You may be tempted to save money on your big day by asking a friend or family member who has little or no experience photographing weddings to be your wedding photographer for one of the biggest day of your life. Having a set of pots and pans does not make you a chef any more than having a camera and lens makes you a photographer.
While the name of the person in this story is fictional, it is based on real and unfortunate wedding photography horror stories we have heard of from friends, contacts, weddings guests, etc. Uncle Joe (fictitious character) recently purchased a state of the art digital camera with a professional lens and has taken shots of birds and flowers with his latest digital camera, so he is now a professional photographer. And now that he is a photographer, he offers to be your wedding photographer. After all, he owns a big black camera and lens. So that makes him a photographer, right? And since he was planning on being there anyway, he may do it for you as a wedding present. How great is that, you ask!
Wedding day comes and Uncle Joe arrives with one camera and lens, no backup equipment. Uncle Joe starts taking shots of the bride and bridesmaids. Uncle Joe did not take time to check the lighting and does not have the proper lights or no lights at all. Oh no, he sees the images are too dark. No problem, Uncle Joe raises the ISO. And this Uncle Joe is smarter than most because he knows all about ISO settings. Great he thinks to himself. Now he can now see the images. What he doesn’t know is that every picture will be too grainy to blow up more than a 4 x 6.
Uncle Joe heads off to take pictures of the groom and groomsmen. Unfortunately there was so much black in the scene from the suits, the camera was over exposing all the shots to compensate because Uncle Joe has the camera on automatic and figures the camera knows what to do. Isn’t the setting P for professional? Uncle Joe thinks so. Here’s what happens. All the faces looked pale, but Uncle Joe keeps shooting away. After all, he is a photographer.
Now it is time for the ceremony to begin. Uncle Joe is snapping away like crazy as your wedding party and you walk down the aisle. Since Uncle Joe has the camera on automatic and not set on shutter priority, the shots are out of focus. If your wedding is in a church, proper camera settings are essential. Does Uncle Joe worry? No of course not. He has it on automatic. After all, he is a photographer.
After the ceremony, it is time for the family shots. Uncle Joe does not know how to organize groups nor does he possess posing knowledge. Everyone looks like they had their picture taken at a family outing. A few people shut their eyes, but Uncle Joe only took one. He is on a roll now. Too bad the feet were cut off in the shot and everyone is too much over to the right. Remember he has the camera on automatic settings which does not adjust for a backlight so the images are under exposed and dark. But he still keeps shooting because…after all…he is a photographer.
Now it is time for the reception. You and your groom are dancing your first dance. The lights are turned down low for that dreamy ambience. Remember Uncle Joe does not know lighting and does not have the proper lights. But, according to him, the high ISO will work. Your romantic shots come out grainy and blurry. Now the reception is in full gear, and Uncle Joe is getting tired. After all he is a guest, right? Why shouldn’t he relax and enjoy himself as well? So while your best man is toasting you, Uncle Joe is being a guest not your photographer.
The wedding is over. But Uncle Joe does not have the software or even the knowledge on how to edit images in post-production. No problem for Uncle Joe. He merely burns the images on a CD for you. You pop the CD in the computer to look at your beautiful wedding images. But instead of tears of joy, you are experiencing tears of sorrow as just about every shot is too light, too dark, blurry, not composed right and moments are missing. When you were cutting the cake, Uncle Joe was getting a drink. After all he was a guest right?
What happens now? You have to tearfully come to us, professional photographers, and ask if we can fix the images. Uncle Joe does not have image editing software, so everything he shot was in a .JPG format. We shoot in RAW format to get the maximum amount of pixels for a sharper image. When images are shot in .JPG format and are not exposed correctly at the very best, it can only be fixed to a certain point, and at the worst it is unsalvageable. You end up paying the same as you would if we had shot your wedding. The only difference is that your wedding images would be exposed correctly, composed perfectly and every moment captured for you to remember always.
Should this happen (and it happens more than you realize), family relationships or friendship are never the same. And without a Contract, your photographer may or may not show up. There is no commitment on their part to be there. There are also the photographers out there to do this on a part time basis when they are not working their regular job. Do you want a photographer who does not have the commitment to this profession to be your wedding photographer? And if their boss requires that they work on your wedding day, what will happen to you?
When you hire us, you re hiring a professional photographer who:
- Has knowledge of how our camera reads and interprets light to compensate for exposure
- Knows posing techniques and when to be ready to catch that moment shot you will love
- Brings backup cameras, lenses, batteries and compact flash cards
- Has experience in guiding and directing large groups of people
- Possesses current digital editing software and a backup system for your files
- Belongs to professional photography organizations and attends various photography forums
- Strives to improve their photography skills by entering photography contests
- Is a full time photographer and is known throughout the area as a respected wedding vendor
- Works with a contract providing you with a legal commitment that we will be there
- Considers photography not just a passion, but our way of life
When the cake has been eaten, the flowers no longer alive and the honeymoon is over, what you have left are your treasured wedding images. Trust those images to us, professional wedding photographers. We will be there for you on your wedding day and after!