to pay a premium for a really good digital photographer
but expect to get what
you’re paying for.
Digital photographers can charge a premium over traditional
film photographers because of the huge initial capital outlays
and the extraordinary technical skills needed to produce high
It’s no longer
enough to have a good eye and know what an f-stop is.
In the past, good imagery resulted
from a special eye and extensive technical training,
not to mention a good
photo chemical lab. Digital photographers must either
completely retool in the required technology or have
the revenue streams
to pay others to do the work. If you’re considering
hiring a digital wedding photographer, read the digital
of How to Choose a Wedding Photographer and
don’t hesitate to ask to see sample prints.
Why should you pay up for a talented digital photographer?
The biggest reason is the substantial increase in coverage, especially
with a photojournalist. The digital efficiency factor not only
increases the number of shots, it increases the overall number
of usable shots. And in those cases when the film photographer
forgets to load the film or unknowingly operates a broken camera,
you actually get the shots.
The low-down on digital efficiency.
First, it’s not unreasonable to fit 350 or more
photos on a single memory chip – nearly nine rolls of film
– all at the largest, high quality settings. These are
consecutive shots with no time out to change film or change
film type (if
a film photographer uses the same film for both indoor
light and outdoor light, some photos will be unacceptably blue
Second, highly efficient processing means it’s
possible to pull so-so shots up to perfectly acceptable
in an image
software like photoshop without having to scan a negative.
What you might have tossed out in the bad old days due
to bad exposure
or color, you now have an option to print at nominal
extra effort (not skill, but effort!).
How to evaluate a professional digital photographer.
The same criteria you'd use to evaluate a film photographer's
work apply to a digital photographer. Look for prints that show
good exposure, appropriate focus, creative composition, elegant
use of light and great color. Large grain does not necessarily
denote poor quality; often the photographer sacrifices grain to
take advantage of natural light where he or she would otherwise
have to use artificial light to produce a sharper, tighter grain.
REASONS TO GO DIGITAL
Digital imaging promotes
In the past, it was nearly impossible to share wedding
proofs with family and friends unless everybody got together.
With digital imaging, it's a snap to upload wedding proofs to
the photographer's web site where, not only can friends and family
view the photos, they can order their own. This relieves some
of the financial and organizational burden on the bride and groom.
Digital images, professionally created and printed, produce
A few years ago, this was not always true. However, the
technology of the latest professional digital cameras yields quality
prints comparable to those done with the old professional standard,
the medium format negative.
Final output choice.
Any digital image can be converted to black and white
or to any tone of sepia. Beware, however. It takes exceptional
skill to do this well.
Immediate camera malfunction knowledge.
The photographer immediately knows
about camera malfunctions and other user errors. I can’t tell you how many horror
stories I’ve heard from film photographers who snapped an
entire wedding processional only to discover they forgot to load
film into the camera. And then there are the broken shutter stories.
This is not to say that digital cameras don’t malfunction.
They do. But we know immediately.
Were your eyes closed?
Digital photographers can tell
immediately if they got the key shots. They’ll know if
grandma closed her eyes or if the bride was distracted, and
they can take the
before the group disperses.
What can go wrong.
Even though I’m sold on digital photography, I respectfully
acknowledge its shortcomings. “Image file corruption” are
three dirty words no digital photographer ever wants to encounter,
but it does happen on rare occasions. Camera-to-lens calibration
is another tricky issue that challenges the best of us.
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