A guest post by Vivian Chen.
I have been working for other photographers for over the past five years. Within that time, I have been able to connect and work with a lot of other photographers in the Bay Area. I have worked both in the studio doing post-production editing and album design as well as second shooting for other photographers. The obvious end result of this is that I have seen and edited a lot of wedding photos. I would guess the total would be in the millions at this point. And while that number might make you dizzy to think, all those photos I've seen and edited are a valuable resource as a photographer.
Shoot For Your Clients
It's easy to pull up wedding blogs or go to other photographers' websites and see examples of wedding photos. But you have to keep in mind that what you are seeing are the edited versions of best of the best. You don't get to see the in-between shots, the “bread and butter shots” as I call them. Editing weddings allows me to see the whole picture. These are the candid photos, the group photos, the photos that may not have editorial appeal but are essential for telling the story of the day. These photos that make up the majority of the wedding day are the ones that the client cares about. When I design wedding albums for other photographers, I see the images that the clients choose to use and they are often not “blog worthy.” And this is what I keep in mind when I shoot my own weddings. I'm shooting for my clients, first and foremost, not for the blogs.
Learn from Your Mistakes
In editing other photographer's work, I see what they are shooting and how they are shooting. In the same way, we all can learn from our own shooting mistakes, I am able to learn by seeing other photographer's mistakes. Well, “mistake” may be a bit harsh since everyone has their own aesthetic choices. But sometimes it's hard to tell what may or may not work until after you take the photo. For example, I remember editing another photographer's work and when it came time for the wedding toasts, this photographer chose to shoot everything with a 50mm lens. However, the reception space was crowded and there were several tables of people between her and her subjects. For each image, I ended up having to crop in closer to the subjects to make the final image stronger. Through this editing process, I made a mental note to myself that if I am in the same situation to use the 70-200mm lens to save myself time in post production.
Approach Photography from an Editor's POV
My approach to photography is from an editor's point of view. Digital photography makes it too easy to overshoot a wedding and end up with 10,000+ photos. The more efficient you can be with nailing the exposures, color balance and composition the first time around, in camera, the less time you will have to spend in the studio on post-production. (And I'm not going to lie, post production is extremely tedious.)
Essentially, don't shoot like you have a 16 gig card in your camera, shoot like you have a 36 exposure roll of film. (Remember film?) Make each shot count.
Vivian is a long-time studio assistant for several well known San Francisco photographers. Her roles include second shooting, editing and color correcting, album design, customer service and studio operations. Because she is familiar with the inner workings of some of the best studios in town, she knows how to streamline day to day operations to keep everything working smoothly. In her free time, she works at building her own photo business. PhotoMint readers, please give Vivian a warm welcome by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.
To read more of Vivian's thoughts, check out 10 Tips Every Second Shooter Should Know