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Top 10 myths about Wedding Photography

This blog post is one that talks about some of the biggest myths of Wedding Photography, since there is so much misinformation out there regarding wedding photographers.

1. A family member/friend can take all the pictures we need.

This is possibly the biggest bit of misinformation in the wedding business. Many brides make this mistake each year and one only has to do a quick search on any of the bridal chat boards to see how devastating this mistake truly can be. There are many examples out there of brides using friends / relatives to try to save a little $$. Sometimes, brides will get so-so images. Sometimes, brides don’t even get one usable image. Even photographers that specialize in other areas i.e., commercial, landscape, advertising, etc. don’t try to shoot a wedding. Most will defer to the specialist just as I would if someone wanted to do something out of my specialty. They are quick to recognize the pitfalls. They recognize there are no second chances. The experience of an accomplished wedding professional is simply too important. He or she will know whats about to happen. He or she will know what’s going to go wrong often before it even happens. He or she can adjust for difficult lighting situations. He or she has the backup equipment to ensure your day is captured in all its glory. Most brides comment after their wedding that the best money they spent on their wedding was their photographer. Or perhaps it was the most expensive freebie they ever had!! There are places you can cut corners. This shouldn’t be one of them.

2. Photographers have it easy since they only work 8 hours a week.

Boy do I wish!! In actuality the number of hours it takes from start to finish with each bride is really between 40-60 hrs. Nobody remembers the 2-3 hours spent in consultations, meetings, answering phone calls etc., then there is the 8-10 hours on the wedding itself, a few hours for the rehearsal dinner, 25-45 more hours of post production time (where we edit all of the pictures, weed out ones with closed eyes, etc.) another 4-5 on print production, dvd slideshows, archiving files etc, 10-12 for custom album design. The time racks up pretty quickly. Not to mention the fact that really we only can work at shooting on days when wedding actually occur. i.e. Saturdays, which we have to supplement with portraits of families, high school seniors, etc.

3. You need to give your photographer a shot list.

This one comes from all those bridal magazines mostly. Unfortunately these lists typically are not written by real world wedding photographers. Ask yourself this question: Would I rather have my photographer covering the action, or reading a list? We generally don’t know who the people on the list are. Most of the suggestions on the lists are shots that will be taken by any experienced wedding photographer anyway. Ex: Bride with her Father (really??) The Cake (really??) Many more are simply superfluous groupings only listed to make the list look good. In reality, if you must have a list, the best way to utilize it is to simply give it to a family member or bridesmaid who actually knows the people on the list, and make them responsible for gathering them up. Not only will this save some time for you but this also will free your professional up to create the kind of images that attracted you to him or her in the first place.

4. Table shots.

Sounds great right? But the reality of it is this: The only time when everyone is at the table is during dinner / reception. The images really aren’t typically chosen to be part of the brides album. The guests normally aren’t going to want them unless the bride and groom are in the photo with them, so really you need to go to each table with us to make the images mean anything. Now when we get there, they are all going to want to talk a little, and in order to see everyone, half the table will need to go stand on the opposite side; so you are going to average 3-5 minutes per table to get it set up. Now, say you have an average crowd of 150 people. Tables are normally 8 each. Thats 19 tables at 5 minutes each which is 1 – 1 1/2 hours of your reception devoted to taking image of folks gathered around a cluttered table. Kind of a long way to go for shots like this. Two much better options here are: one – those disposable cameras. You can even get the “cute” kind made for weddings – where they have a white decorated outer covering. They are perfect for these “grab and grins”, and free your professional up to do his or her job and capture the images that made you hire him in the first place. The second is to add a second shooter to your event. That way, the main photographer is busy getting all of the images that are full of emotion, fun, romance, etc. and the second shooter can be assisting in that, as well as getting table / scenery shots.

5. A photographer’s job is easy now that its digital.

In some ways – sure its easier! In a lot more ways it’s much more difficult. Here’s why: When shooting film, the typical wedding took about 200 images. Now that has swelled to often more than 2000. When shooting film, the film process held about a 5 stop exposure latitude, which means that as long as you were in that safe zone, the lab could make a decent print. With digital we have about 1.5 stops. No problem if you know what you are doing, but sadly many struggle with this every week. Your Great Uncle Bob doesn’t stand a chance here… most of the time. When shooting film, photographers simply dropped their rolls off at the lab, and returned a few days later to pick up the prints. The “lab guy” did all the work and made the photograher look good. Now with digital, we are the “lab guy” and often spend countless hours in post production doing what the “lab guy” used to do. Also, top of the line 35mm film cameras used to top out at around 1700 bucks and would pretty much last for 15 years or more. Top quality digital SLR’s from those same companies are now often 5-8K each, and seemingly become “antiques” about every 2-4 years as technology increases. That isn’t even considering lenses, lights, camera bags, memory cards, backup equipment, computers (which go out of date as fast as cameras do!), and more!

6. We need every image taken of the day.

This one is another one mostly inspired by bridal magazines and forums. Most professional photographers will deliver more images that you will even need! We spend countless hours weeding out pictures with cousin Larry’s closed eyes, unflattering poses (brides, you know what we mean!) etc. We take out these images FOR YOUR BENEFIT! Most of the time, once images are deemed unusable, they are just deleted, and we move on to the hundreds of beautiful pictures of the day! That is the great thing about digital – photographers don’t have to question whether they really want a shot or not, they take it, and can always edit it out later!

7. It’s best to find a company that does both Video and Photography.

We don’t hear this as much as we used to now that video has faded from popularity somewhat. (only 20% of weddings have a videographer according to a national study). Here’s why this isnt as an good idea as it may seem. Sure it’s easy to write one check. But…..most photographers and most videographers are good at doing one or the other. The methods of capture are completely different. Very few are actually good at both. The old saying “Jack of all trades; master of none” rings true here as well. There are even companies that suggest they can do it all…Limo, video, photo, dj, invitations, etc. Fact is, they simply are ok at each of them. If they were really that great at any one, they wouldn’t need to be doing all the others. The best practitioners in any field are called specialists. Isn’t that what you want for each vendor? Someone who specialized in just that field? You wouldn’t have a podiatrist do your eye exam would you? Or have a civil lawyer defend you if you got arrested? Of course not! You would want someone who specialized in exactly what you need. If you want a videographer, wonderful! Find a good one; but be wary of the guys trying to sell you a package deal.

8. Photography is overpriced

This is one again that we hear lots of discussion about. It seems like a logical statement, as good photography is not cheap. Actually considering that the resulting images become some of your most treasured keepsakes, its actually priceless. Similarly, the regret faced by those whose job was botched, makes what we charge seem like a pittance. Remember, the average wedding professional will spend 40 – 60 hrs on you and your job. Similarly, the national average net “salary” for wedding photographers in the USA is $28,000 per year. This is for photographers that do several weddings per month! Why? Because of all the expenses, overhead, and the limited number of events we can work in any given year.

9. Photographers charge ridiculous prices for reprints.

On first glance it may seem so, with many charging $30 or more for 5×7 or 8×10. Even a little 4×6 can run $10-$20. Why should it cost so much since we all know what Wal-Mart charges right?? Well, frankly speaking, you aren’t buying the paper, you are buying a smaller version of the image that was captured by your professional. The print is merely the container for that image. Your professional is also skilled at making each print look its best, and the time it takes to prepare a print is the same regardless of whether its a 4×6 or a 24×36. Many photographers nowadays will include the files in your packages and as such you are free to print them as you see fit and make this complaint a moot point; however, many still prefer to have the professional do it, and not have to hassle with sorting, organizing, print optimization, and cropping issues to name just a few. Simply put, most find its well worth the extra price to get it done right. The phrase, “you get what you pay for” applies here. Prints through professional photographers are printed on museum-quality, thicker archival paper, with the best-of-the-best quality inks and more. Wal-Mart cuts costs by using thinner, less quality paper, printed on printers designed for super-fast, high volume output.

I hope that this list helps brides that are looking for photographers right now! I am still preparing for the bridal fair this coming weekend… I hope to see some of you there!

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