Fine Art Wedding Photographers

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Why We Love Hand Finishing Wedding Photographs (And You Should, Too!)

Part 1 – Seeing Is The Reason To Choose Fine Art Wedding Photographers

We are often asked to explain why our wedding photography costs more than others, and I know what people are expecting us to say; it’s the fact there are two photographers, we provide all day coverage, blah, blah, blah.

I prefer to show Brides why we are NOT more expensive, but more valuable!

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Anyone’s Photograph

Let me start off with a photograph. This is Trudi who was (and I guess still is) a beautiful bride. This image is straight from the camera. We have done nothing to it, we have clicked the shutter and printed the image. 

Now assuming you understand the way light works and you appreciate how to present your subject to that light in a flattering way, which is harder than you think…. you could have take this photograph. O’h and you’d need an f1.4 lens costing over £1,000, but you get the idea. 

Yet almost everyone has a camera today, whether that’s a budding amateur with a new DSLR or someone with a camera phone, photographers are everywhere.

Software programs like Photoshop and Aperture and Portrait Pro are readily available and appealing to the masses and so again people have the software and believe they are now photographic-artists.

There are two issues I have with this photograph, if you are a budding photographer, can you see what they are – if you click the image it will enlarge. Two things you should have already identified as needing fixing – see them – no then read on.

Wedding Photographers Photograph

Well this image is what every wedding photographer is going to do to the original raw photograph.

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First of all they are going to add dynamic range to the image, that is open up the shadows around the eyes, this is really important because in a wedding portrait it’s the eyes which are the most important feature. Everyone starts looking at a wedding portrait at the eyes, you did so subconsciously.

Next we colour balanced the image, now this is very subjective, its about getting the right skin tone,  and balancing that with eye and hair colour. In the original image the balance is a bit blue and cool. That’s because of the time of the day the photograph was taken and that the light came through glass which cooled the light a fraction.

Then we add just a touch of sharpening. Usually sharpening is added right before your output the files to whatever device you want, internet, iPad, print etc. But we like to add sharpening and then restrict it using channel maps. On this photograph we have used the Red Channel so that the sharpening focuses on the eyes, hair, and mouth.

Have you spotted the two issues I have with this image, they should be really clear by now… no then read on.

Now this is the kind of wedding photograph which turns up time and time again in wedding albums. This is for many wedding photographers and their Brides the finished wedding photograph.


Fine Art Wedding Photograph

This is where we take things to the next level, and this is why there are way fewer ‘Fine Art Wedding Photographers’.

I wrote an article about three years ago for a magazine and website in which we identified over 27,000 wedding photographers in the UK market. Now I am guessing quite a lot of those have come and gone, but that the overall number probably hasn’t changed a great deal.

Of those 27,000 “Wedding Photographers” actually less than 3,000 hold any form of professional qualification or accreditation for wedding photography by a recognized professional body. 

Now of those 27,000 wedding photographers out there, there are, I believe, approximately 700 to 800 true Fine Art Wedding Photographers who genuinely hand finish their wedding photographs instead of using action sets or slidy bars on bits of software.

What that means is that you have an 88% chance of getting a wedding photographer that is no better than your uncle Burt with his instamatic camera and a roll of film.

Only 8% of wedding photographers on the internet will produce wedding photographs which are better than you or anyone in your family and friends could produce for you. These 8% of wedding photographers understand light, composition and have technique and stylization. And for the most part Brides and Grooms will be pleased with their work and the end result in their wedding album.

However, what all this means is that less than 4% of the wedding photographer market is served by what we would call ‘Fine Art Wedding Photographers’.  What does that mean practically for brides searching for their wedding photographer. Well, you will probably only find one genuine Fine Art Wedding Photographer for every three pages of Google’s results.

In Part 2 of this blog I am going to give you a series of tests to make sure you can identify the right Fine Art Wedding Photographer for your wedding.

In the meantime here is Trudi all finished.

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Now because Trudi had a beautiful vintage wedding we have added a vintage stylization which matches the rest of the wedding photographs on the double page spread of her wedding album.

One of the issues today with professional quality cameras, and we use Nikon D4s, is the amount of detail they collect, sometimes you know, its just too much. I really don’t want to see the pores of her skin. 

If you had met Trudi on her wedding day you would have said wow! She looked flawless, but the camera adds to much detail. Therefore we simply take the photograph back to what the eye would naturally see, which is something altogether different from airbrushing which makes people look like plastic clones.

So what do you think?

Now did you spot the two issues which troubled me at the beginning:

Answer

First, even though Trudri had just had her hair and make done, do you see the tiny hear in the centre of her forehead which had dropped down. That’s so annoying and yet happens so often. Now its gone.

Second, and a little more difficult to resolve, 10 mins before this wedding photograph, Trudi met dad and there were a few joyful tears. The result was that she was left with pink eyes. Happy eyes, but pink, not a cool look for a wedding portrait. So we have just correct them so that no one what ever know.

If you like what we have done please do leave us a comment and give us some feed back, we would love to hear from you.