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Expect 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 quality imagery.

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 relationship with a 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 photography section 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 or orange).

Second, highly efficient processing means it’s possible to pull so-so shots up to perfectly acceptable in an image management 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.


Digital imaging promotes sharing.
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 outstanding quality.
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 shot again 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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  How to get Great Wedding Photos

How to Choose a Wedding

  Questions to Ask Prospective Photographers

Posing List
Why Go Digital?
Preparation for the Big Day


"We were a little concerned about not having met you, but boy did we luck out." Lisa S., Edinburgh, Scotland