Monday, December 18, 2006

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of "package" wedding service providers. These are places that provide the limo, flowers, reception hall, caterer, cake, DJ, videographer and even your wedding photographer. You pay one large fee for the "complete package" rather than a number of smaller fees. One main vendor hires "subcontractors" for all of the jobs listed above or one individual may have multiple duties.

I've heard too many horror stories about these types of "package" vendors who send "wedding photographers" who have
zero experience photographing weddings and are armed with next to no photographic equipment other than a single digital camera and a memory card. Of course, when brides and grooms see the proofs from their wedding day they are almost always disappointed.

I honestly can't feel sorry any more for brides and grooms who hire people like I've just described. If the bride and groom expect a single vendor to handle every detail of their wedding then it means the bride and groom didn't do their research. You wouldn't expect a brain surgeon to be a great OBGYN, so why would you expect the guy you hire to drive your limo to do a good job with your wedding video or wedding album? Ask to see albums, prints, and proofs from at least two other weddings before hiring a photographer ... and ask some basic questions about the photographer's equipment and previous experience. And make sure that the person you interview before the wedding is the same person who is photographing your wedding.

As I've said before, equipment is not a huge factor. I don't care if a photographer is using cheap equipment, but if he doesn't have a selection of good lenses or external/hotshoe speedlights then he isn't equipped to handle many situations on a wedding day.

Much of my wedding work is done with available light, but I would never show up to a wedding without multiple speedlights ... because you can't anticipate every situation and you have to be prepared to create the light that you need in order to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments.

While I understand the need to "stick to a budget" for a wedding, there is a difference between shopping for the best value and just hiring the cheapest person you can find. Once you've lost the opportunity to capture great memories of your wedding day, that's it. You only get one wedding for each marriage.

This becomes a big problem for experienced wedding photographers because "most" people don't seem to recognize the difference between experienced, professional photographers and shutterbugs looking to make some extra cash on weekends. These wannabe pros show up at weddings thinking that the $600 camera they got for Christmas means they have the ability to produce professional results even though they have zero experience as a working photographer ... and 99 percent of the time the results are horrible. Then, when brides and grooms see the bad photos they think, "The professional photographer we hired was horrible. All professional photographers are overpaid hacks."

It doesn't matter that an experienced wedding photographer would have produced MUCH better results. The "jack of all trades" wannabe photographer they hired was terrible so all "professionals" are worthless.

In short, experience and focus matter. By "focus" I mean, if you're looking for a photographer then hire a photographer ... not a florist or a DJ with a camera.

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