By: Bob Brichmann
Not everyone can jump right in and be a wedding photographer. There’s so much to it. Beware of the beginner. Anyone can create a cute, flash-filled, slick web site. Search for experience. Do you want to be the guinea pig bride for the newbie photographer?
Experience has a price. Experience, though, shows in the quality of your pictures. Your photos are your memories. They are the documentary of your biggest day. This is what your children and grandchildren will inherit and remember you by. You don’t want to cut back on this aspect of your wedding budget.
Pricing is really all over the map when it comes to professional wedding photography. Experts agree that you should raise an eyebrow to anyone charging $1000 or less for a full wedding package.
You can expect to pay more for multiple photographers and engagement sessions. Your end product will impact your budget. Do you simply want a disk of pictures or do you want the full blown, retouched coffee table photo album? Are you providing album gifts to both sets of parents?
Yes, you are paying for the photographer’s artistry the day of, but after the wedding they are putting in serious hours of post-production. There’s retouching and picture cropping. There’s the production and selection process revolving around your proofs. There’s the assembly of the album(s). Hours and hours of expertise go into making each client happy in the end.
Professionals in most of the wedding fields always strive to stay current with their skills, their equipment, trends and their devotion to their craft. Photographers are no exception.
Membership in organizations such as PPA (Professional Photographers Association) and WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photographers International) validates many as professionals. It demonstrates ones commitment to excellence and continued education. These groups stage annual conferences that offer education on new technologies, techniques, advances in post-production practices and trends.
In other words, the true professional is constantly learning. They are committed to providing the best quality they can and that you deserve. Hobbyists or retired Uncle Bill with the new digital camera rarely show this kind of commitment. Why take the chance with an amateur with your wedding day pictures?
Don’t forget to check for membership in local organizations and the Better Business Bureau. What is their service record like in the community?
Check for a business license and proof of insurance. What is their back-up contingency plan? Are they a legitimate business? Ask them to give you a couple of references of past brides to check in with. Are you meeting them at a studio or a taco shop? Be wary of someone asking for a large deposit up front or a high-pressure sale pitch. If that happens we suggest you walk away. Also be aware of pricing that is too good to be true. The old saying goes, “you get what you pay for!”
So much goes into shooting photography on the wedding day that we take much of it for granted. We think it’s just point and click. That’s the difference between you shooting a picture with your digital camera and the professional documenting the day.
Candids, camera angles, shadows, sunlight, lowlight conditions all of these factors weigh on the professional. They are trained to deal with these.
Photographers know you want a mostly photojournalistic approach to your day, but you still need some family formals. They know how to corral family efficiently and politely for those group photos. They know how to make the bride and her bridesmaids that much more comfortable to coax that extra emotion from them for that special photo.
They know when to capture that emotion from mom and dad as you say your wedding vows and dad clutches mom’s hand.
Amidst the sea of other shutterbugs flittering about your event, they can tactfully navigate around them and still get the shot! It’s what they’re trained to do.
Professionals will know the nuances of your ceremony site or facility. They know how to work with (not against) the other wedding vendors to make the event run that much more smoothly. They know how to follow a timeline.
The biggest difference between an amateur and professional photographer may lie in the continuity of their work. You know to expect the best when you hire a professional. There’s less uncertainty. You and your family have peace of mind.
“The biggest regret from my wedding was my photography. I was talked into using a family member who simply handed me a disk after the wedding. My photos sucked. It makes me so sad that I don’t have good wedding pictures,” admits recent bride Aubrey.
Don’t make the same mistake as Aubrey did. She may have been misguided into thinking she could save some money with one of the crucial areas of her wedding.
Family and friends remember the party. The professional photographer chronicles it for you with a keen eye, a grace and an ease in doing what they do best capturing moments that will make you smile every time you look at your pictures and reflect on the Big Day.
Your memories are worth the expense!