Wedding Photography Roundtable; Four Top Shooters Give Us Their Take Page 2
DG: I feel one of the worst things happening in photography today is that photographers are satisfied making a little bit of money when they can make a lot. My work was not meant to be a screen saver. It was meant to be displayed art. We only deliver tangible items. A CD or DVD is not a tangible item. If someone wants us to photograph them they must purchase albums and prints; 99 percent of clients get AsukaBooks with their collections and of course wall portraits. I firmly believe that the best place to advertise is with people you already have. The best way to do that is to make sure they have prints to see.
SB: Do you use any particular equipment or software that you believe sets you apart or becomes part of your “look”?
AM: Not really. We use the highest-end cameras to give us the best files to work with. We color correct and retouch using Photoshop and Lightroom and we do some enhancement on our images using onOne Software and Nik Software, both of which are amazing products.
CSC: Besides Photoshop, I have been incorporating Lightroom into our workflow, and our use of Nik filters has certainly enhanced what we call the “CherieFoto” look. I also have a company called Edgygirl.com that sells edges to photographers to complete the look of the image and they are super easy to use. I made these for myself because I did not see frames out there that I liked and they were always really difficult to use.
DG: There are two things I could not live without. I use Kubota Action Paks exclusively for workflow. We also create a unique look with our Torchlight. It is an LED light made for photographers to match any lighting condition and it is controlled by a dimmer.
JB&DS: We have created our own Photoshop Actions that give a unique look to our images.
SB: Do you believe there is a viable marketing plan for photographers who bypass the traditional album and just deliver files?
DG: Honestly, I don’t. I think they are setting themselves up to settle. If we don’t go back to delivering paper to our clients we will be doing the industry a big disservice.
JB&DS: We do not, we still believe in delivering a quality printed product.
AM: No. If you sit down and run the numbers you will see I am correct. Clients don’t want to be left with a bunch of files that they don’t know what to do with, even if that is what they are telling you. We have a small side business making albums and helping customers create books from all those shoot-and-burn people too lazy to take the time.
CSC: In the past the album was the cornerstone to increasing sales after the wedding, but the digital age has introduced newer styles. We have many new ways to view our images from picture frames, our PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) phones, and our HDTV.
SB: What can photographers do right now to set themselves apart?
JB&DS: Perceived quality is the best way to stand out from the crowd. Offer quality albums and products that amateurs cannot offer because of the prices they charge. There will always be clients who see the value in an artist and will appreciate the expertise that they have. The more that we can do to be perceived as a high-end professional studio, the less we have to worry about competing with others.
DG: My goal is to document that fleeting but cherished passion the bride so richly feels on her wedding day. I am NOT a photojournalistic photographer. I am a portrait photographer, posing my images to look natural. I have chosen this approach to ensure photos that appear, at once, heartfelt and genuine, as well as utterly candid. I feel it is important to show consistency and that, above all else, is why I pose things. My bride and groom remember their wedding through my eyes, my feelings, and my emotions, as I express it through my photos.
CSC: Well, we just got a Linhof 4x5 film camera and my partner Hedley and I still shoot our older Nikon F for film. Also, we tend to shoot with several old primes from the Nikon stable of lenses. I think we need to make a look and stick to it. If prospective clients see something they love, you will have a line outside your door for that look. I think good work and good products are the key to setting ourselves apart. It is all about taste and marketing.
AM: First and foremost, learn your craft. Learn to pose (yes, pose); people purchase posed photos, in my experience, more than journalistic images. Next comes lighting; a well-lit photograph will sell a lot faster than one that is blah. Dress well—black jeans and black T-shirts don’t make it at high-end weddings. If the guests are wearing tuxedos, so should you! Women should wear a black suit that looks neat and clean. Listening to your customers and understanding their needs is also a good way to set yourself apart.
SB: Do you have a vision for where wedding photography will be in five years?
AM: I think that there will be a thinning of the herd. I see it happening already with many studios building what I call an upside-down pyramid. They have no base of good, knowledgeable shooters. Photographers are not just button pushers, but rather artists who can record the day with gorgeous portraits and capture wonderful journalistic moments.
CSC: The great will be greater and there will be many more bad wedding photographers. The competition will be really fierce and that can lead to greatness I believe. I am seeing a lot of amateurs (people not making a living in photography only) doing some really amazing stuff and I love that part of it, but on the other hand, there are a lot of horror stories out there about getting their cousin to shoot their wedding and at the end of it having no pics they like!
JB&DS: We are not sure where this market will be in five years to be honest. It has changed so much already in the six years that we have been in it now. The key is to stay educated, always sharpen your skills in both shooting and after capture, and to be open to new ideas and techniques—this is how we all will be differentiated as professionals.
To see more of these photographers’ work, visit the following websites:
• Andy Marcus—http://fredmarcus.com
• Cherie Steinberg Coté—www.cheriefoto.com and Edgygirl.com
• Doug Gordon—www.patkenphotographer.com
• JB and DeEtte Sallee—www.salleephotography.com
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