Weddings are a big event I don’t need to tell you that. Choosing a wedding photographer, the right one, is a big part of that. There are some things that you may not want to skimp on. They are probably the venue, the dress, and inviting the most important people in your lives. Don’t forget the photographer though as they will be the person that helps that special day live on in your minds. Although everyone agrees they need wedding photos, how some people choose to get them can vary.
Many people these days are looking to friends and relatives to photograph their wedding to save money. There are plenty of friends with “a nice camera” that take “nice photos.” What better excuse to save money on your wedding photography? Here’s why to think twice about asking a friend to photograph your wedding and why you should instead hire a professional, even when on a budget.
I want to highlight the difference between what a friend or relative will give you and the service I will give you. Also to point out that capturing a wedding in photographs is a fulfilling, but a long and tiring day. A great deal of concentration, technical knowledge, attention to detail and time is required.
Would you want to dedicate (and would you enjoy) spending the entire time at the wedding concentrating on every detail and having to lug around a bag of photography gear in the heat of the day whilst not having any time to relax and chat to the bride and groom or the guests? Would you want the pressure on you knowing that the couple are primarily relying on you to get the shots that matter and they will be the lasting memory of their day? And would you want to have to deal with 20+ hours of photo editing afterwards as well? Will you be using professional or entry level photographic equipment? Will you and your camera be capable of dealing with moving subjects and dark conditions? Would you do all that for little money or nothing?
Everyone can take a good photo, but can they do the same under pressure, when the sun isn’t shining and they have to use flash, or they have to take photos indoors in a dingy room? Photos won’t always be taken on a sunny day in good conditions, and when lighting is bad or the person in the photo is backlit or moving, the friend with a “nice camera” may not take such “nice photos.” More importantly can everyone take not just a few good photos, but a whole day’s worth, and will they capture correctly the most crucial moments of the day that matter?
Over the past few years I’ve noticed an influx of new ‘photographers’ come onto the scene. Just like any industry, people come and go. Long established Photographers retire and make way for new ones just starting their careers. This is good, as new photographers means fresh ideas and it provides healthy competition and encourages everyone to try harder to be better, and as a result it provides better photos for you.
However, not all new photographers are created equal. You’ll have probably noticed that prices on photographer websites can vary greatly and so too will the quality of the photos. Some photographers are really good and some are very obviously bad. Some photographers have a good website, but then on closer inspection they have only posted a few lucky good shots. They may only use basic equipment and be inexperienced with the challenges of photographing a wedding.
I’ve seen plenty of cheap photographers that bleach out all the detail of the wedding dress because they don’t know how to cope with bright sunlight. Or used the camera on auto and got a slow shutter speed meaning the photos are blurry.
I probably offer less photos compared to some others for the money. But if someone cheaper than me who has been to a fraction of the weddings I have, is handing to you twice as many photos where most aren't very sharp, are poorly exposed, framed or timed badly; is that really better value?
Should cutting wedding costs mean cutting corners though, and do we know when we are cutting corners when it comes to photography? Myself, I have gradually been building up my professional photographic equipment and with each new wedding, event, party or commercial job, more experience. One year I invested over £7,000 on new camera equipment (£5,000 of that just on one camera body without a lens). A new photographer on the scene is not going to go straight out and spend that amount of money on photographic equipment, know how to use it properly and then charge £300 for a days worth of wedding photos. They’d have to photograph more than 23 weddings just to get that money back! All that time they are not making any money to pay their bills and put food on the table.
So you have found a photographer that says they love photography, they are really “passionate” about it and they are really “excited” to photograph your wedding. Does that translate to new inexperienced photographer who is eager to learn at your expense, or a great photographer who knows they can produce beautiful results based on adequate experience?
I know many of my potential clients ended up choosing another photographer over me because they were cheaper. Photographers who have less experience, inferior equipment, less of an eye for good photos and not so much technical knowledge to get the best shots. As much as I feel frustrated I have lost a client, I also feel for them, as I know that by choosing someone cheap, the photos will be severely lacking. Probably very grainy, ill focused, poorly posed, poorly framed, badly lit, badly edited, and badly printed.
A lot is involved in a days wedding photography. Even in these “tough economic times” there is no substitute for, or shortcut to good wedding photography. There is no second chance and there is no better record of your wedding day. In years to come, your venue, cake, decorations, food and drink will be long used, drunk, eaten or forgotten. Every photo I take is a lasting memory of your day. The vows being given, the signing of the register and the captured expressions will only happen once and won’t be repeated, let me use my experience to make sure they are captured well.
So if you find a photographer who is cheaper than everyone else, make sure you know how that will affect the photos. Is being “passionate about photography” enough to produce really great photos? Or by cutting costs are you also cutting corners?