Sunday, March 8, 2009

How much photography coverage do you really need?

In the days of capturing weddings on film, both the wedding couple and the photographer were well aware there were a limited number of frames that would be shot. The focus at the time was on the ceremony, the reception, and a few formal portraits. Finding a photographer that would shoot candid shots was a bonus. There were, and still are, approximately 18 images that capture the essence of a wedding. Extra shots meant extra cost. The bride and groom had to be conscious that they were going to be expected to pay for any shots over and above what was previously agreed upon.

For the photographer, to shot extra frames meant to incur processing and printing costs on the speculation that someone was going to buy them. Frequently they would not. Back then, one of my typical packages contained 12 8x10 images and 48 5x5 images, all assembled in a leather bound album. To get down to those 60 images, I would shoot no more than 84 images, which amounted to two additional rolls of film. Those of us that were very accurate with metering and composition were rewarded for our efficiency with lower costs. Those that weren’t were penalized.

In this day of digital, we can shoot to our heart’s content, without any additional hard costs. I say hard costs, because the more images that are shot, the more images there are to edit. With the popularity of the photojournalistic style of wedding coverage, each of us now captures 10-15 times the number of images we used to shoot. I attended a seminar recently given by a photographer that captures a staggering 5,000 images per wedding. Naturally, only a fraction of those images are actually presented to the bride and groom. What does this all means to you, the wedding couple?

Your wedding coverage options are now wide open. If you cannot find a photographer that covers the entire day, my suggestion is to go for as much coverage as you can afford. Of course, you’re not going to have all of that printed. However, if you’re goal is to tell the story of the day, that implies the entire day has been covered. If the all-day coverage is not an affordable option, your work is cut out for you in deciding what to have covered. What will help is very careful planning on how you lay out your day.

The ceremony, reception, and portraits are a must. Special activities and cultural traditions are likely to have equal priority. Where it starts to get dicey is the pictures of the bride and groom getting ready and covering all of the reception. If you can’t cover it all, you’ll to Here’s some planning tips you can use to optimize the coverage you have.

  • You can save precious time by selecting shooting locations other than the ceremony and reception sites that are either very close to, or along travel routes between, those two locations.
  • Carefully planning the timeline will help to, but be careful. Don’t plan the timeline so tight that something has to be sacrificed if one of your activities is delayed.
  • Take your formal portraits before the ceremony. If the entire wedding party knows they have to be ready to take pictures before the wedding starts, the chances of the ceremony starting late are minimized.
  • If one of your goals is to have formal family portraits, let everyone in the family know about it, in advance. Let them know when and where the photos will be taken. Make this point repeatedly. This is not their wedding. They are going to forget and wander off to do other things. Your coordinator can be a big help with this.
  • Immediately following the ceremony, things are the most chaotic. If you plan on using the alter area, plan to have the church cleared as quickly as possible, except for family. Work out a shot plan with the photographer so they can shoot this sequence quickly and efficiently.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. They all revolve around a central theme; planning. Good planning solves many problems, and makes for better pictures.

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