“I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock n’ Roll” or “don’t stop me now” (there’s so much more to shoot)

Last week I was viewing the online album for a wedding some friends had recently attended in Sussex.  A nice professional website from a (very expensive) London -based photographer set the tone, but I winced when I reached the gallery and found a staggering 511 pictures to look through ! Why do today’s wedding photographers feel the need to overshoot to such a ridiculous extent ? Every minute of the day had been captured, but what was lacking were any single, definitive shots that said “our special day”. There was no attempt to inject any feeling of magic or romance into the pictures, just page after page of unedited images. Regrettably the ease of digital photography has bought about a lazy, lacklustre way of shooting. Why make an effort when you can machine-gun your way through the day completely foregoing some of the basics of composition and decent lighting ? 

With my own 30th wedding anniversary just weeks away, I looked back at my own album of wedding photos to see the story being told beautifully in just 30 pictures. My bride looked dreamy and stunning, and the groups were well-ordered and smart. There are no close-ups of canapes, shoes or pretentious table decorations, just a perfectly-crafted and memorable record of the most important day of our lives. 

Whilst I appreciate that it is fun to have all those extra candid moments captured, I think the true essence of the day risks being lost in the sheer volume of images on offer. Can any professional photographer honestly claim that they can produce 500  good photographs (that’s one a minute) in eight hours ?  Of course not – its impossible – which means that a lot of the images being offered become no more than padding. I think a return to “less is more” would give wedding photographers some credibility again. There are some practitioners  (and friends of mine) out there who still take their time and produce really great, lasting work, but they are sadly few and far between. 

So if you’re looking for a wedding photographer (other than my mates Andy, Mark or Michel !) in the near future let me offer this tip. If there are any pictures of vol-au-vents in their portfolio make your polite excuses… and leave ! 

Would you really want this in your wedding album ? (photographers name removed to avoid embarrassment)

We are sailing . . .

An interesting shoot last week with specialist navigation technology company ECDIS Ltd in Fareham http://www.ecdis.org.uk/.  ECDIS provide navigation training and consultation in Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) for commercial and military shipping and has one of the coolest simulators I’ve seen in a long time.  If you stare at the screens for too long and you don’t have your sea-legs the effects are so good you’ll probably be reaching for a bucket ! Back behind the camera I had been tasked with building a core photo-library for the company to use for PR, promotion and marketing support. The kit gave us loads of opportunities for good visuals and we finished the day off shooting shipping in and around Portsmouth Harbour.

      Close up detail… lovely

A quick bit of Photoshop work produces a management team photo that’s just a little less boring…

The Transas simulator with a rather rough North Sea.  All in one take – no screen dumps !

Sign of the times…

Sad to hear this week of the demise of yet another news photo agency. When I moved to Hampshire last winter I started shooting ad-hoc press work for Picture It Now, a very successful small news photo agency based just down the road from me in Horndean. 

Principal Rod Kirkpatrick said in a letter to contributors….”We are changing what we do at Picture It Now. After close analysis of the types of images that we sell, we will now be concentrating on the more unique/exclusive picture sets. Much of my time has been spent sending out ‘diary’ and breaking news images that compete directly with other agencies’ output. The papers have become far more cost conscious and are using more photos supplied by subscription agencies than they used to. When they do use our speculative content the prices are continuing to fall. For the foreseeable future, or until the photography market shifts, we will not be sending out contributors’ images from live general news, diary or photo-call events”. 

I’m fortunate in that my core business is commercial photography and I only shoot the odd press job for old times sake, but the truth of the matter is no full-time professional press photographer can continue to criss-cross the country at their own expense on the off-chance of selling a half page pic to the Mirror for £40, or do a day shift for  The Guardian for £130.  As a result I think in the next few years we will see a gradual decline in the quality of photography in our papers.  How long will it be before the readership finally gets fed up with video grabs and phone camera smudges – and what will the media moguls do then to satisfy their shareholders as sales inevitably fall ?  I know we’re along way from the glory days of Picture Post and real photojournalism, but who can’t remember an iconic press photo. Whether it’s Nick Ut’s famous  photograph of severely burned young Vietnamese girl running from her napalmed village or the twin towers falling, everyone remembers at least one truly great picture – and as more agencies fall by the wayside, there will be fewer good photographers around to take them…

       Photo © Nick Ut