"Why do we need to pay for a professional photographer?" The question may pop up once you sit and start to discuss your initial ideas for the big day. "It's so expensive!" Wedding photography can be a costly matter and money may well be the reason the thought sprang to mind to begin with, but that alone shouldn't disuade you from hiring a professional.
There are a lot of advantages to booking a professional photographer and hopefully the 10 reasons I list below will help to highlight the reassurance and security you will have in doing so.
"Our friend has a nice camera and we thought about asking them to do it for us."
Photographers will have heard this numerous times, and whilst it seems like a way to tighten the belt on your budget think hard before taking this approach. A nice camera doesn't mean great photos. A professional photographer will be able to take great images on any camera and know how to utilise a camera for any situation. No matter how great a camera is, just pointing and shooting won't yield great results. And this isn't to say that everyone with a nice camera is trapped to an "all gear no idea" perception but professionals will shoot all the time and their camera will be an accessory to their practise.
When you book a professional photographer you should expect to receive a professional service. This comes from all those little things that make a big difference, from looking smart and being insured to having a wedding contract they use for bookings. But it is also the mindset and attention to detail they give outside of taking photos. Professional photographers care about what you want and will want the images to make you truly happy - getting future work depends on it.
The value of memories.
This is probably one of the most significant (and personal) reasons for choosing a professional. Your wedding day is going to be one of the most important days of your life, you will spend a lot of time planning it and preparing for it. It will also go surprisingly fast. The photographs you have afterwards will be a memory of the days events, your commitment to each other and a record of all the things you may have missed. In years to come you will want to look back on the images and relive the day. Remembering those moments and reminiscing about those pictures being taken should be an experience you remember positively. Having a professional you can trust on the big day will leave a lasting impression for the future.
It goes without saying that there is a wide variety of photographic styles to choose from: documentary, traditional, reportage, dark and moody, fine art, street, etc. Which one you go for really depends on the style you like. The great thing here is that if there's a particular one you love you'll be sure to find a photographer who specialises in it and who loves it as much as you do (probably even more).
No, I don't mean they will have bodyguards with them. I'm talking about file security. After capturing the big day your photographer will sit down to download the images. But before they even think about editing they will back up the images, then back them up again. And not just to a hard drive, they may keep a copy in the Cloud or even keep a set somewhere else entirely incase of a fire or flood. Let's plug point 3 again here: memories are worth hanging on to and that starts with keeping them safe, literally.
A great reassurance with choosing to book a professional is that before you book them you will get to see their previous work - or at least you should be able to. More than likely this will be on their website or in an online gallery. And importantly, you should be able to see photos of a wedding from start to finish - covering all the elements that you want capturing yourself. Seeing their work beforehand should give you the reassurance that you are making a good choice and can trust them to do their job.
With social media and online platforms so prevalent today, it's never been easier to emerse yourself in content and to be exposed to new ideas for images. This is a great starting point before you meet your chosen photographer so that you can show images you like. But what I think is key here is that whilst your photographer will also draw upon their knowledge of different ideas and poses within their work, they will also actively look to find those alternative angles and shots that they can only create at your wedding. Perhaps ones they haven't had the opportunity to execute before or just those fleeting moments that they foresee happening. They will continuously be trying to exercise their creative eye and progress their style which is where those original and personal moments lie. I visit each venue prior to the weddings I shoot and it's a brilliant experience every time. It's exciting to explore new locations, consider the features of the buildings and how the light will fall throughout the day. I also become a bit of a detective trying to find those little spots or interesting perspectives that will add those unique shots to your collection.
Equipment & Expertise.
Now you may be thinking that reason 1 stressed that a great camera doesn't mean great photos. And I stand by that. What I want to stress here is that wedding photography draws upon a range of other equipment in order to pull off creative shots and generally achieve a particular standard of work: flashguns, light stands, tripods, etc. Not to mention different lenses. A professional photographer uses their kit to handle difficult situations that they regularly shoot in: low light in churches and venues or large group shots for example. They also use them creatively to capture those signature images of just the two of you. Of course, it's not just the equipment itself that is valuable but the expertise of the photographer and their proficiency at adjusting their kit and settings to keep shooting, and do so seamlessly without interrupting your day.
Experience & Attitude.
This may at first glance sound similar to point 8. However, while the previous point notes the technical ability you should expect of a professional photographer, this point relates to the experience they hold having shot multiple weddings. Photographers with multiple weddings under their belt will have a strong understanding of what the day will include, the pressure of timings and how fast that time goes by. Because of this a professional photographer will be preemptively working to capture shots and be one step ahead of the days proceedings. It means they won't miss those little moments as they arise as they'll be waiting for them. Also, let's be honest here - weddings are a long day for all involved, especially the bride and groom. But also for the photographer. It's an early start and a late finish during which time they are carrying a camera (or two) all day along with a camera bag and any other equipment which can be surprisingly draining. It requires a huge amount of concentration and attention to detail as well as travelling to different venues. So there's also a resilience of professional photographers to maintain a positive, energised attitude to ensure you and your guests receive great customer service. Of course, wedding photographers love what they do and will keep doing it year after year.
It's about you. And your story.
After the excitement of finding the perfect rings and the difficult journey of finding 'the dress' which ends with teary eyed friends jumping around you, your attention will quickly move to more practical planning: guest lists, catering, hotel bookings, transport - the list goes on. Suddenly you may feel like you're planning an event for someone else, you are - your family and friends. But there are few days in your life where someone will devote so much time, dedication and attention just to you. You will spend the whole day together, quite literally. And that may sound taxing but it absolutely isn't. Your photographer will want to make sure you're happy on the day and when you view your photos for the first time (and every time afterwards). They will have been trying to make you genuinely happy since the first time you met. They will know when to pose you, when to go off and shoot candid images of guests, when is a great time to grab you for some opportunistic photos as the sun sets or when they can finally bring one of their other creative ideas into fruition. They will be thinking about you throughout the entire experience and trying to tell your story. I personally love the initial consultation with couples. Hearing how they got together and how they got engaged is just as significant as the theme they have chosen. It's also a real insight into their personalities and especially when it's still in the planning stages of the big day, it's really nice to capture that early vision of how they want their wedding to be.
Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Shhh - let's call it a bonus reason. And it's arguably one of the biggest: peace of mind. When you book your photographer you will have certainty, confidence and trust. You will trust them to do what they do, not just in a transactional sense that you have paid for their services, but you will trust their company (otherwise you wouldn't have invited them to one of the biggest days of your life) and you will trust their creative vision. So wedding photography may appear expensive but I assure you, it will be money well spent when you hire a professional.