Thursday, July 21, 2016

Don't Regret Not Hiring A Professional Photographer

One of the challenges of being a "wedding photographer", rather than someone who just "takes photos at weddings" is showing the meaning within a photograph - and using that image to tell a story. It takes more than just a great camera to take a great photograph.

Of course, technology is amazing these days. It's almost impossible to buy a phone without a camera on it. And those cameras have more mega pixels than some of the first digital cameras! The high-end digital camera market is incredible. The dynamic range, features and build quality of professional cameras is truly amazing - it's important to remember that. As a professional photographer it's very easy to forget how amazing technology is. You can get cameras now, that you choose the focus point after the photograph is taken - that blows my mind. It's even more important to remember that without vision and understanding, these images would just be pixels. Boring pixels... Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

Fashion magazine Vogue, published an article January 2016 saying that hiring a professional photographer to photograph your wedding "made sense back in the olden days, pre-Facebook albums and Instagram". They also went on to say that you could "scatter some disposable cameras around the party and let your drunken guests go to town". If you have friends anything like mine, I'm sure you'd know that this is not good advice.

In Vogue's defence, the article was about breaking traditions and throwing out the rule book - which I'm all for. Of course every wedding is different, but it's when a couple really put their personality into a wedding that it becomes so much more than different. It becomes, personal and that's so much more interesting... Anyway, I'm getting side tracked.

One of the main reasons to hire a professional for anything is consistency. And a professional photographer is no different. They're able to deliver beautiful images, in all conditions and deliver those images consistently. That doesn't mean getting a few lucky shots while the couple are stood still, in good lighting. It means delivering over 400 photographs that all demonstrate an understanding of lighting and composition. It also means being able to produce those high quality images, day in day out, year on year.

The example I like to use is I've probably been using scissors since I was 5 or 6, but you wouldn't trust me to cut your hair. As I said before, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

One of the other main reasons to hire a professional is trust. Trust plays a huge role in a wedding photographers job role. You need to trust your photographer completely. Otherwise you won't be able to relax, which will only make the photographers job even harder. So, making sure you trust them to get the photographs you want from your day is essential.

When I'm talking to couples about their wedding, I always explain how I photograph a wedding. I explain that I have a documentary approach - that means that I'll be photographing their day with the goal of telling their story. If they're looking for something different, then we part on good terms and they find a photographer who they can trust to get the photos that they want.

Weddings are hard work, I'm generally working for a good 13 hours - not including travel time. However I've never left a wedding without a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling inside! But it took me years and years to feel confident enough in my ability to photograph such an important day. If you think about it, it only takes a split second to miss the perfect photograph. When you add in the fact that the couple have probably spent thousands and thousands of pounds on this day that they're only ever going to have once (well hopefully anyway). Then add in the emotional significance of the day and that's a lot of weight on any photographer's shoulders, let alone a professional.

But the pressure doesn't stop there. What happens if something goes wrong? I could write a whole article about what could go wrong at a wedding (and maybe I will) but for now, let's just say that not only will a professional photographer be able to cope with most unexpected situations, but they'll have already removed as many of the risks as possible.

There's a saying I like to use to justify buying something better and more expensive than I really need to my wife... "Buy cheap, buy twice." And it's great advice if you're buying something like a freezer or a desk. Not so much for a once-in-a-lifetime event. A poll in New York Magazine stated that "21% of brides wished they had spent more on their wedding photography". That's 1 in 5! One in five! I know weddings are expensive, I'm married, so I really do know that weddings are expensive. But the photography will outlast your flowers, cake, bubbles and just about everything else from you wedding. It's the photography that will form your lasting memories of your wedding, so if you skimp on your wedding photographer you may end up regretting it every time you see your photographs. Which will probably mean you hide them away and therefore have wasted your money - wedding photographs should be celebrated!

You and your partner will likely spend a huge amount of time planning your wedding. There are no small decisions - every detail matters. My wife and I pretty much spent a year planning our wedding. Everywhere we went we'd be taking photos for inspiration, cutting out ideas from magazines. When you pour so much of yourself into something why wouldn't you choose a professional photographer. Ignoring the sentiment and meaning of the day, surely you want to show off all your hard work? And want it to look as beautiful as possible?

By choosing a specialist wedding photographer you're choosing someone who will carefully compose each photograph, as your florist carefully selects each stem. Someone who pays attention to the details of each just as your dressmaker pays attention to each stitch.

Wedding photography shouldn't be another cost or purchase. Wedding photography is an investment. I know that sounds a bit pretentious, but stay with me for a minute... An investment is something that becomes more valuable with time - that's exactly what will happen to your wedding photos. It's a sad fact of life that memories fade. But by investing in a professional wedding photographer you can help to preserve those memories, and not only that you will be able to share those memories with your loved ones. People who were at your wedding like your partner, your parents and best friends and people who weren't, like your children can all share those memories with you and that's really special.

That's why you should invest in a professional wedding photographer. That's why wedding photography is so valuable.

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