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Viewing your wedding pictures

Find out in advance how they will be shown to you


A 35 mm contact sheet contains all the images from one roll of film. Each image is very small and requires a magnifier to see any detail.
A 35 mm contact sheet contains all the images from one roll of film. Each image is very small and requires a magnifier to see any detail.

Different photographers have different means of showing you your wedding pictures. Often, the name of the game is to maximize your enlargements and reprints order, and therefore the first time you see your images, they may be in a format that prevents you from using them in a wedding album or having them framed. The pictures provided to you for reprints selection may or may not even be your property, depending on the photography studio’s policy or your wedding photography contract, and any that you are given may have to be returned.

Here are some methods that studios employ:

CONTACT SHEETS

Some photographers may provide you with contact sheets (usually 8" X 10" sheets containing several images in the same size as the negatives themselves.) Most studios do not use contact sheets for wedding pictures. If the film size is 35 mm, the images will be so small (up to 36 on a contact sheet) that you will need a magnifying glass to view them. Even magnified, it is difficult to compare pictures that may have slight differences. For example, you may not notice that someone's eyes are closed in one image but open in another. You may be given enlarged contact sheets (11" X 14" or 16" by 20") that make viewing the individual pictures much easier. (Here is a little side tip: Framing a large contact sheet makes an intriguing picture to hang.)


PROOFS

Proofs are small prints, generally 3” by 5” or 4" by 6" or 5" by 5" in size, of almost every shot taken. They are usually printed fairly rapidly with minimal attention to fine-tuning the images for color balance and density correction, and no attention to cropping or retouching. High image quality for proofs is not all that important since they are trial prints intended to be used only in selecting pictures to be enlarged or reprinted. However, they should be in sharp focus, have reasonable color balance and good flesh tones with no dust marks. Better photographers insist on the lab producing superior-quality proofs, realizing that they enable you to better judge the appearance of your final prints and enlargements.

Wedding photographers half-a-century ago provided proofs printed on paper on which the picture would be visible for a number of weeks before fading. Studios today generally render proofs to be unsuitable for use in a wedding album or for display by overprinting or stamping the word “proof” or their studio name on the face of the image. Some photographers even punch a small hole in a corner.

One type of special magnifier (a Nikon 8X lupe) that photographers and art directors use in looking at contact sheets and slides. If you don't have a
One type of special magnifier (a Nikon 8X lupe) that photographers and art directors use in looking at contact sheets and slides. If you don't have a "lupe", and are provided with 35 mm contact sheets, you'll at least need a magnifying glass.

Many photographers will supply you with lovely proofs that are overstamped with the studio name or just the word
Many photographers will supply you with lovely proofs that are overstamped with the studio name or just the word "Proof." They're not for display; they're to help you in selecting pictures for your reprints and enlargements order.

Most studios require you to return the proofs to them when you place your picture order. Some include them in the price you paid for your photography, returning them to you with your final order, while others may sell them to you for an extra charge -either individually or as a complete set.

If you are really fortunate, a very few photographers may provide proofs of superior quality with nothing defacing the images, and will permit you to keep them. Unless you are required to specifically pay for such proofs, the proofs are a give-away on the part of the photographer. This is a rare occurrence, though, because studios generally want you to order and pay extra for images you intend to keep.

The proofs may be provided to you (1) in small proof folders that contain a representative image slotted into a frame on the face and have a holder inside for more pictures; (2) in a proofs album; (3) presentation book; (4) in a proofs box; or simply (5) loose in a package. They are usually arranged chronologically. A good proofs presentation book will have order forms interleaved between photo pages, for your convenience. You may even be asked to come into the studio to view your proofs with a representative in attendance who can take your reprints order.

Usually, proofs are individually numbered or uniquely coded on the back to help you in identifying individual pictures when you place a reprints order. If you are permitted to retain your proofs, be sure to keep them all together. And do not give any numbered proofs away, since you will need to refer to each proof’s identifying code to place future orders for reprints or enlargements.

Proofs are usually also stamped with the photographer's copyright notice, which is intended to prevent their unauthorized reproduction (say, by color photocopier).


ELECTRONICALLY

INTERNET VIEWING - Some studios may post a representative selection of your images on a website that you may access to view and choose images for printing. The big advantage of this viewing system is that you can often provide relatives and guests with the website address and everyone can view the images at once. Your friends may also be able to order reprints and enlargements directly from the studio via email or a website order form. It has several disadvantages, though. For one, not everyone has access to the internet. There is also something satisfying about holding pictures in your hand and passing them around from one member of the family to another, or laying them all out on a large surface for comparison purposes. You are also relying upon the studio to have properly scanned the images, without changing contrast and colors in the process.

CD - Studios may provide you with a compact disc containing selected images scanned in a fairly small size for you to view.

VISUAL PRESENTATION - Other studios arrange a time that is convenient for you to come in and view selected images on a screen in a viewing room in their studio. It may be a computer screen if the images are pre-scanned, a television screen if the studio videotapes your images for presentation, or even a slide show. (Slides are made from each of your negatives. The slide show could take place in the photographer's place of business, or at your home, where you could invite several people to view them.) You will be viewing the pictures with a studio representative at the time, someone who will likely be taking notes of the pictures you like and encouraging you to order one or more enlargements of your favorites.

If you are really fortunate, a very few photographers may provide proofs of superior quality with nothing defacing the images, and will permit you to keep them.
If you are really fortunate, a very few photographers may provide proofs of superior quality with nothing defacing the images, and will permit you to keep them.

Different studios have different charges for the same size enlargement. You should find out in advance what those prices are.
Different studios have different charges for the same size enlargement. You should find out in advance what those prices are.

FINAL PICTURES

No matter how you first view your wedding pictures, you will need to place an order for reprints of the images you select for your wedding album. The photographer may provide you with a deadline date for you to make your decision so that he can complete your order in a timely fashion and move on to the next job. This may sound dictatorial, bit the time frame is usually reasonable (around a month), and will encourage you to organize your order and any orders from relatives and friends, and get it in. You will want to have your wedding album and any framed enlargements as soon as possible after your wedding to show visitors and for your own enjoyment.

The photographer may require full payment up front, although some studios may require a 50% deposit with your order, with the balance due on delivery.

Different studios have different charges for the same size reprint or enlargement, and you should know in advance what those prices are. You should find out before committing to a wedding photographer what the prices are for reprints, enlargements, retouching (to remove, for instance, blemishes in close-ups), cropping and specialty items, such as textured paper. Many studios will provide enlargement framing services, too.

Though there is no established rule, studios often aim to double the initial contract price of the wedding through orders for enlargements and reprints.