10 Ways a Professional Wedding Photographer Gets Great Photos

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save a few bucks by tackling something yourself.  I admit it.  I’m an adamant DIY-er.  But there are some instances where DIY equals OMG—as in, “Oh my God, what a disaster!!”.  Wedding photography is one of those times it’s best left to the professionals.

But why?  In this day and age, when digital cameras boasting 12 or 14 megapixels are becoming ever more affordable, why rely on a professional photographer when your friend or family member took some good pictures at last years’ 4th of July picnic?

I’ll tell you why.  In fact, I’ll give you 10 good reasons why a professional wedding photographer is worth the investment.

The Right Gear

Your friend or family member may have a nice, 14 megapixel camera with the kit lens (aka, the lens that came with the camera), but do they have a backup camera?  Backup lenses?  Technology is not immune to failure and sometimes equipment can just stop working inexplicably.  A professional wedding photographer anticipates any possible equipment problems and usually has anywhere between 2 to 5 cameras with them—along with any number of lenses, flashes and memory cards.

Beyond backup equipment, a pro has cameras and lenses that can practically see in the dark. This means less intrusive flash and overall better image quality, but also allows the photographer to create those beautiful images where the background is soft and dreamy while the happy couple is sharp and clear. The kit lenses that come with most cameras are wonderfully small and lightweight, but they can’t cope with the dark conditions that are a part of every wedding.

Experience

Your wedding day isn’t just about the “I do”.  There’s pre-ceremony preparation, with the quiet moments of contemplation.  Those special glances during the ceremony.  The first kiss.  An experienced wedding photographer seeks out these moments and captures them, too.

Time

A pro starts long before the guests even arrive at the church, capturing those little details you’ve put so much care into and the bridal preparation. Often, some of the most memorable and emotional moments of the day happen long before the walk down the aisle, and a pro knows when and where to be to capture them.

Dedication

When you get down to the bottom line, a wedding is a joyous social occasion!  It’s hard not to chat and kid around with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.  Why take the chance that your photographer may get into a long conversation with Uncle Oswald and forget to take pictures?  A professional photographer is there ONLY to provide wonderful images of your special day.

Creativity

A professional wedding photographer goes beyond the line-everyone-up-and-smile formal images.  They are constantly on the lookout for the beauty in quiet moments, the unique poses, the soft touches and tender looks.  Many photographers design their own albums too, and have an idea of how the images will be portrayed and laid out in the end, creating a cohesive story from start to finish.

Always alert

Sometimes wedding venues aren’t what you’d call “photographic”.  Dark wood, large windows and busy backgrounds make for challenging shooting.  A professional photographer is always mindful of the surroundings and works hard to position himself or the subjects in a way that will result in better, less distracting images.  The professional also takes some time before or after the ceremony to scope out ideal locations for portraits and other shots.

Editing

The job’s not done once everyone goes home for the night!  Professional wedding photographers never give clients images straight from the camera.  Every single image is viewed—which is no small feat as weddings usually produce hundreds or even thousands!–with only the best of the best selected.  These are then individually edited, enhanced, cropped and adjusted to bring out their best.

Professionalism

Some friends or family members view their photography of your wedding as a “favor” or “gift”.  While well intentioned, this can be problematic once the final images are handed over!  A professional wedding photographer is there to perform a job, just like the caterer or DJ.  YOU are their sole focus, and providing you with exceptional images that will forever remind you of your special day is their sole concern.

Technical Expertise

Owning a “nice” camera isn’t what makes a good photo or competent photographer.  You have to know how to use it.  REALLY use it.  Professional photographers know their equipment, know the specifics of the settings and know how to utilize both quickly and easily.  Less time spent fumbling with the settings means more time spent actually shooting.  Knowing the proper way to use the equipment also makes for more “keepers”.

Beyond knowing the camera, there are a hundred little things that make a huge difference in the final photograph. Does Cousin Jamie stand you next to a wall, use a flash pointed right at you, or stand you in front of a cluttered background? There’s no better way to make a photo look like a Halloween horror show. A pro runs through a mental checklist with all this and much, much more before each and every photo, and does so hundreds of times throughout the day.

Passion

A professional photographer has chosen this profession because they LOVE photography and making great images.  It’s what calls to them, and what makes them strive to make and give images of exceptional quality.  It’s in their blood, what pushes them forward.  They simply can’t NOT do it.

So, in short, don’t sacrifice your special day to so-so images.  There is nothing more lasting from your big day. Your cake is gone by the end of the night, the flowers are wilted by the end of the honeymoon, and it’s not like you’re going to be wearing the big white dress again. Your photos are your most lasting piece of this day that you’ve put so much effort and planning into. Let your friends and family be guests and enjoy the celebration and let the professional worry about giving you fantastic photos that spark memories for a lifetime.

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