Wedding Photography/ What You Are Paying For
When researching wedding photographers, one of the primary factors in making a choice is price, obviously. This is true for everything that we invest our hard earned money in. But anything wedding related is exceptionally important since it’s an historic event and the start of the next branch of your family tree. When considering what to pay for your wedding photography you have to ask, “What am I paying for?”. I’ve written about why I consider your wedding photography an investment, but here I want to address the question of what you are actually investing in.
Beautiful Wedding Pictures
First, and formost, you are paying for beautiful pictures. That is the primary purpose of any good photographer. You want to be photographed, and your day remembered, as beautifully as is possible. So, gorgeous pictures are, most likely, on the top of your list. But wedding photography is a service as much as it is an art form. What else are you paying for? The disparity in pricing between photographers couldn’t be more dramatic, nowadays, especially in Cleveland.
More Than Pretty Pictures
So what ARE you paying for when you hire a professional wedding photographer?
- Experience – photographing a wedding is no joke. It’s a highly stressful and scheduled event. There are no “do overs” and you can’t get the moments back. As I mentioned, it’s an historical event that you want documented for the generations that come after you. Hiring someone who has the experience to handle this while doing so in an beautiful manner is essential and requires years of experience to get really good at it.
- Professionalism- this seems like a given, but it’s not uncommon for a vendor to take 2-3 days to return a phone call or an e-mail or sometimes, unbelievably, not at all. This happens in every industry and, remarkably, more often in the wedding industry. If a photographer is charging more than average, chances are, they are attentive to getting back to you right away and acting in a professional manner at all times. You and your wedding day deserve that and you should expect that.
- Courtesy – related to professionalism but a separate category. On a wedding day, nerves are tense. All of your wedding planning effort and the investment that you’ve made in your day is finally coming to fruition. Having a vendor that helps keep you calm goes extremely far in making your day better and more successful. And being nice is nice.
- Organizational skills- Have you ever spoken with someone who has gotten married and they told you that their photographer didn’t get a picture of them with an important family member? Or, that they didn’t get images that were important to them? This has to do with being organized and with pre-planning. A good photographer will have a meeting prior to your wedding day to go over every single detail. They will make sure that they do their best to go over those things thoroughly so that there is less likelihood of missing the things that are most important to you on your wedding day. They are on time and prompt, especially on your wedding day.
- Style – to me, this is the one area that is distinctive to every great photographer. You can look at their work and know that those are pictures by that particular photographer. This asset is rare, and only a very few photographers that I know of possess this. It is something that you can’t get anywhere else regardless of price and it WILL cost you more. If you want that photographers distinctive style you have to hire that particular photographer. That is why most photographers with a distinctive style cost more money. They are the only ones that can do it the way that they do it.
- Skill – Modern cameras and photoshop can make even a mediocre photographer appear professional. The portfolio of a good photographer has pictures from many different lighting situations. Outdoors in open shade and in direct sunlinght (no sun flare, please and thank you); use of flash and other alternative lighting sources. A good photographer adjusts to the environment that they are presented. What do you do when you want a photography session at night in busy downtown Cleveland only to find that you hired a “natural light photographer”? It takes skill, dedication and desire to master all lighting situations so that you look your best in all of those situations. The skill required, again, takes years of practice and experience and it doesn’t come cheap. Be sure to carefully review the photography portfolio of the wedding photographers that you research for your wedding day.
So, although the ultimate goal of having a wedding photographer is getting great wedding pictures, there is a lot more that you will be paying for. If getting a quick response to your e-mails and phone calls is important. If having a friendly photographer who’s goal is to make your wedding day fantastic means something to you. If originality and one of a kind style is essential. A high degree of skill and professionalism is what you’re looking for. Consider investing a bit more money and see why most of the higher end photographers are well worth what they are charging.