Photographers and Weddings

PHOTOGRAPHERS & WEDDINGS

As many of you know, I have now stopped photographing weddings for quite some time. I spent quite a large chunk of my career covering what I consider a very demanding assignment. I was recently looking up some of my previous interviews and articles and my last interview for a newspaper in relation to wedding photography came to view. I was very surprised that reading it again it is still very apt till today. The main focus of this interview had been to raise awareness in the general public of who to entrust with their wedding pictures. I thought of publishing it again in the newsletter as I think it makes sense for both future couples as well as for photographers to gain a better insight into what wedding photography involves.

© Kevin Casha

© Kevin Casha

Weddings. Quite a staple diet for successful photographers – and a dilemma for wedding couples. The crucial question is who does one entrust with taking his wedding photographs? With over thirty five years of experience in wedding photography, besides other areas of commercial work, professional photographer Kevin Casha is more than qualified to express his views on this subject. In practice, he outlines that a competent wedding photographer should be capable of reaching that happy medium whereas the bride and groom are guaranteed excellent service whilst at the same time having as little time taken up as is possible.

Kevin stresses the importance of discussing beforehand all the details and facets of the couple’s wedding and subsequently fixing a shooting and time schedule according to the couple’s needs. Getting an experienced professional photographer specializing in wedding photography usually ensures reliability, quality and a smoother running event.

In reality, a couple should keep in mind that a good “general practice” photographer might not be the most suitable person to shoot a wedding. In health matters, although we do go to our GP whenever we have minor ailments, we eventually consult a specialist when more serious matters loom over the horizon. The same parallel can be easily applied when employing a photographer for a wedding. One should definitely source out someone who has experience and a proven track record of photographing weddings. A good portraitist or photojournalist might not be the right choice. Would you go to a Dermatologist if you have, say, a muscular problem? Of course not! The same goes for a photographer. There are very few really good “all rounders” (although one might think otherwise from the various adverts and hype in the media!!).

So a couple needs to be wise and ensure they book a photographer who is experienced in the genre of photography they require. Doing otherwise is inviting disaster. It is obvious that a wedding is a very special occasion and the more planning that goes into the preparations, the better. Each wedding has its own story and needs, and a good photographer should be able to gauge the needs of the couple and make their day a memorable one – naturally, for the right reasons!

© Kevin Casha

© Kevin Casha

The couple should not be taken in by aggressive and repetitive advertising. How “professional” and great a photographer declares himself to be is no yardstick as to how good he really is. The couple should here listen to referrals from their friends and the general public who might have already employed a photographer and where pleased with his work, attitude and service.

It is important that initially, before the couple finalizes their booking, they discuss at length what type of images they want and how they visualize the evolvement of their wedding. A good, experienced professional photographer can make a wedding fun, just as much as an inexperienced and ill prepared photographer can turn it into a nightmare.

Budgets, prices, editing and whether images are going to come in an album or just on DVD should be made clear prior to the booking. What is being paid, and for what it is being paid, should be clearer to all parties. One must also be prepared to allocate some time in which to take the posed set-up photographs and group shots. The photographer cannot guarantee quality if most times he is shooting in a candid, haphazard manner. A degree of control is needed in most photographs. Still, if everyone is organized and co-operative, this should not take an experienced photographer more than three quarters of an hour.

Kevin recommends that group photographs, which are usually quite troublesome, should be kept to a minimum and only feature the couple’s immediate family. The day for shooting all the guests at a reception has long been superseded, especially with video service being virtually an ever-present part of today’s weddings. Group images should be done as early as possible before the reception starts. This ensures the cooperation and the good state of all the featured guests.

Punctuality is another important factor and the bride should ensure that her hairdresser and make-up artist stick to their time schedules. Unfortunately, the practice seems widespread where some supposedly “professionals” just don’t care when they finish their work and into whose time they are encroaching upon. A sure way of starting on the wrong foot is when the bride fails to be ready by the agreed time. A photographer, no matter how experienced, cannot do the same level of work in half the time he would usually allocate. One should also make sure that the dressmaker has already delivered everything on time. It is not unknown that a dress arrives on the wedding day sometimes with disastrous results! Lively children are another delicate matter. Kevin reckons they should not form part of the bridal retinue. These will invariably start playing up and cause nervousness all round. If the kids are relatively well behaved, then it is not a problem.

If one is keen on getting exceptional wedding photographs, one should also consider carefully the venue and time of the wedding. A morning wedding can usually give more rewarding results than an evening one and a well-thought out wedding hall can further help the photographer to create memorable images. The fact is that it is not so easy to create certain images at night – for sure, the complications and time factor are bound to increase. Kevin thinks that today’s trend towards simpler, more comfortable dresses, textiles and natural looking hairstyles, help to make the bride more relaxed during her big day, thus contributing to better, more natural photographs. Everyone knows that a grumpy, irritated bride is not the ideal person to try to radiantly photograph!

One thing, which irritates Kevin tremendously, is when clients employ the services of an experienced photographer and then proceed to ignore his advice, restrict him and not co-operate or stick to what has been agreed. It is a fact that to take good quality photographs at a wedding is no easy task and time and concentration is needed. If the couple do not even want to concede this, it is best not to employ a good photographer in the first place!

Remember, a photographer has one sharp “guillotine” hovering above his head – he cannot go wrong. There are no second chances. The same applies to the bride and groom’s choice of photographer. The choice should be well thought out and studied.

The Print Portfolio – a thing of the past?

I was recently sorting out my old darkroom, preparing it for an overdue repainting and a restructuring, when I came across my old 12×16 inch print portfolio. Leafing through it, after leaving it inactive for quite some years, I started reflecting on another change which the Digital revolution has brought upon us. Today, very few photographers, (and models or actors), still use print portfolios. Most clients require only digital files, both to review or to see samples of photographic work and they are also more often than not to require digital files as a final product.  How times change – yet, I think, that in this matter, it is for the better.

 

The printed portfolio

The printed portfolio

 

Producing Digital portfolios costs so little as one does not need really to print photographs anymore. Previously, it was very costly to update portfolios but now, through using digital media, it is actually cost free. This has not been good news for photographic laboratories, but now, one can update work in step with one’s progress and improvement. The portfolios of anyone who uses them are today much more up to the minute and thus reflect the portfolio owner’s current levels and standards. It is also a faster process to diffuse and advertise one’s work. Most viewers of portfolios are not interested in print quality at all, but in the actual content. Seeing this content on screen instead of in print does not adversely affect them. Today’s photographers need to consider their output based on different media than previously. There are so many more options.

Still, one argument does persist – and I daresay will continue to persist – and that is that many people do still enjoy and relate with images more in depth if they are printed. This could stem from the fact that when viewing physical images or a book, one tends to concentrate more on the process than when viewing imagery on a screen. Our impatience usually makes us fly through imagery on screens. Photography book sales have not really decreased and the relatively recent option of printing custom books in any amount of copies, even one copy, keeps increasing. In fact, I believe this latter option perhaps is not exploited enough by photographers and other users of portfolios. A custom book can keep promoting one’s work indefinitely, particularly if placed in the right place. Leaving a book inside a drawer does not serve its purpose, but making sure it is visible and easily picked up by visitors to your studio, office or home, diffuses and promotes your work with little effort. Naturally, it is also important to have your name proudly displayed on the front cover of any book containing your work. This constantly evolving paradigm should also make photographers think more about online ways of promoting their work. With high quality video available in most DSLR cameras, one has the tools to produce little clips or tutorials so that these can be put up on online media and again show your work all over the globe. Producing custom books is relatively cheap and getting cheaper, whilst diffusing one’s work on online media is usually free.

It is also rather puzzling that Maltese photographers, in my opinion, are not really exploiting this media as much as they should. One does not see too many PDF portfolios produced by local photographers. I wonder why this is so when, again, this is so cheap and easy. PDF portfolios, if produced in the right manner and in a reasonable size that is easily manageable by email, can again boost the work and promote many photographers. Although on this island we seem to pride ourselves with being very up to date with modern technology, I have a feeling that most photographers seem to resist or not realize the full potential of this evolving technology and the many ways that they can utilize it.

Or are we too busy to explore new methods and ways of moving forward or are we just too lazy or engrossed in our day to day chores to open up our eyes to all these benefits? I hope this makes most of you reflect and take action before the whole world passes us by!

© Kevin Casha

The Eye and the Mind

When photographing and posing people, there are three main variables that need to be taken into consideration: The light, the subject and the photographer.

To some photographers, this is not so obvious, particularly at the beginning. Have we perhaps stopped seeing with our eyes and seeing only what advertising and commercials subtly directs, and wants us, to see?

I meet so many hopefuls wishing they have this or that camera and this or that lens, thinking that high end equipment will make them great photographers. Alas it is not the case. Granted, top notch kit will make your life easier, and yes, for some genres of photography, like macro, sports, underwater, one does need particular equipment and gear. Yet, when one studies the history of photography, as well as great photographers, there is usually one thing in common which binds the majority of them – and that is that they all based their photography not on their equipment, but on their mind and vision.

In this day and age, with everybody rushing around, not unlike headless chickens, trying to keep up with everything, some of us are missing the forest for the trees. Is it not time to take stock and try and organize ourselves? Is it not time to think of our priorities and work towards them? Is it not time to perhaps review our progress to date and try and analyze how to improve our work and lifestyle?

Coming back to photography, and the three main variables, it is time for those taking up photography seriously to try and grasp and better understand the effects of light. One thing we have to acknowledge is that light is actually invisible. What the photographer sees is the effect of light on his subject. What the photographer tries to do is capture that light in the most suitable way that fits the subject.

We must really look at the light on our subjects and then adjust maybe our subject or our own position, to fit and mold to the light we have. Many “photographers” are not even looking at the way light is affecting their subject, at the transition between highlights and shadows. Look at your subjects and decide what is the main focus of your image and work towards lighting that part of the photograph and leaving the rest of the image in more subdued lighting (quite like a spot lit effect).  A lot of images are today spoilt with over lighting, particularly people pictures.

Look at what the great masters did in painting and you will see the way they “lit” up their subjects by knowing the direction and quality of light. Study the work of Rembrandt, Rubens, Caravaggio, Michelangelo. What better tutors could one wish for!!? The more we hear today that photographers are portraying themselves as “artists”, the more, alas, it seems they are not behaving like artists!

Technology has made it so easy to churn out an “image” that most are just not thinking and our brains and eyes have become sluggish and untrained.

We must study the history of art, we must be aware of the evolution of photography, we must keep in touch with the breakneck pace of photography’s technology, we need to know the rules before we attempt to break them, we need to network and view other photographers’ work, we need to introduce concepts and meaning in our imagery, we need to learn how to best direct and manage our subjects, we need to learn the classical before attempting the abstract, we need to keep our minds open and receptive to all forms of art. The list is endless. . .

Technology has given Photography to the masses and the masses have taken it on in a huge manner. It is now up to the masses to use their new found creative tool to the best of its ability and not to abuse and reduce it to mere gimmickry.

Let us all strive to learn more and more on this wonderful art.

Increasing our passion for photography is bound to increase the level and purpose of our images. The way forward is to never think you have arrived but to keep learning and discovering.

Learn, Evolve and Network!

 

Tuition and Learning.Two ever-present buzzwords in today’s lifestyle. The irony of it all is that in the sphere of photography, with all the teaching and learning opportunities there are, most of those jumping on the popular photography bandwagon are sadly drastically cutting corners where one cannot cut corners – in technique!

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Introduction & Welcome

 

Dear Photography Lovers,

I welcome those who are seeing my Blog for the first time. It is my latest endeavour to try and stimulate discussion and networking on the wonderful and intriguing world of photography.

I encourage all to comment or add remarks to the blog, view also my gallery images and give their remarks, but most of all, I want you to participate in the various debates I intend to publish in this space – naturally, all pertaining to our medium – Photography.

thanks for subscribing,

Kevin