Monday, December 20, 2010

Wedding Pictures Part 1: Photographer Woes

Warning: This post is a bit of a rant, but I think people should read this as a "caveat emptor" of sorts for their own experience.

Every newlywed couple loves selecting the pictures for their album. Going through hundreds and hundreds of photographs, comparing, contrasting, and critiquing, it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Sarcasm aside, in reality, preparing your album is almost as excruciating as the picture taking process itself (which I detailed in my 2nd Post Wedding Report. Don't worry, the final parts are being worked on and will be posted).

From the department of helpful advice from someone who has been there before: To anyone engaged, soon-to-be-engaged, wish-you-were-engaged, etc – don’t pick a photographer just because they have a well known name and have advertisements plastered all over the place. Instead, check out the younger, less publicly famous photographers that are out there. Some let you keep the proofs instead of charging you a ridiculous amount of money for a single picture that you liked, but not enough to put in the album. Some photographers/videographers even give you the raw footage of your wedding instead of handing back a music video of your special day.

If you want those cool, artsy pictures with the funky angles that simply scream, “OMG that’s gorgeous!” DON’T PICK A BIG NAMED PHOTOGRAPHER just because they have a big name. Talk to your friends, see who they choose and what pictures they ended up with, go visit multiple photographers and have them show you their work. Also, TELL THEM what you want, so they know what sort of pictures you envision in your wedding album.

We made the mistake, or I should really say I made the mistake (since picking the photog was my job) of going with a famous named photographer. Granted, we got a large number of the traditional, typical pictures that every wedding album has, but none of the cool angles, etc that I had envisioned. Going through the pictures, of a total of around 600 pictures at 219 were garbage; either because they were out of focus, at a bad angle, had some object or person blocking ASoG or I, was a 3rd or 4th duplicate of the same picture, featured something stupid like the buffet, someone’s bentscher during sheva brachos, random background people during dancing, ill-timed attempts to capture creative shtick, had one or more people making unintentionally horrible facial expressions, or had bad lighting – including a circular shadow from the flashbulb or whatever hovering over our faces.

Even the good ones that we chose from sometimes were 4 or 5 of the identical picture from almost the same angle, with the people in the shot in an ever so slightly different position, forcing us to closely examine the pictures to determine if everyone was smiling properly, looking in the right direction, etc.

When we initially called our photographer after the wedding to discuss when we would receive the pictures, the photographer’s representative (the guy in charge never speaks to us) told us that they screen everything, do touch ups, etc to ensure that the pictures we would get to see and choose from were the absolute best. Well, it turns out that someone must have dropped the ball somewhere, because ASoG and I honestly wonder why in the world they’d even want us to see some of these, which were inherently bad pictures of one of us, or displayed a lack of talent on their part. We didn’t really miss any critical moment of the chuppah, badeken, or chosson’s tisch, and the family pictures were taken and retaken until good photos were produced, but some of the most creative, humorous, and memorable shtick is hardly or badly documented – for example, someone lit a hat on fire and proceded to dance, but there are 4 pictures of him wearing the hat, none of which show it on fire - which really upsets me.

On top of all that, while going through the rest of the pictures, ASoG and I made a startling discovery as we began comparing similar shots (for example, multiple variations of us with my parents) to see which one we liked best. Namely, for at least two dozen or so pictures, the photographer simply took the previous picture, enlarged and cropped it ever so slightly, so you basically have the same photograph TWICE with a little more zoom and a little less bordering material (be that people’s legs or flowers) in the image. Now THAT is lazy. Honestly, why not take an actual zoomed in picture so see if you could get a change of expression or better shot?

As mentioned previously, while some photographers are gracious enough to let you keep the proofs - ours will not. Instead, they are charging an arm and a leg for a single 4 x 6 picture. A recently married relative was given all their proofs on a CD, which allowed them to make duplicates at a local pharmacy, whereas it is illegal to do so with the actual prints that we own, so we’re kind of stuck (our parents are trying to negotiate a deal so we don’t go broke getting more of the pictures we want, so there is still some hope for my guilty feelings).

UPDATE 1/6/11 - It turns out we DO get to keep all of the proofs after the albums are made.

We haven’t seen their video yet, but they insist on “editing it” without giving us the raw footage, which I want. I have no clue what they are and aren’t going to cut. Even if they insist they only remove extraneous video of their crew waiting for something to happen, I think I might be able to do a better job myself. I definitely don’t want a music video of the wedding, but the best video documentation possible. Anyway, that’s a battle for another day…

So, lesson learned – and I hope others can benefit from our experience and not miss out on capturing the various moments of one of the most important days of their lives.

Check back on Wednesday for some advice on the actual process of creating a wedding album.


  1. so sorry to hear you are having such troubles with the photographer. i hope you end up with a wedding album and video that you both love which can help both of you remember all the special and important moments of your wedding day!

  2. Thank you! As the last line in the post suggests, we have indeed picked out our album, which does capture all the great, essential moments of the wedding. At the moment, it's wanting to have all (or many) of the other pictures that's an issue, which will hopefully resolve itself as well.

  3. I am sorry this is happening to you and I know from experience how frustrating this can be. I just want to share that finding the perfect photographer gives you no guarantees. Our photographer was great, the pictures were beautiful and we got everything on cd as well as the rough footage of the video. However, they lost the last role of film, which had almost all the pics of my husband and me alone on it (we have about 3). Much later, we sent back our album so they could make a copy for my in laws. They returned it and it was only months later when we realized that this was not the same album. It was messy, with things we hadn't chosen and with pictures taken out that had been in the original. My in laws didnt have our original album either. The new album isn't bad, but compared to what was, together with the lost role of film, I am upset and years later I still feel a little pang when I look at my album.

  4. Yup. My advice to everyone is to make them write in the contract that they'll give you a CD with all the high-res versions. My husband was a MASTER contract reader and had it changed/updated a million times before we agreed to it. :)

    Then again, we're STILL waiting for our wedding video DVD. GROWL.


Comments are welcome, and greatly encouraged! I certainly want to foster open discussion, so if you have something to say about anything I've written, don't hesitate! I also greatly enjoy comments/critiques of my stories. But please, no spam.