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