I pose this question to those who have already gotten married, I am interested to see what others think!
I am mainly a Videographer, that is 90% of what I do, but I do occasionally get asked to shoot photo for my clients. Even on days when the client has a photographer, I always snap a few photos along the way so I can have something to use for their DVD menu and the cover of their video. I have done this as long as I can remember. It serves two purposes.
1. If the client’s photographer is hard to work with, or they are unable/unwilling to share an image or two with me.
2. As a Videographer, it is important that I am always honing my craft. When it comes to shooting video as compared to photography, it’s interesting to see the varying angles that I can get with a still image as compared to a video clip. Often times I am able to get unique pictures with ease because the camera isn’t locked off on a tripod.
That said, I am shocked at how often I get calls from a bride or her mother asking if I have any pictures of this, or that, because the photographer LOST THEIR MEMORY CARD. I can understand how much would have infuriated them, not to mention stressed them out. A photographer should always ensure that that first thing they do with the photo film is to send it for digitization (look here to see how). Such amateur problems can easily be avoided by having a copy online. Another time I shot a wedding that had 3 photographers, they all seemed to be somewhat inexperienced, but I made the best of it. After I delivered their wedding video, the mother called me in tears, all 3 photographers shot the wedding and somehow all 3 of them fell off the face of the planet. It just so happened that I had a few images of their cake, and a few other moments from throughout the day.
Recently I filmed a wedding with a photographer that I LOVED! She was amazing, wonderful, you couldn’t ask for anything more! Until I looked at her pictures. The wedding was an indoor wedding venue, with very little light. After the ceremony we went outside for family formals, which was awesome, it turned out well. Later that night, the photographer told me that she was intimidated by me with all of my experience, but after getting to know me she wanted to shoot with me some more. I asked to look at her camera to get an idea of what her stuff looked like. After all, I LOVED working with her, she had a great attitude and she could direct the crowds very well. There are some things that can be taught, and SHE had the things that can’t be taught down 100%.
After thumbing through some of her images, I was saddened to see that all of the ones indoors were VERY blurry, and completely unusable. I looked quickly at her shutter speed and it was 1/40th of a second. She had the camera on a manual setting, and the camera sensed that there wasn’t enough light so it decreased the shutter speed to compensate. Sadly, the shutter speed of 1/40th is nowhere near fast enough to capture movement. So, this beautiful couple had a bunch of blurry pictures of their first dance. I took a quick second to educate the photographer about shutter speed as well as some necessary software tools so that she could fix the blurry pictures later and return some better-quality images of the couple for the rest of the night.
Another quick story, a while back I shot a wedding where I did my normal thing, I shot about 100 images of the wedding day so I could write a blog article of their wedding day. I was contacted after the wedding by the mother of the bride asking if she could buy the rights to their pictures as they were “much better than anything the photographer sent us”.
Moral of the story: Sometimes it may seem nice to have a cheaper photographer shoot your wedding day, maybe even hiring a friend seems like a good idea. Not to knock any friend that I don’t personally know, as I have no idea of their skill level, but MOST “friends” will fall into one of the categories above. With the ever decreasing price of camera technology, its not hard tog et your hands on a $500 camera with a kit lens and take some well lit pictures outside. But that does not make you a photographer.
There are also a TON of people who get together and do these styled shoots where they have models who pose perfectly, perfectly placed floral arrangements, perfect hair and makeup, and 9 other people get a say in how you shoot the picture. The venue is perfectly lit because you get to pick the location and time of day that you shoot. 25 photographers show up to shoot the same thing, so 25 photographers have roughly the same beautiful pictures. Just because someone has a beautiful instagram does not mean they are a professional photographer. Now you have 25 hobbyists that have the same quality of work as someone who has been doing it for 25 years. The difference is the pro will be able to get those same results on a wedding day when left to their own devices, and the hobbyist will crash and burn most likely because they don’t have the experience to produce the same result without having input from 10 other people.
No matter who you pick, you MUST always ask how many weddings they’ve shot. Were they indoor weddings or outdoor weddings? Do they have specialized lenses to shoot indoors? Do they have off camera lighting? Do they have an extra camera or two in case their main camera dies (I have had it happen)? What if they run out of space on their memory card, do they have more? I have personally seen many photographers literally start deleting photographs because they ran out of space. An easier way to check their work quality is to look through their online portfolio if they have one. Indoor and outdoor shots can both be very different. Indoor lighting can be more controlled than outside lighting, but when the latter is harsh, it becomes more challenging. In the event you are planning a grand outdoor wedding at an amazing location, you might want to check outdoor shots of a photographer before you hire them. In addition, you can ask to see a whole entire wedding album (or 10) so you can see the wedding from start to finish. THIS is how you should distinguish the pros from the hobbyists.
When it all comes down to your wedding day, there will absolutely be things that go wrong. The light will change dramatically as you walk in the door, or out of the temple doors. A good photographer will be able to make the adjustment quickly so it doesn’t affect the images much.
Have you had a positive experience with your wedding photographer? Good or bad?