I was recently answering some questions for people in a photography forum when I came across the following rather painful question from a recent bride:

Is it possible to professionally fix blurry, poor resolution, flat digital wedding photos?
My wedding pictures are a disappointment. Some are really blurry. The ones that aren’t blurry lack detail almost as if the resolution was poor, so they seem a tad blurry anyway. The pictures simple[sic] have no pop.The photog used too much flash so most of the pictures lack depth and perspective (I hope I’m using the right terms). He also did not shoot in RAW (I hear that’s bad), and instead shot straight to jpeg.

Is there any way to professionally alter photos like these so that they can somehow gain the clarity, resolution and depth that they never had?

Wedding Image
Unfortunately, the answer is no.  I wish I could report that this is an isolated incident, but sadly, I see questions similar to this every day from couples who have had their wedding images ruined because of a very unprofessional photographer that clearly wasn’t up for the task of photographing a wedding. I tried to give the bride some advice, but unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options. Most of the photos were ruined, and the bride’s only recourse is to request a refund.

Unfortunately, getting the $500 back from the photographer is not going to be easy because chances are they have already spent it. The only way he or she will be able to return the bride’s $500 is to book another wedding for $500, and thus begins the endless cycle of the semi-pro wedding photographer, of trying to find a new client to pay enough so that they can refund the money to the last client.

These photographers eventually disappear, but not before leaving a long list of disappointed clients in their wake. The worst part is that these “professionals” prey on clients who are looking to save a little money on their wedding, and seeing a photographer that charges a small fraction of what others are charging may seem like a godsend. And since most people only hire one wedding photographer in their lives, they lack the experience to understand what they are really getting from that budget photographer.

So what is a couple to do?

There are a few things to think about that will help you avoid this unfortunate situation. First, photographers can charge vastly different prices from one another, but the price can tell you a lot. If some photographers are charging $5,000 per day and others are charging $500, there must be a reason why. It is likely that that the more expensive photographer is able to charge that much because he or she already has a good reputation with a stable client base. The person that is charging $500 per day is probably a lot more desperate for clients because they lack experience.

Also, beware of the photographer who offers to shoot the wedding and send you a CD. These “shoot and burn” photographers want to wash their hands of their clients as soon as possible. Quality photographers realize that shooting a wedding is only the first step. They are proud of their work, and they want to help their clients to create photo albums and prints that will be cherished for a life time. They do not want their work printed at the local Walmart because they are emotionally invested in the images they create, and want their clients to have the best prints possible. When a budget photographer sends you a CD, they stopped caring about your images the second they dropped the CD in the mailbox.

In conclusion, it isn’t necessary to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a wedding photographer, but you should keep in mind that there is a big difference in photographers out there. If you think that your budget is forcing you to choose a photographer who you are not comfortable with, try calling around. I have worked with clients who thought they couldn’t afford me, and we have been able to work something out. A photographer might be able to give you a much better deal by having a wedding a week or two away from the prime season, or by having you wedding on a weeknight instead of a Saturday.

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