Whether you are just beginning the process of selecting a wedding photographer, or are well into the process, you will probably be asking yourself at some point “Why is wedding photography so expensive?” Well, there are a myriad of reasons why. The primary reason is because of the equipment (both quality AND quantity) that is needed for this special event as well as the skill of the photographer. A professional photographer also expends a lot of time, effort, and money on honing their skills through training and marketing those skills.
Cameras. A professional photographer will be equipped with cameras and lenses to provide you the best possible images. Digital cameras are sophisticated devices (not unlike computers) which are designed to transform light into digital information, and to store that digital information for later processing. Like computers, camera technology is constantly changing, allowing photographers to capture images in low light conditions, and to capture those images clearly and accurately. Your photographer should be using a camera that is capable of capturing images in low light conditions, and to capture those images with accurate color representation. There are many great cameras on the market which are being utilized by professional photographers, and this article will not discuss the technical merits of each camera. In very general terms your photographer should be using a camera which is designed to have interchangeable lenses; is designed for the use of off camera flash; allows the photographer to have full control of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO; and captures high resolution images (12 or more megapixels). While some of the “point and shoot” cameras on the market can do an adequate job, they simply don’t have the flexibility to capture really beautiful images. In very general terms, a professional grade camera will cost $2,500 or more.
Lenses. Your photographer should have “fast” lenses. In general terms a “fast” lens has an aperture value of 2.8 or greater (smaller number). A larger aperture allows more light to utilized and also provides pleasingly dramatic effects (bokeh) to your photographs, allowing items in the foreground and background to be out of focus. If your photographer doesn’t know what a fast lens is, you should probably steer clear of that photographer. Most of the lenses today also have technology which minimizes blurring under certain exposure conditions (low shutter speeds). There are a number of terms for this technology, but in generic terms the technology is known as “image stabilization”. Your photographer should be using camera equipment which is image stabilized. A professional photographer will have a number of lenses in his or her arsenal including; fast wide angle lenses, a macro lens for doing extreme closeups, telephoto lenses, and a series of fast “prime” lenses. In general, a good quality professional lens will cost at least $500, and in many cases will cost $1,000 or more. Your photographer should have at least one wide angle lens, at least one telephoto zoom lens, a macro lens, and at least one prime lens. An optional lens which may be used is a very wide angle lens (“fisheye” lens) which provides some very dramatic effects.
Lighting. A professional photographer has the ability to shape light to provide beautiful images. It is not only the knowledge of how to capture the light effectively (posing) but also the use of lighting equipment modify the light effectively. The use of pop-up flash on your camera is not adequate for adding fill flash and removing shadows. Most professional photographers use auxiliary lighting devices (“flash” or “strobes”) which are not physically attached to the camera (“off camera strobes”). Utilizing off camera strobes provides light which is dimensional and flattering to the subjects. On camera flash does not provide this dimension and is quite frequently when used by itself. If on camera flash will be used, it should be indirect of softened via the use of modifiers to reduce the harshness of the flash on the subjects. A professional photographer will utilize off camera lighting for your images. A professional photographer should have at least two strobes and should have equipment to use at least one of these strobes off camera.
In addition to quality, a photographer has to have sufficient redundancy (backup) in the event of equipment malfunctions, accidents, or other unforeseen circumstance. You don’t get a chance to re-photograph a wedding so it is necessary to have at least 100% backup for all critical equipment. You should ask your photographer to provide you with a listing of the equipment which will be used to photograph your event.
Computer Hardware and Software
Photographing your special event is labor intensive, but processing the photos is also very labor intensive. Professional photographers take pride in their images and will edit them to provide their client with the best possible image. Editing includes, cropping, color correction, exposure correction, sharpening, and adding special effects. A wedding shoot involves hundreds of photos, and all of these photos should be edited to make sure that the best possible image is provided to the client. Many photographers will not edit photos, or will provide minimal editing to their client. The client should have an idea of the amount of editing which will be performed and the software which is used to edit the photos. Additionally, the editing which is performed should be performed on a monitor which is color calibrated. Color calibration assures that the colors which are seen on the monitor will be true and accurate when the photos are printed. Your photographer should be using a monitor which is color calibrated and is calibrated on a routine basis.
Workshop, Seminars, and Education
As previously stated, a professional photographer is constantly honing their skills through training, seminars, and networking with other photographers. Photography is constantly changing and it is necessary to keep up to speed with everything which is happening. Ask your photographer for the professional associations they are associated with and what type of training they have had.
You probably have noticed that some photographers demand a higher price simply because of their reputations. Some photographers have national prominence, and other photographers have local prominence. While the experience of a photographer is important, grey hair is not essential to getting some great images. You should find a photographer whose work you really like, and use that as a basis of comparison with other photographers. In making this comparison, special attention should be given to composition, lighting, sharpness, and color representation. Some phenomenal wedding photographers are located at the following websites: