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News & Insight

Business – Top Photographs Clients Purchase as Prints

By Pye Jirsa on July 13th 2009

It is safe to assume everyone reading this is a photographer of some sort or another, whether professional or a hobbyist. As photographers, we enjoy using our creative vision to create artistic works. We don’t mind waiting for long periods of time, or trying repeatedly in order to get that perfect shot. We even spend hours reading photography tips and tutorials to learn new things. And the result is that the work that we display and are proud of typically have great compositions, use complex techniques, and are stunning works of art.

Early on in our career as a professional photographer, our clients would always rave about our artistic vision and imagery. What puzzled me though was that those artistic engagement and wedding shot images usually were not the images that were purchased by the clients or their friends. In fact, clients and their friends would typically purchase the images that I thought were the most boring or standard. I quickly realized, that while we photographers love creating unique imagery, there was no point in creating that imagery if it wasn’t what the client would end up purchasing.

From a clients perspective, while they are not choosing the most “amazing” shots, their choices do make sense. After all, if you had to choose a single shot to frame and put on your desk, most likely you would choose a shot with all of your close family/friends, which would most likely be a standard formal of some sort.

So, we studied what types of images clients are most likely to purchase so that we know where to spend most of our time and energy. Don’t get me wrong though, we still spend quite a bit of time capturing our artistic imagery, but we are also very aware of what shots we need to get, vs what shots are nice to get. So here is our list of images clients are most likely to purchase from a wedding shoot.

Shots likely to be purchased as individual prints

1. The Classic Portrait – That’s right, the simple classic portraits of your bride, groom and bridal party are some of the most important pictures to your clients. These pictures typically aren’t oozing with artistry, but it is key to follow good portrait photography rules by finding the appropriate light, properly posing and framing your subjects. Check out the samples below:

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2. Bridal Party Formals – That’s right folks, the most sought after image by brides, grooms, their respective families and friends are simply group formals. While some of you may cringe at the thought of these images being so important, it actually makes sense if you think about it from the clients perspective. That being, if you were to choose one single shot to frame on your desk to remind you of an important day as well as the important people that attended, a group formal shot would be your best choice.

Wedding photographers often rush through formals in order to get it over with. But, these shots are key! There needs to be a lot of thought put into the planning of these shots. From location, to lighting, to posing and positioning. Oh, and don’t forget, just because they are formals and they are done at every wedding, doesn’t mean you can’t use your artistic vision. Check out the samples below:

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3. Large Group Formals and Table Shots – Large group formals are challenging and are a blast to shoot. You get to stand up and direct a huge crowd, and really get yourself into the mix. Table shots may not be quite as challenging or inspiring, however, both of these types of shots are extremely popular to the guests and friends of the bride and groom for the exact same reason as the bridal party formal shots; they are nice shots of the bride and groom with the respective friend/guest. They are what we call “sum up” shots, which are shots that sum up the evening. Here are some samples below:

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4. Great Candids Moments with the Bride and Groom – There are many important instructions that are implied by this title. First, these candids shots must be “Great” in that they show great expressions and emotion of all of the people within the picture. Regardless of how good your composition is, how perfectly you exposed the shot, etc, nobody will want the image if there is a awkwardly open mouth, a strange blink or any type of bad expression present in the image. Secondly, people don’t typically buy candids of just themselves, regardless of how good they are. They came to their friend/family’s wedding and on that important day, they want to be remembered with the bride and groom. So, rather than spend your time focusing on just shooting guests alone, spend it focusing on shooting guests as they converse and have a good time with the bride and groom. Here are some samples below:

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5. Unique Dancing Shots – Now I say unique dancing shots because everyone already has their point and shoots out on the dance floor in the first place. If you are not capturing something significantly better and more unique than they are, then they will opt to keep their free shot vs pay for your “professional” image. How can you create unique dancing shots? Well, there are many techniques including: creating nice compositions, using flares, using a fish-eye lens, shooting motion blur and twist shots, etc. Here are some samples below:

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6. Children Shots – Now, many parents wanting to take better pictures of their children, invest in decent if not very nice DSLR cameras and lenses. So, if you are going to sell Children Shots they need to be shots of priceless moments that the parents cannot capture on their own, or they need to be unique and professional images that the parent’s cannot reproduce. Here are some examples:

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Shots not likely to be purchased on their own as prints

7. Artistic Couples Shots – Artistic couples shots are great for the bride and groom and sometimes for their immediate family. However, that typically is the extent of their use. We notice that usually the bride and groom love these types of shots, and occasionally even the immediate families will purchase these images in print forms. However, more often then not, these images are simply used in albums and books rather than framed images. In addition, you are unlikely to have any guests purchase prints of just the bride and groom for their own picture collection. It would be a little weird if you walked into your friends house to see framed pictures of other couples on their walls.

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8. Detail Shots – Detail shots are fabulous, interesting and a treat to look at. However, rarely are these pictures ever purchased by clients or guests on their own. A few of the best detail shots will be selected and used within an album, but that is typically the extent of their use. However, this makes sense. While a beautiful ring shot, or flower shot is great eye candy. You wouldn’t necessarily print it out and frame it to put on your desk by itself. Does this mean you shouldn’t take detail shots? Absolutely not, detail shots are an important part of the day. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to spend the majority of your day shooting them as often amateur and newly professional photographers do. Here are some samples below:

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9. Visionary Images – Visionary images are the images that we as photographers love to look at. They are images that incorporate everything we talk about in our article “10 Characteristics of Great Photos.” These are the images that win awards in print competitions, they are the images that are often used in our portfolios to show our artistic vision, and are the types of images we artists and photographers would print and hang on our wall. However, interestingly enough they are almost never purchased as prints by clients or their guests as prints. They usually will end up in albums and books, but they are not stand alone print images. While it is unfortunate, that is just the way the cookie crumbles. So take your visionary shots, and use your artistic vision, but just make sure you understand that these are typically not the bread winners.

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10. Individual Candids – Individual candids are great individual shots of guests or the wedding party members in a wonderful candid moment. Early on in our career, we captured a lot of these and were baffeled when they weren’t being purchased. When we got to thinking about it, it actually made sense as to why people weren’t purchasing these images as prints. There are very few individuals that would want a print of themselves alone in an image appearing to have a great time all by themselves. Rarely are people into themselves enough to purchase and frame one of these prints. Instead, people want to purchase candid images of themselves having a good time with others. More importantly, if you are at your friends wedding, you want nice candid images of you with your friends that are getting married. So, grab a few of those individual candids for the bride and the groom to remember who was at their wedding and to remember how much fun everyone had. But, don’t expect to make many print sales of these images. Here are some samples of individual candids below:

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We would love to get your opinion on the matter, please comment below if you have any additional ideas. If you enjoyed the article, share the love by tweeting and digging us!

By: Lin and Jirsa Wedding Photography, Los Angeles and Orange County Wedding Photographers
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About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks For sharing.

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  2. J.Mecove

    Hi!
    Lin & Jirsa i am reading your blog and watch your all snaps which you put in your blog believe me. Before that in my whole life i not see like these type of snaps. You are Too good. Love your art .

    j.mecove

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