The Ones In Between: Wedding Photos On The Bubble
We occasionally get emails that start out like this: “We love the photos, but were wondering if this was all you took or if there are more?” Even though this isn’t a nasty complaint, it’s still frustrating to hear that after all the work that clients still want more. After 8 years as a wedding photographer, I’m now trying to see things from the client perspective and figure out why some people just want the whole take.
After shooting a wedding, we know which ones we are keeping and which ones aren’t going to make the cut. Maybe they are out of focus, maybe we have another image that’s similar with a better expression, ultimately we’re all tossing away thousands of frames every weekend. What about the images that are in between?
What happens to the images that are sharp enough, straight enough, interesting enough but not worth of portfolio, blog or contest submission? Do we keep them in the edit or toss them away with the garbage. These are the photos from cocktail hour of Uncle Frank and Cousin Bill shaking hands or your college friends looking mildly interesting walking to the ceremony. These are photos that are certainly keeping some historical record of the day, but they middle of the road in their importance to the overall story. We all have to make the decision: “Do they stay or do they go?”
From a business perspective, each image that stays in the edit is going to cost the business money whether we outsource it or spend the time to retouch it ourselves. Sometimes it’s hard to keep everything in when considering the cost.
Also, as photographers, we don’t want to show too much mediocrity in our work. However, from a wedding client’s perspective, a lot of those middle of the road photos have some value. These photos are never going to make it to the wedding album or the frame on the mantel, but because wedding clients might enjoy seeing the image, even once, might be value enough for leaving it in the edit.
Culling a full day of shooting to a manageable and beautiful wedding edit is tough work. We can’t leave everything in but before we start chopping them down, we need to think about what clients are going to want to see. A lot of them don’t care that the only photo of grandma dancing with the ring bearer is a bit out of focus. They still value that photo.
In the end, I think our clients just want to feel that they didn’t miss out on anything and before I toss any image in the outtakes folder I try to anticipate their reaction to seeing that image. Would they appreciate it? Is it an important person in their life? Do I have other photos of that person that is better? Delivering wedding photos isn’t just about giving the clients our best work, it’s also about delivering a record of their day so they can enjoy the memories as they look through their galleries.