- with love Jaimi Shields
Back in December 2011 I wrote an article on justifying the expense of a wedding photographer. NOW, without being super boring and repeating myself I do see the necessity in reiterating some of those comments to newly engaged couples.
Recently browsing my mini feeds I receive awesome notifications from local and overseas blogs showcasing Photographers who have successfully captured DIY and budget weddings. But when it comes to some South African DIY/Budget Weddings there is a trend of using “the budding photographer”. Now before I get slammed for abusing the new-be photographer, I understand that everyone starts somewhere but also know a second thing. The top Photographers in our industry are fully booked and cannot want for more work so this is not about anyone “stealing work” or anything like that.
BUT! This is a very big but… a lot of couples are being convinced that a “budget photographer” they end up booking are actually qualified to shoot their wedding based on a misrepresented notion that they are experienced just because they have an official website (it costs R120 to register a website) and a facebook fan page with a couple of members. So my concern here is the client.
It is has also been interesting to note that (ooh this is such a touchy subject) that some of our local budding photographers are literally copying image for images, design for layout and exact style editing of the handful of top Photographers we have in our local industry.
I cannot ridicule a client for not being able to see the difference between a professional and a new photographers digital portfolio (of maybe 10 wedding shots) when the new photographer is copying design, layout and photographic styles of photographers who have been in the industry for between 5 and 15 years. The average man on the street cannot tell from a low res online portfolio that the new photographer is not using (1) superior lenses (2) personal, pre-planned and unique creative styling, from an online portfolio you cannot determine what kind of (3) album quality they have invested in and (4) you cannot tell what kind of personal confidence and experience you are dealing with.
On the other hand, the couple, without properly meeting the two variants of photographer will never know that the professional spends close on 50 hours on their photographs, that their day (and weekend) job is photography and sometimes visual and digital arts, that some photographers can sometimes pay up to half the album value in editing fees - if they use an external editor, and that their album choice is costing them between R2200 and R5800 at cost price. All of these factors add up to the R10 - R30,000 you may spend on your photographer. On the other hand…
… you can part with maybe between R4000 & R6000. Your album is probably costing R300 to print at the local digital print store, the 842 high res images you received have been over edited, over contrasted and vignetted in Photoshop CS2 and encased in a blotchy low resolution home printer cover in a cheap dvd box. I am sounding condescending and nasty aren’t I? But I am not trying to be that way I am just tired of couples having to spend another couple grand after the fact to re-shoot, fix and correct and re-design their wedding album when they could have just paid for a basic wedding package from a reputable photographer for R1000 more than their total tallied expense, and… it would not have been an ordeal…. and all your images would be truly and authentically be your “wedding photos”.
The other day I received a free copy of a wedding magazine who have just started and also just gone under within a matter of about 16 weeks. Why you may ask? Well their full page images on photographic editorial were pixelized firsty, they laid out one of our brilliantly talented girl photographers editorial slap bang next to the editorial of the infamous “beach photographer” which basically punts the idea that both photographers were as good as one another to receive editorial space in the magazine and the front cover was over edited, non bridal and did not represent anything I would want to read as a potential bride.
So this is what I am saying,
1] Meet your photographer and feel out his work ethic and confidence
2] Stop looking at the price and realize that if you spend money on anything spend it on the guy (or girl) that is basically immortalizing your entire day
3] Yes look at his/her website but please dont not make your choice based on 10 pictures in a facebook gallery
4] Get good with the idea that your photographer is an investment, if you are spending the thousands you are on the entire day make sure someone is capturing it properly
… and I think most of all, listen to this good advice. Let your cousin do an after shoot for you, or put her/him in charge of the DIY Photobooth at the wedding, dont let them shoot your wedding day!
At the end of the day, you would not let your baby sister who sows buttons on her school shirt make your wedding dress, your great cook of a Mom is not catering the wedding neither is your Dad and he is the worlds best braai king, you are not getting married in your tree house in the back yard, your god child is not doing the invites but his pictures are on your fridge. SO PLEASE, just scrape together the pennies and save yourself the heartache.
OH and you will have amazing photos!