Friend, Foe or Photographer?…

I recently heard a sad story about a bride whose wedding was up at the picturesque Banff Springs Hotel.  She’d hired a friend to do her wedding photos to keep some of her costs down.  The end results were not a single photo taken outside.  Are you kidding me?  The Banff Spring’s architecture alone is stunning, their summer gardens and planters – WOW – and add the spectacular Canadian Rockies as a natural backdrop, how can you not head outdoors!?   In the indoor images, all the mountains that should have been visible through the windows were blown out by improper exposures, faces were dark in many, there were none of the bride with her grandparents and other special guests who had flown in far and wide for the day.  And, as if that was not enough, the photographer was nowhere to be found during the first dance, ensuing dances or cake cutting because, “she was tired and went up to her room for a nap.”  My heart went out to that bride…

Sadly, this is not unusual.  With the advent of digital cameras, more and more people are pursuing hobby photography – it’s easy to shoot, check and reshoot if you don’t like something.  Many of today’s point and shoot cameras are capable of generating professional quality photos. (I use one for my vacation photos and they look gorgeous in my annual photobooks.)  What is hard to see on the 2.0″ screen is the red eye, the flash (if used) bouncing off the mirror in the background, the slight blur of an out of focus image.  The focus locking on the child bouncing in the background instead of the couple as was intended.

So, with that in mind, why should you choose a professional photographer over a friend?

Revisit the scenario I painted in the opening paragraph.   If the photos don’t come out as expected, your friend sees things her way and not yours, or wants a nap, are you prepared to deal with the resentment that may follow later? Or to simplify – are you willing to risk your friendship over your wedding photos?

First and foremost, for me though, would be the desire to capture the emotions and magical moments of your special day and be able to preserve them for a lifetime.   Your wedding dress is worn once – maybe twice… Your bridesmaid’s dresses will be retired…  Your wedding cake will be devoured…  And, while you can preserve some of your flowers, they are no longer set off by the wonderful location you chose.  A professional can work with you to capture those special details,  highlight what’s important to you, and enable you to relive your shining day throughout the years.

A professional photographer has the right equipment, knows how to use it to its maximum potential, understands tricky lighting, and uses available lighting to full effect.  They see beyond the immediate subject taking background, lighting and composition into account in the blink of an eye – or burst of a flash!  Their skills are honed to zone in on, and capture, the groom wiping a tear as the bride comes down the aisle, the laughter at Uncle Lou’s ribald jokes, Dad’s bunny ears behind family, or Mum’s seemingly inexplicable onset of tears.  And if I had $1 for every time I heard “that was the last photo I had with Grandma before she passed away”….

Michelle, the mother of the bride at Kayla & Michael’s wedding, had this to say, “Loved them all! As the mother of the bride, it was a busy day. Your pictures captured the moments I missed, the ones I shared in and the joy on my daughter & new son-in-law faces. The day was made even more magnificent by the photos that captured in time such a wonderful and special day! You my friend, are a gem! Thanks so much!!!!

So, if you’re thinking of scaling back on expenses, perhaps leave the photography budget in…  At least ask how your potential photographer will handle low light, elderly immobile relatives, inclement weather, outdoor venues and anything else you feel important.   You don’t have to go out and sign up the most expensive photographer in the city – there is a wide range of pricing even among the pro’s.  But keep the old adage in the back of your mind, “you get what you pay for”.

I leave you with a couple of related blogs – both well written, one from the perspective of a bride, and one from the photographer.

And of course, what’s a photographer’s blog if it doesn’t have a few photos to demonstrate some of those special moments!?

Mike struggles to regain his emotions as Kendra walks down the aisle.

Krysti & Kyle share an intimate moment 'between photos'.

Kayla & Michael share the first dance...

Ryan shares a special moment...

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4 Responses to Friend, Foe or Photographer?…

  1. Love and I Do says:

    definitely agree!! go with a professional…never worth the risk

    http://www.LoveandIDo.wordpress.com

  2. Kevin says:

    As a hobby photographer, I totally agree with you that weddings should be left to the seasoned Pro’s. I would never attempt a wedding at this stage in photographic journey.
    Let me ask you this though!
    Were you never a budding young photographer, eager to try anything?
    Everyone has to start out somewhere!
    Some just get a wee bit too carried away though attempt to take on too much too soon, hardly a crime or malicious but I do still agree with your thoughts on hiring a wedding photographer, when it comes to the other stuff though, let us amatuers get stuck in there and learn as we go 🙂

    • Kevin, I got my start as a hobby and primarily scenic photographer. I started with a little small wedding for a friend and colleague. I did it for the price of my family portrait sessions and warned them up front that I’d never shot a wedding before. She loved my scenic pics and baby photos (also done for friends.) They were fine and totally accepting. It was only 14 people in total and we had a lot of fun together and the bride was very happy with her shots and the whole experience. That led to word of mouth for a couple of others that were also done at reasonable rates as I built up a portfolio – and confidence!! I fully understand there are good (and bad) hobby/amateur photographers out there, just as there are good and bad pro’s. (Technically a pro is someone who earns more than 50% of their annual income from their profession – so theoretically if I charged $120 for a wedding, and only earned $200/year, I could call myself a pro!) I don’t want to discourage people from hiring the amateurs, I just want them to go in with their eyes open, and ask questions of whomever they hire! Give them something to think about. 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Pingback: Travel Theme: Couples (Wedding Photography) | The ever rambling thoughts of Suzan McEvoy

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