Digital technology revolutionized wedding photography. Not only did it improve things for established wedding photographers, it also lowered the barrier of entry into the business of wedding photography for amateur photographers and hobbyists. Among other things, the digital revolution gave photographers the ability to take an unlimited amount of photos at a wedding.
This is all very good news, but it could be dangerous too. At a wedding, photographers used to take 200 to 400 photos and show 50 to 200 photos to the couple. Now, wedding photographers are shooting (and presenting) ten times that amount! As technology increases our abilities, the bar is constantly raised, as it should be. One thing has remained constant, though: The thing that sets professionals and amateurs apart is knowing when and when NOT to press the shutter release button.
Nowadays, it is easy to take a million photos at a wedding (but not so easy sorting and editing a million photos). Similarly, it is very difficult to only take 1000 photos. For me, it is absolutely imperative never to miss an important moment, expression, emotion, glance, or tear, but it is also equally important to know when to put my camera down.
The real question is: what is the perfect number of wedding photos? How many photos make the first cut? Make it into the album? Get put up on the wall? Are shown after 5 years? Pulled out after 25 years?
Of course the answer is different for everybody, but my answer (at least to the final question) is . . . one. 750 might make the first cut. 150 might make it to the album. A handful may be hung on the wall, but probably just one is shown after the couples' 10th anniversary. One is certainly remembered. Every wedding I have photographed in the past seven years has had that one moment . . . that one iconic image that the couple - and I - remember their wedding day by.
For the last couple of years, I have half-joked that one day I will be "good enough" to start a wedding photography business where I go into a wedding with one small memory card in my camera, and stay with the bride and groom all day until I can "sense" that one image that sums up their entire wedding, snap it, walk away, then present it to them, printed on a beautiful wall canvas a couple weeks later. We'll see if that ever happens. Until then, I'll continue to take thousands of photos :)