Thinking of saving money by not hiring a professional wedding photographer? Let me show you why that doesn’t work.
It starts with the latest trend, to leave the most important photographs of your life in the hands of people who ultimately have no idea what they’re doing just to save a buck or show you don’t care. It’s the cool millennial thing.
No matter how much time you spent designing your wedding, you and your parents will just be glad to waste it all on photos that make it all look like crap and get it over with rather than pay for someone who can tell a quality visual story. That’s what your friends did, so now it’s your turn. You’ll save an extra grand for that cool new thing you’ve always wanted, which is more important and will last longer than the biggest printed visual record of your family.
To give you these worthless pictures, you’ve asked your buddy who has that big camera and “also has a business but doesn’t charge a ridiculous price.” The best thing about digital photography is you don’t have to know anything about it to get good images. It’s all about the individual expression.
Back in the day, artists like DaVinci and Michaelangelo did boring things like understand light, posing, dimension, mood, expression, color, shape and form to create images that moved people for centuries. Can you imagine having to know stuff and actually work hard to create good images?
Digital cameras negate all of the principles that guided artists for centuries, so if you can press a button, you can be Michaelangelo! Truth be told, I think the masters simply got lucky with accidental “masterpieces” that took no real skill; either that or the tools simply picked themselves up and created their own masterpieces without input from the artist’s hand.
Digital photography is no different; it’s only the equipment itself that matters, not who’s using it. In fact, if you really want to save, give a hobo a sandwich and an iPhone. Besides, they make software to fix everything so you don’t have to know anything, and fixing 1,500 bad photos is easy and takes no time.
Maybe some professionals know how to create art in the camera instead of fixing it in software, but it’s certainly not worth the price. Going with someone who relies entirely on cursory knowledge of equipment rather than an understanding of wedding photography, and who has minimal gear, will give you much more bang for the buck.
On your wedding day, your buddy will have no idea what to do; he’s never shot a wedding. But that’s OK because he’s your buddy. He’s only there to nail the big moments, like walking down the aisle, because those are the shots everyone will want on the wall and no other relatives will be leaning into the aisle taking them.
None of the little moments will matter or be worth remembering, so it’s a good thing you didn’t pay for someone who looks out for that stuff. Who wants to look back 20 years later and see what her fresh bouquet looked like, or the details of her hair or dress, or how smokin’ hot she was? Boring. And art? What a crock. You’ll be looking your best, but he’ll have no idea how to capture that. Just say “cheese” because that’s what you’ll be getting!
Good thing nobody cares, especially you or mom, about how you look. Chances are you put almost no time or money into your dress or decorations, so your wedding day is the perfect opportunity to skimp on the one person in charge of how you’ll look forever in your pictures. Any other day would be worth spending more on pictures. If your buddy accidentally knocks over a $1,000 vase, the venue won’t care that he doesn’t have insurance because he’s your buddy.
If he can fit it into his busy life, your buddy will process the images, if you use “process” loosely enough. Professional software is way too expensive, so that’s out. The software that came with his camera does a decent auto-fix, and it just has to be good enough, not great, because he’s your buddy.
If he’s advanced, he’ll spend oodles of time individually correcting each image personally because “nobody else gets his editing style.” Funny though when you look at the images they don’t really look any better or different from 80% of the photography out there.
Good thing you don’t care about accurate color or color management, whatever that is, because he doesn’t know anything about it either. Color management doesn’t enter his workflow. In fact, he doesn’t really have a workflow. He just picks out the best images to spend a little time playing with in software and try to rush through the rest. If he doesn’t, it could take months before he gets back to you because there will be so many images to repair. He blew most of the flash and ceremony shots, so be patient.
It’s not like it’s possible to do much better, let alone make sure the dress and color scheme you worked so hard to create is represented accurately. It’s not like you’ll ever want a large canvas, and why would you because then those image deficiencies will be really visible? Just save the money and let grandma get her 4×6 prints at Walmart.
Then, you’ll finally get that fantastic plain disc you’ve always wanted. You can label it yourself. Don’t forget your buddy has to delete the images when he’s done burning the DVD so he can reclaim space on his hard drive to install that new game. Good thing he didn’t make any backup copies of the disc, on which the entire visual record of your wedding day resides. If you lose them, too bad.
The images probably won’t have color profiles, but again that’s something only professionals waste time on. You can just hope the people at Walgreen’s know what they’re doing. If not, maybe you can take a little time to play with the images or even take the money you saved to pay someone to fix them, like that professional you didn’t want to hire. It’s the record of events that’s important, not whether or not the images look good.
You’re in for a real treat if you’re getting a cheap album or, better yet, you get to do the album yourself. You told all of the high priced vendors you “didn’t have time” to meet with them and were “so busy” you couldn’t get back to them. But after the wedding you’ll suddenly have so much free time you’ll be blowing nights and weekends left and right to put your album together. Most married couples I know have calm, easy schedules with lots of time to do all the things they really want to do, like spending 30 Friday nights in a row ranking hundreds of images, laying them out with clunky Internet album building software, and dealing with customer service problems.
You know places like Blurb and Shutterfly are great. How could they sell products for so cheap if they weren’t good? And how could they say their albums are high quality if they’re not? What could possibly be different from the professional albums?
You can spend hours in front of the computer designing your own album until your eyes hurt and your wrist is numb, and you can get all sorts of stuff for cheap, even books. Just throw it together. Who cares? Sure the pages are flimsy and start falling out right away or the color is off, but that’s life.
Remember, the main reason to have a wedding is to save money, so the wedding day isn’t something you want to waste time relishing later in prints or wall art. As long as the food and decorations are right, everyone will remember every detail of the wedding and reception, even decades from now, album or no album.
Besides, nobody will care 30 years from now that you even got married, let alone that the pictures look the same as everyone’s family reunion. It’s just not a vital part of your family story. This isn’t something you’ll ever want to take out and show the family. Digital is the way to go anyway. Thirty years from now the grand kids can just find the files scattered across three or four decades of devices and go make their own album. It’s just a wedding.
Congratulations, all of this might save you $1,000 or more by not hiring a professional. And think of all the neat stuff you can get for that — a mortgage payment, 3 car payments — you know, stuff that you’ll hold dear to your heart when you’re 75. The experience won’t be what you really wanted — let’s face it, it’ll be a disappointment — but that’s a small price to pay so your special friend/relative could shoot your wedding, saving you money that you could never earn again. You’ll be grateful just to have some foggy record of the day and, more importantly, a fond memory of the money you saved.
How do I know? Well, I don’t guarantee this will happen every time someone tries to save money on wedding photography, but every professional wedding photographer started out as some version of this guy. It takes years of training, practice and experience to become a professional wedding photographer and businessperson.
The article is somewhat facetious on purpose of course, but very sentence I’ve written so far illustrates a real problem I’ve seen with images other brides or photographers have posted, a problem you could face if you choose to save money on wedding photography by not hiring a professional.
If you’re honestly in a situation where you can’t afford good images, then you’re better off not getting or expecting any images. Just focus on the day and remember it. But if you care at all about getting good wedding images, talk with a professional.