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More articles: Raw vs JPG | Choosing a Videographer

Check back for many more informative articles coming soon. We will cover wedding planning tips, advice on preparing photos for printing, and many other topics. For more articles, click on the links above, or, just scroll down.

Choosing a photographer for your wedding in Hawaii

The process is actually quite easy, and infinitely rewarding if you follow this plan:

First off, focus on those photographers whose work you really like. Then, see how easy it is to get a hold of each of them on the phone, getting a good feel for their personality on the phone. If any of them are totally unavailable during the weekday work hours, chances are they have a day job that is not directly related to photography, and I would almost certainly cross them off your list. If any of them are pressuring, that is a very bad trait IMHO. Consummate professionals do not pressure anyone, they are confident, fluid and know their real value as a photographer.

Next, find out their background in wedding photography, and dig into what their real experience is at this art form. There are a lot of so called wedding photographers who just plain lie about this and talk a really sweet story. Cross those off your list if you have any uncertain feelings about their experience or truthfulness. Better safe than sorry. A good indicator for experience is a body of work developed shooting film. Back in the film days, there was way less competition for us professionals in Hawaii because you quite honestly had to really know what you were doing shooting film at such a critically important event such as a persons wedding, with no instant feedback of your exposure, focus and composition etc, not to mention lawsuits if you messed up the wrong persons wedding! A good film shooter is a person who knows his stuff! The day digital appeared, the number of wedding photographers in hawaii jumped from like 12 to about 12,000! Ask any veteran of the trade. This is a great tool for the discerning bride to utilize.

Then- get a feel for their bedside manner by getting deeper into what you want on your phone conversations. Gauge their responses carefully. Let things go straight to your heart, unfiltered by the mind. Keep asking about their philosophy and work style. Find out their age, are they married themselves etc. You need to do this with the people that have survived your scrutiny thus far. Bedside manner is very important. You will spend more time with your photographer on this day than your husband, a bad bedside manner revealed on your wedding day will spoil your experience to put it lighly. It is an important part of the process.

Once you are down to 3 or so potential candidates, then go back again to their work. Look at their photos for a short time, carefully gauging your immediate gut response. Then take a break, come back, gauge your response. Sleep on it. You will start to sort things out while dreaming, believe it or not! Yes, your mind will play back those photos, and your unconscious feelings will become apparent. You should start to resonate towards one persons work. Then, take a look at their pricing and what they offer. If the top guys prices are way out of your budget (they very well may be!) then go to number 2 and so on. Get back on the phone. I would suggest you somehow try and work something out with number 1 or 2 if at all possible, because it is my feeling that you should go with the one whose work you love the most, assuming he has passed the personality test. In every case, it is work, experience & bedside manner first, and then you tinker and possibly negotiate, finally finding your perfect match. Cost should not be considered until you have gone thru the process recommended here. Certainly it will have to be considered at some point, but don't allow that to influence you until the tail end of this process. You never know, you just might be able to negotiate a deal with the one that you really love! If not, you will know for certain you did your best, and got the best photographer possible, right? Yes, that is correct!

Once you decide on your photographer, then you treat him or her like a member of your family. You want them to be really resonating with you, truly liking you, for real. Do not push things at this point, do not ever come close to irritating them. Give them artistic freedom at this point, they deserve that, and you will have an unforgettable experience on the big day. If you have done your homework as recommended above, then everything should click, and then you will always look back on the overall experience with great fondness. John Rogers, principal photographer, A Special Moment Photography and Video

 

RAW vs. JPG

Shooting in the raw mode gives you almost twice the amount of data per shot compared to shooting in the JPG mode. This delivers better detail in all the images. Bright highlights that are overexposed in the raw mode are about 3-5 times more restorable compared to shooting jpg’s, and that extra data also gives you nicer detail in darker shadow areas also. Having that significant increase in image data makes all the difference in critical shadow and highlight adjustability. These are the most significant advantages of raw files. There are other adjustments in raw that are extremely useful, especially for adjusting skin tones. The color temperature adjustment panel allows us to tweak color balance much more easily and precisely. The result is pleasing skin tones and accurate colors throughout. Many people comment that digital photography often produces unnatural tones. This is due to either improper white balance, a low quality camera sensor and hard/firmware, or often from multiple light sources hitting the subject. The raw mode can correct an improper white balance very well, and a jpg file can very often be an absolute nightmare to correct. Multiple light source problems are much more difficult to correct with jpg or raw, but the bottom line is that you have way more data and thus much more control, quality, tools and options with raw files, and this produces images with significantly less noise, and much more shadow and highlight detail, which is what is generally missing in digital photography vs film photography.

In the raw mode, we can be a little or even a lot over-exposed and restore detail in those critical bright areas (highlights). This is possible due to the additional data present in the raw files. This is a very wonderful benefit because shooting a live, outdoor wedding means it is easier to be a tad over or under exposed due to the sun’s light output changing very rapidly without notice under an often very demanding work environment.

Another reason for shooting in the raw mode is that this allows us to use manual exposure most of the time. Many photographers use automatic exposure exclusively so as to have fewer under or overexposed shots when dealing with rapidly changing lighting, but the tradeoff is that with automatic exposure your camera doesn't know which areas to expose for when there are bright and dark areas in the same shot, as is often the case in outdoor situations in Hawaii. Photographers who rely on automatic exposure will often deal with this by blasting everything with strong fill-in flash to even out the lighting, but the resulting lighting often looks harsh and artifical. The best way to get natural looking results in contrasty lighting situations is to use manual exposure, with gentle flash lightening up the darkest areas. Using the raw mode allows us to even out the lighting still more in a way that looks more natural than with flash, and enables us to correct for all but the most severe exposure mistakes.

The good news is that at A Special Moment Photography & Video, we shoot exclusively in the raw mode. It is twice the work and time for us after your Wedding, but the results are so wonderful for you that we have committed ourselves to shoot only raw files. Our rates did not go up one penny from our commitment to shooting 100% raw. We invite you to inquire with many different professional photographers asking if they shoot raw. You will find that many do not, and the reason is that it takes longer to process and adjust the files. Please consider the accurate and honest information presented here while hearing all the compelling excuses why most pros will say shooting raw is unnecessary and a waste of time. This is simply their way of saving significant amounts of their precious time, thus giving you less of a finished product and making more profit. Yes, their work that they show you is fabulous, but what about the many jpg files that were beyond correction which they would never show you? And if you look closely, you may find that in many shots the bride's white dress and other bright areas are completey washed out with no detail. We absolutely want you to be happy with our work long after your wedding day, and this is why we are so successful, and so loved by our clients. We really enjoy our “work” and it shows.

 

Choosing a videographer for your wedding in Hawaii

There are not nearly as many Hawaii wedding videographers to choose from as there are photographers, which makes your decision-making easier in some ways but harder in others. Here are some of the main things you should look for when choosing one.

  • Does the videographer work for the same company as the photographer? Most Hawaii wedding videographers work for video-only companies, so your photographer may not be used to working with your videographer. This can create problems, such as your photographer frequently getting into the videographer's shots, or not allowing the videographer enough time to get his or her shots during the formal photography session. The vidoegrapher's style can also be jarringly different from the photographer's. A Special Moment is one of the few companies that does both video and photography, so if you choose us for both you will know that your photographer and videographer will be working well together.
  • Does the videographer use a "three-chip," professional video camera and a high-quality wireless microphone? Many of the "low-end" videographers use non-professional cameras that produce a substantially more contrasty image with muddy-looking colors, and use a cheap "UHF" wireless microphone or even rely solely on the camera's built-in microphone. A good-quality wireless mike is absolutely essential if your wedding ceremony will take place outdoors, because in Hawaii the trade winds are almost constantly present, and wind noise on a microphone can easily drown out all other sound. You need the microphone to be very close to the speakers and protected from the wind. Here at A Special Moment we are very careful to minimize wind noise with careful placement of our top-of-the-line Sennheiser wireless microphone, or better yet, a wired microphone that elimintes the problems with drop-outs and interference that even the best wireless microphones can have. And we use top-of-the-line cameras such as the Panasonic AG-DVX100a for a sharp image with rich colors and great shadow detail.
  • Does the videographer include shots of the bridal party getting ready and interviews with guests at no extra charge? At A Special Moment we include these shots with our deluxe package, while many other Hawaii wedding videographers charge hundreds extra for those shots. We also include coverage of the formal photography in both our standard and deluxe package, while many videographers also charge extra for that.
  • Does the videographer use a tripod? You might be surprised at how many do not. Sometimes it is a good decision to use a hand-held camera, because you can be more mobile and get angles you might otherwise miss, so in some situations we do take the camera off the tripod. Or we may even shoot an entire ceremony and reception hand-held if the customer wants a very fluid style and doesn't mind some inevitable "jerkiness." However most of the time you want a tripod to be used for a rock-steady, professional-looking video.
  • Does the videographer offer a high-definition option? If so, keep in mind that you aren't getting hi-def if you don't have both a hi-def TV and a blu-ray disc player. Regular DVDs can give you a widescreen video, but the image is nowhere near as sharp as true high-definition. Also, check if the videographer uses a camcorder or a DSLR. Both options have some advantages, but we greatly prefer the DSLR option, mostly because DSLRs perform much better in low light (no big, glaring lights at your reception), and produce a more cinematic image with more depth and better color. We use the Panasonic GH2 which in our opinion is the best DSLR for shooting video. (Technically it is a mirrorless camera rather than a DSLR. Look for an article on mirrorless vs. DSLR vs. camcorder hi-def coming soon.)
  • What is the videographer's style? Every videographer has a certain style they favor, with the variation mostly involving how much camera movement is used, what camera angles are used, how much the videographer uses direction to have people do things specifcally for the video, and how the video is edited. At A Special Moment, for the most part we tend to use a fairly straightforward documentary, story-telling style, capturing what happens without editing out a lof of things, or calling attention to the camera with a lot of movement or unusual camera angles, and without a lot of quick cutting between shots or extensive use of effects in the editing. For the formals we do use a more "fluffy" style, with more camera movement, unusual angles, and editing effects such as slow motion and sepia and fancy transitions between shots. This is because the formals are more about the "look" of the video than about storytelling. Other videographers use a very "fluffy" style throughout, with a very mobile camera, cutting out a lot of things, and a lot of direction and effects.There is no "correct" style of course. You need to ask to see samples of the videographer's work to get a sense of their style, and find out how much they are willing to change it to suit your needs.
  • How much experience does the videographer have in Hawaii? At A Special Moment, we have 19 years of experience with Hawaii weddings. Many Hawaii wedding videographers are new to the islands and are unfamiliar with the special challenges of shooting in Hawaii with the rapidly changing lighting conditions and wind problems.
  • Does the videographer rely solely on "automatic" camera settings for focus and exposure? A lot of Hawaii wedding videographers on the lower end of the price scale, and even many of the more expensive ones, never focus manually or set the exposure manually, and the result can look very amateurish, with the image constantly getting brighter or darker, people being silhouettes when they are back-lit, people going in and out of focus if someone passes in front of them, and so on. There are many situations where using the automatic settings is best, but a good videographer will use manual settings if the situation calls for it.
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