Wedding Inspiration: Why hire a professional photographer?

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a wedding coming up. Maybe you’re a friend of the couple, tasked with looking for inspiration, or you’re one of the happy couple themselves, wanting to plan the wedding yourself. Perhaps you’re even the mother of one of the soon-to-be-newlyweds!

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Regardless of who you are, though, we know that every decision about this wedding feels like a weight on your shoulders, as if it’s the most important decision you’ll make in your life. Your wedding needs to be perfect, after all–picture perfect. That’s what we’re here for. We don’t mean “we” as in Wander Back Photography, either: we mean professional photographers. You want to pick someone you’ll be happy working with all day, someone you trust to capture your special moments, to capture every minute detail to truly bring the vision of your wedding to life and commemorate it.

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Many people want advice about weddings. Just look at the myriad blogs and sites and magazines dedicated to the industry! Even if they don’t ask for it, engaged couples often end up getting it from someone, whether it’s their aunt suggesting venues, friends showing dress designs, or suggestions of “I know someone who…”, be them DJ or catering or (our favorite thought!) someone who “does photography”. That isn’t to say that your aunt or uncle or friend or brother’s friend’s dog is wrong or will give bad advice, of course: we don’t want to discredit anyone. Referrals are what make our world go round, what helps people to find likeminded photogs or venue owners or caterers. Referrals are hard to pass up, too, considering they come from a known and trusted source and often end up saving money.

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Photos above: our photos before & after photography training

Referrals are important.

There’s something important, though, that we as wedding photographers want to talk about: the difference between an amateur and professional when it comes to event photography. In our experience, hiring someone who specializes in weddings and engagements is key to the best wedding photography. That isn’t to say they’re going to be perfect; we here at Wander Back certainly aren’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s us or the next business you can find, because we are all growing as professionals and as human beings. However, there is a distinction between professional and amateur.

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Photos above: our photos before & after photography training

To stress it: amateur photography is not inherently bad. We’ve seen plenty of weddings that establish a hashtag for social media use, something that can aggregate all the photos and posts and thoughts and recordings and memories that the guests create, and those are downright brilliant. They’re also not the same as a professional photograph studio. Here are some reasons why:

One: professionals come prepared for the worst when it comes to their equipment. We, for example, come with two cameras each–you never know when technology will fail on you, and it’s somehow always right when you need it. Memory cards? The more, the merrier. They can fill up faster than seats at the Super Bowl! Lenses range from something simple to the highly technical (and that’s fodder for another post!), but there are a wide variety of them available for different shot scenarios. Batteries, too, are important: a good professional will always have at least two on hand. Then come the extras–we won’t mention them piece by piece (again, that’s another post), but professionals will usually bring a stash of items with them to help each photo truly pop.

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Photos above: our photos before & after photography training

Two: Experience. We don’t mean a degree or apprenticeship, but while an amateur might be a talented hobbyist, a professional will have had exposure to many weddings and will be ready for whatever challenges they might bring. Between the two of us here, for example, we have over ten years of wedding photography knowledge. Some of the most important lessons we learned during these years wasn’t even actually shooting the photos, but going through the wedding day schedule. Amateur photogs might not have that. Think about it: a wedding is pretty different from everyday life. When’s the last time you planned out a typical day in 1-hour increments? The last time you knew you were going to have to shepherd over a hundred people from socializing to dining to drinking to dancing? It’s hard to get used to for the newlyweds, let alone someone whose first time it is snapping shots at a wedding. We love the go go go of the ceremonies and receptions, with excitement abound and a dearth of dull moments, but where for us there’s always something to look forward to, hobbyists may find intimidation.

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Three: there are two of us, minimum. Always. A good wedding photography studio works together–they are the dream team. Family friends can do a good job, they can add to your hashtags and tag you on social media, but they can’t be everywhere at once. There’s the saying that two heads are better than one, and when it comes to our job, it’s more than a cliche. Professional studios will be able to split themselves between groom and bride, taking opposite sides for alternate perspectives; they’ll be able to cover the entire venue from dance floor to exit; they can ensure that switching out a memory card doesn’t lead to a missed moment. In most cases, even a seasoned solo professional will have a second shooter they will bring along for wedding days.

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Four: professionals are more likely to invest extra time in your wedding. We don’t mean that your best friend or your aunt or your favorite coworker aren’t emotionally invested in the wedding… but this is our career. This is what we are. We want to meet with our clients, hear their ideas, visit their venue, be a team. And: we always show up early. Throughout the planning process, we’re present as a passionate team, and we’re always both excited and grateful to be a part of this special day. Professional photographers aren’t just there out of obligation, out of money, out of need: we’re there to learn about you, to learn to love you, and to be there from beginning to end. Where a hobbyist may have other obligations, may have a 9-5 job that takes them out of town or forces them to stay late no matter how badly they want to be with you, we are there.

Finally: readers, mothers, fathers, brides, grooms, best friends: do your due diligence. Every professional, from us to K.T. Merry of Kate Upton fame, has room for improvement. We have clients who we don’t mesh with as well, whose expectations we don’t meet, who decide to post a bad review or two. That’s totally to be expected. Take some time and research your photographers, look through their blogs and portfolios, meet them and see what they are like. Even if they’re newbies–and trust us, we know how hard it is to find people willing to take the chance on beginners–get to know them. Learn them as much as they’re learning you. Whether weddings are old hat or their hearts still race at the thought of a wedding, keep these tips in mind. Most importantly? Enjoy the ride.

Friend & their phone:

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Photo by Brushfire Photography:

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Check out our website!

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