“My photographer ruined my wedding”
These words are an absolute nightmare for any newly married couple but sadly, not uncommon. Because these days, EVERYONE is a ‘professional photographer’ right? And I’m using the term loosely here.
I mean, people can spend as little as $1500 and buy an entry level DSLR camera. Next minute, they’ve got a Facebook page, maybe even a free Wix website, they’re shooting on dummy mode and thinking:
“Wow, I can take a pretty good photo”
Which of course, they can’t. They have NO idea how to achieve a decent image, zero idea about exposure, lighting, posing or editing.
But BAM! Suddenly they’re calling themselves a “photographer”, giving away newborn and family sessions on Facebook, offering up $50 sessions with all the digitals. Or worse, “hey! I’ll shoot your wedding for $500”.
The disappointment of choosing a bad photographer
A few years ago I was shooting a fabulous wedding and was chatting away with the bridal party when the bridesmaid shared her horror story with me. She’d had the misfortune of choosing a photographer masquerading as a professional for her wedding day. She told me of the disappointment of not having a single photo she liked! The bridesmaid, who admitted to crying over her bad wedding photos even years later, told me about her out of focus images, images not framed correctly, terrible posing and well, just plain bad photos.
Worst of all, she’d paid a decent amount of money for bad photography.
Unfortunately, she’s not alone. I’ve heard of many distraught and angry couples furious over bad wedding images, poor and unprofessional behaviour at weddings, or simply being having their photographer ghost them on their wedding day.
A perfect example of nightmare photographers are in this article from the UK.
Don’t photograph a wedding if you’re not experienced
And honestly, nothing gives me the shits more than a hobbyist with a camera masquerading as a wedding photographer.
Wannabe wedding photographers have no business using actual wedding couples as a practice run.
Especially when their images are no better than an iPhone pic. Actually, sometimes an iPhone pic is better.
For instance, look at this article on Reddit for another horror story.
Argh! My eyes!
Honestly, it’s a damn insult to all of us professional photographers who’ve spent years, many of us decades, refining our craft, building a business and busting our asses in this cut-throat, race to the bottom, photography industry.
However, there are so many freaking awesome wedding photographers around, you just need to know how to find them.
How to recognise the difference between amateur and professional photographer
Firstly, I thank all my clients, past, present and future for valuing my work and experience.
And I’m sure I speak for many of my colleagues who also have wonderful clients who recognise their skill in their respective industries of newborn photography, family photography and wedding photography.
But, many people don’t know what to look for. I mean, how often do you book a wedding photographer?
For many people, it’s a one time gig and it’s important it’s done right.
So, for those of you who don’t know what to look for, here’s what you need to know.
These are my tips for recognising the difference between an awesome, talented professional photographer and…well, a shit one.
What to ask when booking a photographer
There’s always a few questions (actually, there’s a LOT of questions) you should ask before booking a professional photographer.
For example, if you’re looking for a wedding photographer you should ask the following:
- How many weddings have you photographed ON YOUR OWN. Many people tag along as practice and then claim to have photographed a wedding on their own.
There is much to learn about how a wedding day unfolds, the moments to capture, where you need to be to photograph a particular moment and the important people to include in photos. These skills are learned through experience ad photographing many, many weddings.
- Do you have back-up equipment?
Because any professional photographer will invest in their equipment and have extra gear in case shit happens. Because eventually, it always does. A professional will have extra camera, extra lenses, extra batteries, extra everything! Make sure you ask this!
- What happens if your photographer is sick?
Normally a professional photographer has a network of professional photographer friends. For instance, I have a bunch of awesome photographer friends who will bail me out if I break both my arms and can’t shoot a wedding. Don’t be left in the lurch with a dodgy photographer!
- Are they a member of a professional photography organisation like the AIPP?
This provides a bit of added reassurance that your photographer actually knows what they’re doing because their work has been assessed by professionals in the industry.
- How many weddings have you photographed solo?
Ask to see an entire wedding gallery. Unfortunately it’s all too easy for people to steal images online and claim them for their own. Check out the photographers work but ask to see entire weddings too.
If you choose a professional wedding photographer you’ll have fabulous photographs like the one below and not the atrocities shown in the above articles.
Meet your photographer in person
Your wedding day is all about you. So it’s important to have a team of professionals around you that make you feel comfortable and relaxed. Imagine not meeting your photographer until the big day, only to have them rock up looking like they’d spent the night in the bushes after a night on the town.
Or, what if you just found them annoying? Because let’s be honest, some people you just don’t gel with. And that’s totally fine. Everyone is different, it’s what makes life interesting. But, it’s not what you want on your wedding day. You want someone who you connect with, who feels like a friend, instils confidence in you and maybe even makes you laugh.
So meet your photographer first! Because even if your photographer is professional and has an amazing portfolio, if you don’t ‘click’ (pardon the pun) they may not be the right photographer for you.
Ask about camera gear
Seriously, it’s so fine to be nosey about this! And honestly, most of us professional photographers are complete camera nerds and will happily tell you all about our gear. But, if you’re choosing a photographer for your wedding, this is what should be in their camera bag.
- Professional camera bodies and at least two of them
- Multiple lenses
- Multiple flashes. You just never know what lighting conditions you’ll have so flashes are a must have!
- Batteries, batteries and more batteries. Because you just gotta have batteries!
- Extra cards. Again, because you’ve gotta have them!
Don’t rely on a family friend
This is a tricky one! I know many awesome photographers who outright refuse to photograph weddings for family and friends. And they’re professional photographers! Because even they understand there’s a whole lot more to wedding photography than knowing how to operate your camera.
So even if you have a family friend who ‘takes some really nice photos’ don’t rely on them for your wedding photography. Sure, you might be happy with them and they may save you some money. But you might also be disappointed, even devastated if they miss key moments of your day that you can’t get back.
Or worse, if they’re a friend you might want to keep them! And if you’re unhappy with their photography, it might be a friendship breaker.
And that’s just sad 🙁
Want an awesome professional photographer? Get in touch!
For the past 25 years I’ve worked as a professional photographer. In fact, I’ve photographed over 800 weddings, many families and lots of super-cute newborn babies. I’ve spent loads of money on equipment, workshops and a bunch of photographic events for my continual development as a professional photographer. I’m an accredited Associate member of the AIPP and am fully insured.
And, I’m also a freelance copywriter at Alison Writely.
Do I sound like the professional photographer for your wedding day? If yes, drop me an email here and I’ll be in touch!