How Not To Ask For Help

I subscribe to a bunch of photo-related online groups including one on boudoir  photography and one for wedding and portrait photographers.

Some of these sites have thousands of contributors so if you ask a question about photography you are likely going to get hundreds of answers. Unfortunately most of the “answers” are bunk.

Case in point is a young woman (30ish)who is fairly new to shooting weddings. She’s got a good online website for her business where she’s displaying some pretty wedding photography. Now she’s not in the class of the Joe Buissink or Sal Cincotta but she’s way better than Uncle Fred who brought along his D-3000 and kit lens to the wedding.

Having said that Miss New Wedding Photographer got an email back from her client expressing some dismay that her wedding shots didn’t look like the wedding shots on the website.

So Miss New, apparently deeply offended, went to the 9,000+-member reflector asking if the client was nuts!

Inside of 24 hours she’s received almost 100 replies and most of them are useless or at least unappreciated including my own submission where I gently suggest Miss New might want to reconsider asking the great unwashed their opinion of her photography and not focus on her client’s sanity but on her own work.

And that’s my point. Most “photographers” in these online lists are clueless when it comes to critiquing photography.

Now that’s not to say there isn’t some gold buried in the avalanche of suggestions but there’s so much crap being offered, that to offer the old joke, there must be a pony under there somewhere. Unfortunately by the time Miss New wades through all the critical comments her creative spirit has got to be beaten right out of her. She might never shoot another wedding after reading all the bad advice that has been posted.

So what was so bad?

Since the reflector is by invite only I am not going to post a link but let me offer some suggestions based on what I saw.

First the wedding couple were black. Now all photographers know this isn’t a racial comment but black skin is a big problem when it comes to photography and mix race weddings are a nightmare (I know I shot one where the girl was Scandinavian white and the groom was Jamaican black. If the photographer exposed for the groom the bride’s dress and skin blew right off the grey scale. When exposing for the bride the groom and his family either blended into the dark background in the reception hall or when shot outside caused the sky to blow out to white. There are things you can do but it’s tough shooting.)

Another issue with black skin is it’s prone to showing specular highlights (bright spots and shine) when exposed during a flash shot regardless of whether shot inside or outside. This means the photographer must use extra care when shooting flash (which most wedding photographers use inside and out to help fill in shadows) and the black skin will require more work in post process (Photoshop or Lightroom).

Miss New also posted over 1200 frames of generally unprocessed snaps. A lot of them would be terrific after cropping and running through post and that’s what Miss New should have done to maybe 50 images and no more than 100.

IMHO the bride and her family were overwhelmed by so many unprocessed images that they didn’t know how to react.

Most of the online commentators focused on issues with white balance, cropping, horizons that were off kilter, and other post issues including using more clarity and noise reduction. All of these are post processing issues and Miss New, based on her website, knows how to use her software but didn’t do so in this case. All of these suggestions were valid to a point but generally useless when it comes to helping Miss New figure out what went wrong. (Some of the commentators were unkind in tone and comment.)

And why?

Because, and I’m guessing, Miss New is shooting like crazy and then burning images to a DVD and charging accordingly. This is a recipe for failure. She also focused her website on herself and not on her client and thus the narcissistic need ask 9,000+ people for their opinion.

Miss New needs to watch some of the wedding photography business videos offered at and this would open her eyes to what’s wrong and what she needs to do if she wants to be successful as a wedding photographer.

Wedding photography is not rocket science but it does require some skill and insight into what clients want and will buy.




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