really are. It can be helpful to hear and see exactly what someone is looking for, and for the most part Pinterest is a great way to do that. Sometimes the images are not very creative, but always they give a sense of the person showing you the photograph that otherwise can be difficult to describe. In other words, you see how your subject sees themselves. That can all be good.

On the other hand, trying to recreate an image that may have taken hours to set up and a virtual army of assistants to light and pose may be out of the question for a one hour family or Bridal photo session. I usually recommend clients not take the images literally - it is a great place to start, but let's not try to recreate the image perfectly. Let's be more spontaneous and find the best image of the day.

If you don't believe me, check out this post by Arielle Calderon. She demonstrates it perfectly with some great photo re-enactments of Pinterest photos.

Pinterest is great for providing ideas, but it is far better to use this as a launching point to become even more creative, making images that are true expressions of those being photographed.

Pin away!

So go ahead, before the photo session, pin away, and share it with your photographer. Together, it will get the creative juices flowing and put you both on the same page (or pin-board) when you meet for your session. But be sure to go beyond those images and find your own creativity and the image that truly expresses - you.

Perhaps you will not want your future husband to plan your wedding from your Pinterest page, but Pinterest will provide a way to help you gather all your favorite ideas and find the common themes.

So have fun! and keep pinning!

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography

Monday, 7 October 2013

How will you capture your wedding day?

A number of years ago, I started doing wedding video with a little company of friends called "CrossWorks Media". We did a great job, but the demand was low and I started taking photos , which people seemed much more interested in. Video formats changed from Standard Definition to High Definition and our video equipment became obsolete. Gary's Lens was born and video took a back seat. I still believe video is important in capturing your special day though, and I hope you will too!

History - Photos have endured

As history began, cave men drew pictures on the walls of their caves because they had no cameras. Were there wedding pictures drawn there as well? Maybe.

Back in the day, there was flash powder, a huge view camera with the big black cloth draped over the photographer as he opened the shutter for what seemed like forever (probably no one alive still remembers that), and no smiles!

Camera technology advanced and photography became an art; much more personal. People started to smile. Wedding photos became more obtainable. Wedding photography became popular.

Along came audio recording technology and people had a recording made of their wedding vows - on reel to reel tape no less - does anyone have one of those any more? 8 Track? Cassette? It is rare to find anyone who can capture or transfer those tapes... In the mean time, we still look at the photographs. Photographers kept right on taking pictures.

CrossWorks video camera - before Gary's LensThen came video. Uncles with massive VHS cameras, then the smaller Hi-8. Those with some dollars (and some sense) hired professionals to do the job with multi-camera angles and full edits... and people still looked at the photos. Photographers were still there taking pictures.

What's next? 3D video of your wedding? Drones flying overhead for an aerial view? All of those will be a new way to record your wedding, but I'll bet people will still pull out the photo album to show their friends. You can bet there will still be wedding photography.

Capturing the day has been happening in one form or another for a very long time, but the one constant has been the photograph. Even in these days of instant access video through YouTube and Facebook, we still see more photos than video on-line. Photos have endured. When anniversaries come, the pictures come out, even on Facebook as people reminisce.

So why Video?

So am I saying don't worry about Video? No, not at all. video simply serves a different purpose from photography. Photos do a great job of capturing moments, can be very creative and are easy to share and hang on your wall. Yet it is much harder to capture the "real" heart and soul of your wedding in still images. The wedding pictures most treasured are often romantic and artistic images, but don't tell the whole story of the events of the day. Video, however, can capture the "action" - the tears and the joys, dated styles and all - and play and replay them back. 

As CrossWorks, we worked very hard not only to make a fantastic reality video of the ceremony and reception, but also to summarize the day in a bite sized portion that could be watched with friends in 3-5 minutes, capturing as much of the emotion and drama of the special day as possible. Those videos could be loaded on cell phones and tablets or streamed on the internet as well as shown on TV's so they could be shared with friends and family at any time.

We made it easier for people to share their video. Why? Because we believed it portrayed more than just the moments, it brought out the emotion of the event. I have even heard of people crying as they watched.

Video can capture the event beautifully in a way that photos can't. Yet, photos are easily shared and portray the romance and beauty of your wedding. 

Both photography and videography have a purpose and having each is the best way to go. If you can do both, do both. If you can only afford a photographer, then have someone set up a video camera somewhere to record your wedding. You may only pull that video out twice in your lifetime, but it's a valuable record.

Be sure to also capture the speeches at your reception - those words will never be spoken again and in some cases will barely be remembered except for the video (especially if everyone was well inebriated).

What to watch for

If you can afford it and can hire a professional to do your video, then make sure: 
    - your videographers will capture the ceremony from multiple angles 
    - the video will be edited into a 3-5 minute highlight video
    - you obtain the video in different formats - like a digital file you can show your friends on your phone, or computer - in a way that as technology changes you can transfer to different media. 
    - only royalty free music or music that has been licensed properly is used - if it does, you can never post it on-line. 
    - you review your videographer's previous work. The only way to be sure they do good work is to see what they have already produced.

Prioritize

If you can only afford to hire one, be sure you hire a professional photographer first, then a professional Videographer. You might regret not hiring both; photos without a video are OK, but it is much harder to seat people down - even with a cell phone - and have them watch your wedding video (even the 5 minute ones). Be sure you have good photos first. 

If your photographer is good, he or she will capture a lot of he emotion. It might not make your mother cry like a video will, but they will capture the day - just at a much slower frame rate!

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography