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The Insanity of My Obsession

When I’m processing a wedding I get completely obsessive. It’s actually a problem because I find myself making just one more tweak, just one little edit, just a bit of straightening. It all comes at the cost of time. I find myself spending more than forty hours enhancing each wedding when good business sense tells me anything over ten hours is simply not profitable. Yet I can’t stop myself in the pursuit of producing the best work I can.

The insanity comes with the realization that I spend more time than the actual couple looking at each and every photo. While there are a handful of images that will find a place on the couple’s wall and be seen regularly, easily 99% will be viewed for only a few seconds before moving on to the next.

Understand, it’s not a matter of “fixing” bad shots. It’s just that I want my photos to have their own look rather than the look the camera manufacturer has arbitrarily decided. And, in the fast pace of the day, it’s unrealistic to think that there is time to perfectly compose a completely straight photo with each press of the shutter. I’d rather shoot fast to capture a great moment than miss it altogether because I spent too much time making sure it was framed just right.

It’s easy to justify spending several minutes on a photo like Heather and Bohan at sunset overlooking the river. There is a decent chance that it will be framed and hung, or at least receive a spread in the album. It will receive repeated viewings, so in a lifetime it will have a lot of time dedicated to viewing it.

On the other hand, here’s one from the procession at the beginning of the ceremony. It’s part of the story and needs to be captured. But, let’s be honest, it’s not very likely that the couple will give it any prolonged viewing before looking at the next one in the series. What do you think, maybe a couple seconds? Statistics say the average viewer spends about 3 seconds.

Yet, I’ll have probably spent several minutes on that photo alone. First it needs to be downloaded, backed up and archived. During the culling process I give it a good, hard review just to see if it even makes the cut. Next it needs to be cropped, straightened and pre-processed. Then the real processing begins – manually – giving it a finished look (which is several minutes itself). It might require special touch-up (like removing the exit sign in this case) which eats even more time. Finally, it needs to be renamed, sized for both print and web, written to CD, backed up in its finished form and possibly posted online.

Now, I’m pretty fast – after all I have a lot of experience at this – and yet this one photo may represent five to ten minutes work all by itself. On a typical wedding I deliver 600 to 800 images! Yet it will probably be viewed a handful of times for a couple seconds each.

See the insanity of my obsession? I’m not sure what’s worse, that I knowingly spend far more time than good business sense tells me I should or that I know I’m not likely to ever change. But, ultimately the real winner here is the couple, so I guess it’s not such an insane obsession after all.

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