When you’re planning a wedding, you’ve got a lot of people to interview: caterers, makeup artists, florists, cake bakers, bands, the list goes on! And one of these will be the wedding photographer. Choosing the right photographer is twofold. You want someone who is a professional who has plenty of industry experience. You also want someone you connect with who makes you feel comfortable and who you get along with. After all, they’re going to spend a lot of time with you on a day that will have significant and very personal meaning for you. Strictly Weddings has a list of signs to watch out for!
While you’re interviewing photographers, keep your eyes open for signs that you’re dealing with amateurs instead of professionals. Of course, everyone deserves a start in the industry and beginners may be well-intended, but it’s not a good idea to let someone with tons of enthusiasm and zero experience cut their teeth on your wedding. An hour in, they could be overwhelmed and missing crucial shots that they’ll never have a second chance to get. Here are five warning signs you’re talking to an amateur and not the professional you need.
5 Tell-Tale Signs of an Amateur Wedding Photographer
The old standby that holds true for most things also holds true for wedding photography. Someone who promises to only charge you a few hundred dollars doesn’t have a good grasp on how much time and effort goes into taking photographs of a wedding. It won’t be long before they feel strangled by the mountain of work they’ve undertaken. The result? They’ll have to cut huge corners and it will show; hastily taken photos, sloppy editing and an album you won’t want to show to anyone. In the end, you’ll wish you’d spent the money on someone who knows what they are doing.
They won’t schedule a meeting prior to the wedding
Creating a wedding album isn’t just about pointing a camera at the ceremony and shooting. It’s vastly more than that. Your photographer should sit down with you to get your vision for your special day: what are you looking for? Do you and your significant other want black and white photographs to give a nostalgic feel to your wedding day? Do you want lots of vibrant color? Do you want highly stylized photos? Do you want an editorial feel? Are you looking for fashion-forward pictures that incorporate the surroundings? These are the questions your photographer needs to ask. Your answers are going to determine the direction they go in and it’s going to take time to set up these shots. An amateur simply won’t know how to do this.
A professional has done the heavy-lifting to get where they are. They’re a registered business, and they have references you can get in touch with. They’re also insured. There’s no way they’re going to take the chance that their equipment winds up tripping your Aunt Grace and causing her to break her leg, or your sister’s three-year-old knocks over their expensive tripod and destroys it. And because they’ve put in the effort (and money) into being a professional, they’ll be upfront with that information during your initial interview. An amateur obviously won’t because they likely haven’t taken any of these steps or even know about them.
An amateur is happy to land a job with a handshake. A professional knows better. The contract is a very important document. It outlines precisely what the photographer is going to deliver and for how much money. It states if there is a retaining fee and how much it is, what the remaining balance is and when you’re expected to pay it. You may have to revisit this contract a few times if the photographer has any questions about the visions you have for your album. Don’t fear the contract because this document protects you both. If you feel the photographer doesn’t deliver on their promises, you can take them to court and the contract will support you. By that same token, a photographer relies on her contract to protect them when a client refuses to pay after they’ve fulfilled her obligations. An amateur who is blithely ignorant to the complexities and potential pitfalls of this will plunge straight in, protecting neither you nor themselves with a contract.
Equipment continually evolves as technology improves, so it’s impossible to make a comprehensive list of camera equipment that will stand the test of time. However, it’s safe to say that a professional will bring several cameras, lenses, tripods, batteries, lights, speed lights, photographic umbrellas and backups to a wedding in case something should break. A few props and a stepladder to widen the variety of possible camera angles are also good ideas. The more experience a photographer has and the more familiar they are with their own style of picture taking, the more they know what to bring. Amateurs simply don’t have the experience to know what to bring. A fancy-looking camera with an automatic flash isn’t going to create a fantastic wedding album all by itself.