When it comes to our wedding business, Lola put me in charge of “QA” (Quality Assurance) before images are delivered to our clients. After she is done with all post-processing work, we sit down together and review all images. She is naturally good at working on images and her creative and artistic side really comes into play when she photographs and then edits images. I have a very different approach to photography and I often pay lots of attention to such things as image sharpness, detail, framing and angles. It is surprising to see how well our different perspectives merge into a productive environment – while we sometimes do disagree, we both understand that our ultimate goal is to provide the best results to our clients.
On average, Lola and I come back with approximately 1,000-1,500 images per wedding, all shot in 14-bit NEF (RAW) format. Once we sort everything out and pick our favorites, we leave approximately 500-600 images that will be delivered to our clients, with only about 1/10th that are retouched in Photoshop. I was once talking to a photographer based out of Florida, who told me that he only takes between 100-250 images per wedding. When I told him how many images Lola and I take, he laughed, arguing that most images are probably duplicates of each other and that we should learn how to take fewer, but higher quality images. Being in business for over 30 years as a successful full-time pro, he definitely knew what he was talking about. But I also realized that his habit of taking fewer pictures definitely has to do with film days, where more photos meant more photo lab work. With digital SLRs that have a shutter lifespan of at least 150 thousand clicks, we no longer need to worry about the cost or working with chemicals in a lab. So, what is better – take fewer, but higher quality images right on the set, or take as many pictures as possible at different angles, perspectives and settings? As far as I’m concerned, I am somewhere in between. I think that taking very few pictures is risky, as you might think you got everything right on camera, but you might have missed some details – eyes closed, focus not 100% accurate, etc. The last thing you want is a frustrated customer that asks for another picture you do not have. On the other hand, walking with a DSLR and shooting non-stop is also counter-productive, since then you have to deal with too many images and the process of choosing the best ones and working on them later might take hours of precious post-processing time. Wedding photography is a tough business to be in mainly because of a photographer’s time, especially if complex Photoshop retouching is involved. Details can take away too much time and the question that I have been asking myself lately is “how much is too much”, when we work on images.
Take a look at the below image, as it came out of the camera:
Yes, very minute problems that are often ignored by many. The scratch on the surface is not a big deal, the little dark spot on the left shoe can also be ignored. But is it distracting? Certainly yes, to me. Is this too much attention to detail? Here is the final image that was delivered to our client:
The scratch, the dark spot and a small red dot in the middle of the right shoe were fixed with the spot-healing brush in Photoshop and it took Lola 30 seconds to do it. Was this change worth the extra 30 seconds? Let’s take a look at another image:
I caught the problem in the image right away – look at the right shoe of the groom. That white label looks distracting to me not just because it is a label, but because it is white on dark sole. Right before burning the images on a DVD, I quickly removed the white label and re-extracted the image from Lightroom:
Now the big question is – am I crazy? Would you pay attention to such details, or would you ignore them? Am I being too picky about this kind of stuff? Would love to hear your opinion, our dear readers!