Saturday 18 November 2017

How many is too many?

I was talking to a friend who has just booked a photographer for his wedding next year. He asked me how many photographs I thought would typically be delivered after a wedding. I thought back to the best day in my life, some twenty year ago. We had a book of proofs containing about 80 pictures. This was pre digital remember.

James, my friend, said the photographer promised a USB stick containing all the unedited pictures. He told to expect about 4500. A second USB stick would follow with a slightly smaller number of edited pictures. This would take six to eight weeks. I had to ask if he had heard correctly, 4500 seemed an excessive number. For easy maths, if the photography is on his own and covering the wedding from preparation to first dance lets says it's ten hours. That means an average of 450 per hour, or 7.5 a minute. And why show every shot? Isn't it part of the photographer's skill to plan each shot, ensuring composition, exposure etc are correct when the shutter is pressed, and then to be able to weed out the not perfect shots? Delivering only the best.
It appears to me to show lack of confidence. Taking a huge number, to ensure enough are okay, doesn't seem sensible.

I investigated what other wedding photographers provided in their packages. And read forums to get an idea about weddings in the digital age.

What I found surprised me.

It is now common for 300, 600 or even 1000 edited pictures supplied. To have even 300 pictures to edit after the usual cull during processing must mean a huge number were taken. What could they be of? How many set piece pictures can there be? Add some unposed moments, the speeches, the preparation and first dance. Doesn't add up to thousands.

I'm not a wedding photographer. I'm just remembering my day. If you do shoot weddings, I would like to know your view.

And then I thought about how long the wait for the proofs was. When we got back from honeymoon the proof book was ready for our viewing. So that's two weeks. We chose the ones we wanted, the other guests made their choices, and about two or three weeks later our pictures were delivered. I'm reading six to eight week waits, or longer for the proofs.

The digital age seems not to have made life easier, it has given photographers more work. Clients now expect hundreds of pictures. Why? Is it photographers justifying their fee by supplying huge numbers of pictures? Or is it the clients who think more is better? It appears to be accepted that the biggest part of a photographer's time is spent away from photography, sitting in front of a computer editing must take a lot of time if you have to process hundreds or even thousands of pictures for each assignment.

Isn't it better to produce 80 to 100 edited pictures for the client to choose from? I know if I had been presented with many times more proofs, I wouldn't have been many times more impressed. I was given good quality pictures that covered the day. Having lots more very similar ones wouldn't have made a difference.

As I said above, please let me know your thoughts. Am I completely out of touch?

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