Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wedding Pictures Part 2: Making Your Album

Ranting aside, just how the heck do you pick which pictures are considered important enough to make it into your wedding album? If you have 600+ photographs and need to cut it down to some far more miniscule number, say 50 (or if you’re lucky and/or willing to spend the money another 10 or 20).

So what do you do, dear newlywed chosson and kallah?

The first thing we did was go through all the pictures once and take out all the bad pictures or pictures we intrinsically knew were not album worthy like empty guest tables, shmorg food, or flower center pieces. That easily cut out close to a third of all the pictures, as I mentioned in the last post.

Next, we divided the remaining pictures into categories. Keep in mind that the pictures had already gone through the hands of both ASoG’s parents and mine, so they were no longer in any sort of pristine order, having undergone the examination and selection process twice by the time we got them.

So basically, we split the pictures into these categories, roughly chronological: Family pictures, pictures of us (which isn’t strictly chronological, since it included the post yichud room cutesy touching pictures), the chosson’s tisch, the badeken, my side walking down, her side walking down, the chuppah, women side dancing, men's side dancing, and pictures of us at the seuda like washing each other’s hands, cutting the cake, and sheva brachos.

Then, as we went through each stack of pictures, we decided which shots were crucial and which ones were not. For crucial pictures, we selected the best one from the multiples that existed. We made sure that we had all the “required pictures,” including a picture of us with each set of parents, each person/couple who walked down the aisle, important moments such as me veiling ASoG at the badeken, reading the tana’aim at the tisch, reading the kesuba under the chuppah, one of us with our Mesader Kiddushin, etc.

But then things get a little tricky. The problem arises when going through the non-critical pictures, such as the multitude of pictures of just us, or all the dancing/shtick pictures, and concessions need to be made regarding what is and isn’t "album worthy."

Many of the pictures of ASoG and I feature similar poses, only perhaps from the right or left side, black and white versus color, and we had to decide which ones we thought were the best and thus album worthy. While I really liked several of the few artsy shots we have, I had to give in to make room for other pictures that were of more significance. As it turned out, we did choose a good handful of pictures of us, but not quite as many as I would have liked.

Some shtick pictures aren’t so great in terms of quality, angle etc, but feature a very unique shtick or person you are close with. Those pictures made it through the first or second round of cuts, but when it came down to the last haul to take out pictures to get our target number, those also went.

But that doesn't mean that certain cuts still don't sting a bit. Two pictures that didn’t make it which still makes me a little upset were the pictures ASoG and I took with our shomer/shomeret. They are great pictures, and for me (and ASoG too) particularly meaningful because of my close relationship with my friend who was my shomer. I fought tooth and nail (respectfully) until the last cut to keep them in, but we needed to take out two pictures, and those were the only ones that were considered expendable at that point, when all the other pictures were of the more critical variety.

So there we were, seemingly finished making all the painful decisions of who would and wouldn’t appear in our wedding album. We breathed a sigh of relief and were ready to put the pictures away and stop thinking about the whole thing when we noticed that that we were missing one of ASoG’s siblings in the set of walk-down pictures. Of course, this caused a slight panic, since that meant, to our horror, that we hadn’t finished cutting pictures.

In the end, that last, unexpected cut which had to be made was my decision. There were two pictures I had to choose from: one of ASoG and I at the Seudah posing with some shtick gifts and the other, which was a less professional shot, but featuring my parents blessing me in our ready-room just before the chuppah. I really liked both pictures, and had a hard time deciding.

Then I stopped and asked myself, “Which of these pictures am I going to care about more in 50 years?” ASoG immediately answered with the very same words I was about to say that the pictures of my parents and I, though less professional in quality, was vastly more meaningful. There were a few other pictures of ASoG and I at the meal, as I mentioned, like washing each others’ hands and cutting our cake which we did keep, so I could do without the cute picture of us.

I think that was the absolute correct decision - and that really is the bottom line.

Granted, you might think one particular picture of shtick is fantastic, or you might want umpteen pictures of you and your spouse, but what really matters are the pictures that have lasting meaning. That friend who juggled flaming torches may have been exciting in the moment and worth talking about for a few months or years afterward when recalling the dancing that took place at your wedding, but you might lose touch with him and never speak to him for 20 years.

However, that one picture of my parents blessing me, a sort of an equivalent of everyone blessing ASoG at the badeken, will always have infinite worth to me, especially one day when I show my grandchildren my wedding album when their great-grandparents might no longer be around – may my parents have long and healthy lives until 120 (at least). That picture certainly fulfills the stereotypical

So there you have it, the Shades of Grey method for wedding album selection. May everyone who has to deal with sorting through hundreds of pictures be able to figure things out in a calm and ordered fashion – and to everyone who isn’t yet engaged – may you have this to deal with “problem” soon! J

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