The following is a letter I e-mailed to Kelly Doody of page six in the Calgary Sun. In her coloumn on Thursday, August 6th she commented on photographers ( http://www.calgarysun.com/life/columnists/kelly_doody/2009/08/06/10377251-sun.html ). The following was my response to her.
I read your column on wedding tips and would like to make a comment on your suggestions about photographers. Yes I know there are some ‘weekend hobby’ photographers out there who do make quotes that seem outrageous, but most photographers do not fall into this category. With the state of the wedding industry and the way brides and grooms think about photography most photographers are lucky to see a couple thousand dollars from a couple. Before you think that even this is outrageous let me put some things into perspective for you.
First even on a typical simple shoot of 5 to 6 hours on the wedding day the photographer will spend some 20 – 30 hours on the event for the couple. This includes all meetings prior to the day, a possible engagement session, the wedding day, processing of the basic images, production of some sort of proof for the couple, retouching and enhancing images chosen by the couple, album production and prints, etc. Also the expense for photography is more then just a camera. Good equipment, computers, software, storage devices and the like add to the cost of being a photographer.
Education is another matter. Yes there are many self taught photographers who have never taken a course out there. Yet many photographers will have some instruction whether that be from full time studies from place like ACAD or NAIT, part time through continuing education programs, or through workshops or seminars be they locally or travelling abroad to attend. So as you can see there is a lot more to being a wedding photographer than buying a good DSLR camera and getting some business cards made.
Now does all this mean that a photographer who meets the above criteria is a good photographer. By all means, No. But couples do have the opportunity to look at a photographers work and decide if the fee they are quoted is reasonable for what they are seeing. Yes there is a place for students and new photographers trying to get in to the biz, but realize that they may lack experience in areas of posing, lighting and composition. They may be more nervous and less confident in a pressure packed environment and may not have developed all the people skills to deal with the multitude of personalities one encounters at a wedding. With this in mind couples who choose this route must accept this and understand they may not get everything they were looking for. Most students will work hard for the couple but the lack of experience is something that must be kept in mind.
The photographer is really the only person who actually spends the day with the couple and the bridal party. A good photographer not only has to have the artistic, creative and technical ability, they also have to be an entertainer and therapist as well. They have to bring out the joy of the wedding party while dealing with all the jitters and nervousness that comes along with the day. An experienced photographer is able to handle this and helps to make the day run smoothly. Believe me, this is hard work and we it with a smile on our face because most of us enjoy being around people. Many a couple become close friends with their wedding photographer and continue to work with them latter in life. They are inviting the photographer to join them on one of the most special days of their lives and this bond is a special one.
Finally in closing let me remind you that the photographs are the only thing that both the bride and groom have from the wedding day. The bride may have her dress and they both have the rings, but the photographs are the memories of the day. This is the one thing I think most people fail to remember and in this day and age of quick images on cell phones and compact cameras the value of photography is being lost. Unfortunately most people fail to take this into consideration until a disaster strikes. What are the things that most people go searching for when their home is destroyed by fire or other disaster. It is the photographs! These are their memories, their lives and they are precious.
So please don’t begrudge the photographer who is trying to make a living or a nice side income. Choose someone who is compatible with the two of you (remember the groom is just as involved in today’s wedding as is the bride). There are many photographers who are out there in all price ranges. You will get what you pay for so make sure you understand all the details of what’s involved. The photographer is more then someone just recording the event, they are sharing and creating those memories for the couple and their families. So please value what a photographer can bring to this special day
Sincerely, Patrick Kornak