As a wedding photographer, I LOVE my job. I love being a part of people’s love stories, I adore capturing memories that last a lifetime, and at the end of the day being able to call the Bride and Groom my friends is the best.
What makes me sad is when the best day of someone’s life turns into a nightmare because they didn’t put their trust in a professional. Time and again, I’ve heard stories of wedding photos getting lost, images being so bright or dark the image isn’t worth salvaging, scum bags running off with client’s money, or even the “photographer” stealing other artists’ work then claiming them as their own; when someone books with them, they can’t produce the same quality. Too many times I’ve heard the phrase, “I hate my wedding photos. I wish I would’ve hired a professional photographer.” Guys, it’s happened to some of my best friends and it’s absolutely heart breaking. There’s nothing worse than having all of your time, effort, and money go down the drain because the photos from your wedding day are unusable.
With that being said, here’s the best way to ensure that you LOVE your wedding photographs!
- Hire a Professional Photographer. The number one regret of newlywed couples is that they didn’t hire a professional photographer. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard, “I wish we would’ve hired you for our wedding! Our pictures were terrible!” or “It’s been months since our wedding and we can’t get ahold of the photographer. We saw a few of the photos, but they weren’t very good.” It breaks my heart to hear it, but unfortunately it is pretty common. A lot of couples planning their wedding are on a budget and want to cut corners on cost. Unfortunately for them, photography is one of the first things to get cut. In reality, that is the part of wedding planning that you shouldn’t try to DIY. Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event and should be documented as such. There’s nothing worse than investing time, effort, and money into making everything perfect, then not having any proof of it. Photographs are forever. It may sound like an amazing offer when your aunt says, “I’ll do it as a gift!”, but unless your aunt is a legitimate professional wedding photographer who runs her own business photographing weddings, I would suggest graciously declining.
- Make sure the photographer you hire has experience. This is a 2 part point. The photographer needs to have experience A) photographing weddings in different environments, and B) dealing with the stress that comes with the wedding day. Let me explain further. A) No venues are the same. I’ve been photographing weddings for nearly 5 years and have had the pleasure of shooting many different style venues: a garden wedding at high noon with harsh lighting; an outdoor reception at night when it’s pitch black outside; a wedding inside a dimly lit church that doesn’t allow flash or movement of any kind; a wedding that has the dream lighting– tons of soft natural light or low white ceilings to bounce flash off of. Amateurs won’t be prepared to handle the different lighting scenarios. B) Weddings are stressful. Plain and simple. Not only is it stressful for the Bride and Groom, but can you imagine the pressure of having ONE CHANCE to capture the best day of someone’s life? Or the stress of things changing at the last minute? Sometimes it pours rain on a wedding that was supposed to be outdoors, so the couple and the photographer have to plan something different spur of the moment. An amateur wouldn’t be able to handle that type of stress, and most importantly: your wedding day is not a learning experience.
- Understand that You Get What You Pay For. Would you go to Waffle House and expect to be served a wagyu beef filet mignon? No way. There’s a huge difference between franchised diner food and a michelin star rated restaurant. So why would you book someone from Craigslist who offers the whole kitchen sink, as they say, for $250? I know wedding photography is not cheap– trust me, I do. I was a bride on a budget myself, but the most amount of money my husband and I spent was on our wedding photographer. While the price tag may look enticing, the quality of the images won’t be. There is no way the Craigslist photographer will have the experience, the gear, or the knowledge required to adequately shoot a wedding. I’ve made this point before, but I will make it again: Your wedding is a once in a life time event. Please, document it as such. As the saying goes, “Good photography isn’t cheap, and cheap photography isn’t good.” If you’re looking for ways to save money, don’t cut down the photography budget first. There are many different options, especially with a lot of weddings nowadays being DIY. Even The Knot Texas magazine stresses NOT doing the photography yourself, stating:
“Yes, Instagram filters make photos look amazing, but your pictures are among the few tangible things you’ll have to remember your wedding day. All of your loved ones may promise to capture every moment, but what happens if they get distracted or arrive with a low battery and no backup? Photography is a real skill. And your photographer will have that wedding day photo checklist committed to memory, ensuring all the details are documented.”
- Understand that Photography is an art and requires skill. While cameras are readily available just about everywhere you go these days, not everyone has the eye for photography. I don’t say that to offend, but it is true. Photography is an art. It’s not just pointing and shooting, or “clicking a button all day” as I’ve heard before. Professional photographers know how to manually work their camera and lighting. Learning to shoot on manual mode doesn’t just happen automatically. If you don’t understand ISO, shutter speed, or aperture, how can you expect to capture amazing photographs? You must have the knowledge and understanding of your gear combined with an eye for light, composition, and color. Just because someone has a professional camera doesn’t mean that they know how to use it.
If you are worried about budget but still want amazing quality, a lot of photography studios (such as myself) will be happy to work with you to create a custom package to fit your needs.
Brides out there, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Leave a comment with your story below!