Who should be attending the bride on the way to the church?

I am not going to make any friends with this particular posting.    But as a couple you really need to know exactly how to achieve the best shots at your wedding – and understand that some stuff is totally outside the control of your photographer.  

With that knowledge you can make decisions beforehand which will affect the look of your wedding photographs – if it is really important to you and if your photography is your priority.  And even though I may think pictures are important it isn’t necessarily the case for everyone.  I understand that  – really I do!  But finding out that things could have looked better by seeing it on your wedding photographs – well, by that time, its just too late.

Last year I photographed two weddings where I felt particuarly frustrated at the shots I couldn’t get.  At the first wedding I didn’t manage to get any shots of the bride arriving at the church door without the car company drivers in attendance. It was a beautiful wedding, lots of emotion and a very pretty church and angelic-looking kids.   An excellent wedding car company, two lovely drivers – but why did they feel the need to take on this ‘role’ at the wedding when there were bridesmaids around who could have done the job perfectly well?  And, sorry to say,  more prettily!

A group of bridesmaids lifting the skirts of the bride’s dress in a lovely procession to the church door is a beautiful moment to capture on camera – it has all the key people you need in there too.  So don’t allow the job to  be done by someone that you’ve only met once or twice – unless you really don’t care. 

At the second wedding the bride walked downstairs to greet her father – his first viewing of his daughter in all her glory – and there in the background the wedding coordinator smiling up at the camera.  Aaagh!  And no matter where I stood during those few moments,  I could not crop out the unnecessary personnel.   So frustrating, as I know that when it comes to your wedding albums, none of those shots will be chosen to go in your final selection.  In fact I don’t even bother putting them in the preview books these days.

As a B&G its up to you both to decide just how much attention you want from your suppliers on the day.  I know of florists who insist on being at the church to instruct on how to hold the bouquet.  Couldn’t that be sorted out at a pre-wedding meeting?   Drivers who insist on the ‘car shot’ with them in it?  Toastmasters who are more interested in the photo for their website than managing the crowds at your wedding.   

Go away, people!  This is an intimate moment – not a marketing opportunity!     

And the really good suppliers – these are the companies and venues that just get on with their jobs and don’t feel the need to dominate.  Their products and services speak loudly for themselves.  In fact, I’ve known businesses lose work because they are so ‘in-your-face’. 

I don’t have a particular gripe against wedding car companies – I have serious doubts about any wedding suppliers other than the photographer, the minister/registrars and possibly,  just possibly, the wedding coordinator at a hotel being present on the photographs in any major way.  I don’t understand why a wedding supplier might consider it to be part of their job description or why they would even want it   (I feel I have failed if I appear on any of the wedding shots when shooting as a team – I want to be invisible!).

So, just to reiterate….decide how much of a role you want your other suppliers to take.  If you have no problem with them appearing on your shots then just go with the flow and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the shots you may have hoped for (Actually it may be that they are such a part of your day that you want shots of them anyhow).

But if you want to avoid this situation and get the pictures you want and that look nicest  – overcome your embarrassment and tell your drivers/florists/cakemaker etc that you want them to keep a low profile!

Hope I haven’t offended anyone here but sometimes you’ve just got to tell it how it is.   My customers don’t see the things that I do until they’re looking at their photos and by then its too late to do anything about it.  Only then do they realise why I risk life and limb by making posts like this!

Why do you want copyright of your wedding images?

When I’m doing wedding fairs or when people come to see me to book their weddings, often the biggest motivation for booking us is the DVD and copyright.  And I think you’re all missing the point.

Copyright is NOT what the majority of my customers want – its just what you think you want.  Actually, the important thing for you is the ability to print the pictures.  Mostly its to send them over the internet to friends and family or put on your mobiles.    Fotoamour gives you this ability but it isn’t called ‘copyright’ – its called ‘permission to use’ and it comes with restrictions.  You wouldn’t, for instance, be able to sell those images to a bridalwear company to advertise their wedding dresses.

In most instances, customers only ever want to use the images themselves.   So you don’t need copyright.

Often the reason couples want copyright is because they think they need it to print off their own pictures.  Or because they’re worried that the photographer will ‘lose’ them. 

Now then – think back to all those family snaps you’ve got languishing on your computer and tell me how many you have had printed and put in albums.  All of them?  A very few good ones?  Or maybe none of them?   Here’s a confession.  I am a photographer.  I take loads of pictures of my children.  The pictures are all on my external hard drive.  Have I printed any of them?  NO!!!

Ten years ago, when digital photography was just a twinkle in Mr Fuji’s eye, I was getting all these family snaps developed and printed.  I have albums and albums full of family pictures from those early days.  Some of them aren’t particularly great photos on a technical level.  Some are a bit blurry.  Some are a bit skew wiff.  (Obviously this was before my award-winning days!)   But there they are in the albums and, boy, do I love looking through them. (So do my kids incidentally). Everyone is precious to me, however blurry and however skew-wiff.

So is it about safe-guarding your wedding pictures?  I back up weddings on an external hard drive and a hard copy, and just for kicks, I have a back-up on a different computer at a different location.  Its pretty secure.  If your house or my house burns down I still have access to those files.

Now consider this because ITS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN OWNING COPYRIGHT!!!

In an album you will have 80 images.  (31 images in the montage.) Each image will have been examined and tweaked to gain the maximum from it.   You will be presented with a fabulous finished piece which you will feel happy and confident to show to friends.  On a DVD you will get a minimum of 250 digital negatives.  Digital negatives, mind you, not album quality files.  To enhance them to that degree would take so much time that the cost would become prohibitive for my customers.  They will be a lovely reminder of the day but none of them will have been ‘finished’ to the same level as those that appear in an album or in a frame or just as a Fotoamour print.  If you print any images yourself from the DVD you will be showing them ‘in the raw’.  Unfinished. (Think about the cost of loose prints versus the cost of a DVD.  How many pictures do most of you actually end up printing from your own DVD?  Sometimes it doesn’t even add up financially either).

But for most of you the DVD will languish in the drawer.  In a few years time it’s format will be obsolete and it will be a pain in the posterior for you to have it converted to the format that is required to view it, or print from it.  You probably won’t bother.  Remember all those VHS wedding videos that are now unwatchable because technology has moved on apace! 

This is why my lowest priced package contains the montage and not a DVD.

Think about the purpose of booking a wedding photographer.   Its not only about taking pictures and a piece of plastic – how unromantic!  Its so much more than that.   Its about the finished piece and longevity and craftsmanship.

We are there to do the complete job. To translate the most important day of your life into a beautiful, precious, crafted piece – that you can go back time and time again to enjoy.  And it will be there for your children and children’s children to marvel at too.  

By all means have the DVD – but don’t see it as the B-All and End-All of your wedding photography.