I titled this blog post the way I did for a reason. So, why do you need a professional AND experienced photographer for your wedding? These days there are A LOT of people who go and buy the latest and greatest in camera equipment, shoot a few pictures of their kids or family, and then someone tells them they should go pro and they do. They start out with cheap prices and lure clients (brides on a budget especially) with offers that sound too good to be true only to disappoint the client later because they are in no way prepared to do a job for money. You want a professional photographer, who doesn’t? But you also want someone with the necessary experience to go along with the title. So, again, professional and experienced.
As of the writing of this post, I had four different incidents happen that led me to write. In two of the cases, two “professional” photographers used images from very well known wedding photographers as claimed the images as ones that they shot, clearly misleading anyone who visited their site and hired them because they thought they were going to be getting the same kind of work from the frauds. Since then, both of those photographers have been exposed and their web sites and Facebook pages have been taken down but can you imagine the pain and hurt of the brides that thought they were getting quality work and they were not?
As you are looking at photographers, find one that fits the style you are seeking. Can that photographer shoot indoors AND outdoors? Do they have flashes or other lighting equipment to give you the quality of images you desire? You may hear the phrase “natural light photographer” and when you look at their images, it is easy to fall in love with them, BUT they can only shoot outdoors and during the day. They do not, in most cases, have the equipment or experience to shoot your candlelight wedding ceremony in a dimly lit church or shoot your 8:00 pm wedding reception in a venue with no windows. Can they capture the details of the decorations AND the smile on your mother’s face as she helps you with your dress? Have they shot enough weddings to know what to do and handle themselves in most situations?
In contrast to the natural light photographer, Different photographers may have similar equipment, but we vary in our shooting style and the “mood” of our images. For example, here is some work from a friend of mine, Daniel Davis at Daniel T Davis Photography:
How can you as a potential client, what can you do? First, ask for references. Most of us do not mind reaching out to past clients and having them contact you by phone or email. Secondly, do a search online for the photographer by name and the name of the business. If they have been in business a while, you should find blog posts, reviews or images from other web sites and in some cases even reviews to help you in your decision. Check the bridal shows, for example the Houston Wedding Showcase and you can find experienced photographers there to meet your needs. Third, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This leads me to my other two instances. In both, the bride was quoted an AMAZING price for photography, video, prints, album, and digital files, which they paid retainers for only to have the photographer cancel on them at the last minute, leaving them to scramble to find someone to replace them that they would have to pay more money for, making the good deal not so good.
This happens often and in most cases, the photographer who offered the deal, got a better and higher paying deal and took it, leaving you high and dry. Which leads me to my Fourth point, GET IT IN WRITING! Most photographers have contracts that we sign with clients spelling out in detail what you are paying and what you are getting for it. There have been several court cases of photographers getting away with this because the client didn’t sign a contract and just exchanged money. The contract protects both you AND the photographer and if you ask for a contract and they try and tell you that you don’t need one, then you do not need them!
Our jobs as photographers are to create memories for you to treasure for years to come. Yes, your camera phone takes good pictures, yes, your uncle or brother can take good pictures, yes, the person offering to shoot your 8 hour wedding for $500 sounds great, but, at the end of the day, after the cake is cut, after the dinner is eaten, after the flowers fade, and after the dress is put away, all you will have left are your memories…..think carefully about who you choose to create them.