Professional Wedding Photographer

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.

Professional wedding photographer

Credit: Melanie East Photography

Here, in no particular order, is why...

  • An experienced and good pro photographer carries professional kit and more to the point spares of everything. Backup lenses, flashes, camera bodies, batteries, memory cards - all packed, "just in case" there should be a failure on the part of the equipment.

  • An experienced professional wedding photographer will be trained and fully experienced in shooting in all forms of constantly changing light. Professional photographers are masters of lighting and angles.

    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.

  • Professional wedding photographer

    Credit: All images: Melanie East Photography

  • A professional photographer will know how to pose you correctly and how to shoot the most flattering images at the most flattering angles. They know how to take great images again and again and again.

  • A great professional wedding photographer will not be "trigger happy" and hope that if they take 1,000 images, they may get 300 reasonable ones. A great pro photographer will take photographs at the right moment resulting in a story being told through images.

  • Professional photographers will not only take the images of the day, they will also finish the images to a fantastic standard. Don't under-estimate the importance of finishing the images. They will check and colour manage every image and will use Photoshop to only enhance and never to try to make a poor image reasonable.

  • When choosing your wedding photographer pick carefully! Choose the wrong one and it could turn out to be an unfortunate and expensive mistake.

    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 photography
    Pro wedding photographer

  • Photographing a wedding is a very responsible job. The pressure to capture the right images throughout an entire wedding is huge. It is fast paced and you only have ONE chance to get it right.

    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.

  • Ask yourself, do you want your wedding photographs to be snapshots, or a perfect record of your day represented by beautiful imagery?

  • Wedding photographs are important, not just for you but for generations to come. By choosing a specialist professional wedding photographer you are safe in the knowledge that you are leaving the photography to an expert.

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.

To find out more about her photography visit her website and blog.

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