Well, Valentine’s season is in full swing. I know because the once red and green aisles of Walmart are now pink! And, from a business standpoint, I know because we have recently posted a lot of talk about our wonderful new “You” sessions and website! However, there is something else in the air this time of year. Something that comes to the forefront of people’s minds once the holiday planning is done. Something else that requires its due diligence if it is to go off without a hitch in the coming months…That is: Wedding planning!
To start our second year in business, we have revamped our wedding packages to meet every need and are excited to start booking for the new season! And, believe me, the time will fly and the last thing you want is to be a month out and realize you haven’t yet booked the photographer. But I am likely preaching to the choir when I say the time is upon many to consider booking their wedding photographer. What I am more interested in is helping those on the fence realize the benefits of hiring a professional photographer. To do this, I will give a few tips that might make that decision a little clearer.
During the past year, I have spoken with several individuals who say the same heart-breaking thing: “I wish we had hired a photographer for our wedding” or “…for our (son’s or daughter’s) wedding”.
Of course the price tag always looks smaller in the rearview, but there are a few tips one can follow that will make that price seem much more reasonable up front before you pass that point of no return.
First tip: Consider the peace of unplugging.
Today we have a trendy new term for those who jump into a photo op at the last minute and become a part of the portrait when they are not supposed to be: Photobombing. While many of these are intentional, many do not realize they are doing it at all…and these are the worst kind. Not long ago, I saw an excellent video (Don’t be that guy) showing just how complacent we have become in allowing smartphones to invade every aspect of our lives. The segment speaks of smartphone-savvy guests unwittingly photobombing weddings, however, I believe they are doing much more than that: They are also depriving themselves of truly enjoying these moments in life.
First of all, does anyone remember a time between 10-30 years ago when brides walked down the aisle without everyone’s phones being held above the crowd? I do. Sure you had the occasional click and wind of a 35mm film camera, but that was not nearly as pronounced as a myriad of arms being raised above the crowd today like they are pushing for an encore at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.
The sad thing is: Many do not realize they are disengaging from the wedding when they do this. Think about it. It is happening in real time before you and you are instead essentially watching it on a tiny television above your head. And this is to say nothing of the noises these phones make or the teenager with their eyes down and thumbs clicking away while this wonderful event unfolds.
This is why many couples today are opting for an unplugged wedding where all smartphones are turned off during the ceremony and at any other time they deem fit for their big day. In fact, if the video linked above didn’t convince you, here are a couple of other blog links which push for the unplugging trend (“Unplugged Weddings”: Preventing Guests From Destroying Your Photographs and The smartphone vs. the wedding)
Second tip: Plan ahead for your wedding portraits, but be flexible
When the big day arrives, one of two things will happen: Everything will go just perfectly on time and to plan or a few hangups here and there will just about send you into panic mode. Guess which one is the most likely.
On the photography front, the best thing is to plan ahead, but be flexible. Before a wedding, we always sit down with the bride and groom and make sure they know which portraits they want and where. The key is to make sure the most important portraits are noted above all others.
Truth is there is only so much time that day for portraits outside of the ceremony and candid shots. No matter how prepared you are and no matter how many portraits you plan, there is always going to be a hitch that will throw this often-rigidly schedule task off the rails. A cousin has not shown up yet, one of the groomsmen has wondered off, the ring bearer is crying, etc.
While it is admirable to have all your ducks in a row and all your requested portraits mapped out, the important thing is to prioritize those which you want the most and let roll off your back the ones you do not get.
As a professional photographer, I am always, always, always out to meet every request made of me and my camera, but the key thing is to always get the most important portraits first. It relieves the pressure on both us and the bride and groom! After all, it is a happy day, is it not?
Third tip: Never put the photographer duties on your friends and family
Unless you have a professional photographer in the family who has been champing at the bit to photograph your big day since they first saw you in the crib, I urge anyone planning their wedding to hire a professional instead of relying on family members and friends.
I know that extra money saved could bump you up to first class on your honeymoon flight, however, that warm towel and hot meal is likely to cost you more in the long run than you realize. First of all, it is unfair to your guests. They are there to see you get married and begin your new life together as husband and wife. Now, you are asking them to be responsible to capturing those moments with their camera. It is like back in school when the teacher wheeled in the TV and VCR cart (Yes, I am THAT old). We were all excited for about two seconds until we quickly learned we also had to take notes and prepare for a quiz afterward. It kind of took the fun out of the moment and something was lost in the process. In short, don’t give your family homework. Just let them relax and enjoy the show.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason I give this tip. It also harkens back to what I was saying about hindsight and people photobombing the wedding. Too many times I’ve heard of people “hiring” family members or relying on their smartphone-savvy friends and saving a buck or two only to later get the prints back and wish they had just hired a professional in the first place.
Truth is your family and friends (who are not normally photographers) are there for your big day and taking photos is going to be secondary on their mind for a variety of reasons. The question is: Do you want someone there as a friend/relative first and a photographer second, or do you want someone who is there as a dedicated photographer who knows what to shoot, when to shoot, and how to compensate for obstacles in the shot? And if you still don’t believe me, check this blog out from weddingwindow.com for some more great reasons: Why EVERYONE Should Hire a Pro …
I hope you will take these tips to heart in this wedding planning season. In my experience these will save you a lot of grief in the long run and help bring that amazing day that much closer to being perfect!