It’s a funny old game when an email drops into a photographers inbox that reads
“I love your style of photography”
First thing us photographers usually do is an air punch and high five the cat, (maybe that’s just me)
Then, the doubt creeps in, we question ourselves and try to find the best way to actually ask you:
“what exactly do you like about my style”
I don’t ask that question because I don’t like how it makes me feel, I feel like I’m either asking you to blow smoke up my arse or open the door to criticism. So instead, I do the thing I always do, and potentially lose myself a load of business. It’s ok though, I’d rather you find the right photographer than be faced with disappointment later down the line. So I tell you to go and shop around, to look at as many photographers as you possibly can, talk to them, email them and then, eventually, if I’m still the one you want, book me. If not, it’s no biggy. Another couple will choose me later down the line for who my “style” fits better with.
Most of you will have chosen or seen your photographer long before you’ve booked a wedding, hell, some of you (like me) have chosen your photographer even before the other half has got down on one knee. (lol - yes I was THAT bride) but it’s still good practise to shop around. I very much doubt you go with the first dress or suit you try on, it’s exactly the same.
I am so privileged to know and work with hundreds of amazingly talented photographers. Quite often we recommend one another if one of us is booked up, we will send over a list of similar photographers. The fact is though that we are all different. Personality ranks high on what makes a photographer different to others. For example, I’m very emotional, I cry at everything and so in my images I’m always looking for the little looks, the wiping of the tears, the belly laughs and the kids falling over (ok that last one is just for my entertainment)
Other photographers are technical, they have better equipment and they bloody well know how to use it, they have superb finishing techniques or lighting knowledge. Other photographers love the intimate details, the couple shots, the connection between a couple and focus on this. Others looks of the landscapes, others the fine art. Very rarely will you get a photographer who encompasses all of these things. That’s why we are all so different, and why we all want something different from our art. I call it art because if it isn’t art then it’s just somebody pressing a button. Years of training, investment and money goes into being a photographer, we are always changing our styles with tecnhnology. I look back at weddings I shot 5 years ago and want to cry with embarrassment. But that is not reflection on me, that’s a consequence of technology and what was available at the time, not even bringing fashion trends into the equation. Also my knowledge at the time. Back then though, my prices reflected that. (I’ll save that blog for another day!)
So, why have I decided to do a blog on this and what am I waffling on about? back to my ultimate question -
“what defines a photographers style”
First it’s their eye - what they see. Secondly and more crucially in my opinion it’s how they finish their images. When I say finish, I mean edit. No, I don’t mean Photoshop, slim down, take away chins or wrinkles, that’s a whole different ball game. I mean edit the look to keep it consistent with their brand and what they advertise to the outside world. I shoot directly from my camera very dark. This is because in post production it is much easier to make things lighter than it is to make a bright image darker. I then apply what’s called a preset to my RAW image. A preset is a series of rules about colour, shading and tone that are carefully and mathematically balanced in conjunction with your camera and editing software to give the desired look for an image. My preset is slightly desaturated, because I DON’T LIKE GREEN! There, I said it, I hate it. For an outdoor loving girl, I hate the colour green, I find it too overpowering in images, unfortunately and ironically it forms part of my surname . So I desaturate my greens, I add a little warmth, but they are dark, they are moody. That’s me, dark and moody, and I’m ok with that. I like pockets of natural light, even if it means you can only see a slither of a person. That’s ok. It’s not a bad photo, it’s what I saw and it was intentional. I didn’t f**k up, I meant to take that image. When I supply an image in black and white, it’s not because I cocked it up, it’s because I made a judgement call in editing that the emotion of that image looked better in mono.
I promise, I’m nearly done with the waffle…..
So to further prove my point about doing you research and choosing a photographer for their “style” I called upon some of the best photographers I know to apply their editing style to my image…. Sit back and prepare to be amazed….I’m not naming them because you’ll probably want to book them - haha :)
The original and my edited version below: Shot on Canon 5D Mark iii - Sigma Art 35mm 1.4
Selection of photographers edits:
Just because I find this completely fascinating here’s another one, this time an outdoor mind afternoon image. The original and my edited version below: Shot on Canon 5D Mark iii - Sigma Art 35mm 1.4
Other photographers edits:
So there you go, always do your research, always ask to look at several full galleries because different editing styles look different in all sorts of weather conditions or venues. There is no wrong or right way to present an image. It’s up to the individual photographers editing style that forms part of their brand and it is your responsibility as the client to make sure you know exactly what image editing you are getting.
Photographers will NEVER supply RAW or unedited images to clients. You wouldn’t go into Gordon Ramseys restaurant and ask for all the RAW ingredients to make your own Michelin starred meal because you didn’t like how he presented it. It wouldn’t happen, and it’s rude. You also need to bare in mind that when you are choosing a venue, time of year and time of ceremony, these things all directly impact the outcome of your images. Photographers are only human and they can only do what is possible with what they have on that day, in that moment.
There are literally thousands of photographers out there all with different styles so it is up to you , the client, to do your research and find a photographers style that you are happy with. Always ask for a pre shoot, even if it means paying an extra £300.
If you have any questions or comments then please leave them below.
Thanks to all the photographers who contributed to this blog post.