“I know someone that will do it for a hundred quid.”
“It’s okay, my Uncle’s doing it for us for nothing.”
“I don’t want to spend much on photography, I don’t think it’s worth it.”
These are just some of the things I have heard from people enquiring about photography services. If you are a photographer, you will know as well as I do that the industry is saturated with all kinds of people playing at being a photographer and under-cutting the pros, charging next to nothing for their services and producing terrible work.
“Oh, I wish I had paid a bit more for a better photographer.”
“I hired somebody who was cheap and they ended up ruining my wedding day.”
These are some things I have heard from guests at weddings I’ve worked at who have regretted their decision not to hire a professional.
I have taken the opportunity to outline 11 reasons why it is important to hire a professional photographer for your wedding, or any event for that matter.
- You get what you pay for!
Just as with anything you buy or any service you hire in any field, you get what you pay for. Wedding photography is an investment, not a cost! Wedding photography becomes a cost when you hire somebody who is cheap. A professional charges the amount they do because of the service they provide. They need to meet with you a few times to plan the wedding before the day, they need to meet with the venue, they then need to shoot the wedding day itself, and then there are hours of editing and post-production to consider. Some packages have additional products too which all cost money. Fuel, food, equipment maintenance, inks, paper, batteries, and of course, the photography itself has a value…. An artist doesn’t just charge for his time to paint, and for the brushes he uses!
- More than just an expensive camera!
Wedding photography is about a lot more than just an expensive camera. A camera is just a tool that the photographer uses to create the story of your wedding day; like an artist uses a paintbrush, or an author uses a typewriter: the genius happens within the creator.
- Back up gear and insurance
An amateur photographer won’t carry back-up equipment; it is very likely that they would be working with one mid-range DSLR, perhaps one or two lenses, one battery and one card. As a professional photographer, I carry two or three professional full-frame DSLRs (full-frame means I can shoot very high quality images in next to no light), four or five lenses (some of which are ‘fast lenses, which means that, again, I can shoot in low light), four fully charged batteries, five memory cards, flash guns, filters, professional studio lights, external hard drives (for back up), reflectors, laptop, and cleaning equipment such as cloths and lens pens to keep my lenses in tip-top condition throughout the day. As a professional, it is important to ensure that all of your equipment is insured and that you take out Public Liability insurance also, an amateur would not have either of these. Can you imagine if the photographer at your wedding accidently broke his only camera at any point in the day?
- RAW shooting
As a professional photographer, I always shoot the wedding day in RAW format. RAW image recording is when the camera saves every last bit of data within the scene to make life easier when it comes to post-production. Every bit of information in the highlights, shadows, and the colour depth is all recorded. Nothing is discarded. To put this into perspective, a RAW image can be up to four or five times larger in size than a jpeg, that is how much information is discarded when shooting in jpeg.
- Backup photographer
In the same principles that a photographer would back up your photographs on the day and all the equipment in case of failure, a professional would also have a contingency plan in the event of their absence. A professional photographer would have a vast network of other professional photographers that they could call upon should they fall ill on the day, ensuring that your day would be recorded as previously agreed.
An amateur is unlikely to produce a legally binding contract protecting you in the event of any of the above occurring.
- Preparation and rapport
As a professional, I work alongside the venue and other co-workers on the day, but it doesn’t start that morning. I visit the venue shortly after a new booking to have a look around, chances are though, that I’ve worked there numerous times and know the venue inside out. I visit the venue again closer to the day so I can get a better feel of the light and weather that is expected at that time of year. If there are other venues involved, I will visit those too. I will have meetings with people who are directly involved with the wedding planning such as the vicar, the wedding co-ordinator or hotel manager and we will meticulously discuss what requirements we both have and also discuss the schedule at length so that on the day we are not treading on each others toes. This ensures a stress-free day for you!! Not only will I meet with the venues, but also the Bride and Groom, on numerous occasions before the day to make sure that I am giving you exactly what you expect from me, and to ensure a good rapport so that on the day you will feel completely relaxed and at ease.
- Training and experience
An amateur photographer does not have the training and experience that a professional does. Training and experience is vital in any field to deliver the best results. Would you let a pilot without a licence take you on your holiday?
- Lighting conditions
A professional will know exactly what settings to use at any time and in any lighting conditions. When shooting a wedding, a photographer can be faced with all sorts of challenges including lighting conditions that are constantly changing all the time. A professional would not only have the equipment to enable shooting in these low light conditions, but would also know the exact settings needed to capture the shot, enabling them to ‘shoot from the hip’ and not miss a thing. This is down to experience.
- A professional always takes your wedding seriously
A professional photographer has a reputation to uphold, and one bad wedding could destroy it. A pro will always do whatever they can to make the client happy and to deliver stunning quality. Always read reviews before booking!! Most professional photographers, like myself, are members of photographic societies like International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers or The Royal Photographic Society, which all have strict codes of conduct that have to be adhered to by the photographer or they will be kicked out!
- A pro takes the workload off you
A professional photographer will take the workload off you, leaving you to do the important things like planning your wedding, and we all know how stressful that is on its own! All of the planning with regards to the photography is done by the photographer, where to shoot who and when, so that the day flows seamlessly. That way you can enjoy your wedding day, keeping it as stress free as possible.
- Capturing emotions
A professional photographer takes pictures all the time, they are used to being faced with the challenges that a wedding day can offer. They also know exactly where to be and when, they know how the day typically presents itself and can capture emotions unfolding before them very quickly. They know the signs to look for to capture that ‘decisive moment’. A wedding day is absolutely full from beginning to end with moments like these, and if you want to get the best from your photographer, hire a professional.
When the music has faded, the cake has been eaten and the hangover has worn off, you will always have a stunning story book of your wedding to hold onto for the rest of your lives so that you can relive those special moments that you shared and even discover some that you had missed amongst the chaos of the day.
Always remember that ultimately it is more expensive to hire an amateur than a pro!!