The Numbers Game
I just found this post which I had written a WHILE ago. Thought I would throw it out there even though some of the material has been covered, some would say to death, in recent months. Don’t hate the player hate the game!
You don’t need to shoot each tree individually.
WARNING: I SWITCHED TO DECAF THE MORNING I WROTE THIS, MY APOLOGIES.
This post is aimed directly at wedding photographers.
Quantity of imagery has never been, until the past few years, a selling point of being a photographer. With the advent of digital technology and the subsequent ability to shoot unlimited numbers of images, came a style of photographer that blasted away with reckless abandon. Soon these photographers were using these insanely high image counts as a selling point, a selling point to clients who really didn’t know better. “More must be better,” the unsuspecting clients would think, as they were handed discs containing thousands of pictures, or online galleries that went on for miles. Suddenly, quantity over quality became a reality.
I just don’t get this at all. I really don’t.
First of all, if you are shooting 5000 plus images at a wedding, it is a CLEAR sign to me that you have no idea what you are looking for. It is clear to me you don’t have a style because if you did you would realize there is simply NO WAY your style of image happens 5000 times in any 24-hour period, let alone the duration of a typical wedding day.
When you sell quantity of images what you are doing, in essence, is trivializing the entire idea of photography. Why do you think that the public’s belief as to the DNA of photography has changed so much in the past ten years. Why do you hear so many stories of clients not having the same respect for what we do? Well, when you hear the photographers themselves operating under the method of, “If I shoot nonstop, something will turn out,” mentality, then why would the clients have respect for this? It’s no wonder people pick up a camera, have a high-school kid build them a website and go into business as a “professional photographer.”
I’ve heard photographers talking about “keeping their image count up,” and it drives me crazy. What are you talking about? So instead of shooting a portrait of the bride, shoot 100 frames of the bride in the same scene? Who does this benefit? You having to edit? The client having to weed through 100 frames in an online gallery?
Luckily, I think these days of quantity are about to implode. I’m beginning to see and hear from clients, planners, locations, etc, “enough already.” When a client is faced with an online gallery of 5000 images, they begin to realize that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Often times, when there is an issue they will go back to the planner, “What am I supposed to do with all these images?”
Photographers, let’s get real. Our job is to create unique imagery, edit that imagery and present that imagery. Our job is not to turn our brains off, keep our finger glued to the shutter, randomly convert a third of the images to black and white, then upload to an online gallery. I’m sorry, that isn’t photography, I don’t care how many jobs you are shooting. And if you use the “Well, my clients aren’t complaining” excuse….that is just sad.
It is very evident today that you don’t have to be a photographer to be a photographer. The days of having to know light, timing and composition have been replaced by slick marketing, advertising and the promise of Photoshop.
But when photographers trivialized the actual photography, regardless of whether they are taking a short-term step forward, as a collective, we all take a GRAND step back.
Learn how YOU see as an individual(Think about actually learning photography), make imagery that is unique to YOU and stop churning out hard drive after hard drive of generic photographs in an attempt to hit some photo-jackpot in the sky.
And before I go any further, I hear the cries of a few, “But my clients want as many images as possible.” Again, find your spine and tell them that is not how it works. If your client asked you to wear a Speedo would you do that to? What is the difference?
If you really edit a wedding, I mean REALLY edit. And you really focus on what you are doing, there are only a few VERY key moments of a wedding day. Very few. It is our job to see those moments coming and record them. You can shoot details of every single person at every single table and every centerpiece and all that stuff that really doesn’t mean much the day after, but it won’t help you create a document of what REALLY happened.
Working this way doesn’t happen by accident. Working this way requires you to deprogram a lot of clients who have fallen prey to this quantity over quality sales pitch. It takes time. Some folks are receptive, some are gone forever. You will not book every client. You shouldn’t book every client.
I’m going to do it. I’m going to throw out the “S” word again, so brace yourself. Is it time to find our collective soul again? Did we ever have a collective soul? I don’t know.
All I do know is that we have created a monster and it is time to put that baby to bed and get back to making photographs not production line nonsense.
For those of you who found this post insulting, rude, etc, that was not my intention, but I see the damage this charade has done and at the core of this is the belief that the CLIENT will be better served by photographers with clear objectives and clear vision.
I think if we are even discussing the amount of imagery we are going to create, it is a sure sign our photography-train is off the tracks.