WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get (or Getting What You Expect) – Some Thoughts On Selecting a Wedding Photographer.

01 | 27 | 2010


WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) is something we photographers talk about all the time when we’re printing our photographs.  We want our prints to precisely match what we see on our computer screens.  Obviously.  We want to get what we expect.  And with wedding photography, so do you.

So how does that work exactly, when you hire a photographer—or, now that I think about it, when you hire any vendor or artist?  Well … we do what we do: what you see is what you get.  So when you’re thinking about hiring someone, see enough of her work that you have a really good feel for what she does—a representative sample.  This could include images on a website or blog, some albums, and perhaps a client gallery or run of proofs.  By that point, you should feel like you “get” the scope and style of her work.  If you like what you see in that photographer’s portfolio, chances are that you’ll like what she can do for you.  But if you don’t, or if you yearn for something altogether different, no amount of direction, coaching, or unrealistic expectation is going to change how that photographer works or sees.  You aren’t going to get something different.

Two stories to highlight this point:

Once I was at a meeting with a potential client.  She kept pulling photographs out of my portfolio, dropping them on the coffee table, and pounding her forefinger on the photos,¹ asking over and over again, “Can you do this? Can you take photos like this?”  I was boggled.  What a query!  I had, of course, taken all the photographs in question, and there were dozens of them.  She had a whole, ever-growing pile of photographs she wondered if I could take.  What she was really asking, of course, was whether I not I could take photos like that for her. But still.  It’s ridiculous.

In another meeting, a potential client asked me, no less than twice, if I could take photographs like the ones taken by another well-known local photography studio.  Um … why not just hire them? (I hope they did!  Otherwise, they were surely and sorely disappointed.)

Neither one of these potential clients understood the principle of WYSIWYG. And I’m sure it’ll be no surprise to know that neither one of them hired me.  Nor will it be much of a revelation to know that I’m relieved they didn’t.

So … hire a photographer whose work makes your heart go pitter-pat.  Someone whose eye you trust.  And then let her do her thing.  (Why in the world would you want to interfere with what you trust is going to be marvelous?)

photo: Gia Canali


¹ Yes, yes, she was smudging them to death.


3 Notes on “WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get (or Getting What You Expect) – Some Thoughts On Selecting a Wedding Photographer.

  1. Rachel

    Out of curiosity, where on that scale does the post-processing fall? More specifically – if I really dig a photographer’s eye, composition, style, and personality, but think that sometimes they go a little overboard with the altering in PhotoShop, is it unrealistic to ask to dial that down a bit? Or to perhaps provide less tampered with versions of the same photographs?

    I understand that being a wedding photographer can get a bit repetitive sometimes, so messing with things in Photoshop is one way to keep it interesting. For the sake of getting on wedding blogs, for example, it’s always good to have something different.

    Keeping that in mind, the photographer I hired I really really dig, but I’m starting to worry that with all the heavy Photoshopping on every photo, the photos are going to be so idealized that hardly any reality will be left. Did I make a mistake?

  2. Gia Post author

    I really think that prioritizing a good eye (which includes their sense of composition and their style) and outstanding technical ability (they know how to use their cameras to get a good picture) are of utmost importance. Post-processing is something I hadn’t thought about before, but I do agree: it’s becoming more and more a part of a photographer’s “style.” That said, I think that you are surely in good hands if you love the photographer’s personality and eye. Good communication will prevent a multitude of disappointments. If you’d like less-altered images, there are some good, diplomatic ways to request them. Firstly, you can point out post-processing styles that you do really like. For instance, you can say, “We really love your (fill-in-the-blank with a style) photos. Can you be sure to include lots of those?” If you think that won’t get the message across, you can always blame the grandparents (or even just the parents). Say, “We think your (fill-in-the-blank) photos are great, but we know our parents’/grandparents’ taste is much more conservative. Is it possible to get just basic color-corrected versions of the images, too?” If you have other questions, or … sheesh! … if this idea fails, please feel free to email or call me and we’ll put our heads together. I always tell my clients that collaboration makes for exquisite results. And communicating your ideas, hopes, and preferences is a really good start to that.

  3. Pingback: Interviewing Photographers: Why “How” Doesn’t Matter in Wedding Photography « Pursuing the Picture Perfect Wedding :: a blog about weddings and getting great wedding photographs by Gia Canali

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