I Hired the Wrong Photographer
I Hired the Wrong Photographer
Professional Versus Amateur Photography
Why hire a professional photographer when you can get an amateur or hobbyist or even a student training to be a photographer at a fraction of the price – even free! You can save yourself thousands, that you could spend on extra food, a nicer car to drive to the venue in, a bigger cake to cut up, a more expensive dress for the day, nice favours for the guests … so many other things! This is the question that keeps rearing its head for me as well as every other professional photographers out there. Professional versus amateur Photography.
It is only April and already this year I have had three enquiries from people people who hired a much cheaper (better value) photographer in their earlier opinion, to only find they had later regrets. They hired the wrong photographer! This is with both commercial and non commercial clients.
With non commercial clients, its not a major deal, the conference or event images were not great, they can correct their mistakes next time, and it is simply a lesson learnt.
But wedding clients, I talk about this all the time, you do this ONCE IN A LIFETIME! Should how you capture this day be dictated by price, instead of product and quality? When this does happen and I have couples contact me for reshoots, its hard not to think “I told you so”. The “I hired the wrong photographer” line weighs heavy, compared to the ‘great deal’ and ‘better value’ they were getting with the person they hired.
It is the number one comment I hear from couples who cut corners with their wedding photography. “I wish I had spent more” “I wish I had done more research”. If that sounds like me touting for more business, speak to couples that hired cheap, and get their feedback.
This article recently made the news, and has been debated in various Facebook Wedding Groups.
My thoughts were, wasn’t all of this clear to the bride and groom? But obviously not, as couples are still making these regrettable decisions of hiring ‘better value’ photographers, friends with a camera ‘that takes nice pictures’ or aspiring professionals.
My thoughts were, your wedding is not the time to ‘give someone a chance’ or to let someone use it as a test opportunity to update or start their wedding portfolio. There are lots of examples of this not working out great for couples
yet Facebook Wedding Groups are littered with brides happily announcing students from the local college are shooting their wedding, or their friend who is a professional product photographer is shooting their wedding. Let me tell you this, I cover lots of different types of photography, and wedding photography is the most difficult type of photography their is! So i thought I would produce this blog, using the recent article as an example of where the couple went wrong, and how not to fall into that trap. Amateurs, and hobbyists are cheaper for valid reasons …
How to Not Make a Wedding Photography Mistake
Hiring a Professional Versus and Amateur
So who cares about insurance? What does that mean anyway? would you hire a catering company without Health and Safety Certificates? A driver without insurance? This should be self explanatory. In this case the photographer ended up having to pay out more than she charged for the wedding, so this was an expensive lesson for her as well as the couple.
Fun and Love vs a Job
As an amateur photographer most shooters will be producing work for the fun and love of it, this is not to say that they too cannot be great, but they may not be used to producing work under the same pressure contraints as professional photographers, a wedding is one of the most pressurised photography environments there is, everything is often running late, different people are asking for different things, the light is constantly changing, as is what you are having to shoot, you are on a tight timescale, and you are using different lenses and lighting equipment to produce your results ….doesn’t your wedding not deserve someone who is used to this? Professionals perform at a consistent level through practice and perseverance. The amazing images on their website will not be a magic fluke that they are not sure how to recreate, a random setting on the camera that somehow managed to do the right thing when needed. Our images are managed, created, and produced, with knowledge of the what the final outcome will be.
A DSLR is only the very start of a photography kit capable of capturing a wedding. If you have a consultation with a photographer that has just this, no separate flash (even if there is one on top) no second camera, no change of lenses. It is very possible that you pictures will also be very dark, as the dance floor images for the couple in the article. A Professional Photographer will have back up kit, cameras capable of capturing images in low light, lenses that will do the same, and flashes (as well as other lighting) in case something extra is needed. Although it seems unfair of the couple to be quoting her equipment after the event, this is something they should have asked before. It looks as though the photographer in this article had one camera, without any extras. I bought backup kit upon doing my second wedding many years ago. I was still not the artist I was today, but I was conscious of how important it was to have a plan B.
All images on a disc
Professionals will only ensure their best images go public. We all get images of eyes closed, wonky mouths, out of focus shots, but they never see the light of day. They are deleted before the back up, no one but the photographer ever gets to see them. If a photographer you have spoken to has anything less then perfect in their portfolio, politely walk away. Images are also valuable, most professionals will charge a premium in additional to a basis package to receive images on disc, and even then, they will not come copyright free.
Snapshots vs Photographs vs Artwork
These are some photographs we created from a recent wedding. I say created because as a professional wedding photographer we see ourselves as creating art. Couples and families look to you to guide them, tell them where to stand, how to hold their heads, what to do. We decided how to light them (yes we use light in the daytime to create a particular look) where to place the couple, where to take the image from; amateurs will not be experienced in this. Thereby you will get what I call ‘snaps’ instead of images. Snaps are images that could be captured by and uncle bob shooting with a phone or basic camera over your shoulder.
Understanding Their Equipment – Booking an Experienced photographer
All that Glitters is not gold! I deliver workshops to photographers called “Spent the Dough, but still Don’t Know”
especially for photographers that have more than capable equipment, but no idea how to use it. There are many people in this category! This is a harder one to figure out with the photographer you are thinking of booking. Ensure you get to see lots of their portfolio! Scantily resourced websites with only a few images on give me cause for concern. As do images that are not shot in the same fashion.
How well a photographer shoots often only comes to light through direct comparisons. Here is a wedding I found online shot at the beautiful venue of Dunchurch Park and another wrecked set of wedding photos.
These are some of our images from the same venue. It is an amazing venue, and we could have shot all day.
Can you see the difference that experience, creativity and great kit gives you, even with all the will in the world? The photographer that shot the images in the link will no doubt have been shooting on Auto, without a full understanding or control of their camera. Sadly many people under prioritise their photography until its too late.
Plan B, and Plan C
What if it rains on the day, what if you have to do the family photos inside? What if you drop and break a lens on the day? What if you are stuck in an accident on the way from the church to the venue? What happens if a flash unit fails? What happens if you have to shoot in a really small room? I know of no professional photographers who have not had unexpected things happen on the day, the difference is professionals will have back up plans should this be the case. Each of these things have happened to me. As a professional I had back up kit, back up lenses, professional second shooters, a range of lenses to be manage different shooting conditions.
The couple claimed the photographer in this example confirmed attendance the night before the wedding. If this was the case, would this not ring bells earlier. A Professional will be a business entity with contracts outlining terms and conditions, receipts, invoices, logos, and online (not just Facebook entity). We had this logo professionally designed once we were in the position to step up our business. Little signs like this are good examples for considering hiring a business rather than just a person who ‘does photography’.
Managing People and Images
You do not want to have to worry about whether all the right images are being captured. An experienced photographer will know all of this, and anything that is unusual to them, they will talk through a timeline of your day to ensure to they are up to speed with everything. Managing people to be standing in the right place and looking int he right direction (this takes a little people management skills), knowing where to be standing at the right time to get the key shots, the first kiss, the first dance, cutting the cake. Being able to ensure guests do not get in the way of these key shots. all of this takes experience. I have attended two weddings where I witnessed amateurs struggle with this, with one photographer admitting she was ‘scared’ to be firm and direct the bridal party, thus resulting in everything taking twice as long, as the couple not getting any bridal portraits of the two of them … at their own wedding! Another where the photographer struggled with the louder culture of the guests of that wedding, and just took all candid (no posed shots) throughout the whole day. In this article it looks as though the photographers in experience lead to her not knowing what the capture during the reception, leading to the number of incredibly low images that were handed over. The couples complaint about the bride being lead off to take images alone, in an area that the groom could not walk to, may have again been inexperience, or the photographer wanting these images for her own portfolio, rather than what was best for the couple.
Wedding Photography Prices
The couple in this article paid £500 for what seemed like all day photography. While it is difficult to put a price on how much this product should be, just like how much you should pay on a dress or a venue or a ring. I would say this is unrealistic for all day photography. From experience however, I have found that couples commonly tend to book photographers between 1 – 4 times the cost of their dress. Yes this is a wide range, but that is my experience!
Planning Your Wedding
You spend all that time carefully picking out a wedding dress, asking your friends how your bum and waist and hips look in it, you spend months scouting venues, their location, their menus, the available locations for your couples portraits. Time is spent deciding whether the cake should be sponge or fruit, multi tier or one tier, this can be said of everything in your wedding, lets not even talking about the wedding rings. On your wedding day as you look around at the fairytale you have created, surrounded by everyone who means the most to you in the world. Do you want to see the photographer you settled for, the friend who did you a favour, the student wanting to practice on your big day, the guest at the wedding who has a DSLR as the person responsible for capturing this world you created for a day?
Your day deserves the best photography that you can afford, question the idea of spending 15k on a wedding then cutting corners with the imagery to remember that carefully created day? It could be the worst decision you ever make.
Learn from the mistakes of others that have hired the wrong photographer. If your friend who is attending the wedding and “has a camera that takes great images” offers to shoot it for free, politely refuse. If your friends daughter who is in her third year at University studying photography offers to ‘save you money’ while she/he builds their portfolio, don’t become the guinea pig on such an important date. Most professionals will allow you to spread payments with payment plans, so just like most other items you want but cannot pay for in cash, you can soften the cost by spreading payments.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
That does not mean someone who has been shooting landscapes for many years, or the sports photographer that shoots for the local paper. Hire someone that understands and shoots weddings as a major part of their work. It could be the best decision (second to marrying the love of your life) that you make during the whole wedding ….
If you want to not have to work through this list in order to not hire the wrong photographer, give us a call on 07944 040 760 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We promise to talk you through everything to ensure you know if we are right for you. If we are a good fit we will capture your day in all the magic that it is, by both a male and female wedding photographer.