Do you need a professional Wedding Photographer?

You may have recently seen this blog post about the tragic stories of Brides who have hired 'Uncle Joe' for their wedding photography.  It's all too often that as a professional wedding photographer I and my friends in the wedding industry hear these stories and it kills us.  Want to know why?  It's because we genuinely love what we do for a living and we CARE about your photographs!  Photography is not just our passion though, it's also our livelihood.  I'm a mother, a wife and a home owner.  My life depends on my ability to create stunning weddings photographs and portraits for all of my Brides and Grooms.

I want you to have not only a record of your wedding day, but one that makes you relive your special day every time you look at your photographs.  

I want you to laugh, smile, shed a happy tear and fall in love with your spouse all over again when you see your photographs for the first time - and every time after that for the rest of your lives.  

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Unfortunately, 'Uncle Joe' doesn't have that same passion, want or need - and neither does a 'friend' who said they will take some pictures for you.

I've been chatting to some other professional wedding photographers about this subject and let's just say it's a topic very close to many people's hearts.  Based on my research I've come up with a list that, in my opinion, are the main differences between the two.

Now this list is not entirely complete, and not 100% of the list will apply to 100% of the hobbyist photographers or Uncle Joe's out there,  But it's fair to say that it is for many cases.  This list is just the start of why you need hire a professional wedding photographer.

Don't get me wrong here, I love Uncle Joe!  I love the Mums with camera's (yep, I'm a Mum too and I had a camera before I became a professional photographer!), I love the hobbyist photographer who loves to photograph cool things and does it for pleasure.  I also love the amateur photographer (although I'm not keen on that word!) who is just starting out and still learning.  The truth is, I was every one of those things first.  And that's ok!  Every photographer is still learning and if they aren't they should be.  To push forward and provide a better experience, a better level of customer care, more exciting images, different styles of editing, become more creative and expand our knowledge with different tools, products and services.  I'll never stop learning.  For my clients and for myself.

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Do you need to hire a professional Wedding Photographer for your wedding day? 

The answer is yes if you care about how your wedding photographs look.  If you're not worried at all, then no!

Some people are confused as to what a professional actually is, so lets start with a basic look at the definition of the term 'professional' as explained in the Oxford Dictionary.

 
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So, if we take #1 from the Oxford Dictionary above we can see that we have to belong to a particular profession.  That one is simple.  The next point explains that we have to be worthy of the title and #3 that we must be engaged in a specific activity as our main paid occupation.  The 3 points below also help to clarify that a professional photographer must be engaged in the said profession or qualified in it.  Again, point 1.1 below reiterates that it is the photographers main paid occupation rather than a pastime or hobby.  Oh and of course a rather import point as described in #1.2 is that the photographer must be competent or skilled in the activity.

Now lets look at what else comes up when you compare hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer to anyone else:

This is first because I believe it to be the most true statement and the most important thing to consider as a Bride or Groom looking for a wedding photographer:

A hobbyist can take a great photo sometimes, but a professional can take any given scene, know and apply the correct camera settings and be relied upon to give you fantastic images all the time

"A hobbyist doesn't plan for what could go wrong".  

Another huge one here.  

Imagine that your friend or Uncle Joe took some pictures at your wedding for you - weddings are expensive, we know that, and you wanted to save some money.  Perhaps you didn't even think that the photographs would be that important to you and you just wanted some pictures to record the day.  

Uncle Joe shoots away all day and is happy with his shots, in fact, he flicked through them at dinner and found some gorgeous ones of the newly-weds first kiss.  He gets home and later that week he uploads the pictures from his camera to his computer to burn them to a disc for you.  The card has been corrupted.  All the files are lost.  

Lets think of another example (again, one we hear about all too often)

It's the middle of the afternoon and Uncle Joe is doing some group shots.  The clouds have been gathering all day and just as he decides to take some photos of the happy couple, the heavens open and it starts to pour down with rain.  We all know that a summer wedding in England never guarantees good weather!  Everyone rushes indoors and the Bride and Groom are getting drenched!

Joe didn't think to bring a wedding umbrella for the Bride.  He doesn't know how to shoot in the rain because he's never had to before and he hasn't scoped out a secondary location in case it does rain.  Uncle Joe tells the couple they will wait for the rain to stop and try again, but it rains all day and into the evening - there isn't another chance.  The newly-weds don't get any photographs of just the two of them on the wedding day once they are married.  Although Uncle Joe can't control the weather, a professional photographer would have various alternatives for this occasion.

 Photo by Lesley Notton, Notton House Photography (www.nottonhousephotgraphy.com)

 

"Professional Wedding Photographers make their living from photography."  

I was a hobby photographer once - all professional photographers were at one time, it's how I knew I had a creative eye, a skill and a talent for photography. But I wasn't always a professional.  I didn't make a living from what I did and it didn't matter to me as much as it does know what other people think of the images I have created.

 

"A professional photographer, being that this is what makes their income, must also be a business person."  

Oh how I wish I had known when going into business how hard that side of it would be!  You have to become an entire admin team, customer service connoisseur, accountant, marketeer, graphic designer, creator, accountant and so much more!  Professional photographers invest countless hours & money on resources, education, legalities and customer service to name but a few things.

 

"Professional wedding photographers BACKUP their files"  

Like, constantly.  Every photograph we take is automatically saved on two separate memory cards in our cameras.  When you are all enjoying your wedding breakfast, we are grabbing something to eat and drink, sitting down for the first time in about 8 hours and backing up your photographs again on to computer.  We use different cards for each part of the day - the preparations, ceremony, group portraits, speeches, and evening.  When we get home after 10-12 hours, we don't crash and go to bed, we're uploading your photographs yet again to our computers or servers and then creating more back ups in the cloud and on external devices.  Professional Photographers don't take chances with your wedding day.

 Photo by Lesley Notton, Notton House Photography (www.nottonhousephotgraphy.com)

 

"We always have a Plan B" 

And probably a Plan C and D too.  If it's raining we know what to do.  We have secondary locations picked out for pretty much everything.  Oh and I'm pretty good at sewing or lacing up wedding dresses and Ian is a master at the cravat!

 

"Gear means nothing"  

This one might surprise you!  It's pretty fair to say that all photographers love gear - whether they are professionals, amateurs, hobbyists or someone who has just got their first camera.  We love it.  Even me, and I'm not a techy person - that's my husbands side of things!  BUT and this is a very big BUT - No matter what gear you have, be it the most expensive camera on the planet or a standard DSLR with a kit lens, it's what you do with it that counts.

 

"a PROFESSIONAL photographer is committed to his / her clients"  

Again, this comes back to one simple thing - because we love doing what we do!  It's my dream come true to be able to have a career that is my passion and doesn't feel like 'just a job'  I actually want to get up on a Monday morning and start work!  Because of this, I'm committed to my clients, whether they come to me for weddings or portraits,  I've thought out all my policies and contracts, made contingencies for things that might possibly happen someday and created a service which is of value to my clients.

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The best bit is, if you love your photography experience with Notton House Photography, you'll recommend us to your friends and family.  If my passion, talent and skills as a professional wedding photographer can bring you happiness, joy and love, then I am happy!  I have done my job well and I can provide for my family too.  :-)