Picture this…You’re sitting together on your 40th wedding anniversary and you want to remenisce about your wedding day so you open your wedding album. Why the album? Long after the cake is eaten, your chief bridesmaid has dissapeared to a tropical island and the agonising decision of which entree is long forgotten, the only lasting momento from your wedding day is your wedding album. Thats why. Entrusting someone inexperienced to capture your wedding day memories for all time is an enormous risk.
Consider your choices of wedding photographers at the moment:
(1) The Friend: Who has a good camera and took some nice photos while being a guest at a friends wedding.
(2) The Desperately Stylish Newbie: Who has just finished a course, shot one friends backyard wedding and now fancies themselves as a pro.
(3) And the Professional Wedding Photographer.
One would say that they all take pictures. Yes, that’s right. Anyone can afford a good camera and learn the technical side, but if your expectations are high and you want something original, you need to choose very carefully.The professional wedding photographer has made his/her life’s dedication to photography. They LIVE it, it’s how they pay their mortgage. It didn’t start as a hobby and “kinda grew from there”, it started as a career commitment that includes a tertiary qualification just as a Builder, Doctor or a Specialist would commit. A professional is an artist. Not a camera operator. That’s the difference – the professional’s real signature is how they see your wedding day then how they translate that into beautiful images. Thus, professional wedding photographers’ works are stamped with their own style, so chose the photographer and style that best suits you.
The most important point to remember is that Wedding photography is an artform in itself. It takes not only professional equipment, it takes technical mastery, knowledge of shooting in natural light, speed, stealth (especially important during the ceremony), familiarity with the area you want photos taken, creativity and most importantly – a “people” personality! There is a lot to be said for an EXPERIENCED wedding photographer, and by that I mean 10 years or more shooting weddings regularly. Not all people can be photographers and not all professional photographers can shoot weddings.
What makes a good professional wedding photographer great??? Personality! It is the one thing that can make or break a wedding day. He/she needs to fit seamlessly into a Bride’s plans, yet steer the ship away from any icebergs. He/She’ll need to keep their cool while wrangling excited family and guests, making sure the Bride is relaxed and beautiful, dealing (politely) with “Uncle Nev” who fancies himself as a hot shot photo pro, winning the heart of the Bride’s Mum by remembering not only her name but the whole family and the dog’s name too, working in with the hire-car driver who’s panicking about finishing on time so he can get to his next gig, all the while your photographer is making the whole experience nothing but fun for the bridal party without breaking a sweat and the smile never fades from their face.
A professional photographer will have multiple camera bodies, use different types of lenses, will have backups and are prepared for contingencies and will photograph with no flash for 70% of the time. Digital photography technology has come a long way, so a professional photographer will be competant not just in shooting, but will be an expert in processing, retouching and archiving your digital files. They will have invested in industry standard computer hardware (not a fancy laptop), software such as Adobe CS and be proficient in how to use it. They will be committed to advancing their knowledge and keep up to date with the latest techniques by engaging with industry associations such as the AIPP who’s CDP program is designed to do just this. They’ll also be acvitely involved in their local wedding industry by participating in groups such as their local BEC or “Say I do Weddings”. If your photographer is not up to speed with the latest digital post-production techniques and processes, then check to see if they have someone on their staff that is. Great photos on the day are just the start. You want your images to look amazing, not overdone.
I often hear from prospective brides “but that other photographer will GIVE me the hi-res files”. There are many Newbie photographers offering a shoot-and-burn style package at what seems to be a very reasonable price. But I don’t get it – your wedding day is over and all you have is a bunch of 0’s and 1’s on a flash drive? What are you going to do, plop Nanna infront of the computer to show her your wedding photos? What if you want any prints made? Albums created? Does the Newbie have access to professional quality post-production services? I doubt it. What happens if you’re not happy with the photos or the quality of the imaging? Your Newbie isn’t going to care – he’s handed over your hi-res files as agreed and banked your money long ago and you have absolutely no recourse whatsoever. None. If your photographer is prepared to GIVE you their hard earned hi-res files for free, how invested in you, your wedding and their own business do you think he/she really is? Not really a bargain anymore now is it?
So on your 40th wedding anniversary while thumbing through your beautiful album, do you think you’ll be discussing how much your professional wedding photographer cost? I would hope you’re too busy wiping away tears of joy at reliving all those precious moments your professional photographer captured forever more, just for you.