The Do-It-All Era of Digital Photography Has Its Advantages

We’ve just finished the ultimate marathon of weddings — 10 weddings in the last three weeks. Phew! It’s one reason I’ve dropped away a bit as a blogger. But I’m happy to say we’ve made it through, and I’m a firm believer that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

One of the challenges to photographing so many weddings in such a short period of time has been organizing it all. Wedding balances due, client correspondence, schedules, shot lists, working with planners and location coordinators — and then actually shooting the events.

Processing Images: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Right now, I’m in the photo processing stage. We’re editing and preparing a wedding portfolio of several hundred images for every wedding couple. This can be the very time-consuming. And it’s something the client never fully appreciates.

Just a few years ago, someone else would have processed and printed the images. I can remember dropping off my film, coming back several hours later and — presto! — I have a set of proofs, each color-balanced and printed beautifully. All I had to do was call the client to pick up their images.

Today? We have to do it all ourselves.

The buck has been passed. Most film labs (the ones that have survived) have transitioned to print houses. Most photographers have transitioned to digitally processing their images. And most clients have been trained to view and edit pictures over the Internet.

What was once the freedom to wait on a lab and the time to view a set of color-balanced paper proofs at your own pace has been replaced — supposedly — by new levels of efficiency, convenience and speed in the digital era.

But my clients will spend many hours viewing photographs on a computer screen. My staff and I will spend many hours preparing digital images for proof. Is this really all it’s cracked up to be? Is it really more efficient, more convenient and faster?

Let’s put it this way: it’s different.

Taking Advantage of Digital’s Differences

Today, the client has more control over the pictures; they can preview and order them in black and white and sepia. The products we concentrate on selling are vastly superior to the products that were once the norm in the wedding business; we have gallery wraps, albums printed in four-color, and multimedia slide shows.

The opportunity to market our business to hundreds of people at once was never this easy. We are also able to charge more, take advantage of cost savings the Internet affords us and improve our turnaround time on print orders and albums.

Today, our office is humming with activity. We’ve edited thousands of images and already proofed nearly half of the weddings we’ve photographed out to our clients. Could you ever do that in the film era? And we’ve generated Flash slide shows accompanied by brief write-ups on our blog of each wedding we’ve photographed, along with weekly newspaper advertisements.

Personally, I don’t mind the tradeoff between film and digital. But it is terribly important in my business to understand the differences and to take advantage of them.

[tags]wedding photography, digital photography[/tags]

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