Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What if I don't have a good side to photograph?

There are few areas of wedding planning that I have any authority to talk about, which is odd seeing that I started a blog to do just that. Most of the time, I'm spouting off whatever random gibberish shakes out of my head, but I can at least pretend to know a few things about photography.

It's easy to pick out a good photographer if you know what you're looking for. You don't need Ansel Adams to photograph your wedding (and it's a good thing, because he's dead - and he mostly shot landscapes) but you still want someone who will make you look good on film. Or in pixels. Or whatever you kids are making photos out of these days. Fucking holograms, I don't know.

Rather than bore you with technical details (which I can do, just ask my fiancée) I'll give you a few things that burn my cupcakes when I look at wedding photography. Put these on a wedding bingo card and go to a bridal show. See who wins.

(I'm using photos that I have taken at weddings. Or of my cats. Or of my cats at weddings.)

Black & White Photos with Color Accents

Sorry Valerie.
You'll see this one a lot. 90% of the time it will be the flowers. Or something else that's red. It's not the mark of a bad photographer, but it's overdone to the point of nausea. It can be done tastefully, but just because something worked stylistically in Schindler's List, doesn't mean it will work for your wedding. Actually, that's pretty good advice for the rest of your wedding too.

Bad White Balancing

This one actually does make you a bad photographer. Or at least a bad editor. White balance can make you look like a zombie if done badly. Or people might wonder if your entire wedding party had jaundice on the day of the wedding. Different lights have different temperatures. Photographers need to adjust for those. Bottom line, if you see a wedding album where everything is a little too yellow, just keep walking. You can see the subtle differences in the cat pictures below.

This is one of my cats. His name is Voltron.

Overly Vintaged Photos

Also known as too much Photoshop. Or the Instagram addiction. Or... submit another clever name in the comments if you think of it. This is another style thing. A little goes a long way. 

You may want your wedding to look like it's being shot on film - but in that case, you should just find a photographer who still shoots on film. Or uses film as an adjunct. A wedding that I went to earlier this year had a second photographer who shot on a Holga for part of the time, and it pumped out some great shots!


A flash is an essential part of a modern wedding photographers kit, but it's also the most dangerous. Dark reception halls and big, white dresses can make for a BAD TIME.  You probably won't have a horrible shot like the one on the top-right, but you should look out for subjects that are a lot brighter than the backgrounds, with shadows directly behind people and objects. Also look out for shiny skin or fabric that looks unnatural. If they don't bounce the flash or diffuse it, you'll get some weird results like this.

In the end, you're going to want a photographer that doesn't suck, fits your style, and doesn't require you to mortgage your kidneys to pay for their photos. I personally look for photographers who have people who look like REAL PEOPLE in their display books. I'm a fat guy, so I look for photographers who can make fat guys look good. You might be ugly. Look for a photographer who can make the inner beauty show in an uggo.

Don't want a photographer? Don't get one! Buy a bunch of disposable cameras and put them on the tables. Get a photobooth. Have all your aunts and second cousins mail you their photos or upload them to a photo sharing site. There's no rule that says you need to have professional photos at your wedding - but if you want them, I hope this helps you out. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

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