Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Picture Perfect Memory

Apparently, I have very expensive tastes when it comes to wedding photography. I don't like posed pictures; I prefer candid shots. I've learned that the correct term is photojournalistic wedding photography. Basically, magazine/newspaper style photography -- the pictures should be organically taken and unforced. I say this with a "wink wink/nudge nudge" because obviously some of the pictures are going to be posed. You and your groom don't just "happen" to be walking down the beach, hand-in-hand, while holding balloons (coincidentally) in your wedding colors. But the point is to take as few posed pictures as possible and make the obligatory posed shots seem more natural. So more pics of Grandma yanking up her slipping stockings and less of "hey, everybody look into the camera and say, 'CHEESE!'"

If you need an example of what I'm talking about, then check out David Schwartz Photography. I love this guy's work. I recommend checking out not only the different wedding pictures in the portfolio section, but also the engagement shots. This guy does great engagement photos. Typically, I think engagement photos look cheesy as hell -- couple sits on the beach in a warm embrace and stares awkwardly into the camera with their best and well-rehearsed fake smiles. But David really has a natural feel to his work, that I really like. But be warned before you go to this site...there will be Dave Matthews. Lots of Dave Matthews. Either embrace it or find the mute button on your computer pretty quick.

The problem with photojournalistic wedding photography is that it's expensive. It's the same with food. If you want the fresh organic, unprocessed stuff, you're gonna have to pay for it. If you want cheap, there's Taco Bell. I've looked at a ton of local wedding photographers and if you want a good one, you've got to pay for that talent. For a decent photojournalistic-style photographer, you're looking at anywhere from $3,000 all the way up to $7,000. Yahtzee! When you're looking at photographers' websites, you know that they are going to be expensive when instead of having a tab that says "Prices/Packages," it says "Investments." As in, you're going to invest every penny of your savings into these pics. Sure, I could go cheap, but what's the point? Why should I pay $500 for some hack with a camera to stand me and Steven next to a tree and take lo-res, blurry pics? I'm not going to pay $500 to $1,000 for someone to capture blurry pics of Steven's fake smile. I'm not going to pay $1,000 for someone to take goofy posed shots like this one to the left. (From My mom's got a camera and is quite the shutterbug. Steven's dad has a camera and is quite the shutterbug. Hell, we all have cameras. Kids have cameras. I've seen dog collars with cameras on them. We can take our own crappy pictures, share them online, and even take them to Wal-Mart and have a hardcover photobook made. Maybe not as good as what the pros are doing (hell, nowhere near as good), but we're on a budget here and quality costs.

I blame school for my love of photojournalistic wedding photography. I spent two years in Journalism school at NYU (which my parents dubbed NYFU) getting it pounded into my head that framing a story or a picture was the equivalent of lying. If you were interviewing someone and you didn't get good quotes, it's not because they were a crappy interviewee. It's because you suck as a reporter, and you didn't ask the right questions. You weren't at the right place at the right time and you blew it. Same with photojournalism. Sure, you can pose a subject in front of a scene, but that is frowned upon and not respected at all. You're suppose to get the shot -- so do what it takes to get the shot! I went to school with a petite Asian girl who climbed over a brick wall behind a security-laden hotel trying to get a quote from Monica Lewinsky. She didn't get the quote, and our professor was quick to point out that she should have tried harder.

Even when I was in yearbook club in high school, we were only allowed to use candid shots with our stories. Do you know how hard it is to get candid shots of high-schoolers? You come anywhere near a sophomore girl with a camera and she either hides her face behind her hair or starts pouting and posing like she's on an underaged version of America's Next Top Model. In yearbook, we found you could get away with a posed picture by making it look candid. How did you do that? Have the subject look off-camera and point to something. I can't tell you how many pictures are in the Ocean Lakes High School yearbook with random kids smiling and waving, and/or pointing to people off-camera who don't really exist. It looked so obviously faked, that I'm embarrassed by it now. But it worked.

So basically, I blame years and years of expensive schooling on my desire to have a photojournalistic wedding photographer. You would think that after spending all that tuition at NYU, they would have some sort of perks program where they supply you with a photographer, free of charge. I guess I should blame myself. For years, I was surrounded by talented photographers and I never thought to manipulate any friendships into pro bono work later on. It's kinda like when you're a kid, and it's a smart move to make friends with the kid that has a pool and/or trampoline. I shoulda made friends with the kid that had the expensive camera.

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