How I Work, Wedding

Telling The Wedding Story – What To Leave Out

Here’s a shocker: telling a good wedding story is as much about what to leave out as about what to include. In this post-film era where each shot is “free” and couples sometimes get thousands of images on their CD, that seems a little counter intuitive. But wedding photography is about storytelling, not randomly snapping away all day and letting the couple sort it out later.

Imagine a literary fiction about Jane Doe. “It was the day of Jane’s big presentation. For breakfast she eats eggs and toast, lightly buttered, with a side of juice. She walks up the stairs, brushes her teeth and hair, chooses her blue jacket and heads back down the stairs. She looks for her keys, first on the counter, then on the end table…” I’m not even going to drag on the example. I could go on for ten pages following her day, ultimately ending with her turning out the lights for bed.

However, if we get to the good stuff, it makes the story far better even though it’s actually much shorter. “Jane eats breakfast and drives to work on the day of her big presentation.” Here, in one short sentence I moved the story farther and kept interest higher. I didn’t drag it out with every tiny detail. Sure, we didn’t hear what she ate or how she looked for her keys, but do we really care?

A typical wedding generates a lot of photos. Some photographers deliver a CD with 2000+ images. That’s each and every photo they took on the day, good and bad, and a ton of duplicates. There may be five images of a single pose, but only one good one where everyone’s smile looks best or where nobody is blinking. When you get each and every photo, it’s now your job to sort through the rough to find the few diamonds. I’ve talked with so many couples in this situation who still haven’t gone through all the photos a year after the wedding. They’re simply overwhelmed.

Some photographers (myself included) sort through the rough for you, weeding out the duplicates and not-so-great photos. In this case, you get fewer photos, but they tell a much stronger story. I typically deliver between 500 and 800 photos selected from 1500 to 2000 total. Ultimately this is a much higher level of service than the “here’s everything I shot, good luck” philosophy.

I’ve found that a very complete, detailed wedding story can be told in about 100 photos, so really 500 to 800 images is already more detail than what’s really needed. Albums require even more careful selection to tell the story in 25 to 50 photos.

Careful selection of wedding photos makes for a much better story with stronger photos, and frankly, is less work for the newlyweds. Don’t be fooled by the more-is-better fallacy. It’s the photographer’s job, as a storyteller, to sift through the weeds and deliver only the best.

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