Friend or Pro? Hiring the Perfect Wedding Photographer for Your Big Day
Your wedding day - a day you’ve been looking forward to your whole life, and something you plan on only doing once (I’d assume). You can plan every detail down to the color of the table linens, eggshell or off white? Most people won’t be able to tell the difference, and in 5 years you’ll be struggling to remember which one you chose. But photos are forever. The memory of your big day captured in a series of split seconds for you to cherish for all time. If this sounds like a daunting task then you’re right, which makes hiring the right photographer a huge deal. Now, the question comes down to budget. How much are you willing to spend on eternal memories? Most people spend thousands of dollars on a photographer for various reasons. Below I’ll make an argument for hiring a photographer friend, and hiring a photographer.
You’ll notice I didn’t just say “hiring a friend,” for the specific reason that just because someone has a DSLR doesn’t make them a photographer, it makes them a DSLR owner. Hiring a friend who understands: lighting, composition in an ever-changing environment, structure and timing of weddings, who to focus on during certain times, and most importantly how to capture those special moments that you can never recreate. Here’s a couple reasons to hire a PHOTOGRAPHER friend:
Commitment: While a professional will still have commitment to you, this is a different kind. It’s a type of commitment that can’t be put down in a contract, and was developed over several years. They’re committed to making you look your best, being there for a friend on their big day, and delivering the results you expect.
Comfortability: You know them, they know you. You can be yourself around them, and you have memories together that span over many years. They’ll be comfortable around your family, getting to know everyone on a deeper level and can start conversations with those closest to the bride and groom.
Budget: Maybe this is the biggest reason for you, maybe it isn’t. Sometimes, the friend will offer the "friend discount", as a thank you for thinking of them to capture your big day. Although, you can’t always count on this. The downside? Money can sometimes come between friendships, so tread carefully.
Communication: There can be open communication between you and your photographer friend. Check in texts like, “Hey, are you still down to shoot my wedding?” “How’s the editing coming along?” “Yo, you’re killing it!” These informal check-ins could also help build the relationship, and bring about results you would never have anticipated.
Now that I’ve made my claim for hiring a PHOTOGRAPHER friend, here’s my case for hiring a professional wedding photographer...ahem:
Commitment: Like the first reason for hiring a friend, this comes with a legal commitment. You've signed a contract that you’ll pay the photographer by a certain time, and they’ve agreed to be at your wedding come hell or high water. But if “hell or high water” are the conditions you’re preparing for pick another date.
Results: If they’ve shot many weddings before, then you’ve seen their portfolio and like how they shoot. They’ll deliver consistent results, and you’ll get what you expect. They’ll know how to pose you, compose the image, and be able to adjust to tricky venue lighting. Like the phrase goes, “you get what you pay for.”
Equipment: Pros will have all the necessary tools to get the job done. Like any profession, you don’t want to hire someone who is lacking in tools needed to get amazing results. Extra batteries and memory cards, a flash with diffuser, extra camera and lenses, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for editing, they’ll have it.
Communication: Any pro photographer will tell you open communication is key. Communicating what you want shot, and what you don’t will help them plan their day. Additionally, they’ll be open about how your photos are coming along, sometimes without you having to ask.
Lastly, they’ll shoot in RAW. This might seem like a weird detail to include in this list, but when it comes time for editing and making the small adjustments to lighting and color, it’s huge. The image files are uncompressed, unlike JPGs, giving them a lot more flexibility to edit. Make sure to ask your photographer to shoot in RAW! If they look at you with a blank stare, get another photographer.
In this mix of friend vs. pro there is that small sliver of people who straddle both. If you know a pro photographer and are comfortable reaching out and asking them to shoot your wedding, they’d be delighted you thought of them! Pro photographers are people too! Long story short, make sure to get a “PROtographer” not a “fauxtographer.”