BONUS TIP #18: The Wedding Photographer Skill That Few Clients Ask About
Previously, in 17 Tips: How to Hire a Wedding Photographer, we shared our top tips to help you hire a wedding photographer that will make an amazing contribution to your wedding and create the images that will shape your lifelong memories of your wedding day. But we left something out. A crucial wedding photographer skill that everyone should ask about…but fewer than 10 percent of clients do.
To help you choose the perfect wedding photographer, here is Truly Madly Deeply’s Tip #18 for hiring a wedding photographer (for the previous 17 tips, click here)
Tip #18: The essential wedding photographer skill
Before you choose your preferred wedding photographer, talk with them about their editing and retouching style and skills, as well as their photography style.
Editing is as much of an art as photography. We’ve all seen the results of bad editing…plastic- smooth skin, unnaturally white teeth or eyes, and odd body sculpting. To ensure you receive the quality of wedding images you expect, take a minute to understand your photographer’s editing skills, and how they will be applied to your wedding photographs.
Here are four common “levels” of wedding photograph editing:
- Unedited, straight-out-of-camera: Photographers who deliver unedited digital files (usually copied straight to a CD/DVD, USB drive or online gallery) are often less experienced and/or likely do not have the technical expertise you would expect of your wedding photographer…but they might seem like an attractive option because their prices tend to be lower. My we simply recommend that you be very cautious of photographers who deliver images without any editing (especially if they say that their images don’t need editing). Even the world’s most famous photographers edit their work, so you should be suspicious of low-cost photographers who do not. This option might cost less than a professional photographer, but sadly you’ll still be looking at “cheap” wedding photos long after you forgot about the few dollars you saved.
- Processed images: Rarely (read: never) do even the best photographers capture every wedding picture perfectly in their camera. Before delivery, photographers who care about their work (and their clients) “process” their images to present them at their best. Processing can include adjustments for exposure, white balance, color saturation, sharpening or smoothing, cropping and more (and sometimes some simple retouching). “Processing” enhances the aesthetic quality of the image without necessarily changing the content within the image. You should demand properly processed images/files…this is a mandatory wedding photographer skill…anything less is denying you full value for your investment.
- Retouched images: Above we describe “processing” as improvements to the quality of the image. Retouching is more about changing the content of the image, to make the things appear different than they actually were. Retouching can include skin smoothing, removing unwanted distractions, sculpting the shape of the subject’s face or body (usually to make the subject look slimmer), and more.
- Composited images: Compositing is the art of merging multiple image files into a single image. Wedding photographers use compositing for simple modifications, such as replacing a dull, grey sky or inserting a more visually interesting background, through to complex, highly artistic photographic renderings.
The level and quality of image editing, and your wedding photographer skill level, will contribute to the cost of your wedding photography. Copying unedited images straight to a DVD requires less of your photographer’s time, and should therefore cost you less (but also gives you a lower-quality result). Processing and/or retouching, however, can represent a few hours or many days of work for your photographer. The extra time required of the photographer will likely result in a higher price for your wedding photography, but the resulting images will be vastly improved (and likely enjoyed for decades after the price is forgotten).
Insider secret: It not uncommon to hear stories of professional photographers taking up to four times as long to edit a wedding as they did to shoot the wedding. This is time the client doesn’t see, and can turn an eight-hour wedding shoot into a 40-hour project!
Some photographers may use different terms to describe how they edit their images, but we hope this tips will help you start the conversation with them about this crucial wedding photographer skill, and ultimately choose the wedding photographer who is perfect for you.
Interested in working with Truly Madly Deeply for your engagement, elopement or wedding photography? Give us a call at the studio in Savannah, GA, on (912) 235-2420, use the Contact Form to send us a message, or read more at our Engagement, Elopement & Wedding Portfolio & Pricing pages.
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