Monday, November 14, 2011

An Actual Day Wedding Photographer's Challenge

One of the basic requirements for most wedding photography assignment in KL, mostly relevant for Chinese Wedding ceremonies on actual day coverage, would be creating a photo-slideshow comprising images taken from the morning session of the wedding ceremony. The said photo-slideshow presentation is to be produced just in time for presentation to the guests during the reception dinner, which usually happens on the evening of the same day.

Many local wedding photographers would find this photo-slideshow to be a huge challenge, worrying about whether they have enough time to complete the photo-slideshow presentation before the dinner. I faced the similar problem as well on my latest photography assignment last weekend. The shooting assignment started at ungodly 5.30am in the morning, and the whole morning was killed off by the preparations, brother-sister war, the traditional tea ceremony at the bride and groom’s place, etc. As the final itinerary of the day ended, it was already about 2.30pm, and I have to depart to the dinner location at 5pm. Arriving home at nearly 3pm, that left me about less than two hours to create and complete the previous mentioned photo-slideshow presentation. This was not looking very promising, because on usual other assignment I had the entire afternoon (at least 3-4 hours) to complete the slideshow.

Nonetheless, I cranked up my speed and I did what I had to do.

Same Day Edit Photo-Slideshow (for reception dinner presentation)

ZHEN BING & HUEI YIEN

For optimum viewing please watch the Youtube Video in full 720p resolution.



Here is the list of things I did which helped speed up my workflow:

1) Shooting RAW + JPEG

I shot in both RAW and JPEG, so that I only have to deal with JPEG files for the slideshow, minus the time needed to convert and develop the RAW files into JPEG which can be dreadfully resource demanding even on most powerful computers.

2) Straight Out of Camera

Knowing I was working on very tight time-frame, consciously I was shooting with strong consideration that the photos I will use for the same day slideshow presentation has to be usable straight out of camera, because any time used for post-processing would be time wasted. No, I did not even do any cropping to the images, all the images were presented untouched, save for some exceptions in point no. 3 as follows.

3) Applying Art Filters

Well, you have to admit, Olympus Art Filters come in very handy in such tight situations. One click to apply instant post processing to create some dramatic effects is a real life saver. I applied Pinhole, Grainy Film and Gentle Sepia to some of the photos, to create variety and more “unexpected” anticipation when going through all the photos. I also converted some images to black and white, which was also done in a single click.

4) Using AutoMovie on Windows Movie Maker

I did not have any fancy video editing softwares, I relied on my old Windows Vista version (I know I know, everyone is using Windows 7 already) of Windows Movie Maker, which was really efficient and fast in creating the photo-slideshow. After selecting about 72 photographs from the morning session, to be fitted in one song’s length of about 3 minutes plus, I dragged and dropped the photographs into the Windows Movie Maker and run the AutoMovie. Everything was automated and I loved such quick turnaround, and I only had to do a little fine tuning there and here, added the title page and final cover. This saved me heaps and heaps of time.

5) Resize the photographs

One thing I did before throwing the selected images into the Windows Movie Maker’s magical Automovie was resizing the images from the original glorious 12MP files (if you use higher resolution cameras, using full size images would choke your computer). I batched resized my images to 1600px max width or height (depending on orientation), and I applied 85% compression ratio to the images, which would still look pretty darn good on any large display. I have reduced a single file size from average 3 to 4Mb full JPEG size to only 300-500kb, which seriously saved a lot of computer processing power, thus saving even more time. Every tick is precious here. We cannot afford to lose more time. The computer loves smaller sized image files and would process the slideshow hell lot faster.

6) Making backup

The output was created in the form on DVD-playable video content, which would in turn be burned into a physical DVD disc. I would usually create a full HD soft copy which is playable by any standard PC Laptop computer, but I was running out of time, hence I only managed to create two DVDs, one for back-up, just in case.





I started transferring the files from the memory card to my computer at 3.00pm, and the whole process as described earlier completed at 4.30pm, and as I was burning the photo-slideshow into the DVD, I took a quick shower, made a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and made myself beautiful for the reception dinner. I arrived at the dinner location at about 5.40pm, did some trial runs on the dinner venue’s DVD player, and thank goodness there was no hiccup and everything ran smoothly.

It was a very huge challenge, and time was never enough, but hey, you have to do what you have to do. I guess it takes a lot out of the photographer, to be able to shoot usable images straight out of the camera, to be able to follow through a strict and efficient workflow, working against time.

No, the photographs were not perfect. A lot of the images would have been better if I cropped it there and here, added saturation, boosted the contrast, and the list goes on. The worst part was photographs taken during the game session, where the Bride party tortured the Groom party. The whole game session happened right under a huge red colored canopy, a nightmare faced by wedding photographers for Chinese weddings. It was called the red cast of death, where the images taken in such situation cannot be salvaged in any possible means. The annoying red cast was everywhere, and the camera’s white balance control went all wonky.

Most people would think that photography is easy, all you have to think about is just finding the right composition angles, and the right camera settings, establishing your own creativity and individual shooting style. A full on shooting process goes a lot further and deeper beyond that. It encompasses communication between the photographer and the client, the preparation works before shooting, and even during shooting day itself, there are many other elements that must be taken into account that did not even involve shooting at all, such as the photo-slideshow I have mentioned. All these things require skills a lot more than just knowing how to handle the camera, yet at the same time, you need to tie back everything in one huge, effective and fast workflow for the entire assignment duration (before, during and after shooting).


So guys, do let me think what you think of the Photo-Slideshow that I managed to do within one and a half hour. There are plenty of rooms for improvements, and I know this is no where near professional level (I never said I was a pro), but hey, we all have to start somewhere. I learn and I improve along the way, every step I take.

10 comments:

  1. Love it Robin. Well done.

    The only thing I would say is that, for me, the pictures were so good that I wanted each one to be on screen for longer - even though that would mean fewer pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Sam !!
    Noted on the longer display, I set each photo to 4 seconds duration, perhaps should have been 5 seconds.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If I get marry again, I want you to be my wedding photographer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Kelvin,
    Thanks for the compliments. But I wish your current marriage a happy one !!

    Hafeez,
    Thanks mate !!

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    Plain White T's is the artist.

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