So, with that in mind I thought I would write a little bit about a very popular wedding photography product lately: The Picture CD (sometimes called a hi-res DVD).
Some wedding photographers don't even offer prints. They just offer to shoot the wedding and sell you a CD with the original digital files ( I call these "fire-and-forget" photographers). This sounds like a great idea on the surface because you get all the original pictures from your wedding and you can print them whenever you like. There's no doubt that an 8x10 printed at Wal-Mart is quite a bit cheaper than an 8x10 printed by a pro photographer. However, hiring someone to shoot your wedding and then printing pictures yourself from the original files is a little like hiring someone to build you a Mercedes and then painting it yourself with a can of Rustoleum. If your photographer is also a Professional Photoshop Artist than shooting the picture is only half the work. Here's an example:
This is the original picture as I took it of my lovely wedding couple strolling down the beach after getting hitched. It was getting dark and I was trying desperately to get as much of the background in the shot as possible. If you took this file to Wal-Mart and printed it, this is what it would look like. Maybe. You see, not every photo printer is set up the same way so you never really know what you will get until it arrives. That's why professionals use pro labs and have their monitors color-matched so that they get exactly what they expect to get.
Here's what the same picture looks like after a little adjusting in Photoshop. However, your image won't look like this because you don't have photoshop or the extensive training it takes to use it properly. Your image will look like the first one.
Now we start to see the advantages of having your picture printed by a pro. This couple liked it in black and white so I converted it for them and then removed all the people from the beach. Suddenly, our couple has Clearwater Beach all to themselves..
Finally, the brides hair had blown across her right cheek and nose in the original so I cleaned that up too. Now, scroll up the the first picture and compare it to this one. Which one would you rather have sitting on your nightstand?
As much as it seems like a great idea to spend all your money on owning every picture, it's usually a better idea to spend that money on some high-quality, beautiful prints that you can hang in your home and look at for years to come. Buy some good prints or a wedding book, then buy the full lot on CD if your budget allows it. There's a very good reason why my prints cost more than the ones from Wal-Mart: They're worth it. The funny thing is that it takes a lot more time for me to hand re-touch and print photo's for my clients than it does to just burn a CD. Why do I create more work for myself? Because I want every picture I take to look as good as it possibly can. Call it ego or pride or whatever but If someone sees a picture I took in your home I want them to say, "Wow, that's a great picture!" They won't say that if it was printed at a drugstore.
There are exceptions, of course. The most notable is the rare wedding where I'm the only photographer (like an elopement). Sometimes you just want a good record of the event and buying the digital negatives is the way to go. Other times a client knows exactly what they want and they want the CD. I'm happy to do whatever makes you happy as long as you understand that your prints will never look as good printed by the kid in the photo kiosk at Target as they will re-touched and printed by the person who has to put his signature on them. (that's me)
The bottom line is that you need to understand what you are getting when you sign on with a "fire-and-forget" photographer. The fact is that you will probably get better pictures than you could have possibly gotten without a pro... but you won't get exceptional pictures. That requires re-touching in Photoshop. Just be careful when you look at a wedding photographer's website because I've never seen one that didn't have re-touching on every picture. If you buy the CD expecting your pictures to look like what was on the website you will be disappointed.
Booray Perry is a wedding photographer in Tampa bay