Updated: Feb 11
Out of all the things that you will purchase and procure for your wedding day, whether it's the venue, the wedding gown, the cake, the groom's tux, or bridal party gifts, your wedding photography is probably still one of the most important elements, least of all because it is the one thing that will help you remember all of those other elements well after the buzz--of the excitement of marrying your most favorite person--and the bubbly has worn off.
All of your other vendors are a great value to be had for the wedding day, but your photography is one of the first values you will enjoy for the marriage.
So while it may be tempting to give your Uncle Bob or Cousin Tanya with the fancy point and shoot the duty of capturing your nuptuals, you would do well to keep in mind a few things about why you should consider going with a more seasoned professional. Which brings me to the first point...
Reason #1 - A Monkey with a GoPro is not a Photographer
There was a term that was popularized a long time ago on internet photography forums that described the phenomenon of the socially inept, yet relatively harmless middle-aged dude looking to help "models" with their fashion portfolios using his trusty and fancy new Digital SLR camera. That term was a "GWC" or "Guy with a Camera."
These guys would buy the latest photo gear and go out and about with it on auto-mode and snap snap snap away while the naive and hopeful young girl he'd convinced to do a "test shoot" with posed her heart out only to receive a spattering of "snapshots" that her friend could have done on her smartphone with less of a headache.
What separates being a Photographer from a GWC is a lot of very subtle things, things that are often hard to truly parse by the layman but are evident once you see examples side by side. A photographer knows the ins and outs of advanced photography principles such as lighting, exposure, focal length, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, and so on; and they use this knowledge to create photographs with a certain emotional impact, a certain artistic flair and resonance that leaves the viewer with a sense that they were there in the moment, experiencing the emotions right along with the wedding couple.
A photographer knows how to make happy moments FEEL more happy, how to make tender moments feel sacred and important, how to make romantic moments ooze with gravitas and passion.
And it's not only about knowing which focal length to choose, or which aperture and ISO to be at (those things are important) it's about knowing where to position yourself to get the best angles, which brings me to...
Reason #2 - Experience is About Knowing Where to Be AND Where Not to Be
Over the course of my career I've probably been to over 600 weddings, first as an assistant for many years and then as a second photographer, and then as the main wedding photographer. In all that time I've seen many different weddings of many different faiths and traditions, but while each couple's love and relationship are unique and special, there are certain consistencies that run throughout the entirety of my experience, and knowing what those things are is about 75% of a wedding photographer's job.
Capturing all the best moments from all the best angles is what will separate a seasoned professional from your Uncle Adesh, even if he's been to a few Sangeets before, but another thing to consider is that a professional will know where not to be. I've seen it many times where an overzealous relative without the proper telephoto lens inserted themselves into the ring and vow exchange because they didn't know any better, or the Aunt who got tripped up trying to capture the Bride and Groom's recessional and fell on her backside and nearly broke her underutilized mirrorless camera.
And other than the Ceremony where experience makes the most difference, there's also the rest of the wedding day to consider...
Reason #3 - Family Photos are like Herding Cats (and then taking pictures of them)
The one part of the wedding day that can absolutely derail the enjoyment that you will have is the family photo session. A wedding is one of the few times that extended families are dressed up and all together in one place so they are a good opportunity to get nice pictures of everyone, especially if you're getting married at a beautiful venue like The Olana up here in Corinth, TX.
It's a nice thing to get, but it can take a very long time if not done properly, there are so many different combinations of shots that involve managing a large group of people who all want to get their drink on as soon as they can. Making sure that everyone is posed properly and looking their best is not a task that should be left up to just anyone. If you want the best, most flattering images of the most important people in your life and you don't want getting those photos to take up the entirety of the cocktail hour, then hiring a professional is mandatory. A professional will have the knowledge and experience to be able to attack your shot list with efficiency all while keeping everyone engaged and entertained.
Of course, that all depends on the professional because...
Not Just any Professional Will Do
I recently attended my niece's destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta (I know! I was the Uncle Bob with the fancy camera!) and I mostly stayed out of the way of the hired photographer as to not be that guy, but I did take a few shots here and there. I brought just one camera and one lens (The Canon RF 50mm f1.2 that you see an example from in the image above) because I wanted to pack light and I wanted to stay out of the way. But... I'm glad I brought something because...
She was not happy with the photos she got from her photographer. He hardly did any candid shots, and she said that the posed photos looked like romance novel covers. Not bad, just not her style. And maybe saying that she wasn't happy with her photos is a little too harsh. She just wasn't ecstatic with her photos.
And you really should be when it comes down to it. A wedding day is too important to entrust to a relative looking to give an easy wedding gift or to an inexperienced "semi-pro" looking to pad their portfolio.
It's important to go with a professional, but it's equally important to find the professional that's right for you.
Which brings me to my last piece of advice...
Take Hiring a Photographer as Seriously as Your Vows
Your wedding day is the most important day of you and your fiance's relationship thus far, and your photography will be the main way in which you remember that day and reflect back upon the promises you make to each other, the commitments you enter into, and the celebrations that come after.
Not hiring a professional or hiring the wrong professional to save a few bucks can ruin the entire memory of that most important day, not just because the photos turn out bad, but because your photographer will be the one person you interact with the most throughout the day and having someone there who has been there and done that and can guide you through it from the pre-ceremony prep to the last dance, to the sparkler send-off is an incalculable value.
To learn more about how I tackle all the important elements of the day, reach out to me here.
So do the Research and find your Perfect Photographer Match
So tell your Great Aunt Cheryl to put down the camera and just enjoy herself at your wedding and go through the portfolios of your local wedding photography professionals and find the one whose style and attitude matches yours. There are many different types of photographers out there and they've worked hard to develop the skills and experience needed to make your wedding day the most enjoyable and memorable experience that they can.