Friday, 11 December 2009

Do you really need a professional photographer?

Do you really need a professional photographer?

Do you really need a professional? After all your friend, cousin, brother, neighbour has a great camera. Couldn’t they do just as good a job and save you a whole pile of money? Maybe. But then, I have a pretty nice pair of scissors. Trust me, you don’t want me to make your wedding dress.
I’ve been photographing weddings professionally for nearly 5 years now so I may be a little biased, but here are some reasons why I think this is one job where a professional is actually worth the money.

Every shot counts
Cameras are pretty good now. Lots of your friends might be very keen on their photography and able to produce a stunning picture every weekend. Ask them to show you their 10th best picture from a photo shoot and they may be able to show you something rather nice. How about shot 20? 50? A professional wedding photographer might deliver 300 shots from your day.

Some of these will be formal portraits, some grabbed candids and some of them will be groups. And some of them will be better than others. But you’ll want them all to be good. Because if shot 300 is of your long lost cousin Sylvia whom you haven’t seen for 20 years dancing playing Air Guitar on the dance floor you’re going to want it for blackmail purposes if nothing else.

Herding cats
There’s a big trend at the moment for photojournalism, reportage, call it what you will. Often the pictures you love the most are the ones that look like they are “just” candids – taken without the subject being aware. But even the most relaxed day isn’t going to be all like that.

Are you absolutely sure you don’t want just one group picture? The professional you choose should have the skills and experience to gather your guests together quickly and efficiently to allow for all the pictures you want. Or to advise you in advance when your shot list is just a little ambitious.

There may also be rules on photography during the ceremony. Trust me, nobody ever won an argument with a registrar about whether they could use flash while hanging from a chandelier to get that special shot. Your photographer will need to work within any fixed rules and to anticipate all the key points of the day. There’s no real way you can ask them to back the ceremony up and start again because you missed something.

When they take your portrait, your professional should be able to give any guidance you need to look your absolute best in the pictures. Formal posing is rather out of fashion at the moment but it’s amazing what a difference you can make to pictures by tiny changes to the angle and composition.

Things go wrong
Here’s something the bridal magazines (and maybe even your wedding coordinator!) won’t tell you. Things go wrong on wedding days. This can be anything from the wrong shade of buttonhole to a last minute seating plan change to major equipment failure and horrendous weather.

But none of that matters because (1) at the end of the day you’ll still be married and (2) the professionals you chose for the job will smooth the way. It’s unlikely you’ll even notice that anything has gone wrong (well, you may just spot 4 inches of rain….)

Your professional photographer should (of course) carry backups of all essential equipment such as cameras, flash guns etc and know that equipment well enough to get the best of them in all circumstances.

The shot at the top of this article was taken very late in the day but there was still plenty of light around I had an assistant on the left hand side performing two very vital jobs

1. Holding about £5,000 worth of studio level mobile flash to light the bride and groom and cast their reflection into the water.
2. To hide the sign that says “danger! do not walk out onto this path”….

About the author

Jonathan Ryan is a professional wedding and children photographer working from his gallery in Canterbury throughout Kent and the South East of England. When he’s not writing about himself in the third person, he regularly contributes images to bridal magazines. When asked to sum up his pictures he chose “fun, relaxed and, erm, fun.” You can see some of his work online at where you can also contact him. But the best bet to see his work is to make an appointment at his gallery – loads of pictures, amazing albums and really nice

1 comment:

Jonathan Ryan said...


"Really nice" what?

Maybe people will have to visit to find out....