Two wedding pictures done seconds apart.
Here we have two pictures, both perfectly acceptable, but one is on my website and would be chosen for printing and the other would not be chosen for anything except a blog post to show why it wasn't chosen. I've been looking at pictures, my own and other photographers, for around 30 years. In that time I've learned how to make the hard choices of which picture is chosen and which picture is never seen. Sometimes it's a very difficult choice.
But like Ken Kobre at SF State used to say, "Which one is a hit, which one is an almost, which one is a miss?" No photographer ever in the history of photography has had all hits or all misses. Most people doing pictures with iPhones have mostly all almost pictures. This is why you hire people like me to be your wedding and portrait photographers.
So back to these pictures. For me it's obvious. For most wedding photographers here in Central Oregon who shoot the wedding and then let you agonize over which picture to pick on your disk of 300-600 pictures they would give you both and call it a day. This is called "being lazy" by hard working people like me. The job's not done until pictures are hanging on the wall. When you go to a restaurant and pay big bucks do you want to set and bus your own table? Maybe go in the kitchen and pick up your food? I hate doing this. Then what really bugs me is when the people at the cash register, who aren't doing anything, expect a 20% tip. (I'm looking at you Spork)
Back to these two pictures. They were shot just after the ceremony when Sarah and Ron were walking back down the aisle. It was key for me to be in position with the right lens at the right time. Also key is that I'm now using an incredible zoom lens, the Canon RF 28-70mm f2, for wedding and portrait photography. I can instantly get tack sharp pictures that include exactly what I want. Except in this case the celebrant, Paul, was right behind them and the DJ with his speaker was over to the right. After I picked the picture I wanted, these two people were erased in Photoshop.
Erasing in Photoshop can happen at a wedding or in portrait photography. . It can't happen when doing true photojournalism. It takes time and effort. If I were burning a disk of approximately 300 images I would really not want to do this kind of thing to a pile of pictures. It would take many hours of extremely boring work. So I don't. Twenty five pictures get picked and printed for you. Not 300. Nobody has a house big enough to hang 300 pictures from their wedding on the walls.
This first picture shows what I like in Green and what I don't like in Red.
What I like (green) are them looking at each other and smiling. People looking at each other almost always works in pictures. They forget the camera and come alive. That's the first best part of this picture. The other parts are the smiling faces of the wedding party. I love the groomsmen all clapping. The other part is the Father of the Bride, Mike (a fellow UCSB alumni, college swim team, and current aqua bike friend/racer), turning and smiling. These things make this picture totally acceptable. If I were burning a disk it would be included.
What I don't like (Red) is the sky because it takes away from the picture, but this picture wouldn't be possible without it being there, so nothing to do about that. The DJ and celebrant are getting in the way. If I were to use this picture they would be erased.
This picture would be used EXCEPT the other picture is SO much better.
Here's the picture that made my Bend Wedding Photography website and would be printed for them after the wedding. It's a picture that would definitely be hanging in their house to celebrate the good times and the bad in their future.
First and foremost: the dip kiss with the arch in Sarah's back. Secondly: the dip kiss framed in the altar and with the shape of the aisle. Then we have the wedding party celebrating with them, smiling and clapping. Finally we have the Father of the Bride turning in his seat and happy as a bug in the rug.
I don't like the sky attracting attention, but these things happen so incredibly quickly a wedding photographer just has to be in the right place, at the right time, and ready to go.
This wouldn't just be one of the 25 prints I would show them, it would be front and center for them to enjoy and feel happy about. And when they're happy, I'm happy.