Why wedding photographers should always be thinking about books
(and when I say books, I guess I mean albums. But since I don’t really make traditional albums, I’m really talking about photography books.)
I’d say about 60% of my clients order coffee-table style books as an option or part of their wedding photography package. I’m not pushing photography books here, but I do want to talk about the importance of keeping that photo book in mind when you’re photographing a wedding, even if the client hasn’t ordered one. Because as a photographer, thinking about book layout gives you direction and purpose when you’re shooting. It gives you objectives to keep (verticals! details! patterns! colours! bride and the ladies! groom and the fellas! moms+dadsx2!) because you’d need these things when designing a book. Even if that book never gets made. It gives you some roots and foundations to build on, without stifling your creativity. In fact, having a book in mind can really stimulate your creativity – having some basic parameters within which to shoot can actually really set you free as a photographer (and actually that’s something not totally unrelated to using prime lenses instead of zooms). It’s not having a shot-list per se, but rather the structure within which you can work out your visual narrative. Without this structure, things can get a little out of hand, and, yes, you can forget to include some things – things that don’t seem too important when your shooting, but are glaringly obvious in their omission later on.
True story: I used to never shoot verticals. Never. Then I started designing books, and when you’re designing a vertical book, you need strong vertical images, not just cropped horizontals. Now I shoot lots of verticals. Love ’em. Can’t get enough. Now during a wedding I’m always on the lookout for a nice graphic detail that would make a great cover. I’m always on the hunt for diptychs – image pairs that I think would look great side-by-side in a book. Now, more than ever, I’m using negative space in my compositions because when I’m shooting I’m simultaneously thinking about layout. Designing books has helped me develop my style and try to visually explore things in a different way.
Books. Go ahead and make one, at least, you know, in your head.