“Oh! What do you think about this photographer?” Is a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. I have quite a few friends and family members getting married in the next year, some of whom have opted to have me as a guest as opposed to their photographer. Naturally, they are wanting to make sure they have a talented photographer, with whom they can trust their day. I have been excitedly helping in their search.
Ya’ll, I had NO IDEA how many new photographers there are in Cincinnati. Like, A TON. And you know what else? A lot of them are REALLY talented. Yeah…you’ll hear some photographer gripe about over saturation of the market, or “Oh, EVERYONE thinks they are a photographer *eye roll*.” I can honestly say, I really love it. I believe there are plenty of brides to go around, and I think working together only improves our market.
That being said, there is one glaring thing I’ve noticed about some of these newer portfolios.
You may be thinking, “Okay? What is wrong with black and white images? Isn’t that just a style preference?” Well, it can be. It can also be a sign that the photographer isn’t proficient at artificial lighting and/or doesn’t have the skills and equipment to shoot in low light scenarios.
When you are shooting at a church with spotlights, and stained glass windows, the color balance can be really tricky to nail. You know what can cover up that bad lighting that is making the bride’s face look orange? Black and white photography. The black and white bail out can be a hail-mary for photographers who don’t know how to get the look they want, and don’t know how to fix it in their editing.
In the 100+ weddings I have shot, there has never been a single wedding that didn’t require some sort of artificial lighting. From the groom getting ready in a dimly-lit hotel room, to shooting dancing pictures in a dark reception hall. A true professional wedding photographer needs to know how to master the lighting of anything the wedding day can throw at them. Even in gorgeous outdoor receptions, lights are needed to get the effect you want.
Using the black and white bail out is scary, because it means that photographer isn’t confident that they can capture the whole day in the style that you hired them for.
Ask yourself if that black and white image makes you feel something? Is it more powerful because it is in black and white? If the image makes you feel something, it probably isn’t a black and white bail out – it is probably a stylistic decision.
For almost every image that I convert to black and white, I include the color version as well. This is what I did with Dana’s close up above. I liked the color version. When I put it in black and white, it gave more of an “Old Hollywood” look.
Still not sure? Here is a piece of advice I give every couple: Ask to see a full gallery of images. Ask to see three full galleries. Ask to see them in a venue similar to where you are having your wedding. Anyone can pull out 5 to 10 great pictures from a wedding day to put in a highlight reel. The true test of whether or not you are going to be happy with your final wedding images is seeing if you like pictures from that photographer in a multitude of lighting scenarios. Does their style carry consistently throughout the wedding day? You might LOVE their natural light stuff, because that is when it is easiest to get gorgeous images. If the majority of the ceremony and/or reception aren’t in color, they might be using the black and white bail out.