Wedding Photography Myths

I read an article on wedding photography myths recently, with the author’s permission I’ve taken their ideas, adapted them for New Zealand, and rewritten it with my own thoughts. Please click the link below if you’d like to read some of the most widespread myths about wedding photography.

Photographers have it easy since they only work eight hours a week

Wow, that would be fantastic! Really though it takes 30-40 hours of my time for every wedding I photograph. There’s the 3-5 hours of meetings, phone conversations, and scouting before the wedding, the time preparing equipment, arriving early to set up and then packing everything up afterward. Then there’s the two days spent selecting the best images and color correcting them, a day or so on the album design, meetings to review the album then doing any requested changes, retouching and preparing the final album for printing, and making the high resolution DVD. The time adds up quickly!

A family member/friend can take all the pictures we need

This is possibly the biggest bit of misinformation in the wedding business. Many brides make this mistake each year and one only has to do a quick search on any of the bridal chat boards to see how devastating this mistake truly can be. Even professional photographers that specialise in other areas of photography such as commercial, landscape, advertising, etc don’t try to shoot a wedding – most will defer to the specialist just as I would if someone wanted me to do something out of my specialty. They’re quick to recognise the pitfalls, and that there are no second chances. The experience of an experienced wedding professional is simply too important. A professional will often be able to predict what’s about to happen, and will be there ready to take the photo. They can adjust for difficult lighting situations, and have the backup equipment to ensure your day is captured in all its glory even if equipment fails. Most brides comment after their wedding that the best money they spent on their wedding was their photographer! There are places you can cut corners, your wedding photography shouldn’t be one of them as it will provide the memories of your wedding for the rest of your lives.

You need to give your photographer a shot list

This one comes from all those bridal magazines mostly. Unfortunately these lists typically are not written by real world wedding photographers. Ask yourself this question: Would I rather have my photographer covering the events and the emotion that’s occurring, or reading from a list? We generally don’t know who the people on the list are, and most of the suggestions on the lists are shots that will be taken by any experienced wedding photographer anyway. For example, the Bride with her Father (really??) The Cake (really??) Many more are simply superfluous groupings only listed to make the list look good.

We do need a list of group photos to take immediately after your ceremony, to make sure we don’t miss anyone important or unique photos you’d like. If you have someone from each family find and gather the people for each photo that can make things go more quickly and smoothly. When you write your list keep in mind that each photo takes a few minutes, and think about how many groupings of each family you need and what you’ll do with each image. If you’re not going to print it then there’s probably no point taking it! We’re happy to take as many photos as you like, but in our experience brides and grooms would rather be talking with their friends and families than smiling for their 30th group photo. Smiling for 45 minutes straight really makes your cheeks hurt too!

Your photographer should take table shots

Sounds great, right? But the reality is the only time everyone’s at the table is during dinner, and we don’t take photos of people eating! That means trying to take photos of full tables around dinner, which can be quite tough. If you manage to get the photos, what are you going to do with them? Not one of my customers has ever put a table shot into an album.

What we often do at Wild Photography is try to get photos of most of the couples during the reception, as these can be great keepsakes from your wedding. It’s not always possible but we give it a go!

Our job is easy now that it’s digital

I love this one. In some ways sure it’s easier, in a lot more ways it’s much more difficult. Here’s why: When shooting film, the typical wedding took about 200 images, now that’s swelled to often more than 1000. With digital you also have to be a lot more accurate with your exposure and settings: with film you just have to be in the right ballpark of the correct exposure, with digital you have to be within 1.5 stops to make a good print. No problem if you know what you’re doing, but sadly many struggle with this every week. When shooting film we simply dropped our rolls off at the lab and returned a few days later to pick up the prints. The “lab guy” did all the work and made us look good. Now with digital, we are the “lab guy” and often spend countless hours in post production doing what the “lab guy” used to do. Also, top of the line 35mm film cameras used to top out at around $2500 and would pretty much last for 15 years or more. Top quality digital SLR’s from those same companies are now often $3-8K each, and seemingly become “antiques” about every 2-4 years as technology marches on.

Photography is overpriced

This is one again that we hear lots of discussion about. It seems like a logical statement, as good photography is not cheap. Actually considering that the resulting images become some of your most treasured keepsakes, it’s actually priceless. Similarly the regret faced by those whose photos are botched makes what we charge seem like a pittance. Remember, the average wedding professional will spend 30-40 hrs on you and your wedding, and can only work at a very limited number of weddings each year, almost all of them in summer. The national average net “salary” for wedding photographers is around $35K per year. Why? Because of the tens of thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment they own and maintain, as well as all the expenses that all business have such as accounting, rent, telecommunications, vehicle expenses, and of course GST and taxes expenses.

Bottom line; there aren’t very many rich photographers out there.

Photographers charge ridiculous prices for reprints

On first glance it may seem so, even a little 4×6 can run $10-20 dollars or even more from some photographers. Why should it cost so much since we all know what Camera House charges right?! Well, frankly speaking, you aren’t buying the paper, you’re buying a smaller version of the image that was captured by your professional, and paying for the time it takes to make that print look its best. The print is merely the container for that image, and the time it takes to prepare a print is the same regardless of whether it’s a 4×6 or a 20×30. Many photographers nowadays will make the files available and as such you are free to print them as you see fit and make this complaint a moot point; however, many still prefer to have the professional do it, and not have to hassle with sorting, organising, print optimisation, and cropping issues to name just a few. Simply put, many people who buy the CD of images find it’s well worth the extra price to get it done right.

Book your wedding photographer three months before your wedding

This is a tip I read in a free community newspaper in Wellington a few years ago, I have to say I laughed out loud when I read it! Good wedding photographers are in demand, and can have all the Saturdays January to April booked out six months in advance. The most popular February dates often book out a year in advance, and I’ve occasionally taken bookings eighteen months in advance.

There you have it, some of the biggest wedding photography myths. I hope you enjoyed reading them, and that they help you understand wedding photography and help you choose your wedding photographer 🙂

This entry was posted in Wedding tips.

3 Comments

  1. Davis September 23, 2009 at 2:31 am #

    Nice article. Thanks for providing.

  2. Carol January 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Great idea Tim. These thoughts should be required reading for every couple getting married. It is amazing how your job is thought to be just a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Multiply it by 5 to 10 and you would be nearer the mark. Plus there is the added responsibility in that you only have one go. There is no redoing it the next day. Why spend many thousands on a wedding and leave the only record of the day in the hands of an amateur.

  3. Brandon February 12, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    Really, really good tips. Now if we could just get every bride to read that before they start planning their wedding.

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