Wedding Photographers Adapt to Couples who want Instant Images — An Opportunity for You!

I saw an article on PetaPixel today about a particular wedding photography trend. Entitled The Demand for Instant Images is Upending Wedding Photography, the post is based off of a lengthier Associated Press piece called Wedding photographers adapt to couples who want instant images and less tradition. I don’t want to get into the details of either, but the summary is this: customers want a quicker turnaround so they can share pictures and videos of their big event more timely.

I’m not a wedding photographer. I’ve photographed a couple of weddings in the past—many years ago—and I have no desire to jump into that genre. Good wedding photographers are sometimes the first there and last to leave. It’s not uncommon to work 12, 14, or even 16 hours on the big day. Then there are thousands of exposures to cull through, and then edit. That might be an additional 24, 28, or even 32 hours of work! That’s not my cup of tea. For others, though, this is their thing, and they love what they do. Their passion is capturing incredible memories of other people’s weddings.

The shift to a faster turnaround must be frustrating for many in the industry, but it’s actually an opportunity. The article states that some wedding photographers are trying to get some social media type content into the hands of their customers within 48 hours. But why that long? Why not much quicker? Why not as the wedding is happening? If you can do that, you have a huge leg-up on your competition.

I cohost a live YouTube series with official Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry. She does a lot of business photography. Recently she was hired to photograph a corporate event, but they wanted to have the pictures available to share on their social media platforms immediately, in real-time as the event was happening. How did she do this? First, she used Fujifilm gear combined with my Film Simulation Recipes, and shot JPEGs. The pictures looked good straight-out-of-camera, and no editing was needed. Every so many minutes she downloaded the pictures off the camera and uploaded them onto a cloud drive that the customer had access to. Within 10 or 15 minutes of the pictures being captured, the customer was able to share them across the world. This went so well that a week later she was hired to do it again for a different corporate event. I do believe this is the future of event photography, including wedding photography.

Maybe real-time photo sharing isn’t something you’re ready to offer, but if your pictures look great straight-out-of-camera, and further manipulation isn’t needed (or only lightly needed), you can speed up your turnaround significantly. Instead of providing the client with a small batch of photos within 48 hours for social media sharing while they wait up to six weeks for the rest, you can deliver the whole wedding the next day or maybe two. This is, of course, in theory. I’m not aware of anyone who is actually doing this right now. A few different wedding photographers have told me that they are using my Film Simulation Recipes on their Fujifilm cameras, and delivering some of the pictures either same-day or next-day to the client, while providing the rest of photographs at some point later on. I do think, if you’ve got good settings dialed into your camera, and you’re especially careful to get everything right at the time the pictures are captured, that delivering unedited JPEGs of the wedding to the couple is possible, and nobody will be the wiser that you didn’t actually spend hours post-processing RAW files.

This is something I’ve talked about before. Back in December I published Want to be a Wedding Photographer? Your Opportunity Awaits! and earlier this month I posted The Future of Photography is Unedited, where I touched on this topic. I keep bringing it up because I see this shift happening, and those who already have a simplified workflow using Film Simulation Recipes are ahead of the curve, and are primed for success in this changing environment. I want to make sure that you are aware of it, in case you want to take advantage of the opportunity.

I don’t do wedding or event photography, but there are still plenty of advantages to shooting JPEGs. Despite having way more photographs to cull through and share, I was able to publish my pictures of the Central Coast of California tour much quicker than Ken Rockwell did, because my workflow is much quicker than his. That’s a pretty meaningless example; I don’t have a lot of strict photographic deadlines. Perhaps a better case is this: on December 8th of last year, Nathalie, myself, a group of guests, and those who tuned-in, created a Film Simulation Recipe during the Let’s Get Festive holiday-special SOOC Live broadcast—this is the first and (as far as I’m aware) only time a Fujifilm Recipe has been made live on YouTube. Within minutes of its creation, I (and others) had captured a picture using the new Film Simulation Recipe and shared it with all those watching. The very next day I published the Recipe, which the live audience named Mystery Chrome, on this website (and the Fuji X Weekly App), complete with 24 example pictures. That’s my best quick-turnaround example.

Even though I don’t have the need to publish pictures immediately after they’ve been captured, I do sometimes share a photo quickly through text or social media, which is never a problem because I don’t post-process my images. What’s more meaningful to me is that I don’t spend hours and hours sitting at a computing fiddling with files, which saves me a ton of time, making me more productive, while also freeing up time for other things (such as writing blog posts and spending time with my family). It’s changed my life, no hyperbole. I think it can and will change event photography and even wedding photography. It will just take some pioneer photographers to give it a try, which could be you.

Not post-processing your pictures is called one-step photography, a term coined by Edwin Land and perpetuated by Ansel Adams in his book Polaroid Land Photography. “The effect of one-step processing on both amateur and professional creative photography,” Adams stated, “has been revolutionary.” With film, step-one is capturing the picture in-camera and step-two is developing and printing it in a darkroom; however, Polaroid cameras removed the second step, creating a one-step process, which greatly simplified the photographic workflow. With digital, step-one is capturing the picture in-camera and step-two is post-processing in software like Lightroom; however, Film Simulation Recipes remove the second step, creating a one-step process, which greatly simplifies the photographic workflow. “The process has revolutionized the art and craft of photography,” Adams concluded. It still is, for those who embrace the one-step approach.

DPReview is Back from the Dead

Digital Photography Review’s demise was short lived. Amazon was going to close it down, but now they’re selling it to Gear Patrol.

I had never heard of Gear Patrol before, so I had to look them up. Even though DPReview’s traffic has been shrinking (well before the announcement from Amazon, but especially after), they still have more visitors—and those visitors view more pages and stay longer—than Gear Patrol. Obviously they hope that this acquisition expands both audiences with crossover between the two websites.

When I was on the Central Coast of California tour two weeks ago, DPReview was brought up several times. There were a few interesting points made and insights that were discussed. I don’t have any inside information into the business dealings of any of these companies, but I do know a little about the industry in general, so I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about it here on Fuji X Weekly. It’s a hot topic, so perhaps you’re interested in my opinions—if not, that’s ok, just ignore this article.

Pacific Poppies – Montaña de Oro SP, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 90mm – Pacific Blues

Amazon conducted a financial audit of their company, as they routinely do, and some alarming statistics were discovered. In response, Amazon looked closely at their divisions that were not profitable (or were perhaps trending towards and forecasted to be not profitable), and made determinations on layoffs, selling “assets” that were no longer so, and shuttering departments. DPReview, which was owned by Amazon, was chosen to close.

Two points that I believe are important, but I think were overlooked in the emotion of the closing news, are: 1) DPReview was either not profitable or was trending in that direction and forecasted to be that soon, and 2) Amazon did make some effort to sell it before deciding to close it. I don’t have any personal information on either of those two points, but it only makes sense, and thinking otherwise doesn’t make any sense. No matter how “evil” or “heartless” you think Amazon is, they wouldn’t close a profitable division—they are much more business savvy than you or I, and profits are profits, and an “asset” that’s losing money isn’t one. I doubt Amazon put much effort into selling DPReview, but they probably sent out a handful of inquiries to some companies within their circle to see if any would take the bait, and apparently none bit, so they decided instead to turn out the lights. They must have thought that there wouldn’t be much interest in it.

But then there was a huge outcry from the photo community. I believe that some offers to buy DPReview began to come in, including from Gear Patrol, so Amazon decided to keep it running for a couple months longer as they worked out the details. For Amazon, it makes a lot more sense to sell than to close, so they were quite happy to have a buyer, and probably sold DPReview at a discount.

So why would DPReview, which has a very large and devoted audience, have trouble turning a profit? The answer is simple: cost. The biggest expense for every company is almost always employees. I don’t know how many work for DPReview, but Google says that it’s at least 11 (I have no idea if that’s accurate). Ken Rockwell, for example, only employs himself, so even though he has a significantly smaller audience than DPReview, he’s able to turn a profit. Another big expense for DPReview is data storage and hosting. Now obviously they use Amazon Web Services (AWS) for this, which means they’ve either received this service for free or at a significant discount as a perk of being owned by Amazon. I use AWS for a couple of really small things, and I pay monthly for it. I can only imagine how expensive it would be for something as huge as DPReview! Not to mention that it’s constantly expanding daily (particularly thanks to the forums). Finally, DPReview is headquartered in an high-cost city, which in prosperous times is no big deal, but in lean times might make a significant difference.

Exchanging Money – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Pentax 55mm f/2.2 – Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Push-Process

I imagine that Gear Patrol negotiated (as a part of the sale) the inclusion of AWS for DPReview, and probably for a specific time. It could be three months, it could be six, but more likely it’s at least 12, if not up to 36. That gives Gear Patrol time to figure out how to run DPReview leaner before having to absorb that big expense.

What’s in it for Amazon? Well, first, there’s however much money Gear Patrol is paying them to buy DPReview. All of those affiliate links are still there, too, bringing customers to Amazon. And if DPReview can stay afloat, there will be the AWS money, too. Even if Amazon practically gave away DPReview (which they might have), it’s still better for them than to just close it down.

What’s in it for Gear Patrol? Suddenly their audience has more than doubled. If they can incorporate some crossover, there’s a real opportunity. However, they have to be careful, and it’s possible they’ve bit off more than they can chew. The challenge will be running DPReview leaner while not degrading the experience, and not making the crossover off-putting to visitors.

What’s in it for DPReview? The people who work there don’t get a pink slip—at least not everyone, and not right away. People who have worked hard for years to build the website and brand will be able to keep doing so. For those at DPReview (and their families), this must feel like a huge relief, although I’m sure there will still be a lot of stress with the transition.

Open Window Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Fujinon 60mm – Kodachrome II

What’s in it for the photography community? DPReview has been around for a really long time, and there are so many resources on their website, which almost completely disappeared. Now—and at least for now—those resources will still be available to the photography community for some time to come.

Unfortunately for DPReview and Gear Patrol, the very best part of DPReview is now at PetaPixel: Chris and Jordan. That’s a huge win for PetaPixel!

So it seems like a win-win-win-win-win situation. Amazon won. Gear Patrol won. DPReview won. PetaPixel won. The photography community won. Amazing!

I doubt that Gear Patrol reads this website, but just in case, the advice that I’d offer them is this: in 2023, people are a little less interested in the fine details of the specs of camera gear than they used to be, and are more interested in how to use their gear to achieve what they want to achieve. We’ve reached a point (really, surpassed it) of diminishing returns, and the small differences between makes and models matter much less than they used to. Nowadays, anyone can achieve what they want to achieve with whatever gear they have, if only they knew how. There are people who either don’t know this, or who ignore it because it’s easier and more convenient to blame their gear than themselves, so they still get worked up over the insignificant differences, but most people are beginning to realize that the gear they own (or are about to own) is actually much more capable than they are. What they want to know is how to use their gear. They want to know how to achieve what they desire either the simplest way or the best way. If you focus more on that, you’ll find tons of success moving forward in this changing environment.

Fuji X Weekly App featured on FujiRumors & PetaPixel!

The Fuji X Weekly App for iOS has been making the rounds on the web! FujiRumors shared it on December 24th, a Christmas Eve surprise! Today, PetaPixel published an article about it! These were both completely unexpected! Being featured on these websites is a big deal, and this is a first appearance for me on Petapixel. I’m really honored.

Here’s a quick update:
The Android version of the app is being worked on and progress is so far going quite well. I’m hoping that it will be available before March, but there’s still a long ways to go before it’s done, so it’s hard to say for sure when it will be released. The Fuji X Weekly Patrons are the ones who are making this happen, and the Android app would be nowhere close to where it is now without the Patrons. Your support is going to produce some amazing things that would not be possible without you. Thank you, Patrons!

Once the Android version is out, the next big thing is an update that will bring new features and functionality to the app. Some things will be made available to everyone, and some things will be made available only to Patrons, and some current Patron-only features will be unlocked for everyone. I don’t know how long it will take to get the update up and running, but I’m really hoping it can be done before the summer.

The Fuji X Weekly app has been downloaded 20,000 times! That’s incredible! I’m happy to provide this free resource to you, and it will only get better and better! I’m extremely appreciative of all the Patrons, because without your support none of this would be possible. We all owe you a debt of gratitude! I want to give a big “thank you” to those who have downloaded the app, to those who have shared the app on their websites and social media, and especially to all the Patrons!