Wedding Photography packages- Include CD?

Wedding photography packages in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.

If you are a prospective bride or groom looking for a wedding photographer in the Dallas, Fort Worth area, you have lots of options. Style, price, and packages vary from photographer to photographer. Many brides today are looking for a “shoot and burn” photographer. That is one who shoots the wedding, burns the images to a CD, and provides a release so the couple can get prints made at their local lab. This business model is simple and easy for the photographer, and is frequently cheaper for those couples who want lots of images from their wedding.

Of course this option has it’s issues, most importantly, the quality of your finished prints. If the photographer gives you a printable CD/DVD, the quality of your prints is no longer something the professional photographer can control. Imagine a famous painter selling printable CD’s of their images. Not going to happen.


Photo lab thoughts –

To better understand, let’s take a quick peek into your local photo lab. The important thing to remember is that the vast majority of work done at consumer photo labs is being done by machines. Your images are input into the system, and automatically “corrected” before it is printed. That is how they save money. They don’t need a person looking at each image to make sure the image is good, the machine does that automatically. Most of the time, you are the first person to actually view the prints. Most of the time, the machines do a pretty good job of getting the color, density (how dark or light the image is) and contrast about right. However, when your white wedding gown looks gray in the prints you will show your children, that can be an issue for the more discriminating brides and grooms.

Case in point… The following scenario plays out at least two or tree times a year…. One of the bride’s friends photographs the couple’s engagement pictures. Large prints are displayed at the reception. And the end result is not always pretty. Not long ago this happened at a newer reception venue. I hoped to make a good impression and be considered for their “recommended vendor list”. As I entered the reception venue, I noticed the large, unframed prints from their engagement session that their friend shot. The lighting on their faces was not good (photographer’s fault). The color was not good (lab’s fault). A couple of the engagement pictures were too dark, and others were close, but too light (lab’s fault). My guess was that the guests and the wedding coordinator from the venue thought the images were mine. Were the prints created by a professional lab that corrects for color and density? Certainly not. To be fair to the lab though, some of the images were probably shot in “Program” mode, and shouldn’t have been. I did approach the wedding coordinator and mentioned that the images were not mine, and didn’t represent my studio’s style. She gave me a funny look, and said, “I’m glad you told me.”

A word of warning though!

If you want a printable CD of your wedding images, you to ask the prospective “shoot and burn” photographer a few questions!

1. Are the images edited?   If they answer “yes”,  you need to ask the next question.

2. How are they edited?  This is where it gets a little sticky. The word “edited” to one photographer may simply mean that the bad ones have been deleted. To another photographer it may mean that the images have been adjusted for color and density as well. Still other photographers would include some level of retouching into their “edited” images. Make sure you are getting what you want. If you think “edited” means that the skin is to be softened and facial lines to be removed on all 1,247 of your wedding images, make that clear (and expect to pay an additional $10,000+).

3. Are the images you receive “raw” images?  Occasionally a bride will ask for a CD of the “Raw” files. Normally they don’t understand what “Raw” means to a photographer. “Raw” in photo speak is the name of the file created by the camera that retains all the original data, and has to be edited and converted to a “jpg” file before printing. It is the highest quality image a camera can create, and it is very large. Raw files are great for professionals with the appropriate software and knowledge necessary to take advantage of all that data. Make sure the initials at the end of each file name is “.jpg”  Some clients are asking for “Raw” files without knowing what they are.

4. How large can the prints be made from these files?  Don’t expect to get 16×24’s from the files the photographer gives you. Up to 8×10 or maybe 11×14 is reasonable. Any larger, and the image will almost certainly need some enhancing by a professional.

Remember, most photographers get business from referrals. If a photographer is reluctant to allow an unknown lab to create a finished print without his quality control, and his name is associated with a print, you can understand his apprehension. Your friends and family would associate his name with inferior quality. And it may be the reason to use the photographer. A true professional photographer will guard his reputation, and at the very least will recommend a high quality photo lab without being asked.

Some brides see their photography as the only thing that lasts after the event. And we all know, in case of a fire, your photos are slightly higher on your “Must Save” list, then the lawn mowing shoes and waffle iron.


©Richard Dalton 2013

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Photography in Ft. Worth and Dallas area: Wedding photos, High School Senior pictures, commercial photographer, family portraits