My third week planning guide is following on from last week's post of choosing a wedding photographer, which might bring up the questions of...
Why should you have a professional photographer capture your wedding?
It's possible that at some point in your search you will have gone 'Oh god, it's so expensive! Can't we cut a corner and just get disposables / use our camera phones / get your uncle to do it?' The answer is yes, of course you could. The same way you could get married in shoes from Primark and eat Tesco buffet lunch. But I’m betting you wont. With photography it's hard to see the value of it before the wedding, when you’re stressing about budget and costing up tangible items like rings, dresses etc. But you really need to try and think about AFTER the wedding, a week after, a month after, two years after, fifty years after when the memories of the day have all but gone. Photography is not just clicking a button, it's creating and curating images to display your day in the best possible way. It's controlling the light, the lens, the flash, the angle, the exposure, and the content.
Do you want to trust that job to someone who doesn’t know how to do it properly to save a bit of cash? If your friend shoots cars, it does not mean they will be good at shooting weddings. Some photography skills aren’t transferrable. Here is some reasoning why professionals are worth the money, and why an amateur or a friend cannot compare with the quality.
I always say that the photography job is 20% photography and 80% people skills on the day. Your photographer will need to know how to interact with a whole range of people - tactfully conversing with the other wedding suppliers, being friendly with all your guests to make them feel comfortable (and possibly keeping calm if some of them are rude!) potentially sweet talking a vicar who maybe has strict rules about photography in the church (happens very often!) and a whole host of other interactions throughout the day. This includes keeping your cool when faced with a situation like a rude guest, a supplier who is getting in the way of ALL the photos, bossy venue coordinators, the list goes on. Experience gives you so much knowledge of how to deal with everything and anything. It's also about experience of anticipation of a shot - the more weddings you go to, the more signs you can see when a good moment is about to happen. You learn to read people better, and are then ready ready waiting with your camera. You also learn a sensitivity that can often be needed on wedding days, especially with elderly relatives, complicated family relationships or young children. And that's before we start talking about the experience needed to make you as the couple feel comfortable! Knowledge to pose you both naturally, reading your body language and making sure your photos are relaxed, and calming any photo nerves you have.
You’ll likely to be praying for a dry day for your wedding and fingers crossed you’ll get it, but if its not blue skies you need someone who’s going to know what to do - where to shoot, how to create light when there is none, think on their feet, have kit that can withstand the rain and above all have experience in dealing with these conditions. The weather is the one thing you have absolutely zero control over, so eliminate any stress by having a photographer who knows what they're doing if you don't get the sunshine you're hoping for.
It's not all about the camera round their neck, but it is important to have professional level gear that can work in all lighting conditions. Having a professional flash (and more importantly knowing how to use it!) plus light stands, video lights, reflectors and anything else that might be needed to light a room when the suns down is also very important.
BACKUPS (ON THE DAY... AND AFTER!)
You also need to have someone that has a backup camera, lenses, extra batteries and cards too. Technology is a law unto itself and can go wrong for no reason. A photographer NEEDS to have pro-level backup kit at all times. If the camera of your amateur photographer breaks during the ceremony and they don't have a backup – what happens for the rest of the day? Backing up the images after the day is super important too, there are so many horror stories on the net about cards being lost, stolen, damages, corrupted and the photographer didn't have a backup. I backup by images when I get in from the wedding in 3 different places (two hard drives and one off site) and then don't delete the images of the CF card until the wedding has been delivered.
CONTRACT & DEPOSIT
If someone is shooting a wedding for free or for a small amount of money, chances are there won't be a contract with them. You NEED a contract, not just to stop them going off with any money you’ve given them, or not turning up, but also incase they use the images in ways you haven’t allowed. These are worst case sceneries but all things that happen. I take a deposit on booking so we both know we’re committed to that day, and a contract which we both sign to make sure we’re both covered if any problems did arise.
If you really only have a small budget, it's much more worth while to have a professional for a few hours than an amateur for the whole day. Obviously everyone has to start somewhere, and I am so grateful to couples who put their trust in me when I was starting out, although all the risks I speak about above applied to me too. Even though I was lucky and nothing bad happened, it easily could have and you only need to turn to the internet to read thousands of stories from couples where something did. Hiring a friend, a student, or a relative might seem like a great cost saving measure but make sure you're willing to risk not having any photos of your wedding to show for it.
One last point - some people might say - why have one at all? A lot of people aren’t keen on having their photos taken, or simply aren’t that fussed about the photos. To them I'll say this - the wedding photographs aren’t just about photos of you two – they are all the things you'll forget about the day, the people who will change or no longer be part of your life, some guests who might not be around for as long as you hoped. It's about having some so your kids, your nieces or nephews, or friend's children can point and ask about their great aunts they never met or even see themselves dressed to the nines and ask why you chose such a disgusting dress for them to wear.
Wedding photography has a value far beyond the day itself.
Here's some advise from Vic & Ian about their wedding photography...
"We put one of your albums on our wedding gift list which Ian's uncle kindly bought us and we love. It's on our shelf but we showed it off loads at the beginning and looked at it on our anniversary. And I'm sure Wilfred (our son) and his kids who will look at it in years to come.
We recently went to Ian's Grandparents 60th wedding anniversary and at one point all the grandchildren were sat on the couches looking at the wedding albums of their grandparents, aunts and uncles. I'd love to say we were all cooing over them but mostly we were laughing at what everyone was wearing-70's tastic! I hope our grandchildren are laughing at our album in years to come. They seem an expense when your paying for a whole wedding but they are a total investment and a fantastic gift."
Why not take a look at my other blog posts!
Why not take a look at my other blog posts!