There are many good reasons to employ a professional photographer to capture your wedding, event or special occasion rather than relying on a friend or relative to do so, even if they have a sophisticated camera.Here are just seven of them:1. TimeTime is a key ingredient in producing good images and when you pay a professional photographer, one thing you can almost be certain of is that you will get more of their time than you would from a friend or relative.
It is important to know exactly what you are getting when you instruct someone to take photographs for you, irrespective of whether you are paying them
The photographer will, before the photo shoot, spend time at a pre-shoot, meeting or client interview, visit the location if he or she does not already know it, and then in final preparation take time to select, clean and check the equipment needed. After the shoot the professional photographer will take the time to check, help you choose, process and then present your images. At the end of this process, the discerning photographer will take the time to ensure the client is happy with the finished result.Like good do-it-yourself, consistently good photography relies on good preparation. Hence the professional photographer will have taken considerable time of many years to perfect their:-2. CraftsmanshipIt is often tempting to think of photography as a simple skill. After all, anyone can take a photograph, right? This maybe true and sure enough, with automatic cameras that handle the focusing of the lens and exposure settings for you, even the most inexperienced person will be able to take good photographs.A professional photographer will not rely on a camera’s automatic settings to take the photographs unless they know the conditions are favourable to using them, and even then they are most likely to use one of the camera’s automatic semi-automatic modes. Why is this important? Simply because automatic cameras can easily assess the amount of light being reflected by a scene and set their own exposure, but the camera doesn’t really know how much how bright the scene should be, hence a camera can produce a lighter image when photographing a dark scene and a darker image when photographing a light scene.
The camera on automatic settings will average the scene and generate an exposure that does not allow for the fact the church setting is darker than normal
The averaging that the camera uses can easily lead to subjects being underexposed or overexposed.The cameras metering will be adequate for most situations, but consider a bride in a white dress set against a dark church setting. The camera on automatic settings will average the scene and generate an exposure that does not allow for the fact the church setting is darker than normal. This results in the detail on the brides dress being over exposed and therefore not visible in the final pictures.This is why I say, choosing a friend or relative to take pictures of a special occasion or an important event is a gamble.
This on one hand means having dependable equipment and on the other contingency plans for transport to a venue and illness
And that’s without mentioning image composition or lighting technique! An area where the difference between inexperienced and professional photographers is even more significant.3. EquipmentA consumer dSLR camera – good enough in it’s own right for a hobbyist, not built for a demanding professional. It is often said, when taking good photographs, that the most important thing is the person taking the pictures. After all, a good understanding of photography and a good level of creativity are the main assets when consistently creating good photographs. That is not to say, however, that the equipment a photographer uses is unimportant. In fact, when hiring a professional photographer, some peace of mind should surely come with the fact that they have the right kit to get the job done, even in the most adverse conditions.Professional cameras and professional lenses are manufactured to higher standards than their consumer counterparts. This not only means they deliver better results, especially in low light conditions, but it also means they are more resilient to an every day work load. Professional photographers will carry a wider range of equipment in order to create a wider range of images in a wider range of conditions. They will also know how to better maintain their equipment in order that it should remain in optimum condition such that image quality is never compromised.4. ReliabilityDiscussing professional photography equipment leads nicely onto reliability. This on one hand means having dependable equipment and on the other contingency plans for transport to a venue and illness.When discussing reliability, we are skirting around a small minefield when it comes to asking a friend or relative to photograph your wedding, celebration, event or special occasion. The professional photographer would not entertain the idea of turning up at a wedding without at least one spare camera. In fact he or she will shoot continually throughout the day with two cameras and still have a third one with them in their luggage. Professional photographers will have a range of spare lenses so that they can continue to take the pictures you would expect in the case of their standard zoom developing a fault. This is one of the reasons I carry a set of prime lenses in varying focal lengths, although I rarely use them. Professional photographers will carry a significant number of spare batteries, spare flash guns, even a large number of spare memory cards. There’s not use filling one large memory card over the course of a day’s shooting only to find it has been corrupted by the end of the day. Professional photographers will regularly switch to a freshly formatted memory card at each key point during an event in order avoid this scenario. Professional photographers will ensure that they backup the pictures they have taken at the earliest opportunity so that they can always be recovered in the event of a failure or corruption. Many photographers will also keep those images archived resiliently for many years after an event, allowing the replacement of photo products supplied to clients if it becomes necessary.In planning their arrival for an event or shooting engagement, conscientious professional photographers will go the extra mile to ensure they arrive on time, setting off the day before if the engagement is a considerable distance away from their base. If a photographer experiences a sudden illness or bereavement when due to attend a special event such as a wedding, they will often have a network of photography contacts they can call upon in order to provide contingency. These contacts will often be with which your photographer has an arrangement making sure, as far as possible, that your special event is still covered and neither quality nor service level are compromised.5. ResponsibilityWorking in the capacity of ‘official’ photographer at an event like a wedding is quite a responsibility and, to an inexperienced person, can be quite nerve-wrecking. If the inexperienced photographer is not in the least slightly anxious, then it is possible they don’t realise the responsibility they have. There are many key moments throughout the day, running right from the bridal preparations through to the first dance at the evening reception. The photographer has to be on hand, poised and ready to capture all of these images with the correct settings already dialed into the camera. He or she has to remain fully alert throughout the entire day; when one eye is peering through the view finder, the other eye has to remain attentive to everything else that is going on in and around the scene in order to ensure that any unscheduled defining moments of the day are not missed.The professional photographer is aware the wedding day, for the couple getting married is both busy and emotional and often the pictures taken reveal the day to them through the eyes of an observer, allowing them to notice key details they were not able to see themselves. The same goes for the best man, the ushers, the brides maids and the immediate family of both the bride and groom who all have their part to play.The friend or relative asked to take pictures actually sacrifices their invitation to attend the wedding as a guest because their day will be spent undertaking what is, if executed properly, very demanding work.The same is true of many other events and special occasions. Often the hosts will spend a considerable sum on hiring and decorating a venue, putting money behind the bar and also providing refreshments in order to give all the attendees an enjoyable time. If you have invested to make an event special, why not consider paying a professional to record the occasion providing you with something unique to treasure it by?6. Perspective PresentationQuite often the family friend or relative put in the position of “professional photographer” will simply pass the pictures onto the the hosts or guests of honour at any given special event just as images on a CD. Contrarily, a professional will be able to offer a range of finished products ranging from Photo-DVDs featuring high resolution slide shows to large scale canvasses going via complete luxury albums and photo frames designed to preserve a prints quality over a long period of time.In fact, the experienced photographer will be able to recommend products based on their experience, steering you away from suppliers who are unreliable either quality or service wise. If you have requested an album, the photographer will be thinking about the album design even prior to the event framing shots that will complement each other when they appear on the same spread and arranging the photos so that they tell the casual observer a story.
If the special event is a christening or a wedding celebration, the photographer knows that the photo products have to stand the test of time in order to still be presentable in thirty, forty or even fifty years time. For that reason too many photographers will go for post-processing and presentation which truly is timeless, subject of course to consultation with the clients.There is no substitute for that experience a photographer gains when putting products together and the difference it makes shooting with them in mind. Better still, the photographer will be re-telling the story of your day through the eyes of an impartial observer.7. ProtectionIf it all goes wrong, what protection do you have? Professional photographers should not be operating without insurance. At the very least they should have third party liability cover so if there is an accident in which an injury or worse is sustained because of a photographer’s actions, for example a guest tripping over a tripod leg, their is suitable recourse for the injured party. This is not to say that photography is dangerous (it usually isn’t) and it’s not to say that photographers are careless, but it is never the less an important thing to have that peace of mind. Further more, the proprietors of many venues will insist that anyone working on behalf of their client has adequate third party liability insurance.The second type of insurance a photographer should have is professional indemnity insurance. This type of insurance provides protection to the photographer in case of a client suing them as a result of a failure to meet professional obligations.Finally, a professional photographer will have drafted up a set of terms and conditions making it clear on what basis he or she is working for you.The should also layout the photographer’s obligations to the client and also the clients obligations to the photographer. It is important to know exactly what you are getting when you instruct someone to take photographs for you, irrespective of whether you are paying them. If a photographer fails to to fulfill their obligation, the terms and conditions can be of immense value in any potential litigation. Finally, if any electronic image files are to change hands, you will know in advance what you can and can’t do with them in-terms of copyright and rights to reproduction.In ConclusionWhen considering whether or not to hire a professional to capture your special occasion, there are many many good reasons to do so. If your budget will not stretch to it, then go ahead and ask a friend, relative to take pictures. However if you can afford a professional, it’s important to understand what you get in return for the fee to pay. And that should be something which enhances the experience and the memory of your special occasion, both in the preparation, the event itself and finally in terms of receiving something afterwards that is striking and enduring by which to remember the occasion.
Daniel CaddenProfessional PhotographerManchester based, UK widewebsite [http://www.danielcaddenphotography.com]twitter