You’ve been planning your wedding for months and are nervous when the day finally arrives. Of course you want everything to go smoothly. As you’re in your room getting ready, your family members pop in and out to let you know that the vendors are arriving. “The florist is here and is setting up!” “The DJ just pulled in”. “Your photographer is here to take pictures of you getting ready!” You breath a sigh of relief, everything is going smoothly so far. Your photographer is a family friend who does this for fun and this is their second wedding. During your ceremony you see them running around out of the corner of your eye and are glad they are getting different angles. When it ends they start walking over to you looking a little dejected. “Oh no,” you think, “I hope everything went alright.” “How did it go,” you ask, “can I see the pictures?” They pause before saying “Uh, well, it’s really dark in here and I didn’t know what to do. I missed the kiss and I don’t think the others came out well.” Your heart sinks and you feel your cheeks getting hot. You try to keep your composure, but how could they miss the first kiss!
I’ve heard stories like this countless times and I always cringe. Weddings are such a high stress, technically difficult event to photograph. You may think you’re doing your pocket book a favor but bad work is actually more expensive than good work. Not monetarily, but you’ll look back on the photos for years and regret how they turned out. Here are a few reason why it’s worth booking an experienced professional.
One of the biggest reasons for hiring a professional is because they will know exactly what to do when something goes wrong. If their flash dies, they have more batteries. If their camera gets rained on, they have a backup. If a guest knocks over a light stand, they have a spare. An amateur who does weddings for fun or a photographer that is just starting won’t have everything they need. Photography at a high level is exorbitantly expensive. Many professionals I know have $5,000 worth of gear (or more) on their person during a wedding, not to mention their lights and what they left in their bag.
Experience and Knowledge
Something I hear all the time is “Wow, your camera takes really nice pictures! It must have been really expensive!” To which I reply “Thanks! I taught it everything it knows.” Having expensive gear is a big plus, but if you give it to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, it’s worthless. Great pictures only happen when you add experience, knowledge, and a distinct style into the mix. Professionals are also great at picking exactly the right moments to photograph. You’ll get much more emotionally charged photos if the photographer can capture split second expressions. This kind of sensitivity only comes something an amateur won’t have, years of experience.
Weddings are notoriously difficult to light. Churches are usually dark and have random bright spots due to the large stained glass windows (which also cast odd colors). Receptions are usually completely dark aside from the DJ’s lighting. If your ceremony is outdoors then your photographer has to know how to handle harsh noon sun or dreary dark skies.
Receptions are a beast in and of itself. If your photographer isn’t using an on camera flash or have strobes set up throughout the reception hall, the photos will likely suffer. Sorry DJ’s, but you make our lives so much harder. DJ lights are bright and usually multi-colored. A professional will be able to over power the DJs lights or even know how to use them to their advantage. An amateur may also use the built in flash their camera has, which is notoriously harsh and unflattering. A professional will use the venue to their advantage and bounce the light off of ceilings or walls, preventing red eye and giving a more even, less harsh light.
Along with technical knowledge, the professional will also be versed in choreographing the events of the day. Time management is critical to a successful day as a photographer. We need to make sure we get the family and posed photos done during the cocktail hour and get the guests into the venue on time. We will have the days schedule memorized and remind you of time constraints while inevitably trying to find family members for the photos. Like a dance, we also need to be in the right place at the right time. We’ll know where to stand when the party is being announced as entering the reception venue. We’ll know where we can and can’t go during the ceremony.
With a professional, you can be sure that they will get great photos, and you’ll be at ease because of it. Professionals don’t need inspiration to make great work, it’s their job. A professional will be truly invested in what they are doing and therefore give it their all. You are helping them make a living after all. A professional will be more at ease themselves and be comfortable getting into the thick of things. Jumping into the middle of the dance floor, getting up close to the cake smash, catching the tears rolling down your mother’s cheek when she sees you in your dress, and a million other things that a fly on the wall would miss. With all that in mind, they also know how physically taxing photographing a wedding is. They will be on their feet for 10 hours straight, and be crouching and laying down to get better angles. This type of photography is so dependent on experience. Every wedding offers more and more lessons about how to perfect the craft.
High End Products
You may not think so now, but you’re probably going to print your wedding photos. No one has ever looked at someone’s wall and said “Oh honey, that CD looks so nice hanging there!” Getting physical products from your wedding will make it so much more meaningful. Rolling in likes on social media may feel good, but it’s fleeting. A beautiful wedding album will stay with you your entire life and you’ll be able to look at it and reminisce whenever you like. A professional will have done their research and will know the best labs to get your prints made. They will have a catalog of amazing products to offer and will also guarantee you’re happy with them. Of course you can always print them yourself, but you may end up spending just as much money until you get quality prints back (no color casts or weird textures). They will take the stress out of printing them yourself as well. You will know exactly what you’re getting and not have to put any extra work into it.
No Strain on Your Relationship
If you have a friend photograph your wedding and they mess up big time, it might end up putting a strain on your relationship. You wouldn’t want to end up resenting your friend for missing the first kiss. Photographing a wedding is a huge responsibility and emotions will run high if something goes wrong. A professional will be able to handle and resolve bad situations or prevent them from ever happening in the fist place.
In the event that you lose your wedding photos, you want to be sure you can get them back, right? If you book an amateur they may not keep the photos after they send them to you. If you end up losing them you’d never get them back. I can’t speak for all pros, but I personally keep my photos forever and would gladly send an old client their photos again. In the even of a disaster (house fire or flooding) the pro will also be able to reprint your photos for you. Your canvases, albums, prints, and files could all be replaced.
Most professional photographers are insured. They will have their gear insured incase it’s stolen or broken. They will also have liability insurance in case one of your guests falls over a light stand and gets hurt. The insurance will pay for any medical bills or potentially legal fees. Not only that, but some venues require that all of the vendors on site be insured for their own protection.
There are countless reasons why hiring a professional is the right decision. You will literally thank yourself later when the photos are stunning and everything goes as planned. It’s so much less stressful knowing that you will get great results from your big day.
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