At one of my weddings last year I was photographing the group formals with the sun beaming behind them on a ridiculously sunny day.
I overheard a guest behind me, trying to take pictures with their nice camera saying; “I don’t know why she’s taking them like that, it’s coming out black on my camera” and “She’s doing it wrong, you can’t photograph people with the sun behind, it doesn’t come out”
Any photographers reading this will fully understand why I had a little chuckle to myself, as I captured my favourite group shots to date.
The thing is, having a nice camera is only a small fraction of what it takes to produce consistently great pictures.
Please don’t be fooled by mega-pixels and fancy scene modes and ‘I have one of those cameras where you can change the lens’.
None of that matters if the person who owns the camera doesn’t actually know what they’re doing.
It’s not the size of the tool, it’s how you use it..
This TOTALLY applies in the world of photography. I’ve seen many great pictures produced through lower end cameras and I’ve seen lots of crap pictures taken with high end cameras. This just goes to show that it’s how you utilize your equipment that really counts.
I’m not saying that equipment doesn’t matter, it does.
If I’m faced with a dimly lit venue at a wedding, I need to be able to shoot in low light without the images coming out ridiculously dark and grainy. This is where my camera and lens choice really helps, but could you imagine a person with the same camera not knowing how to manually record that difficult lighting situation? Not knowing what settings to change, or what functions to look for?
A wedding is a hugely fast moving and challenging event and photographing it well is not easily done. You need to really know your way around the camera, lenses and lighting equipment that you’re using to really make the most of it. With weddings there are no second chances.
So why is a photographer more than just a nice camera?
Why do you pay thousands for wedding photography? It’s not just the thousands of pounds worth of equipment the photographer carries around, it’s so much more than that:
- Experience. – You want someone who knows their way around a wedding, not just on the day and knowing where to stand and where to be at all times, but being able to help you with your timeline on the lead up to the big day will really help you where your pictures are concerned.
- Technical knowledge. – Knowing their equipment inside out and knowing which settings to use in different scenarios, so they can nail the shots without too much time spent fiddling with settings. Not only will they know how to use their nice camera, but they’ll also know what lenses and lighting to use.
- Adaptation. – Being able to adapt to any lighting/weather situation is super important. Especially here in the UK because y’know… consistent weather has never been our strong point.
- Artistic vision. – A photographers eye never goes away, once you’re good at looking for compositions you pretty much see them everywhere. You want your photographer to have ideas and source good picture opportunities that the untrained eye would probably miss.
- Time and care put into post editing work. – The shoot and burn photographer will most likely give you a CD with all the images taken (probably thousands of them – including the blurry ones and the ones where your eyes are shut) untouched and unresized. A good professional photographer will take great care in finishing your pictures and only showing you the very best ones. Learn more about shoot and burn here and why it’s never a good idea.
- Presentation of your images and products. – Would you rather your pictures delivered to you on a nicely presented flash drive/DVD in a personalised case /decorated box complete with chocolates, OR a cd written on with a marker pen? The final touches says a lot about how much a photographer values their work and products.
- How you feel in front of their camera. – A good photographer will know how to help you relax and feel comfortable in front of the camera.
- The way they interact with guests. – I get a lot of guests approaching me when working a wedding and I need to know how to interact with them that bests reflects my business but also doesn’t take my focus away from the work I’m doing. You wouldn’t want a photographer who is rude and bossy to guests putting people in a bad mood.
- Being a ninja. – As important as it is that the photographer can direct the group shots and be heard when they need to, it’s also important that they can blend into the background to get all those documentary style images, capturing natural moments as they unfold.
- Having back up. – Usually a wedding photographer will have not just one nice camera, but two. As well as back up lenses, memory cards, batteries etc.
- Insurance. – It’s so important that your photographer has insurance, most venues require that they have public liability insurance at the very least but having the right insurance protects both of you if anything were to go wrong.
- Work ethic. – Spending 8-14 hours rushing around, on their feet all day, with next to no breaks, not to mention all the sleepless nights editing your pictures to perfection. We’re a hardworking bunch! A lot of wedding photographers will spend on average of 30-40 hours working on each wedding, that includes the meetings, prep, shooting and editing.
That’s why if you ever say “Wow, you take really great pictures, you must have a nice camera” to a photographer, they won’t take it as a compliment. A photographer is so much more than the camera he/she is carrying.
Here’s another good post about hiring a professional photographer vs having a friend shoot your wedding for free.