It is only natural to wonder if it's really necessary to hire a professional wedding photographer instead of hiring, well ... someone else, to photograph your wedding. Why do professional wedding photographers charge as much as they do? The short and simple answer to that question is, it's a lot of work for a photographer to take on a wedding - that is, if you have found a photographer that is doing what he should be doing to make your wedding photography experience an enjoyable one! It is also quite expensive to run a photography business because of studio rentals, costly photographic equipment and computers, necessary software, insurance, hiring other photographers and more.
But let me try to expound a bit more on this topic. Digital technology as it pertains to photography has brought picture taking to a whole new level, enabling almost any one to snap a well exposed image, even from a cell phone (under good lighting conditions). If you were conscious during the film photography days, you probably remember that was definitely not the case. As a 35mm film photographer, it was much more challenging for a beginner to snap a well exposed image frame after frame consistently. Today, there are many well calibrated auto features and other perks on digital cameras that allow the average Joe to take the kind of pictures early film novices only dreamed of taking. But is this what photography is about - the advancement in camera technology? Is it that simple? For instance, is it wise to hire a photographer-enthusiast who is relying on the full auto mode of their camera to capture a-once-in-a-lifetime event - your wedding? Does shooting a wedding simply come down to the smartest cameras and perhaps the visual talents of the person behind them? Although these two things are without doubt helpful, perhaps even essential, I can confidently say - no! Photographing a wedding involves a myriad of details beyond just technology and visual talent. There is nothing wrong with hiring a beginner photographer who has the basic skills needed to adequately capture your marriage union, as long as they have made it clear that they are not a professional wedding photographer, so you will know somewhat what to expect. When you are on a tight budget for your wedding a good amateure photographer may be the ideal avenue you need to take. I have provided near the end of this blog, a list of questions (see link below) which will help with finding both a good amateure or professional wedding photographer.
So, What is a Professional Wedding Photographer?
• A professional wedding photographer is more than just a person with an expensive camera and perhaps a little photo training who sometimes gets paid to shoot pictures.
• A professional wedding photographer is someone who is operating a legitimate business with the necessary fundamental infrastructure indicative of any other legitimate well functioning business; first and foremost in customer care - emphases on the word "care" - because let's face it, weddings are all about caring.
• A genuine wedding photographer will typically have had some form of official photography education beyond a few YouTube tutorials. He/she will have had plenty of wedding experience, a decent list of referrals from other wedding clients, and a full wedding portfolio that he/she is eager to share with you.
• A professional wedding photographer will be using reliable equipment suitable for shooting weddings and knows how to use these tools outside of the "auto-modes" - because depending totally on a "smart-camera" to get the shot right every time, is a misunderstanding of how smart smart-cameras really are. Their intelligence is limited indeed, and knowing specifically what the auto feature's limitations and strengths are, especially when it comes to shooting something as monumental and sensitive as a bride's wedding, is not optional - it is essential.
• A professional photographer must know how to shoot in manual mode as a means to override inherent weaknesses of most DSLR cameras in varying kinds of complex lighting scenarios. Lack of know-how in this area will cause an otherwise great photo opportunity to be missed.
• A true pro is organized and prepared when first meeting with you regarding the fine details of your wedding and knows precisely what questions to ask you regarding things like: itinerary, shot lists, special moments you want captured during the wedding, wedding venue details, names of guests and family, etc.
• A professional wedding photographer will be sincerely interested in any photo ideas you have and is willing to customize his style to yours. In other words, his own style isn't fixed. The photographer is also prepared to make suggestions where needed.
• The person you choose to capture your big day needs to be personable, relatively confident and socially adaptable. After all, your photographer is usually the one individual you hire who is probably going to be interacting with almost every guest at your wedding and reception to some degree.
• You want to be wary of a photographer who is a mere "techie" who knows everything about the photography equipment and perhaps knows how to frame a good scene, but does not know how to put your guests at ease while doing so. There are some photographers who don't like people too much but have taken extraordinary images; they are just not ideal for the wedding business, but nor are upstage photographers and paparazzis.
• The ideal wedding photographer will blend in well and ultimately direct focus to the bride and groom and their family - not himself!
• Something else to consider when searching for a professional wedding photographer, is the knowledge and skill that a professional needs to have in regards to digital-post-production, like: digital processing, photo editing skills, printing knowledge, basic web and/or digital file management, stylistic editing, knowledge of copyright and printing laws, and much more.
These bullet points of what a professional wedding photographer is, and does, are of course a fundamental description of what to look for when shopping for an "actual" wedding photographer to capture your momentous day. Let these descriptions guide the questions you ask the photographers you interview. But to make it easier, I am providing a link below with more detailed questions to consider when you begin your quest for a great one. I've formated this list as a PDF for you to print and keep with you. I know it seems like a lot of information to digest, but with this list of vital questions directly in front of you when meeting with potential wedding photographers, it will be much easier than you think. http://jonathandavidphotography.zenfolio.com/questionsforweddingphotographers.pdf
We of course, are hoping that Jonathan David Photography in Nashville, TN will be your first pick to photograph your incredible day, but let's meet and see if "all the stars line up" between us and go from there. If we are not the best match for each other, we would be happy to help you find another photographer that is a good match for you - no strings attached - wedding photographer's honor ;) .