Why You Should Choose a Professional Photographer to Preserve Your Wedding Day
By Breanne George
From the dress to the catering to the flowers, you put a lot of time, effort and energy – not to mention money – into your wedding. But when the day has come and gone, all that remains are your wedding photographs.
That’s why it is essential to choose a professional photographer to capture those moments, from the ornate details of your wedding gown to your first dance as husband and wife.
“Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you want to trust a professional photographer to capture those memories with beautiful images,” says Linda Scott, Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). “A professional photographer has the education, experience and artistry necessary to document and preserve your special day.”
Choose a Photographer Carefully
With the popularity and accessibility of digital cameras, an increasing number of amateur photographers are advertising their services to brides, despite having little to no experience photographing weddings. In addition, many couples nowadays are asking family friends or relatives to serve as photographers as a budget-friendly alternative.
The reality is your wedding photography is simply too valuable to entrust to anyone other than a professional. A professional photographer is prepared for the myriad challenges of shooting a wedding, such as working in a variety of lighting conditions, capturing special moments in an unobtrusive way, and expecting the unexpected.
For example, “A bride may have planned for an outdoor ceremony and reception, but suddenly it starts rain- ing and the event has to move indoors,” says James Yates, Communications Specialist at PPA. “A professional photographer will know how to quickly and effectively transition between indoor and outdoor lighting to ensure your photos are flawless.”
To make it easy for brides to find a professional wedding photographer, PPA offers FindAPhotographer.com. With nearly 30,000 members in its database, this free online search tool gives you the ability to find local PPA photographers specializing in a variety of styles.
Professional or Amateur – How Do You Know?
How can you be certain that you’re dealing with a professional photographer? According to Scott, there are certain qualities that differentiate a professional photographer from an amateur.
Experience: Professional photographers view photographing weddings as their career and passion in life. They will have many years of experience photographing weddings, evident in an extensive portfolio and referral list. Pros know how to deal with the unpredictable nature of a wedding and can quickly adapt to any situation, whether a change in weather or camera or equipment malfunctions. Don’t be afraid to ask prospective photographers how many years of experience they have and to see their images from a variety of weddings. Every photographer has a style, and reviewing their images can help you determine if their style is right for you. Are the images formal with an eye for the perfect picture or do they have a photojournalist style, capturing the hidden moments when no one is looking? Look for images that you can see yourself in.
Education: A professional photographer will be educated in photography, whether through college coursework or specialized training. They should be very knowledgeable on lighting, posing and all the technical aspects of photography. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their education as they will give you a true sense of the photographer’s commitment to their craft: Did they earn a four-year degree at a university; have they earned any advanced photography degrees and/or certifications by any professional organizations like PPA? Many professional photographers continually upgrade their skills through educational opportunities offered through professional associations.
Professionalism: From their website to the way they present themselves, a professional photographer will exude professionalism and have a reputable business. When you meet a photographer for the first time, ask yourself the following questions: Is the work professionally displayed on their website and in-person? Are reviews readily available, such as a bride’s thank-you note? Do they provide you with a referral list without hesitation? Good questions to ask prospective photographers include: Do they have liability insurance; do they have backup photographers and equipment in case something goes wrong on your big day; how long will it take to get printed images; what will happen to your images after the wedding (are they backed up to a hard drive or cloud; how long will they be kept)?
Envisioning Your Love Story
Every photographer has his or her own unique style, whether classic or modern. While you should have a vision in mind for your wedding photography, it is important to remember that professional photographers are true artists.
“A professional photographer offers a fresh perspective and shows the bride and groom something they may have never considered before – that’s when the real magic happens,” Yates explains. “They may notice special qualities about the couple or endearing interactions that will result in stunning images. The more creative flexibility you can give them, the more artistic and unique your photos will be.”
If you have an initial consultation with a professional photographer and the fit isn’t right, keep searching for someone that best matches your personality and style. According to Yates, you should feel a comfort level with your photographer. He or she will be working closely with you and your groom, as well as your family and friends throughout your wedding day.
Ready, Set, Shoot
Once you decide upon a photographer, Scott recommends signing a contract that spells out exactly what the agreements are, the packages and products, and what happens if some- thing goes wrong. A professional photographer will have backup gear if their camera doesn’t work or a backup photographer if they happen to get sick on your wedding day.
After the contract has been signed, a professional photographer will meet with a bride and groom to go over a detailed shot list, Scott explains. Essentially the game plan for the wedding photography, the shot list will ensure you that no important photos or moments will be missed during all the commotion and excitement of the big day. It gives you a clear understanding of who, what, where, when and how all the special moments and photos need to be captured. If you want a shot added to the list, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas.
Remember to think of your wedding photography in terms of an investment. Your photographs serve as a record of your wedding day and will hold even more significance many years from now for you and your family.
“Professional photographers have been trained to think of themselves as preservationists,” Yates says. “For example, a professional photographer will keep digital files of your photos in case your wedding album gets dam- aged or lost. On your wedding day and years later, a professional photographer is truly dedicated to preserving your memories.”
Ask the Right Questions!
Questions to ask when meeting with a prospective photographer for the first time:
- How many years of experience do you have photographing weddings?
- What credentials do you have pertaining to photography (education and/or training)?
- Describe your photography style (traditional, avant-garde, photojournalistic, etc.)?
- Do you belong to any professional associations or organizations specific to photography?
- May I see a portfolio of your work from a variety of weddings?
- Do you have back-up equipment? What happens if you get sick and are unable to photograph my wedding?
- Could you discuss the different photography packages? How many photos are included? Are retouching and color correction services provided?
- When will I receive a written contract from you?
- Do you have liability insurance in case something goes wrong?
- Could you provide me with a referral list and reviews (such as a bride’s thank-you note)? ♥