Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work was the title of the section on photographers in a newly released wedding planning book I found on the shelves of my local library. I picked up the book, well, just out of curiosity. Being in the wedding industry for as long as I have, I still pick up a ton of wedding resources, just to see what people are talking about and to find new and interesting resources.
Anyway, I read the section on photographers. And the more I read, the angrier I became.
Hiring Photographers – Amateurs Can Work
If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding. If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece. If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files. You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.
I won’t mention what book this came from, because it could be from a variety of sources. I’ve read things like this more than once.
As a wedding photographer that easily commanded five figure prices, I can tell you wedding photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography.
- You’re dealing with dozens of personalities, all on a frenzied day.
- You’re dealing with a ton of vendors all with a different purpose in mind.
- You’re dealing with a ton of family that all have their own idea of a perfect photograph.
- You have to create a perfect photograph in a hundred different locations. (From the back of a hairdressing studio, to a small dressing room with 25 females trying to get ready, to the great outdoors under blaring sunlight, to a dark dance floor with one spotlight.)
Yet again, thanks to books like this, brides head out into the ranks of their family and friends, trying to cut corners and hire a person with a camera who’s taken a few photographs.
Let’s actually analyze what this “bridal expert” said.
If you have friends or relatives who are good with a camera, you can save a lot of money by hiring them to document your wedding.
I know there are a ton of people out there that have bad photography from their weddings. I run across them every day. Whenever I mention my background, the stories begin. No matter what they say, it’s always focused around the photography. Is the purpose really to save money? Or maybe most people have been over-exposed to amateur photography and at this point can’t tell the difference.
If you have a friend or multiple friends take pictures, you can upload all of them onto a site like Kodak Gallery and let everyone buy the prints they want for just pennies apiece.
Again, the complete focus is on price. When it comes down to price, people can’t see professionalism. They see average pictures, and don’t want to pay a big price for something they can get from a family member. They need to see a difference to pay the difference.
If you do hire a photographer, give him or her a list of the pictures you would like taken, and be sure to include the rights to the images in the contract. Most photographers charge outrageous prices for printing and do not let you keep the negatives or digital files.
Two issues here. First, if you are a true professional, do you really need a list? Don’t you know to take a photo of the bride with her mom? The only list we ever asked for was for unique photographs to the bride and groom (i.e. the bride’s nanny flew in from London just for her special day). And second, rights to the images? Sure, the bride and groom should have access to as many photographs as they want. But the only reason someone says they want rights is so they can take the image files down to Wal-Mart and print them up. If a photographer is to remain a professional, he or she has to charge professional prices. It’s not the cost of the final product, it’s the education and commitment that built up to giving the photographer the talent to create that special image.
You should also consider hiring a professional photographer who does weddings on the side. If the photographer has another source of income, he or she may be more willing to negotiate the contract price and image rights.
Again, I see the lack of talent and originality shining through. If people can’t see the difference between what their friends produce, and what you as a professional produce, there is no way to charge a fair price.
As a photographer, if you snap a few photographs, and hand over the digital files to the bride, you’re not providing a full service. The more photographers shoot and promote themselves this way, the more it’s to be expected. The only way to change it around is to change the way we present it to potential clients.
Wedding photography has to be centered around a complete experience. From beginning to end, you have to be in control over everything. It’s not just about the photography. It’s about the show you put on as a professional photographer.
Even when we were shooting with film, a ton of guests would come up to us telling us how great our images were. AND THEY HADN’T SEEN ONE IMAGE YET! It was all the appearance, and how we were perceived as photographers.
Photography matters because it’s the only source we have to create and maintain our memories.
But really, the low image of a wedding photographer isn’t the fault of the wedding planners, wedding experts, and authors of bridal guides. It’s the fault of us, the photographers.
A bride doesn’t hire a photographer for a few photographs. She hires a photographer to enhance the memories of her entire day. You have to photograph it as such. And you have to sell it as such.
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