Bottom line first: Although I TOTALLY understand budget concerns and that a good photographer is usually pretty spendy, I always HIGHLY RECOMMEND that people prioritize a good photographer right after location. You can skimp or pull together a lot of other stuff on a budget, but unless you have an experienced wedding photographer as a friend, it’s very hard to fake good photos. And wedding photography is very much a crazy art that’s very difficult, even if you have a good camera. Let me explain by telling you what I consider to be my job as a wedding photographer.
- It’s my job, first and foremost, to be so alert and used to wedding environments that I know what exactly is going on around me and everywhere else, so I can capture those moments. This comes with wedding experience (knowing the normal order of ceremony, what events usually coincide, etc), and from simply being on high alert the whole wedding.
- It’s my job to coach the couple, wedding party, and family, on how to pose and relax in front of my lens. I love to get to know my couples beforehand, because you’re most comfortable with someone who knows what they’re doing and stays relaxed. Here’s a big thing amateurs mess up. The stress and craziness of a wedding is contagious and when someone isn’t used to it, it can lead close to a nervous breakdown. And if your photographer is nearing a breakdown, it’s very hard to relax AND they usually don’t get the shots they’re supposed to get.
- It’s my job to capture the best moments and help you forget the not good ones. Here’s the reason a good photographer is so vital. This is one of the BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE. And you’ll remember it mostly through photos. A poor wedding photographer will simply document and they will not always get the best angles or the prettiest things. But in the end, you don’t have to remember everything, especially if some of it was stressful or bumbled. A good photographer will capture the smiles, the romantic moments, and help you remember the good and forget the bad.
- It’s my job to know my camera, settings, light situation, etc. During a wedding, you don’t have time to google how to change your F-stop or play around with 12 different lighting setups to get the right shot. You have to be experienced enough with your camera to be able to change it within one or two shots and set up flashes or lights very fast. An amateur is usually stuck with automatic settings and whatever light is available, because good use of flash is a very technical art. But if that’s the case, you’re limited to a very small portion of photos that will turn out decent. Lighting scenarios in churches and reception venues, especially, can be super challenging and amateurs don’t know what to do with it. It’s not like taking a picture of a mountain or even engagement photos (where you have time to try a lot of different locations/lighting).