Professional photographer

When you start planning your wedding, you enter into a whole new world that can come with a shockingly high price tag.  It’s natural to look for places to cut corners, but here are some facts to consider before hiring an amateur photographer for your wedding day.

1. The number one regret of couples after the wedding is not investing more money in a photographer.

When the wedding is over, all you have left are your photographs.  Unfortunately, it’s not until AFTER the wedding that most couples truly realize this.

“I’m a professional blogger whose wedding pictures were ruined because I hired an amateur. Even though I did all of the right things (showed her photography styles I liked, furnished a shot list, asked if she owned her own equipment–she lied about that one) I still got crappy, blurry, point-and-shoot looking snapshots of my wedding.

I have literally been heartbroken for years over this. I had a re-do photo shoot with my husband on our first wedding anniversary. Though we included all of our decor and DIY projects, a re-do can never fully capture your wedding day. There is no mom and dad dancing, no first kiss as husband and wife, and no funny kid antics… photographers and brides have one shot to get it right. Just one. I blew it by hiring an amateur, and there is no way to ever repair the damage done.” – Christie O. Mountainside Bride

2. An amateur doesn’t take your wedding as seriously as a professional, and it shows in his work and performance.

A professional photographer has invested thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, in quality equipment and education.  She’s only as good as her last wedding, and her reputation is on the line with every couple.  She can’t afford to bail on you a week before the wedding because something came up, or disappear with your files after the wedding.

“Knew a guy who had a camera store in a strip mall in a moderately fancy area of town…He said he’d be glad to do the shoot…he took 12 bazillion photos. Came back from honeymoon a week later, went to the store check in hand to get the photos, closed, gone, out of business, store for rent.

Called, called, called, found his residence to be a mobile home in a distinctly NOT fancy area of town. Went to get the pix, ‘Oh, he moved yesterday, left no forwarding address…’  We’re still married (I got to keep the bride, even if not the pictures of her) and it has been 18 years so far. She’s still furious…” –  Mike Arman, Florida

3. You need a photographer with specific wedding experience to guarantee high quality images, no matter what.

When things don’t go according to plan, and at some point you can expect that they won’t, an amateur won’t know how to recover.

“Professionals have experience in how to use poses, angles and lighting to enhance their bride’s best features and hide the imperfections.  Every bride wants to look their best. Professionals can do that – amateurs, because they are amateurs, can’t always pull it off.  A pose that may look fantastic on one bride, may not flatter another bride.  Professionals have worked with brides in all shapes and sizes and know which poses look best for which bride.” Tracy Wimberly, Any Occasion Photography

The stress and variables of wedding day photography are not something to be taken lightly. It’s literally the fastest moving day you can ever imagine…If you are not prepared for that, or know how to handle those situations, the walls can close in very quickly! Even the best photographers in other genres can struggle. Wedding photographers have to learn to fire off great shots quickly, sometimes with fast changing light. Even with experience it’s hard, trust me! Throw into the mix guests wandering into frame, iPads being held aloft for the picture uncle Dave just HAD to get…. Experience and skill will help get you through most of this, but without it, you are losing limbs out there!” – Nick, Studio 1208

4. An amateur can’t afford a backup, which means you’re left without a Plan B.

You need a back up for everything on your wedding day so that you’re covered, no matter what happens.  An unprepared amateur can leave you with nothing.

“I recently had a couple who hired an amateur photographer who had a car accident and was unable to show up to the wedding. He did not have a plan B in place, and since he didn’t have any backup staff to cover the event – the only photos taken of the most important day of this couple’s lives were random cell phone shots from family and friends.” – Cindy Pierce, Wedding Planner at the Addison

“As world-famous Chase Jarvis says, ‘You don’t get to be in the PGA by being sorta good at golf.’ Professional Photographers make it work no matter what the circumstances are. Whether it be raining, or there’s a huge distraction at the venue, a professional will use the best of his/her abilities to get the best possible images.” – Adam Rasheed

5. An unprofessional photographer can ruin your wedding day.

A wedding photographer must be both assertive and engaging in order to take the images you want without irritating you or your guests.  This requires experience, professionalism and the right personality.

“I have heard stories ranging from how their photographer showed up in sweatpants and a sweatshirt on their wedding day, to their photographer showed up stoned…I have even heard stories of how a photographer changed their mind and decided they couldn’t have their digital files (after that was what they had agreed on and paid for, but was never formally written into their contract.) The photographer then held their photos ‘ransom’ until they came up with $2000 more than they had already paid.” – Amy Zellmer, Custom Creations Photography

6. Hiring an amateur means more work for you.

An amateur photographer won’t automatically know what shots to take or the traditional timing of events.  If you want all these details attended to, you’ll have to learn what needs to be done yourself and make sure they do it.

“An experienced wedding photographer will come to a bride with a shot list and work with them to determine every moment the couple would like captured. An amateur who is not experienced with wedding photography will not know what moments are most important, therefore putting much more pressure and work on the bride and groom to ensure they get the shots they want.” – Cindy Pierce, Wedding Planner at the Addison

7.  You’ll miss moments you never even knew happened.

When going through photos after the wedding, couples are often surprised at the many funny and moving moments the photographer captured that they never witnessed.  An amateur isn’t going to capture them, and you’ll never know what you’ve missed.

“My sister-in-law hired a fashion photographer ‘friend’ who gave her a next-to-nothing deal to shoot her wedding. He missed so much. Important wedding moments. Her dad walking her down the aisle? Not covered. Kiss at the altar? Out of focus…he just looked panicked and out of his element all day. I am sure in his own genre, or with more time, he would be great. But that counts for nothing in the aftermath. All she was left with, was some bit part memories of her wedding day, which for her (and us) was devastating.” – Nick, Studio 1208

“We were married before becoming professional wedding photographers so we, like so many couples out there, didn’t realize what it meant to hire a professional…She also missed our first kiss and come to think of it, she didn’t capture a single kiss by the two of us the entire day.” – Brian + Briana Elledge, Divine Light Photography

Your wedding day only happens once; make sure you hire a wedding photographer who gets it right.

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