Does your wedding photographer know what they are doing?

With the UK economy as it is I see an increasing number of amateur photographers being asked to cover Your Big Day. Is this a good idea? Or is it a false economy?

Well, the problem is that many clients have the same expectations from an amateur photographer as they do with the professional images they see in the wedding magazines.  After all, anybody can be a photographer, right? And if that’s true, why not save the money and put it towards something else? WRONG.

It’s true that anyone can press a shutter – but it’s a vastly different thing to have them deliver professional quality images at a wedding. Wedding photography is considered by many to be one of the most difficult, challenging and high-pressure photography jobs around. You have to be master of multiple photography disciplines and you have no luxury of a re-shoot if things don’t turn out.

So what are these differences between an amateur and a professional wedding photographer?

The Amateur;
– “has taken pictures at weddings before”.
– will not understand how light and the camera works, his favorite camera setting is “Auto”.
– doesn’t see the need to spend £400 on an external flash because his camera has a pop-up flash.
– might have a flash but always uses it pointed straight ahead. And it is set to Auto of course.
– has one or two consumer grade zoom lenses.
– gets his prints from a high-street shop.
– will unlikely be able to provide an album (if he does, his selection is limited because most high quality album manufacturers only produce work with professional photographers).
– will not provide a contract.
– can’t give you guarantees… if the wedding pictures don’t turn out, oh well.

The Professional;
– understands how to get the best from any lighting situation from bright sunlight to dark churches.
– can quickly adjust camera settings blindfolded.
– highly skilled at using ambient light, bounced flash, fill flash, and off-camera lighting.
– understands the principles of photojournalism, portrait photography, creative posing, and composition.
– can show you multiple examples of wedding galleries from past clients.
– has enough experience to help your whole wedding day run smoothly.
– has dealt with a host of wedding scenarios including churches, castles, ballrooms, beaches, and parks.
– has shot small weddings, large weddings, traditional, modern and unconventional weddings.
– knows the flow of a wedding day and can anticipate where to be, what to capture, and can adjust to the unexpected.
– can provide valuable advice on your timetable and recommend family group shots.
– has shot hundreds of thousands of images and knows his equipment inside and out.
– has mastered the end-to-end workflow through years of experience.
– provides a contract outlining all relevant facts on the services and products provided and at what cost to the client.
– provides a contract which helps to reduce any misunderstandings between the client and the photographer.
– has insurance to cover himself and his equipment.
– has access to the highest quality professional photo labs.
– works with high-end album manufacturers who only sell to professional photographers.

Phew! I bet you never thought of all that.  Well it is all true and this is why wedding photography is expensive – and should stay expensive.  And I didn’t even include things like accountancy and tax bills, new equipment and maintenance costs, travel expenses and of course … reputation.

So as you as now looking for a wedding photographer make your decision with all of this in mind. And please, please, PLEASE don’t get a family member to do it for you!!

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  • What you are saying in this blog is effecting all areas of the photographic industry. The 2 biggest contributors in my mind is 1. Digital photography, this has devalued photography half the world now thinks they are photographers I meet people down the harbour for instance with all singing all dancing cameras and because they get a couple of good images from a hundred shots they are the best professional photographer in the area and next week they have a website and are promoting themselves has available for commissions undercutting all full-time photographers. 2. The economy people are trying to get the cheapest what ever it is. This last comment is not just aimed at Jo public a lot of businesses especially the website designers are also guilty ,they try to do all there imagery so they can cut the price. Some very good and artistic wedding photograph on show on your site by the way. Its nice to see somebody trying to give value for money.

    September 27, 2011
  • Good post, especially the bit about a guarantee, that’s important and that’s why I don’t do wedding photography. I couldn’t say to a client, I can take perfect photos of your wedding day and if not you can sue me. As you say, you get one chance only. Also, having spare equipment comes into that guarantee, if someone kicks over your photographer’s tripod and his camera is smashed will he simply pull out another and keep shooting?

    As with the comment above about website designers, I have experienced a little of that, not many designers, but some, when I have mentioned my services to them have acted as though I was some ruthless mercenary looking to rip them off and said ‘oh we take all our own photos to save the client money / we don’t like to use photographers’, yet when I look at their websites they are being let down by poor photography with flat lighting.

    September 29, 2011

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