I receive numerous inquires throughout the week of couples “searching” for a wedding photographer. After discussing the given quote, sometimes the bride will write back saying something like this, “Thanks for your response, but Uncle Bob has an amazing camera. I think I’m going to just pay him $300 and he will photograph my wedding!” Believe it or not, I hear that all the time! I truly understand planning a wedding does get expensive. I know because, I too once said “I do”. But with all honesty, spend less on the “venue” or the wedding “cake” and spend a little more on your photos! Why? Think about it, ten, fifteen, thirty years down the road what will you have left to look back on and relive your wedding all over again? Your photos. Take a moment with your fiancé and discuss what really is important to the both of you. Is it the fancy limo that will drive you around for an hour or so? The fancy cake that you only had one bite of? The big $4,000 venue that you won’t get a chance to fully enjoy? The one thing you will want to have, are your photos! I’m not saying that having a nice venue, or a beautiful cake isn’t important. I too wanted a nice wedding venue and a pretty cake, after all, you do get married once! I truly believe there are ways you can cut back on other expenses and leave a little more room for what’s most important.
Now, back to Uncle Bob. I have photographed dozens and dozens of weddings, and so many times I’ll have people come up to me and say, “I wish we would have hired a professional photographer. Our friend took our photos, and we are not happy with the result.” Maybe your friend or Uncle Bob really does have a “nice” camera. He spends a lot of his time outdoors photographing nature and maybe his kids at home. But my biggest concern is, has Uncle Bob ever photographed a wedding? Does he or she fully understand how important this special day is in your life? Before each wedding, there is so much preparation going on. Everyone is planning and doing something! Believe it or not, even the photographers. A lot of discussing, emailing, calling and planning! We are always thinking ahead, what will the weather be like? What’s our plan if it pours rain, what other location can we go to? Are there grandparents who aren’t able to walk long distances for family photos? What will the lighting be like for the ceremony? Where is the best angle to capture the grooms reaction to the first look, the first kiss? These are just a couple of examples.
When hiring a photographer, you think your paying for someone to "just take some photos" for a period of time, right? What if I told you, you are paying for so much more. Not only are you really paying for someone to take photos for a period of time, but also memory cards, camera equipment, the amount of money and time spend on traveling to and from the venue, cost and time involved with processing the images, phone and other expenses spent planning your special day, the percentage that goes to the taxman, and not to mention, the payment also has to cover food, housing, bills and all other living expenses. Still think that professional photography is not worth paying for? You wouldn’t expect a plumber, carpenter, hairdresser, doctor, dentist, chef, mechanic, dressmaker or shop owner to work for free, would you? Exactly.
“Wedding photography is so easy! Why is everyone saying it’s so hard? I got a camera at home, I can do this too”, I hear that all the time! Does wedding photography seem easy to you? It’s sure fun and rewarding to be apart of someone’s BIG day, but it’s also very challenging. I never want to miss any special moment, so I am always on the look out of what I can capture on your wedding day. At the end of the day, when I come home and go through all the images, there are literally a couple thousand shots taken (from a 6+ wedding day!). It will take me four to nine weeks to go through each image and make sure each image gets the attention it needs. I often can find myself working 60-hour weeks! Professional edited digital files are very much important to me, and I’m sure they are to you as well.
I’ve photographed weddings, where things really get out of control! People are having so much fun that no one really cares about anything. In the midst of all that is happening, someone has to stay in control, usually it’s me, the photographer. I have to make sure I get the right shots and that I am truly satisfied with the photos at the end of the day. I have to make sure that when the bride and groom receive their images, they will be happy with the result. I have to make sure that people are having a good time yet are relaxed at the same time. The biggest thing for me, are formals. The bride and groom expect that the “hired” photographer knows what he or she is doing. If you hire a professional photographer, you have nothing to worry about! Because we plan everything out ahead of time, arrive to the venue early and prepared and most definatly ready for your big day. If you have a friend or Uncle Bob in charge of photos, be mentally prepared for not all things to go smoothly, especially if he or she has never photographed a wedding before. Some shots may be left out, some shots may not be well though through or simply Uncle Bob got carried away catching up with Aunt Sally whom he hasn’t seen for a couple of years. You get the picture.
If the quote you received from your photographer really doesn’t fit into your budget, discuss other options! Maybe you can cut back on a few hours, or maybe there are other payment options. My point is, I really want you to be happy with your wedding photos! I’d hate to see you upset when Uncle Bob delivers you your photos. Remember that a professional photographer knows what he or she is doing. Be sure to think twice before saying no to a professional photographer and saying “yes” to Uncle Bob. You can have a beautiful intimate wedding in your parents backyard, with cupcakes rather than a cake, some handmade DIY crafts and of course, gorgeous photos. It’s possible, and so worth it!