I hear so often couples debating whether to use a professional wedding photographer. For some it's a no-brainer, but for others the jury is out. After a debate on Twitter, Melanie East, a pro wedding photographer from Bristol, decided she'd love to give her reasons as to why you should choose one. Over to Melanie...
With so many semi-pro sub £500 SLR cameras on the market, there are a huge amount of people who think that suddenly owning a camera makes them a professional photographer. It doesn't. It makes them the owner of a camera. It's a tool. It's the person operating it which matters. Anybody can own a camera and press a button - it's when to press it that matters!
I find it sad when I see practically every guest with their SLRs at a wedding, generally getting in the professional photographer's way and constantly checking their images on the backs of their cameras.
Guests should enjoy the wedding and forget about their camera, enjoy the atmosphere, the moments, the couple - leave the photography to the professional!
That's not to say don't take pictures, but don't shoot over the photographer's shoulder, don't get in their way, and really - it's best not to continually jump out in front of the photographer into the aisle to take pictures, as I had one guest do at a wedding last year!
It makes my heart sink when I hear a bride saying "my friend's got a good camera, he's going to take our wedding photos for us". Why does it make my heart sink? Well, unless that friend is a professional wedding photographer you are taking a huge risk!
Further, if you decide to invest in a professional wedding photographer it is important *not* to skimp. Choose the very best wedding photographer you can afford. I'm a firm believer in "you get what you pay for", and with a couple of exceptions, this is very true when it comes to photography.
Credit: Melanie East Photography
Here, in no particular order, is why...
They are used to low and harsh lighting conditions. They won't shoot on 'Auto' and hope for the best. They'll constantly control their exposures. They will happily shoot from a dark church into bright sunshine, from bright sunshine to cloud and back to sunshine again while all the time ensuring the exposures are totally spot on.
They have the technical expertise to capture perfect photographs through an entire wedding. What happens if your friend encounters a dark Church? Will they be able to shoot without flash and obtain great ambient light photographs? I would suspect not.
Credit: All images: Melanie East Photography
Meet the photographer; review at least two complete weddings and look at the quality of the prints. Ask yourself, does everybody look happy in the images? What about the black and white images? Are they true blacks and true whites, or are they a mixture of nasty muddy grey tones?
How experienced is the photographer? Are they qualified?
At this point I will say it is not *essential* to have a qualified photographer. There are some fantastic pro photographers out there who don't believe in qualifications but their work is awesome. However choosing a qualified photographer means that your photographer's work has been assessed by a panel of esteemed pro photographer judges and it ensures their work has reached a standard of competence.
LBIPP and LMPA are the qualifications to look for.
Professional wedding photographers must be able to make immediate decisions, miss the moment and it's gone. They will do their job with the utmost professionalism while all the time keeping the mood happy and having a smile on their face.
They are experienced in people management and family politics and are, I would say 90% pro photographer and 10% psychologists! They know how to handle large groups and yet still keep the wedding flowing without delaying proceedings.
Melanie East is an acclaimed professional wedding photographer based in Bristol and covering all of the South West of England, London and Kent.
Melanie is widely published with her work having featured in Perfect Wedding Magazine, Folio (Bristol and Bath) Magazine, The Times, West Weddings Magazine, You and Your Wedding Online, Master Photography Magazine and Professional Imagemaker.
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