"I mean Aunt Debbie just got that really fancy new $400 camera and she works wonders with portrait mode on her iphone. She offered to take photos at our wedding. So why can't she just be our wedding photographer and help us save a few thousand bucks?"
We know what you're thinking, and we're going to have you slowly walk backwards away from the ledge. Nice and slow. The reality of the situation is that "taking photos" at a wedding and being a "Wedding Photographer" are two very very VERY different things. When Aunt Debbie offers to "take photos" at your wedding she most likely means that she'll be a guest at your wedding and when she feels like it she'll lift up her cheapo (yet made to look professional) camera and snap a couple shots before returning to socialize. She'll be chatting with the other guests and drinking cocktails while most of your magic moments get lost to the chaos of your most special day. When you absolutely want something captured you'll have to find Aunt Debbie. Then you'll have to wait for her to end her in-depth conversation on the morality of the Jonas Brothers hip motions. Then you'll have to tell her exactly what you want photographed, wait for her to get her camera out of her purse, and by the time she's ready to shoot the moment has passed and you need to try and recreate it and force what should be natural and joyful into an awkward moment that isn't anywhere close to what you initially envisioned.
When the big day is over and you are so excited to see all of your once-in-a-lifetime moments captured in photographs you will most likely either have to wait several months for Aunt Debbie to meticulously edit each photo in her laptops basic photo app or the next day you'll get every single shot including all the blurry, off axis, non-keepers and not a single one of them will be edited. Though she may claim they are "edited" because she used the "vintage" filter in her photo app, don't let Debbie fool you, it's a glorified instagram filter and while a few shots may look cool with it, most won't. At the end of this debacle not only is your relationship with Aunt Debbie strained because she thought you were being pushy about how long it took her to delivered the photos, not to mention how you broke up her Jonas Brothers Conversation at the wedding (how rude). BUT you also didn't get photos of some of your most memorable moments, and when you did they weren't exposed correctly, color corrected, or done with any semblance of good composition. Needless to say the chances of Aunt Debbie getting you the kind of wedding photos you've been dreaming of are probably worse than winning the lottery or getting abducted by a race of sexy aliens that want to make you their emperor.
Ok so obviously this is all worst-case-scenario type stuff but we think it is important to illustrate just how bad things can go when you don't hire professionals. Yes, wedding photography seems very easy and straightforward from an outside perspective. It's just point and shoot right? In reality there is a ton of nuance, and timing, and extremely expensive gear, and years of experience and training that go into being able to pull it off really well. Even the best, most experienced wedding photographers with twenty plus years of experience are still learning and honing their craft every day, because there are always new techniques, new gear, and new in vogue styles to master.
So let us walk you through all of the reasons why hiring professionals over Aunt Debbie is really a non-negotiable. Unlike Aunty Deb, we are there for one reason and one reason only- to capture every special moment that happens on your wedding day. We're not casually mingling or eating hors d'oeuvres. We are just watching everything happening around us like hawks so we can swoop in for that amazing roar of laughter, that sweet kiss, or the big dip while dancing. Not to mention, we are keeping track of the days timeline to make sure we have enough time for getting ready photos, or romantic couples shots after the ceremony. When we see we're getting off track with the schedule we adjust to get us back on track, think of us as diet day-of planners. Chances are Debby isn't managing the schedule in between pinching your nephews cheeks.
Next up is the gear, of course any regular Joe or Jane, (or Deb) can accidentally get one or two amazing photos with even the most modest gear under ideal lighting circumstances. The issue here is that we only encounter ideal lighting circumstances once in a blue moon. Most of the time the lighting is less than ideal and that's why we need expensive lenses that work well in low light, multi-thousand dollar full frame cameras that are compatible with those lenses, hundreds of dollars worth of flashes and diffusers to make sure there is not only enough light, but that it's soft, diffuse, and color corrected to match the rest of the room. It's one thing to have all of the right gear for any circumstance and it's quite another to know how to use it to get the best possible images. What price can you put on a decade of photography experience? For those couples that receive their dream photos in a timely fashion after their wedding day we believe most of them would say "Priceless".
Editing is a whole dark art of its own. Learning how to color correct, adjust sharpness tastefully, ad vignette and balance the levels of the photo, not to mention matching the color temperature across shots taken in various lighting in different locations at different times of day can be a process that takes years and hundreds of thousands of photo edits to master. You need the right software, and excellent displays to view it on so that what you're editing translates well to any screen or print circumstance. All of this comes at a very high cost, and the time taken to master all of this is exponentially more valuable than the cost of the gear itself.
Finally there is delivery. As we mentioned before Aunt Debbie probably doesn't have a subscription to a photo delivery service like most pro wedding photographers do. So instead of getting a google drive link with a list of files that you have to open and download individually to see each photo, which would take all day long just to see a quarter of your wedding photos. Instead we deliver our photos via a beautifully designed digital gallery where you can easily scroll through and see all of your photos organized into your getting ready shots, the ceremony, group photos, romantic couples shots, and the wild reception party. Not only can you easily view them, but you can download them all at once in either full size or compressed size for the interwebs. We also deliver our clients final edited images in a beautiful custom made wood clad USB drive inside of a decorative wood box with you and your partners initials engraved into the box and drive so that you have your files stored in a permanent physical location.
So while we can see how allowing Aunt Debbie to be your photographer at your wedding can be tempting to save some cash. The risk of being completely disappointed in the final product and potentially wrecking your relationship with your sweet Auntie just simply isn't worth the small chunk of your budget you'd be saving. Remember this day will only happen one time in your entire life. Ask yourself, is it really worth spending all this money on the venue, flowers, dresses, tux's, rings, food, place settings and centerpieces if you can't be absolutely sure you'll have amazing photos of it all to cherish years and years from now? We think not.