So this just popped into my head, this idea of a thousand images or more for wedding photos. This is something I support, I've always support this from day one. I am writing this for brides, grooms and fellow photographers.
There will always be criticism about the amount of wedding photos you share with clients or on the other end of the spectrum receive from a photographer because more often than not you wouldn't mind a few dozen or hundred more to look at or a bunch more to share.
So originally I would give upwards of fifteen hundred images because I felt like I was holding images captive. If I had fifteen hundred images but only gave them five hundred, why? I prided myself in giving this extra value to my brides, grooms, clients, friends and family. Everyone was very happy after all at all the extra photos.
So the images that are completely cut from a wedding that are not used are the following, peoples backs, unflattering faces (not to be confused with a funny face or two which the bridal couple will enjoy), bad micro-expression, unflattering light, blurry photo, obscene, unflattering photo of bridal couple, duplicates of same pose unless there was a significant change in facial expression or posture possibly, bad hand placement during group photos. This is only a small multitude of examples of reasons.
The remainder of the photos are variations of moments, different angles, views and composition. These are the usable photos, the ones that can be saved, shared and looked back on. Some of the photos are a series of an event happening and not just the pinnacle of the moment.
So i'm going to start with the downside of sharing this amount of photos. We as wedding photographers typically take more photos than we need. We do this because we don't know who's going to blink or if someone will suddenly have a horrible twitch in their face or move their hand to look like a t-rex's arm. Lots of photos, lots of options, lower risk of fucking up, better chance of getting something damn near close to magical. With all these photos you have to go through and perform triage, saying yes or no to which photos live and which ones die; a very important responsibility. More photos to look through can mean longer wait times for clients and also longer processing time for photographers.
Now when you give someone fifteen hundred photos that means they have lots of options, maybe too many options. The first dance photos maybe two dozen instead of a select six. When you have two dozen photos verses six that means that the most outstanding, perfect photo will take a bit longer to catch your eye or stand out. It also creates the perception that you quickly edited the photos and are giving them everything without selecting the bad ones to get rid of. You are also putting your photos up against your friends photos or other bride's photos where they have gotten the top fifteen percent of the wedding photos that were taken that day.
Let's use a box of donuts as comparison. I'm going to present you with a dozen donuts, some are chocolate frosted, a few chocolate frosted with sprinkles and maybe a chocolate glazed as well as the jelly, a french (You actually only capitalize french if it is a product of said country) cruller, and an additional complement of donuts. Now lets take that nice looking dozen and put it up against six good looking donuts, jelly, chocolate frosted, french cruller, blueberry, glazed, old fashioned. So you have a perfect assortment but maybe not a bunch of variations on donuts.
So here's the upside of sharing as many photos as is reasonable. The most important reason first, you don't know who is important to the bride or groom. We don't know if they've seen their uncle or aunt in the past twenty years. We don't know if they don't get along with their parents and have reconciled for the sake of family and wedding. We don't know if their parents are divorced and this si the first time they've been in a room together in ten years. Their parents may live on the other side of the country, their sister may be in the army and home for the first time in two years.
So when you make the choice to not include a photo of Uncle John giving a hug or crying at the wedding then you forsaking a once in a lifetime moment. You are the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the selection of photos given. Why not lessen the risk of incorporating beautiful moments that you might not realize are happening right in front of your lens.
I once had a wedding where I was going through the routine of getting all the moments, all the guests and performing top notch wedding photography. I spent around a month editing the photos and ordering the flash drive and finally presenting the photos. I found out that the bride's aunt had died shortly after from cancer and she was only in maybe three or four photos. She asked if I had more. Apparently the aunt had raised her since she was a preteen, she had meant more to get than her own mother in some sense. I had no idea and this killed me that I couldn't do more for this bride. I'm only sharing this because I want to really impress upon you that we don't know who is special to the bride or groom and we have no idea the great history in everyone's relationships. The wedding guests are chosen very carefully and they're there to witness a huge landmark in a person's life.
So when you give variation, option, choices you are allowing them to choose the best version of themselves in photos. You are giving permission for them to remember moments that they will most likely have missed on their wedding day. It's a little bit extra work to edit a few extra hundred photos, but you get better and faster at it. Is it all worth it, sharing this many photos? Damn right it's worth it and I don't regret it for one second. Those extra photos usually mean that everyone who attended that wedding can find a flattering, fun and amazing photo of themselves or someone they love. This means they share, they brag and hopefully they say who took their photo.
I always argue about this with fellow photographers, I think I always will. I started giving out these extra photos as an added value to my product but through the years i've learned that this added value isn't quantity, it's beautiful moments that I didn't know were happening.