Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Done and dusted

When Pam and I got married back in 1970, we had a photographer to record the event who came armed with two twin lens Rolleicords. The photos that he took were all posed; from groups arriving at the church to the cutting of the cake and they were all in black and white. In fact he did carry a spare camera and took a roll of colour film at our request but they were not to be included in the album.

The main things he had to concentrate on were making sure everyone was looking the right way i.e. directly at him, that everyone’s eyes were open and that the focus and exposure were both correct. 

In due course we received our album which we still keep in its presentation box. The cover is embossed white leather and the pages are thick card with the photos stuck to them using mounting tissue (shellac coated tissue that melts when heated).  Each page has just one photo on it and is interleaved with tissue to protect them.

When I was a young teacher, I used to take wedding photos to supplement my income and help pay for my hobby. I followed much the same process as the man that took pictures at our wedding. The only difference was that my photos would be in colour which I had processed by a specialist laboratory in Birmingham. Otherwise it was a case of taking the groups, cutting the cake and signing the register – that was about it. 

These days very few wedding photographers shoot film, they mostly use digital single lens reflex cameras. That gives them an advantage over the man who took pictures at our wedding. Whilst he had to swap cameras every 12 shots and reload both cameras after 24, digital cameras can record hundreds of pictures one one card- even in uncompressed RAW format. They can also ‘chimp’ the pictures on the screen at the back and reshoot if necessary.

The biggest difference though is in the style of photography that couples are after as a record of their big day. There is still room for the formal group shots as a reminder of the people that were there but more and more couples want a reportage style where the pictures tell the story of the day. It starts with bridal preparations and carries on through to the first dance and beyond. It is a longer day for the photographer who has to be alert at all times looking for those special moments, little incidents and the expressions on people’s faces that convey the emotion and joy of the event. If you miss those moments then all may be lost – that is stressful.

Once home, the photographer of the past had his work cut out with all those rolls of film to develop and then proofs to be printed in the darkroom. By comparison, the digital photographer has it easy. Programs like Adobe Lightroom allow you to go through large batches of pictures, selecting those that are OK and rejecting those that are not. You can also quickly adjust for any inaccuracies in colour, exposure and composition. Within an hour or so, the digital photographer can have an album hundreds of pictures on line for the couple to view. That compares well with the days if not weeks it used to take the film guys.

Then we come to the all important album. Although you can still get matted albums where individual photos are stuck to pages, the majority of couples opt to have a photo book. With these you have a lot of scope to layout each page with one photo or many photos.

Usually the key photos are chosen to tell the story of the day and then smaller photos are added to to embellish the theme. It is a very time consuming operation because not only do you want to tell a story but you also want to achieve a balance on the pages and throughout the book. As you move pictures about and swap them around the whole theme of the page changes. Thankfully, the whole process is either done online or using a program on your computer so changes like this are relatively easy to achieve.

Now you have read all that you’re probably wondering what is the point of this post. Well my youngest daughter and her husband have now got their wedding album back and I am pleased to say that, thanks to the efforts of all the photographers who contributed along with my efforts on the computer, they are delighted with the end result.

PS For the benefit of my reader Charles Smythe, I did not manage to lose any loose pictures in the book.

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