I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago. They had just been to a wedding the previous weekend and wanted to tell me that he’d been sitting with a group of couples who hadn’t hired a professional wedding photographer for their big days – and it was something that they’d all regretted since. He wanted to let me know as he thought it would be helpful with marketing, but all I could say was that I wish he’d recorded them on his phone! They had various reasons, some didn’t want to spend the money, others just didn’t see photography as important at the time.
It is a common theme on various lists compiled by wedding supplier directory websites. Couples, or often brides, who regret that they didn’t hire a more experienced (and more expensive) wedding photographer or those who just regret not hiring a professional photographer at all. These regrets are often mentioned in blog posts or tweets – “Don’t make the mistake of not hiring a pro wedding photographer!” but these often seem to me to be based on fear mongering rather than actually helping people understand why a pro is good for them. I thought I’d try a more positive angle - what you get rather than what you're missing.
Hiring a wedding photographer isn’t cheap. Although we come in all shapes, sizes and prices wedding photography will probably take up a noticeable portion of your wedding budget. So what do we really do for that money? Although the glib answer is “we take the photos!” the reality of the services we provide is far more complex, and very, very useful.
Our work starts long before the wedding day itself, using the initial wedding consultation with you as the basis for a photography plan for the day. As well as a site visit and liaison with the venue I’ll also spend some time on Google Earth, looking at the orientation of the grounds and buildings so I can get a feel for where the light will be coming from at different times of the day. If it’s a venue that I’ve not worked at before I’ll also search for previous weddings there to see what was available to the couples and photographers in terms of backgrounds and locations.
For church ceremonies it is important to check in good time for photographic restrictions. These vary from place to place so assumptions can’t be made and it’s vital that the couple know if a particular image they wanted, such as the exchange of rings, cannot be taken.
It’s important to stay in touch with the couple as well, partly to help the photography plan and partly to help them avoid any issues with the scheduling. For example I have a pretty good idea of how long a particular list of requested formal photographs will take and can let the couple know if I don’t think that there will be enough time in the provisional schedule to get everything done. I can also advise on other issues such as timing of particular images according to the light at that time of year. I may also need to liaise with the venue to talk about access to a particular location for a particular shot, or maybe a parking place may need to be booked.
Closer to the wedding day a professional wedding photographer will be looking at weather forecasts to see if a Plan B might be necessary for some of the images. I also make sure that I’ve planned my travel routes, including alternatives and of course on the day I leave in plenty of time. Better to wait for half an hour for people to arrive rather than have them waiting for me.
It might seem obvious, but it is part of a professional service to ensure that my kit is fit for purpose that day. That means recharging all the batteries I’ll need plus spares, giving all my lenses a clean, clearing down memory cards and double checking that everything I need is packed in the bag, or bags.
Up next I’ll be talking about the day itself.
Have a look at my wedding page so see the results of some planning, and get in touch if you think that I’m the Sussex wedding photographer for you.