I shot a wedding over the weekend (actually, a 10th anniversary redo). It's strange to shoot film on important shoots now. I caught myself chimping (checking the back of the camera) several times. Since film cameras don't have preview screens, I had to actually "trust" my own light calculations. Spooky.
Now, I'm waiting on somebody other than myself to develop the film and make the CDs. I'm not too terribly worried about this, but I'm sufficiently expectant. I've seen a PJ (luckily not me) lose a $5,000 wedding shoot due to a commercial machine malfunction. I can't imagine the conversation with the parents of the bride afterward.
In one of my sociology classes I learned about suicide rates. Wedding photographers were No. 5 on the list of professions with the highest suicide rates. I think dentists were No. 1. So, if you think wedding photography is an "easy" profession think again.
Most PJs start shooting weddings in college. At the time, the PJ is the friend of the bride or groom who knows how to operate a camera and is cheap. Since college weddings are typically financed on a shoestring, the price is the key. We all get better images and more expensive with time and experience.
Consequently, most PJs have already shot a few weddings before they get their first staff job. Since most news jobs have disgustingly low salaries, PJs often supplement their incomes with weddings and other freelance gigs. After enough weddings, it's breaking news in a white dress.
In the last few years, PJ wedding photos have become en vogue. The reason is because we work the entire day and get the truly memorable images. Yes, we can do the grand display portraits of the whole wedding party, but we also get the little details often missed by standard wedding photographers. We tell the whole story of the wedding day: the raw emotional tension and the quiet moments of reflection.
One photographer in town, who is well respected and does high-end studio portrait work, said a client requested a PJ treatment of the wedding. He asked me if this meant he should shoot 3200 iso, B&W film to make it look like PJ. I blinked (are we this misunderstood). I told him to shoot 100 iso color film if he honestly wanted it to look like PJ. The difference is in the approach.
I have different levels of weddings I shoot. The top level is a start-to-finish wedding. I arrive at the brides home before she wakes up (she typically stays with the parents the night before the wedding). I photograph her from the time her folks wake her up until the time the limo drives the happy, exhausted couple away to their honeymoon.
In between these moments, I shoot the chaos we all know is involved in a wedding. I get both the joys and the frustrations. By the time the couple leaves, I'm in pain - absolutely everything hurts.
I wish I could show you some older images, but I formerly gave the film to the couple and was done. Then, they had the film to order as many reprints as they wish. It was no longer my problem. I got paid to shoot. I shot. I delivered. They were happy.
This time, I had the film developed and CDs cut. I'll edit down the images to only those I'm proud to affix my name. With those, I'll color correct them using a batch process and cut final CDs. I'll also choose the 20 images I feel tell the total story best and desaturate those images as an additional B&W slideshow.
I'll give the couple the CDs and a certificate of unlimited use (I retain the copyright), then they can pop it in the DVD player, have a bottle of wine and laugh at themselves all night. Later, they can go to a local camera store and have quality reprints at reasonable prices.
Someday I'll discuss front-end vs. back-end billing. I'm a front-end guy. Theres no surprise after the wedding. There will be enough of those for years to come. I want the couple to be happy with their memories and my images.
Enough for now,
Well folks, don't trust other people. Now I regret my plan. I should have simply handed the film to the family and walked away. I took the negs to Eckerd's photo center and requested development and scans. I should have known when they said they could do it in under an hour it was going to be a problem, but the file size is appropriate for a quality scan.
Now, the negatives are ok, but I must manually re-scan them. Eckerd's CD scans look horrible while the negs are fine. They are completely full of noise. I think they have some old generation dit camera with a macro lens and run it through a cc program. This would explain the look and speed. It doesn't exactly explain why some CDs are upside down though -- not all CDs, just some (really doesn't make sense).
Next time, I think I'll just rent a dit camera ($200 p/day). I can't use my DMN camera bodies for some bean-counter reason I don't quite comprehend. But, this is a chance for us all to learn from my mistake. At least this can be overcome with a little time.