The Overlooked Importance of Wedding Photographers
Weddings. Each of us has probably been to at least one wedding at some time or another, and no two people remember one exactly the same way. Most people consider a wedding to be a once in a lifetime event to be enjoyed and shared. Family, friends, associates, co-workers, the cat, anyone we can think of is invited to the big day. Every single detail is painstakingly fussed over, checked, and rechecked. This day has to be just perfect. The church, the dress, the gowns, the suits, the tuxes, the cake, the food, the music, the limo or carriage, etc. Every aspect of it, every detail. People do tremendous amounts of research, and go out of their way to find the best of everything that they can for each of these facets so that this day is as perfect as can be. So let me ask you this, with all this preparation and attention to detail at stake, why is it that most people skimp on the wedding photography? After all, when the day is done and over, and all that time and effort that was put into it is over, all you have left are the photos and the memories, and memories fade over time. Do people see it as not being important enough to properly document the days events? So I ask again, why do so many people cut corners on the photography? It is one of the single most important events in most people's lives…right?
I have seen too many times where a relative, friend, or friend of a friend who just happens to own a camera, is asked (or volunteers) to take the photos of one of the most important events of someone's life, and for the sake of saving a few dollars or out of the desire to not step on anyone's feelings. The unthinkable can and usually does happen, the photos don't turn out very well, or at all. The shots are overly crooked, too dark, too light, out of focus, the flash burned out half the people, the group shot is bad and there was only one, the formals are soft or off center, heads are cut off, or have background objects sprouting from them, or key moments during the day and ceremony are missed entirely. Once it's happened, it's over, there are no second chances during a wedding ceremony, and no forgiveness. Many times these kinds of photos are unsavable, not even if you have exceptional photoshop skills. Sadly, you are essentially stuck with what you are given at this point. Seasoned wedding photographers have to be on their toes at all times. Their "A" game is a must. Nothing less is acceptable. The days are long, there are usually no breaks, and no time to eat. Nor would that be appropriate in my opinion. They are the first one there, and often times the last to leave.
While Uncle Bill or Aunt Beth or even Bobby from down the street would probably enjoy doing you this greatest of favors on your big day, you aren't doing the bridal party or yourself any favors by going this route, and all for the sake of saving a few dollars, or from fear of hurting someone's feelings. Think of the reaction and the stress, particularly from the bride, upon seeing poor quality photos of a wedding, her wedding, ruined, and unusable, and knowing there are no do overs. This day will never happen again and it affects every person that was involved with it. Give this some serious thought and let that scenario sink in. Do you want that responsibility? Can you live with and accept that you made a poor decision that allows for no do overs and will be forever remembered as being most likely one of the biggest mistakes you ever made? Do you really want all those fingers pointing at you? Unless you choose someone who has shot at the very least more than one wedding, that person is NOT qualified to be trusted with your once in a lifetime photography no matter how good their intentions. Nor should they be.
When choosing a wedding photographer, there are some key points to keep in mind, and questions to ask. How long has the photographer been shooting weddings? How many weddings have they shot? Do they carry backup equipment in case of camera failure? Extra batteries? Extra flash? Do they have a hard copy or web portfolio in which you can view their work? Are they easy to get along with and will they honor any special requests you have during the shoot and throughout the day? Are they flexible in their shooting schedule? Do they use an assistant or go it alone? Do they have reliable transportation? Are they willing to travel any? Will they leave at a preset time, or hang around to make sure they don’t miss anything? Do you get original files? How many? Do they archive them and if so how long? Do they offer prints, albums, etc? Do they attend the rehearsal? Will they send a replacement photographer in the event they get hurt or are too sick to make the day? The list goes on. Don't just ask for a price and availability.
Wedding photographers come in all price ranges as well. When planning a wedding, a budget of some kind has to be set aside for decent photos. I have seen prices ranging from $500 to $5000, so there is no reason not to find and hire someone with the ability to make sure your day is covered, and within your budget. You want to be sure to look at their samples, talk with the person who will be doing the actual shooting, and only then can you be assured, confident, and relieved, that the photos will be satisfactory and to your liking when you receive them. You also want to be sure when looking over samples that whoever you choose has a proven track record of getting all the must have shots, such as, the bride coming down the aisle, the ring exchange, the kiss, cutting of the cake, the first dance and so forth. There are many more, but by now I'm sure you are getting the idea. All of the photos are important in my opinion, but there are definitely must have shots that simply can not be missed.
The point in all this is, it really doesn't matter who you hire. Just make sure that you hire someone that is right for you and will work to meet your expectations. Make sure you shop around, and look over more than one photographer. Never just look at one photographer and then settle to make it easy on yourself. Make sure you make a list of questions to ask and make your decision based on good research and information. Make sure you get someone who will make certain the photography goes smooth, who has experience and will make sure you get decent, quality, clear photos of the big day. This will be one less worry for you and give you confidence that things will go as planned. After it's all said and done, that's all there will be left to see, so make sure the photos are good ones! You will be glad you did, and so will anyone viewing the photos.