As technology changes, so too does photography. Lately you will have noticed that some photographers are beginning to offer either a combination of film and digital photographs or even just solely digital photographs for your wedding. This is because digital technology has advanced to such a point that the quality of digital photographs is as good as traditional film-based photographs. What’s more, digital technology provides tremendous advantages for you, the consumer.
The digital world has its own language and terminology, such as “megapixels”, “memory cards” and “slide shows”. This can be confusing for people who perhaps aren’t familiar with how a digital camera works. However, it is easy to get up to speed, so that you can ask all the right questions when choosing your photographer.
Everyone who has seen a professional film camera knows that they look much more impressive than the average point-and-shoot camera. What you might be surprised to learn is that a professional digital camera looks just the same. These days the major camera companies are offering digital versions of most of their professional film cameras. Your digital photographer is not going to turn up to your wedding with a tiny digital camera that fits in his or her back pocket! Most professional digital photographers will use a SLR (single lens reflex) with no less than 8 megapixels.
Talking about megapixels, it is good to ask your photographer how many megapixels their camera is. In simple terms, the higher the number of megapixels, the greater the detail that can be stored in the photo. This means that, the higher the number of mega pixels, the larger the picture can be enlarged to. A camera with 6 megapixels provides enough quality to ensure that your pictures can be enlarged to well over A4 size.
This is probably your biggest concern: are the pictures going to look as good as film pictures would? You may have seen someone’s digital photos that they printed out on photo paper on their home quality printer and, while it was okay, the photo was a bit grainy and the colours weren’t really as clear as you would like, right? A professional digital photographer will be taking the photos to be developed at a professional photo lab or doing it themselves with professional equipment just as a film photographer would. The only difference is that instead of taking film canisters to the lab, the photographer simply takes along the digital files.
As the photos are being printed out on the same photo paper as normal film photographs, the photos will last for the same length of time as the film equivalent.
There are a number of advantages with digital photographs that can mean that the digital photos may even end up looking better than if they had been shot on film. For example, it is extremely easy for the photographer to crop a photograph to ensure that there aren’t any people on the edge of the photo taking the focus away from the happy couple! There is more of a discussion of some of these advantages below.
One of the main advantage of digital photography is flexibility. For example, with most photographers using digital technology, you can have any of the photos in either colour or black and white. The photographer will take all of the photos in colour - these can then be converted to black and white afterwards. This means that you can decide yourself if a particular photo looks best in colour or black & white. You are not limited to having to decide prior to the day whether you would like colour or black & white (or how many rolls of each), which is often what you have to do with film.
Digital photos can also be manipulated to have any number of special effects. This can include effects such as cross-processing (which provides a colourful special effect) or spot colours (where only one part of the photo is in colour (such as the flowers), with the rest in black and white).
The photographer can also crop the photos easily and show the result before you have to pay to have it printed. And, if necessary, a digital photographer can even use his or her skills to remove unwanted features from your photos such as a passer-by standing accidentally in a photo of the couple!
As there are no film costs, the photographer is likely to take more photos at your wedding. This is especially useful, for example, with group shots as it is always difficult to ensure that there is no one blinking – the more shots that the photographer can take, the more likely they are to get one with everyone looking in the right direction and with their eyes open! The photographer should also be able to have a quick check on their camera to check through their photos to make sure they are good (there is only one chance to get it right!).
It is important, however, to remember that taking heaps of photos is no substitute for using good technique (exactly the same as a photographer using film). As is the case with film photographers, some photographers take a smaller number of shots but spend more time ensuring that each shot is going to be good. Other photographers are happy taking more photos, especially when doing a more photojournalist style. Each photographer has their own style, so make sure that you discuss with your photographer what you expect from the photos.
As all of the photos are in digital format, there are no negatives. Instead, provided that your photographer is happy to do so, you would get the photos on a compact disc or DVD. This would mean that you can reprint the photos at any time later on.
Your photographer may also be able to put your photos into a slideshow on a DVD. This means that you would be able to view all of your photos on the TV using most DVD players – great for showing the family or sending to friends or relatives overseas.
When choosing your photographer (either film or digital), there is no substitute for looking at their photos. However, with digital photographers make sure that you see some of their photos that have been printed out (irrespective of whether they show you photos on a computer). If the photos that are printed out look good, chances are that the photographer’s equipment is up to the task.
As discussed previously, no matter whether your photographer uses digital technology or traditional film, you must be satisfied that you like their style of photography. Every photographer has a different style and you need to make sure that theirs reflects the type of wedding photos that you want.
Finally, make sure that you meet with the photographer in person. You will be spending a bit of time with them on your wedding day and your photos will come out much better if you are relaxed with them.
Acknowledgement: We would like to acknowledge the assistance of VisionWorks Photography in writing this article.