The term “shoot and burn” photographer is used quite extenvisely in the wedding industry but what is a shoot and burn photographer exactly and is it a good or bad thing?
In order to understand the concept of a shoot and burn photographer, it’s important to first understand what the heck happens after a photographer presses the shutter button.
How a high quality wedding photographer takes photos:
1. Have their camera programmed to shoot in ‘RAW’. Raw images are unprocessed files – blank canvases that contain an immense amount of data. A raw file, like film, needs to be “developed” in order to look it’s best.
2. Take a photo
3. Transfer that photo into an editing program such as Lightroom.
4. Adjusts aspects of the image to help add that ‘wow-factor’ to it. Exposure, contrast, temperature, fill, highlights/shadows, clarity, sharpness, vibrancy, saturation, and most importantly – calibration! These are all things a high caliber photographer factors into their editing procress. Editing takes time; it often takes 2-3 times longer to edit photos than it does to shoot them. Even though editing takes time, it’s a crucial step for any high caliber photographer.
5. Images are exported from the editing program and programmed with characteristics for optimum viewing across a variety of devices.
6. Images are then given to client via USB/DVD: if your package contains such
A shoot and burn photographer does not shoot in raw, rather, they shoot in JPEGs. When a photographer shoots in JPEG they are allowing the camera to make the adjustments to exposure/contract/tone, etc. and those adjustments always look “just okay”. There’s no personal flare, distinct style or even individualized perfection of the images. Then, that photographer burns all the JPEGs to a DVD and gives it to the clients. So basically, a shoot and burn photographer somewhat completes step 1 and then skips steps 2 through 5 in the process.
I don’t want to say that there isn’t a place for such a product in the wedding industry because I know for a fact that not all couples have a budget for professional photography nor do all couples even want a photographer. What I will say, though, is that it’s important for clients to understand the type of product they are getting and, when researching various photographers, understand that a variety of price points often reflects a variety of different services, skill levels and overall quality of the finished product.