Reserve Uncle Bill a Seat! Bring in a Professional

Fifteen hundred bucks! OMG! WTF! YGBK! True, the sticker shock can be a bit much for some to handle when researching wedding photographers. However, to that, I say WYGISWYPF (What You Get Is What You Pay For). And yes, this is genuine text slang, I promise.

Last week, we introduced you to uncle Bill–The man with the new camera and kit lens you choose to have shoot your wedding photos for free.

Now, you say: “Patrick, you didn’t introduce me to uncle Bill! I’ve known him since I was a baby! He was the sixteenth person to hold me! The man who taught me how to spell “sandwich”! The man who sat sixth row back (and two seats in) at my high school graduation but didn’t have enough time to talk to my parents afterward because he had to get home and feed his cat, Mr. Tails!

This is all true. You do know your uncle Bill better than I could ever hope to. So, I will say I introduced you to his photography technique. In a nutshell, he has a new, decent, fully-automatic camera, and has figured out how to push a button. That’s about it. We all love uncle Bill, but this week, we want to invite him to sit sixth row back (and two seats in) from the alter and watch his favorite niece/nephew get married. This week, we want to show you the bang you get for your buck when you choose a professional photographer for your big day!

First and foremost, bear in mind, a professionally paid photographer is there for YOU! Uncle Bill is there to shoot your ceremony from behind, a couple of quick poses, and a piece of cake. He is going to miss a lot of the wedding details simply because he does not do this every week. Nothing against him, but a professional photographer is there for one thing and that is all he/she is going to focus on for several hours straight.

And all this starts even before the big day! Like everything else which has to come together for your wedding, all details for you portraits are planned out. Everything from where you are getting married to what types of pictures you are looking to get. This includes indoors or outdoors, time of day, who you want in your posed pictures, where you want the photographer to be during the ceremony, whether you want candid shots, and whether you want a picture of uncle Bill eating a piece of cake. While this seems like a small detail, it is a lot better than trying to corral everyone into one spot on a day when even organized chaos can overwhelm you.

Another important characteristic is going to be lighting. Indoor vs. outdoor makes all the difference on this. Indoors can pose a whole host of lighting scenarios (primarily dark ones), most of which a professional photographer will be able to work with either through angling techniques or enhanced abilities of the camera. True, uncle Bill can snap pictures from about 20 feet behind you at the alter, but nothing screams “lackluster photo” like a whole bunch of over-exposed shots of the new couple from behind. And this is to say nothing of his camera’s automatic insistence on popping up its tiny-tiny little flash whenever he pushes the button. The noise ruins the moment, the moment will be missed, and what is captured will be a washed out, low-resolution, shadow-ridden version of what you actually remember. A professional will be more like a ninja. He or she is not afraid to fully utilize the previously discussed walk-around boundaries, has some super zoom lenses, and can many times use available light, thereby reducing the need for any flash (although he or she might still keep the flash and bracket attached, as it makes the camera look cool)

Outdoors, while the lighting is going to be much brighter, is still going to need someone who instinctively takes into consideration sun paths, shadows, and harsh reflections. Worst case scenario, the sun has to be diffused, but, once again, doubtful uncle Bill is going to have a large light diffuser in his handy-dandy camera starter kit.

This brings me to another point. Poses and backdrops. This part is more for the after photos than the ceremony. The ceremony magic happens by itself while the photographer captures as many wonderful moments as possible. The after photos are the fashion shots, the posed shots, the we-never-look-this-good-outside-of-my-own-wedding shots. Now, uncle Bill just says line up and smile. On the other hand, a professional first makes sure the lighting is great and that the background is unencumbered by cars, phone poles, trees, etc.  Next, he or she makes sure everyone looks their best, poses in particular manners, gets creative with poses, and makes sure everyone is visible and does not blink. Like I said before, small details, but important ones nonetheless.

Now, I could go on about how the professional is going to overshadow uncle Bill when it comes to getting the shot, but I will say you are paying not only for the pictures, but the post production as well. Even professional photographs need some touch up, not just in the general sense, but in the fine details. This is where the graphic artist comes in.

Once your big day is over, everyone’s feet are sore, the cake is devoured, and the honeymoon has begun, the graphic artist is just beginning. The not-so-good pics are first weeded out (i.e. your friend’s eyes are closed in that one, that one looks a lot like the one before it, uncle Bill is trying to grab the photographer’s camera in this one, etc.). Next, the keepers are loaded into a professional grade photo editing program (once again, not something uncle Bill is going to shell out big bucks on right after buying an expensive camera…or ever!). At this point, color and contrast are optimized, skin blemishes are touched up, and photos are readied for a professional printer. This takes a little time, but the results are breathtaking when compared to the local drug store’s auto touch-up button that takes its algorithmic best guess before printing it out on cheap paper.

In a nutshell, there you have it! True, uncle Bill is the cheaper option, but, when it comes to your big day, strongly consider the alternative and understand that large check is going toward something much more special than someone pointing a camera and requesting “cheese!”