The most important part of a wedding is the couple, and that is what it is all about, and that is all that matters at the end of the day. However, when it comes to planning the big day you shall speak to a lot of suppliers, from florists, bridal boutiques, caterers, stationery designers, the list goes on, all these people will tell you how important it is to get it right. Getting the right flowers, having the best food, it is all about the dress, that is good, you want to work with passionate people, however, are these a priority when planning your wedding? Of course, they should be included, and I am not saying you should leave out any of these, but are they more important than wedding photography?
I read and hear about a lot of couples who only have a small budget left for their photography, couples who are struggling to find photography they like for their wedding coming up very soon, and couples who are not having a photographer as they just cannot afford one. These couples haven’t put very much importance on photography.
Why is hiring a professional wedding photographer so important?
Is wedding photography the most important thing when it comes to your wedding? Nope, not at all, however, when it comes to planning your special day, it should be up there on the priority list of things to look at, budget for and book.
Wedding photography is important because it will capture your day, it will capture your memories, it will tell a story, and not just any story, it will reveal a beautiful story of your special day, a day you will never forget. A story that you can show friends and family, your kids, and grandchildren, something you will have and can treasure forever.
You see your flowers will wilt, and your cake will quickly be eaten, your invites will be binned after the day, your dress shall be worn once, those shoes shall go back into their box, this isn’t me trying to be glum and miserable, this is about perspective, this is about helping you focus your budget on things that you may not put importance on, such as wedding photography.
Why should you choose an expensive wedding photographer moreover a cheaper one that appears to offer the same deal on paper? Why choose a photographer that gives you only 200 – 250 high-resolution photos instead of the one that offers the whooping 600 for a fraction of the price? These are some of the most debated questions we photographers deal with every day.
But instead of me trying to explain why some photographers are so expensive, let’s first look at why budget photographers are so cheap.
Almost all new wedding photographers have low prices in order to book weddings so they can begin to build a portfolio. The unfortunate thing is that even though they may have awesome talent and a good eye for shooting landscapes and flowers, they will make plenty of mistakes and you, on your special day, will end up with poor results. Weddings are fast-paced and unpredictable; they do not allow for reshoots.
So ask yourself: Am I willing to risk my precious wedding photos on a person that is still learning and building up experience? What will bring you back to that lovely day? Yes, you are right – memories. When you look at your wedding photos, you will wish you had professional photos that expertly captured all feelings and details of your wedding day.
With the advent of the digital age and the low prices of entry-level Digital SLR Cameras and lens kits, becoming a wedding photographer (or should I say part-time wedding photographer) has never been easier. So instead of making a full-time career swap, you can now “test” what used to be a hobby, for a while – and it won’t break the bank.
Top photographers have the best professional equipment and carry at least 3-5 of these to ensure good lighting when needed. And they know HOW to use it because their cameras are not from a rental office. A cheap photographer probably is very likely to have no back-up camera or other equipment.
But the camera equipment is only half of what is needed to fulfil the job. The editing is where a lot of the magic happens. Most cheaper photographers will not spend the huge amount of money on decent editing software and for a good quality computer and colour true monitor to run it on. I can also guarantee you that most of them do not make a back-up of your wedding, so if his/her computer goes up in flames, so will your photos!
Now that we know why some photographers are so cheap to let us explore the reasons why others are so expensive.
All expensive photographers are full-time photographers. Doing photography full-time means you probably channel most of your time and energy to the development of your skill and product. Did you know that the physical act of taking the photos only makes up 15% of our job? The editing of photos and producing albums account for another big chunk. The rest of the time is spent on the things all businesses have to do, like administration, marketing and networking. I recently had a prospective client ask me: What do you mean by editing? At first, I was offended that she did not know about the single thing that takes up most of my time – but then I realised that few people outside the photography business know how much is done to the original RAW photo before the beautiful result is achieved. Apart from the 7-9 hours we spend covering the wedding, 7-10 more days are spent in editing the photos! Also, in order to stay at the top of his or her game, the photographer has to continually read and stay adept with new equipment and the technicalities of the job – all to make your photos look better.
There are certain skills that can only be acquired with experience. Split-second decision making is required when all does not go to plan – unexpected weather changes, equipment failure, accidents, delays. But for the seasoned photographer, these situations are easily dealt with, as they’ve probably experienced a similar problem. But it’s not only the problem-solving skills that come with experience, it’s also the knowledge of how the behaviour of light changes in different locations, the familiarity of working at the top wedding venues, the luxury of knowing other service providers (videographers, wedding planners, make up artists, etc.) that might affect your ability to capture the day, the anticipation of where to be to get the best shot, and so much more.
Feeling at ease
Weddings have both posed moments as well as action shots. You may have asked for some group photos and posed shots, you want to feel at ease, and a professional shall be able to make you feel comfortable and natural, not stiff and awkward, these moments are part of your wedding day, so they should be fun and enjoyable. This skill is something that comes from experience and having trust in them.
If you feel at ease then this will show in your photos, it will also mean you have more fun, feel comfortable and not worrying or stressing, it would be just like taking photos with friends where there is no pressure, just relaxed fun and beautiful natural photos.
What if…? What if the photographer falls ill, there is an emergency, their computer hard drive fails? The worst-case scenario is you have no photos of your big day at all! A professional photographer will have a plan B, and they shall have contacts to call upon, they will have back-ups of back-ups. An amateur may not have a plan B and may not be able to afford to back up everything, whereas a reputation is on the line for a professional.
It’s all you have at the end
Once the wedding is over, there is then an excitement about seeing your wedding photos, a chance to relive it all again while seeing moments of the day you may have missed, expressions on photos, or a set of photos that show a moment in the day with your guests you may have missed.
When the big day is over, apart from memories all you have are photos, photos you shall treasure, photos you shall show to friends, family and grandchildren. Make sure these are positive memories and not a book that reminds you of how important photography is and how you wish you spent a bit more and hired a professional.
Quality of Work
Be warned, comparing quotes and choosing the one that seems like the best deal on paper will come back and bite you more often than not! Rule of thumb – the fewer high-resolution photos your photographer gives, the better quality you can expect – it’s actually a quite simple rule – if he gives fewer photos, then he has more time to spend perfecting the photos you get.
The little word “Album” can be compared to the word “Car”. A City Golf and a Bentley are both cars – get it? Most expensive photographers produce quality and durable luxury handmade albums; albums that would last a lifetime. But albums like these come with a price tag, and this is worked into the “expensive package”.
So to put it in a nutshell –
- Expensive, experienced photographers are worth every penny because:
- He/She is a talented artist! Photography is not just a business!
- He/She has built up experience, skill, and expertise over a number of years and probably hundreds of weddings!
- He/She uses the latest professional equipment that will help achieve superior quality results!
- He/She spends more time on your photos, to make sure it is of the highest standards!
- He/She always has back-up equipment and backs up your wedding photos in more than one place!
“After many years you will remember feelings from the wedding photos but not a price…”
One day, and a lot of memories
Earlier I mentioned about couples who didn’t put too much importance on wedding photography, and it can easily be forgotten or put down the pecking order because, on the day itself, you don’t have anything. If you go to a florist they will create beautiful bouquets of flowers for you, your cake maker will make the most delicious and gorgeous looking cake for your day, the list goes on, the thing is here, these are things and items that will be there on your day, things that you and everyone will see. Yet when it comes to wedding photography you are paying for something you won’t see till after, and the best wedding photographers will go unnoticed, your guest won’t even know they are there.
What are you paying for?
When it comes to wedding planning, it is more than just one day, and it is about a lifetime of memories. It is about capturing moments, and it is about capturing emotion, it is about being able to relive the day through beautiful photos, it is about smiling at moments that you never knew happened, seeing the emotion on your family and friends faces, and most importantly of all, having a story you can treasure forever.
If you are just thinking about your wedding and looking at your budget, make sure you maximise your budget for your wedding photography, it’s not just a few photos of you and your partner on your wedding day looking beautiful and happy, it is about a beautiful story of your wedding day, from getting ready and smiling with your bridesmaids to the emotion on your dads face as he sheds a tear and looks on with pride. Capturing the beautiful details on your day after hours and days of planning, from the beautiful flowers, your dress and venue, capturing the day as it unfolds, capturing the emotion of your guests, the nervousness of the groom, all the way through to that first dance, this is not just any story, this is your story.
Make sure you capture your day, and your story, don’t regret not hiring a professional wedding photographer.
There is more to photography than an expensive camera
In the same way, an artist uses a brush, a carpenter uses a hammer, and a writer uses a pen, these are just tools, it’s how the person uses it that produces amazing creations.
Just because they have all the bricks, tools and suppliers to build a house, would you trust a part-time builder with little experience to build your house? You would more than likely look for someone with years of experience, and a lot of happy and satisfied customers who would recommend them.
This article ‘I Regret Not Hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer ‘tells us why you should think twice about using a family member or friend to capture your special day.
You want someone who knows how to use the camera, who has the experience of taking photos in different light, different conditions, composing different shots and executing it perfectly. The camera doesn’t do this, the photographer does this and has developed their skill and knowledge through years of experience and many hours of shooting. With this, you get consistency, not one or two stunning photos, but a whole album worth.
Once the photos are taken that’s not it, there is the editing, the cutting, the creation of an album, and there is more to it than just a camera. There is more to photography than just a camera.
An amateur means more work for you
A professional photographer will have years of experience capturing weddings, and they will know the shots to take, they will know where to be at that right time, they can be left to get on with their job in full confidence knowing they will be where you want them to be.
They will also anticipate what will happen; next, they will know the flow of the day, they will have already found the perfect place for those cute brides and groom shots, they will know the ideal location in the church with the perfect backdrop, your wedding day isn’t a photo shoot, it is a dynamic event with only one chance to capture those moments.
Is a Wedding Photographer Worth the Cost?
Since we discussed the reasons why a wedding photographer is expensive, it’s also an investment that you make according to your wedding budget. Most of the couples look for the best wedding photographers for their ceremony.
We share the pros and cons of hiring a professional photographer below:
Pros: Since you only weds once in your life, a wedding photographer can capture amazing memories for you. These memories would cherish you later in your lifetime.
Cons: It will add up a huge cost on your wedding budget. If you could save money on photography, then you have the options to travel or invest in other needs.
Now, it depends on your priorities to either hire an expensive wedding photographer or look for the alternatives.
So, should you hire a professional wedding photographer, or get a friend or family member to handle your wedding pictures? The answer is up to you and your budget. If you can afford a professional wedding photographer — do it. One common option is to hire a photographer for the minimum amount of time they are available. This generally means capturing the ceremony and the family photos typically taken directly after the ceremony. This is covered in about 2 to 3 hours. With this type of package, you won’t have coverage for pre-wedding photos, or most of the reception. You’ll want to be sure there are at least one or two people who can commit to taking these photos. Don’t assume that because you see people whipping out their phones or cameras, you’ll get the shots you want. Here are some tips to ensure that your DIY photos are everything you want them to be.
Get a solid commitment from someone that they will be there with their camera and will be taking photos for you. Be sure that they are able to take the photos, follow some direction and that they will get the photos back to you in a timely manner. If you have a friend or even a friend of a friend who is a budding photographer, they may appreciate the opportunity to hone their wedding or portrait skills. They may agree to shoot your wedding for free in exchange for a positive review or to use your photos in their portfolio, so be sure to ask around among friends and family.
Make a list of the shots you want to have. There’s nothing worse than going through all your photos only to realise the shot you wanted so badly just didn’t happen. Most wedding photographers have a worksheet you fill out that lets them know who you want photos of, and what pictures are the most important to you. For example, you may wish to a multi-generational wedding ring shot of you, your mother and your grandmother. You may have seen a fun, playful photo idea in a magazine you want to try out, or a shot of a special heirloom or a photo of all the cousins together, or a special picture of you and your best friend from high school. Whatever it is you want to capture, don’t assume that the person taking your photos will know that.
Scout out the location beforehand. This is another pro tip. Many photographers are familiar with local venues and are familiar with the lighting and where the best spots are for taking photos. It’s worth it to do this so that you can plan out your family photos and map out any photogenic spots you’ll want to use as backdrops for your shots.
DIY wedding photography can be done well. It does take planning, not just having your cousin show up at the wedding with his new DSLR.
Hiring a wedding photographer isn’t a cost; it is an investment.
At the end of the day your dress goes into the cupboard, the cake is eaten, and the flowers will die, decorations will be sold, and balloons will be popped. This is a harsh reality; the point here is that hiring a professional wedding photographer is an investment. You may not see it on the day, but after the wedding when you return from your honeymoon, and you get to see your wedding photos and album, then you will know it was worth hiring and seeing the benefit of a professional photographer.