Nowadays it seems that just about everyone has the ability to take good quality photographs with a digital camera. And there is no doubt that at some time in your wedding planning, someone will suggest that you use an acquaintance or a friend of a friend, who has taken some very good photographs, to be your wedding photographer.
The reasons for this suggestion can be simply that it would seem to be less expensive than hiring a professional, to a desire to give an up and coming photographer a chance to break into the wedding photography business.
But before you decide to take that route, there some very important considerations you should look at:
What experience has the photographer had? Unless having great wedding photos is not a high priority and you can be forgiving if your wedding shots don’t turn out as you want, you should be careful about becoming one of his or her first wedding jobs.
Does the photographer have references you can talk to and a portfolio that you can look at? If you don’t have an opportunity to take a close look at the work the photographer has done you are taking a big chance. When you do see his portfolio, take a close look at the eyes in the group shots. Are they looking directly at the photographer? It is not unusual for amateur photographers to show up at weddings and take photos from the side of the professional photographer who has done all the work of setting up the shots with the proper lighting, background and composition and then claim them for his own.
What happens if the photographer is ill on the day of your wedding, or if his camera isn’t working properly? Does he have a qualified assistant who can take over? Does he have quality back up equipment? What is your contingency plan if it all falls apart? A professional photographer will have all those bases covered, including finding a qualified photographer for you if, for any reason, he cannot be at your wedding.
Is the photographer a team member? There will be a great deal going on during your wedding day. The photographer is just one piece of the big picture that includes the caterer, the wedding venue management, the decorators, florists, your guests and the wedding party. When the dust clears you want to feel that the photos were done seemingly effortlessly with a minimum of fuss and without the photographer becoming the center of anyone’s attention.
Most importantly, after meeting with your photographer, you should feel that he will bend over backwards to exceed your expectations and that he is capable or creating wedding photographs that will truly preserve the memories of your special day.
Special thanks to Loyd VanZantes of The VanZantes Professional Photography and Julie Cahill of Julie Cahill Photography for their insight and contributions to this blog.