PROFESSIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER OR NOT

Everyone knows that there are an abundance of photographers right now. Digital photography is so accessible–enough so that anyone who owns a “nice camera” might be considered as a wedding photographer. If a couple feels like paying for a professional photographer isn’t in the budget, they might decide to just have a friend or family member take the pictures for them on the day of the wedding.

THIS IS A MISTAKE!!

After your wedding, your photographs are the only thing that will last (besides your marriage of course!). The flowers will die, the food will be eaten, and you’ll never wear the dress again. But your wedding album will last a LIFETIME. You will look at your wedding photos hundreds of times throughout your life. Not mentioning the next generations treasuring your photos. I don’t want to minimize the importance of those other important aspects of the wedding day–your venue, food, flowers, and dress are important. But without a good photographer, those things will be quickly forgotten, let alone the memories and expressions of the day.

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Ask anyone who has skimped on a photographer by hiring an inexperienced friend or family member to do them if they regret it. Every person I’ve talked to does. I have friends who didn’t hire a professional and end up with wedding photos that are not just badly exposed and composed, but where family members’ heads are cut off in the formals, where the bride and groom portraits are unflatteringly posed, where important parts of the day weren’t photographed, or the final photographs are not finished and edited well. Non-professional or beginner photographers also often forget to photograph important details like your bouquet, rings, and centerpieces. And this is all just in the end product–many inexperienced photographers will not be comfortable with the other responsibilites they have on the wedding day, like directing large groups of people for family photos, posing the bride and groom in a natural and comfortable way (many non-professionals/beginners have not yet learned the art of good direction when posing!), and organizing reception events like the cake cutting or first dance (when there isn’t a wedding planner or a DJ, these things usually end up in the hands of the photographer to organize).

Now compare that experience to someone who hires a professional, experienced, confident photographer–someone who knows what to expect on a wedding day and is totally comfortable posing you, organizing your family photos, and showing you how you’re supposed to cut the cake. 🙂 You feel calm and at ease because you know she is in control and is taking all the photos you want her to take. She is pleasant to be around because she’s not stressed out about her camera settings or being in an unfamiliar environment.

More importantly, when you see your photos for the first time, you will absolutely LOVE them. They will be good quality, the technical skills present (no too-dark or too-bright photos, no chopped off heads, no double chins!), the edits clean and timeless (no heavy textures and unnatural colors!), and best of all, you will see your wedding day from a perspective outside your own. There are scene-setting photographs of the entire venue and reception room, candids of your friends and family, close-up detail shots of the flowers and decorations you spent so much time and money on, and best of all, portraits of the two of you that are flattering and gorgeous and show how happy you are together.

A professional photographer can also design an album for you, which is honestly the best way to preserve your wedding photos. You might also receive the digital files (they are offered in all my packages), but it’s hard to look through your digital files often. They don’t get passed down as a family heirloom–but an album does. I definitely recommend including an album in your package, but if money is tight, you can usually come back a year or so later and have your photographer design and produce an album then.

One more thing I have to mention: along with all the amateur photographers out there, there are just as many beginners/aspiring wedding photographers who volunteer to shoot your wedding for free or next to nothing. I can’t condemn people who do that… because I did it when I first started. 🙂 And honestly, it is a good way for people who really can’t afford anything else to get some sort of wedding photography. But it’s such a risk–some are more qualified for this than others but you really don’t know what you are going to get. Inexperienced photographers will be put in lighting situations they’ve never encountered before and can’t be expected to know how to handle. Especially if you are getting married anywhere between 10:00 and 2:00–you can plan on the light being awful and ending up with harsh, unflattering photos unless you have a photographer that knows how to work with that type of lighting. Or if it will be dark at your reception, your photographer has to know how to use lighting other than natural and ambient. If money is so tight that this is the route you have to take, go for it, but know what a risk it is.

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I also understand that even those who want to spend a bit more to hire a quality professional might need some flexibility. Most photographers are willing to help you find a package that works with your budget. I am always willing to rearrange packages, change products, and add or subtract hours to packages in order to help you find a solution that fits your budget. For a very small budget, the package might just include two hours of coverage and a small album or the digital files–but when you can pay a bit more, you can add in an engagement session, a bridal session, albums, hours of coverage, sign-in books, etc. Another thing that helps is that I structure my packages to allow for payment plans–usually payments are made in three installments throughout the months before the wedding. We can do whatever we need to make it possible for you to pay for it.

I just want people to have beautiful photographs of their wedding day and I think it is so sad that some people don’t because no one told them just how worth it it is to spend the money on it.

good photos aren’t cheap,

and cheap photos aren’t good.

You really do get what you pay for.

Jonathan Canlas

I’d love to hear any thoughts, questions, or horror stories about the person you know who didn’t hire a professional wedding photographer in the comments. 🙂

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