Why hire a Professional Photographer?
The past few years, because of the advent of digital and the downturn of the economy, professional photographers seem to be having a less important role in the planning for a wedding.
What has happened is that because almost anyone can take “good” pictures these days with the current crop of digital cameras and then they can easily improve (or “fix”) the pictures in Photoshop (or other less complicated programs) people think that it’s easy to take pictures and don’t think that it’s as important as it used to be to hire a professional. Eventually this concept will turn around, because nothing can replace the experience and artistry (and equipment) of a professional. Some of you might want to realize that now, before a mistake is made with your wedding pictures.
As an example, I’ve worked with and trained many photographers over the past 20 years. They’ve run the gamut from bad to average to extraordinary, and these are professionals (or aspiring professionals) who spend MUCH more time at their craft then most amateurs do. Whenever a photographer (who hadn’t photographed weddings before) came to me looking for work, they would have to go out with me perhaps dozens of times before I would let them be a main photographer on a wedding. And generally their first time out would be at something simple, such as a couple of hours with the ceremony at the same location as the reception and maybe a few dozen guests. I would then carefully critique their work and see if there was improvement the second (and third) times out. So the idea is that if we can see such a variance in the work of photographers who have spent many hours honing their craft, then why would anyone think that it doesn’t take much to be a wedding photographer? Don’t be fooled! There IS a difference, and what most people don’t seem to realize is that you DO get what you pay for! A bargain is a bargain for a reason, so be prepared for the consequences.
Just one technical note having to do with equipment: One thing that a professional knows how to do (or SHOULD know how to do) is avoid digital “noise.” This is NOT the same as film grain, which is SOMETIMES desirable. Digital noise is never desirable and cannot be “fixed” in Photoshop. Shooting at 400 ISO (fine with film and common with digital) is too risky and should be avoided. One way to avoid this is with a powerful flash (IMPOSSIBLE with a “pop-up!”) My flash costs $1200 and is so powerful that I can almost always shoot @ 100 ISO. It has the highest guide # of any portable flash. Sorry to get technical, but these are issues that any professional would be aware of.
Here are some analogies: If you are arrested for some reason, would you hire a paralegal or a lawyer? Would you entrust your future to someone who has passed the bar? Or not? If you were sick and didn’t know what was wrong, you MIGHT get the right answer from a paramedic, or maybe not. If you had cancer, the local hospital might be fine, or you might prefer Sloan-Kettering. Willing to take the risk?
Or how about these: If you’re a musician, are you going to be careful about the music you choose for your wedding? Is a Harmony guitar as good as a Fender Strat or (my favorite) a Rickenbacker? Is there a difference between a $500 violin and a $5000 violin? If you’re a car enthusiast, would you understand the difference between a Kia and ….. maybe anything else? If you’re an audiphile are you going to be satisfied with any speaker system? Is there a difference between a Dell and (yes, my favorite again) APPLE!? I’m sure you get the point.
There’s a story about Isaac Stern (who was running Carnegie Hall) that he was checking out different violins and someone replaced one of the million dollar violins with a mere $100,000 model. He noticed IMMEDIATELY and freaked out! Now, admittedly that’s a bit extreme. But you get the point.
Many people take pictures with the pop-up flash on the camera. Well, there IS a difference with the $1200 flash that I use. There IS a difference with professional equipment! The best digital camera is $8,000. Not too many of us use such an expensive camera. But the most popular price range for professional cameras is around $2500. There MUST be a difference with a point and shoot that costs a few hundred dollars! And yes, it IS noticeable!
Here’s a question for anyone who thinks they know how to be a professional photographer: Let’s say your subject is standing under a tree and there’s a combination of sun and shade on their face (not so unusual) What would you do to get even lighting on the face? (and Photoshop is NOT the answer! That would take MUCH too much work and would take a real Photoshop expert to make it look natural.) There is a simple answer, and it is NOT to set the camera on automatic!