Should you hire a professional photographer for your wedding?

Professional Wedding Photographer - Maine New Hampshire - fall weddingShould you hire a professional wedding photographer? Yes.
You’ve found the person of your dreams, the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. You’re in love and engaged to be married! Well,congratulations! Now it’s time to plan a wedding! Yeah! Excitement! You’ve picked a date, you’ve chosen your colors, it’s going to be so much fun… and then the sticker shock comes in. Whether it’s the venue, the food, the flowers or the photographer, weddings are expensive. Nowadays, most couples are also paying for their own weddings. Thanks to Pinterest and YouTube and the current age of DIY there are a lot of ways to save money. And I’m all for it! I will ‘google’ anything I think I can manage on the daily, why not for my wedding?!
I was you. I was THAT bride. Long before I was a professional wedding photographer, in fact I was a Pastry Chef making wedding cakes for Maine brides. I was planning my first wedding and as a young couple, we were also looking to save money while having a fabulous and memorable wedding. I was already making my own centerpieces and favors and my own wedding cake (under protest). I even catered my own wedding for 115 guests,#crazy! The only thing left was photography. I always valued wedding photography. I was a hobbyist photographer my whole life and I wanted those beautiful, artistic wedding photographs you see in magazines. To hang in my home and look back on them with fond memories.
I hired a friend with a ‘fancy camera’. Granted, it was film back then, but it was still a friend with a fancy camera who was a step above a hobbyist, an amateur. She took beautiful photos all the time. In fact she took our engagement photos and they were amazing! Yeah! And do you know what I paid her? $200. I was thrilled to have someone with an artistic eye photographing one of the most important days of my life and at a price that couldn’t be beat! Well,when I got my hands on my wedding photos,that I could not wait to see when I returned from my honeymoon, I was horrified! Come to find out, her camera broke and she continued to shoot like nothing was wrong. I had 2 photos of my ceremony, one of which was of my back and probably 10 use able photos from the remainder of the night. Horrified. Those moments and memories were gone. But it wasn’t just her fault, it was also my fault. I didn’t hire a professional wedding photographer, I hired someone who had never photographed a wedding. Sure, I did save money, but what I lost was priceless.
Now, after many years of shooting weddings as a professional photographer I can speak from both sides of the lens. PLEASE HIRE A PRO! It will be the best use of your wedding budget dollars. I know it’s tempting to hire a friend with a ‘fancy camera’ especially now that everyone with a cell phone is a ‘photographer’,but hire someone who has experience and the skill set to capture your wedding beautifully.

Top reasons to hire a professional wedding photographer:

Light. The art of creating beautiful photographs is mostly the understanding of light and it’s something that takes knowledge and practice. Weddings can be a lighting nightmare fluctuating between natural light and direct noon day sun during the ceremony to the darkness of a ballroom during an intimate evening reception. The lighting can fluctuate frame to frame, minute to minute. You have got to have someone who can roll with those changes to give you the most beautiful results.
Appearance. You will spend all day getting ready for this day. All the fine details, the dress, the tux, hair, makeup, shoes. You’re a vision! You’re glowing! Make sure you have a photographer understands posing and proper angles for all body types. You’re looking your very best, you want to make sure you photographs reflect how amazing you feel. Your photos should flatter you!
Time. Weddings rarely start on time. And as I tell my brides, they can’t start without you! When planning your wedding day timeline you’ve scheduled an hour for formal and family portraits. Well,when the time crunch happens, and it will happen, the time for photos is inevitably shortened. The greatest gift you can give your wedding photographer is plenty of time to create. But, if that gets cut short you need to have someone that can work quickly and efficiently so you get the shots you need in half the time allotted.
Gear. Professional wedding photographers choose professional grade gear and always have a backup. Backup cameras, lenses, SD Cards, off camera lighting, etc. If there is a failure, the transition to the backup, with a pro, should be seamless. Point and shoot cameras are NOT made to photograph weddings, they aren’t fast enough! That ‘fancy camera’ your friend has isn’t ‘fancy’ enough.
Insurance. Most professionals are insured. Your amateur photographer likely is not. Risky!
Anticipation. Although there are many different types of weddings there are also many similarities between them. A ‘flow’ if you will. The anticipation of the moment is key to wedding photography. You must be able to almost predict what’s going to happen next to make sure you get the shot.
Resourcefulness. The entire wedding day doesn’t always take place in the most high end 5 star resort. Most of the time, there are some challenging hotel rooms, private homes with little space and locations that on their own aren’t very photogenic. A professional wedding photographer can see the space and plan on a way to create stunning photographs.
Reliability. Clients often ask me ‘what happens if you are sick?’ and I tell them, if I’m not dead, I will be there! I’ve photographed a wedding with a fever of 103 and full blown bronchitis. In fact, my bride was more concerned than I was. I had a job to do! I take this very seriously, I am contractually obligated to be there and did I mention, I will be there? An amateur doesn’t have that level of commitment.
Post Processing. In addition to the skill of creating photographs, there is another skill set that comes into play when it comes to professional photography. Your photos need to be ‘edited’. Whether it’s color corrections, fixing blemishes or giving the photos an artistic flair this is essential to a beautiful end result. Some photographers edit their own, some outsource but either way 99% of beautiful wedding photographs are NOT straight out of the camera.
As you can see, hiring a professional to photograph your wedding is a no-brainer and well worth the investment! After all, once the food is gone and the flowers are dried, the photographs are forever!
~ Jenna Doughtry
Professional Wedding Photographer - Maine New Hampshire

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