30 Aug Why You NEED A Professional Photographer
As strange as it may be to some to hear, I wasn’t born with a camera in my hand. No, in a past life I was actually a variety of other things from aviation student to food worker,automotive engineer to IT manager, commercial truck driver to engine mechanic. Photography in general has always been in my life – my first girlfriend was the neighbor two doors down growing up and we had a lot of fun in the darkroom her father built for her in the basement. No, not that kind of fun! OK maybe a little. I have always had cameras and of course enjoyed all sorts of projects with them – what photographer HASN’T said that on their website? My point is when in 2007 I decided to go ‘Pro’ and become a 100% full time photographer, it wasn’t a decision to take lightly. Every entrepreneur knows the huge risks associated with starting a new business – never mind one just before the worst economic time in most people’s living history. But we also know something else – the huge benefits. For those of us willing to risk it all, it’s worth it every single day, good or bad.
Professionals have many important qualities and attributes that should be critical to you as a client! I’m always trying to educate my current and potential clients of not only these good points but the pitfalls to avoid with everyone else. I’ll touch on them here to lay out my points but honestly sometimes it feels like I’m talking to a wall. I know MANY other pros feel the exact same way, citing that clients just don’t care any more or are too cheap, or just want ‘good enough’. While that is certainly true in some cases I still want to fight the good fight and put out some positive information for everyone to take away and remember the next time they need photography services!
We are in very interesting times the last few years, with the proliferation of VERY good relatively cheap starter cameras. Anyone with $500 can go down to Best Buy and get a basic DSLR kit and call themselves a ‘photographer’. What happened in the last few years? First, digital dominated. Film is dead. Film REQUIRED skill to use, there were no previews on the back of the camera, and every time you pressed the button it cost you cash. Things like weddings were usually handled by someone that knew what they were doing. You didn’t have every new mom (no offence to new moms) ‘discover’ they could take pictures and are all of a sudden a baby photographer. Second, digital prices came down. WAY down. It used to cost a few thousand dollars for a basic digital camera kit, but now it’s down to a few hundred and in reach of MANY more people.
So what’s the problem? Well first, while everyone’s Uncle Joe can buy that Digital Rebel kit that only gets you a small percentage of what it REALLY takes to do something like a wedding right. I’ll take this in a wedding direction from here on out since it plays to another reason why I think this is so important which you’ll understand in a bit. So Joe got his camera and is now a ‘photographer’. He shows up, snapping hundreds or thousands of pictures at your wedding and you think all is great! Or perhaps not everything is going so well and he complains the church is too dark and refuses to shoot (it happens). One of many wild things that actually happens, trust me. Then a few months later you get your images. And yeah, wow, that budget savings you took out of your photographer fund wasn’t such a great idea after all. But guess what, it’s too late. You heard it before the wedding and thought it was a lie. You thought it was an exaggeration. You thought it’s not hard to do. You thought wow, this guy is taking pictures all the time, it’ll be awesome!
Let me explain what a good Professional Wedding Photographer has before they even know you exist. We have thousands of dollars in top professional grade equipment. That means we use cameras that produce more accurate photos in a wider range of environments. We don’t care how dark the church or reception is, we can shoot in it. We don’t care how fast you are moving on the dance floor, we have the right lighting to get the cool shots. We have a variety of lenses with us to go from wide angle to tight shots from a distance for all the creative work. We have backup equipment for when things go wrong – which they will. We have use of more than one photographer when needed, so everything is covered. We know the timing of your day. This might be your first and only wedding and completely new and scary to you. For a Professional Wedding Photographer this is like driving to work. It’s part of the process to create wonderful images and an album, and we’ve done it over and over and over again. We KNOW what we are doing, how to do it well, how to deal with all kinds of problems and how to make sure it never effects you. The most important thing is – your wedding is ALL ABOUT YOU. We always have that in mind!
Here’s a big point that not many clients ever realize. The time we are with you is only 1/3 of the time we spend on you. We spend a great deal of time on prep and travel, usually scoping out your locations just prior to your wedding to make sure everything is covered and we have the best plan possible for you. After the day is done, the other huge part of the work begins, editing! Amateurs fail this step the most and it’s no wonder since it takes such considerable talent, time and money to get it right. At the most basic it takes a few thousand dollars in computer equipment and programs to do it right. Just a basic editing computer, minimum quality monitor & software will set you back $2,000. Most professional wedding photographers have much more than that, myself included. My system cost me upwards of $7,000 and I’m always improving it. Having the best possible software not only improves my workflow saving me time but it gives the IMAGES the best treatment, and that is what you as a client should be concerned with. For every hour I shoot I spend another 1-2 hours in the studio editing those photos. Non-professionals will simply not be able to do this, period. Besides the investment it takes considerable skill and talent to use these tools to deliver the creative, perfected and polished photographs that we deliver to every client. I won’t bore you with the details but it would make most people’s head spin to know all the steps that go in to producing just one final image the right way!
Now for the segway. Why am I so passionate about this? Because I love to be right. I love to be accurate. If I can’t do something the best way, I don’t do it at all. Over the years I have tried many different types of photography to see if I liked it. I’m good at it all (I’m very modest too), but I feel if someone doesn’t really have a passion for something the best work will never come out. That’s why I don’t advertise certain things like boudoir, maternity, newborns, fashion. It’s just not my thing even though the results were great and every client loved the shots. What do I LOVE? Weddings, products, food, commercial ads, portraits – anything really creative! So that’s what you find me advertising, what you find me in love with, what you find really standing out here.
Why weddings? Because of my experience with my own wedding photos. I’m going to embarrass myself by showing these pics but they are a perfect illustration of why it’s important to REALLY read and understand these points BEFORE your wedding. Your photography is the MOST important part of your wedding after the day is done. The typical client spends thousands of dollars on other vendors freely but thinks the photographer is an area to cut. It should be the LAST thing you cut, period. I don’t say that because I am one – you will find many other types of vendors telling you the same thing. Think about it for a minute. You spend $5,000 on flowers and you see them for all of a few hours. Then they are dead – goodbye! You spend thousands of dollars on a gorgeous venue. You get lighting, decor, the room looks great! You see it for a couple hours and may actually remember 20% of it. That’s not a joke. You spend thousands on the PERFECT dress and you look stunning! You wear it for a few hours and will see it for a few more hours in your life, probably only in a closet or on a bed, never to be worn again.
What do all these have in common? The photography! Here’s where everything goes either perfectly or horribly wrong. If you spend the money and time to get the right kind of wedding photographer you can have wonderful, beautiful pictures of that perfect dress, those stunning bouquets, your gorgeous bling, the romantic setting you created for the reception. You will have so many awesome images for the rest of your life and hopefully an album that brings you to tears for the rest of your life. On the other hand you can hire Joe Schmo and save a little money. You can get a handful of mediocre images that will leave you with regret and fading memories for the rest of your life. A good photographer will make your wedding look 10x as expensive as it was and make you say ‘I don’t even remember that!’. An amateur will make your gorgeous details and plans look 1/10 as expensive as they were and make you say ‘I wish I had a picture of…’.
I was not a professional wedding photographer when I got married. While we had a modest wedding with just very close family and friends, the details WERE amazing. We would never know it by our pictures because we hired a ‘budget’ photographer and we got a ‘deal’. We got poorly timed shots, bad exposures, horrible posing, snapshot quality compositions, you name it. No one told me all this when we were planning but I sure wish they did. I only have myself to blame, but now that you know, at least YOU can avoid the same mistakes! When planning your wedding, put a GOOD size portion of your budget to your photographer and do NOT consider this an option to ‘save’ on. You are only hurting yourself, your fiancee, your family and your future memories. Please share this article with anyone you think it can help!