I’m sorry to all of those who are getting married and want a good wedding photographer. I’m sorry to the true professionals who are getting less work and even leaving the business due to incompetence. I consider myself to have pretty high standards in the art of the photography business and when it comes to weddings, most clients seeking a professional wedding photographer have no idea what they are getting into or even what they want.
These clients are trying to save money and usually have no idea about the many variables that come with having to be a professional photographer. I know weddings are expensive. But this where you do NOT want to bargain, skimp or take chances. Keep reading as I attempt to illustrate and educate. I apologize in advance if this reality offends the new budding photographer but you need to take responsibility for what you do. It’s simply and totally unethical to go out into the world and take money from people for something you are not yet or may never be qualified to do. You are also damaging the industry and lowering the value of the profession all-together. Think about it! Know when you’re a pro!
Today there are more and more people selling photography services at cheaper rates than ever. In fact 1 in 4 Americans now claim to be photographers. The old saying, you get what you pay for, totally applies to the area of photography since there are no rules, regulations or proof of achievement required. I have gotten to a point in my career where it angers me to see people botch a wedding and irresponsibly take other peoples money for something they are NOT qualified to do. Lets go deeper because there is so much more below the surface. Please keep in mind I have been in this business professionally for over 16 years. Also keep in mind that prior to these 16 years. It took me at least 5 years beyond the point to where I was perfectly capable of performing and delivering as a professional photographer on my own and actually charging people for my services.
I’ll be using examples from the last two “wedding photographers” I watched at a venue where I work part time as a bartender/server in-order to actually stay in the photography business because people are wasting money on incapable and inexperienced photographers.
Since this is a field that doesn’t really require any real degrees, certificates or permission to work in the photography field, you need to make sure of the quality and constancy of imagery and experience are present when hiring your photographer. I have several of these wedding photographer horror stories but I’m only going to focus on the last two weekends.
Wedding number 1: A mid 20 something aged woman and her even younger looking male assistant who sported shorts, old vans with no socks and a quick silver t shirt were hired as photographers and charging a pretty penny. As I continue to look out the window, I see both of these “photographers” standing in the exact same spot for what seemed like an eternity. They were using the same lenses photographing the bride from the same direction, shooting over each other’s shoulders like a pair of Siamese twins. They were either afraid to get into the mix, lazy or just not qualified. I can tell the light they were using by their position was probably terrible and the lenses they were using would not have been my first choice. They probably don’t own the lenses I use but once again there are no standards. Right? Art is open to interpretation. Right? I beg to differ! When I work a wedding with another photographer not only do we both glide around and capture various creative angles, we are never in the same place at the same time. We also rarely use the same lenses at the same time for obvious reasons. When the reception moved indoors the main photographer once again stood at the same spot with the same lens for 80% of the reception, while not using any external light in a room, which I can guarantee, needed it with the equipment they were using and even lacking. They ended up bailing on the bride and groom before they were done and before the wedding photography was completed. But not before they sat down and enjoyed a three-course meal off to the side. They claimed that they were treated poorly from one of the wedding guests. When they left, they only told the host at the restaurant and not the bride and groom, her actual clients. It would take some very serious “poor treatment” for me to leave a wedding before my time and fail to capture and complete those precious moments which are now gone forever. There are many ways to alleviate a real issue if need be. I could not believe these people actually left this nice couples wedding un-finished. They are banned from our venue and I’m sure looking at a few JUSTIFED negative yelp reviews. This is probably the beginning of the end for them. I also checked out her website where I read her introduction about providing the best possible quality and why people should pay photographers what they are worth. As if she was anywhere near this ballpark. Politely putting it, her images were not up to par in any way. There was no sense of movement or emotion. The light was brutal and harsh, the poses amateur and boring. I literally threw up in my mouth because I can’t believe that this is what a lot of people are selling and calling professional photography.
I also need to mention they were using the cheapest glass (lenses) and lowest model camera bodies with cropped sensors that no pro should even show up with. I shoot every wedding with multiple full frame cameras that hold duel camera cards incase one fails, another feature many hacks don’t have.
Wedding number 2: This guy was a true gem. He was the photographer, DJ and videographer. Wow what a deal! He ran the music from a laptop using Itunes, set one camera on a tripod for video and photographed the wedding with a small beginner level DSLR and a point and shoot. The music for the ceremony was off transition and had hard cuts. The wedding was totally awkward as he ran around franticly trying be the one stop shop circus monkey. The Benny Hill theme ran through my mind watching this guy. All he needed was a giant red nose and a wig. When it came time for portraits after the ceremony, it took him over 20 min to plug in a power pack and run it off to two external hot shoe flash units on light stands, which in my opinion he didn’t need and if used properly were in the wrong position for his portraits. I believe he missed the good light entirely. The word photography basically means light drawing. And these people don’t know anything about light from what I can see. He brought fold out single sitting benches and sat people down in the most un-flattering poses, which seemed like they were from the 1800’s. He made a wedding guest hold a reflector/diffuser for about 20 min in 95-degree weather. The poses were god-awful, outdated and totally lacked any substance, creativity or originality. He posed his bride to appear much heavier than she was, sitting her down like humpty dumpty and standing over her. He made the head table 35 min late to their dinner, which had to be re-cooked by the restaurant. The groom hated this guy and I felt so bad for the wedding party. At one point he even dragged about 10 people off of two different tables while they were in the middle of eating their main course. Again lagging on those pictures and letting more food and the overall experience totally die.
The only thing cooking were his clients while he took way too long attempting to get quality images in 95-degree heat. It was a nightmare as far as I am concerned. The wedding was about him. There were so many things this guy did wrong. So much wasted time on things he did not need to make good quality images, in a timely manner, while successfully getting his bridal party back to the wedding so they could actually enjoy everything else they paid for. The friends and family that came from different areas barely saw the bridal party, what a shame… I’m sorry to be vocal about this but what am I to do? Watch a profession I love pretty much die? Something I spent over two decades and countless dollars learning and perfecting(and still working on). Something that runs so deep in my DNA that my blood is literally boiling right now having to express this charade. Once again this happens all of the time!
When you get to a certain level in your profession you simply can’t afford to sell your services at low prices. This is because we do so much more than just shoot on the wedding day. This is because of all the years of experience and money spent on good equipment and education make a huge difference. For the pros that charge a higher but very fair amount, you not only get high quality wow factor images, but you get the proper services and structure that don’t allow for situations like this. I can go on and on about these types of scenarios. I know some things are out of our hands. But I also know A LOT about this business and how to apply everything I have and know to give the best possible service and experience. Not just behind the camera, but prior to the wedding day, if things don’t go as planned, editing and post processing of the final product to deliver the personal imagery of one’s special day. There is so much that goes into being a wedding photographer, please educate your self. Watch out for incapable photographers that hide behind cheap web sites and false confidence. Just because that website is up doesn’t mean they can perform on a wedding day. Do not be afraid to pay professionals what they are worth. Because believe it or not you will end up paying even more in the end by dealing with reckless, inexperienced hacks that will probably not only spoil your wedding day but also end up providing you with crappy and possibly even little or no content from your wedding. Kiss those moments good bye, and your money…
Thanks for your time.