Top 10 Wedding Photography Myths

Top 10 myths about wedding photography:

Since there is so much misinformation out there regarding wedding photographers I thought I’d break it down into some quick and easy top 10 style lists. Its also a work in process. Very likely it may end up with more than 10. Here are the top 10 wedding photography myths –

1. 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. A quick example, the lady that runs the DJ company in our office made this mistake. She has exactly one usable image from her wedding. Folks, even photographers that specialize in other areas i.e., commercial, landscape, advertising, etc etc don’t try to shoot a wedding. Most will defer to the specialist just as I would if someone wanted to do something out of my specialty. They are quick to recognize the pitfalls. They recognize there are no second chances. The experience of an accomplished wedding professional is simply too important. He will know whats about to happen. He will know whats going to go wrong often before it even happens. He can adjust for difficult lighting situations. He has the backup equipment to ensure your day is captured in all its glory. Most brides comment after their wedding that the best money they spent on their wedding was their photographer. Or perhaps it was the most expensive freebie they ever had!! There are places you can cut corners. This shouldn’t be one of them.

2. Photographers have it easy since they only work 8hrs a week.

Boy do we wish!! In actuality the number of man hours it takes from start to finish with each bride is really between 30-40 hrs. Nobody remembers the 3-5hrs spent in consultations, meetings, answering phone calls etc, then there is the 8-10 hrs on the wedding itself, of course you have to get there long beforehand; and then break down thats another 2 hrs overlooked. 8-10 more hours of post production time, another 4-5 on print production, dvd slideshows, archiving files etc, 10-12 for custom album design. The time racks up pretty quickly. Not to mention the fact that really we only can work at shooting on days when wedding actually occur. i.e. Saturdays, and the occasional Friday or Sunday.

3. 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 action, or reading a list? We generally dont know who the people on the list are. Most of the suggestions on the lists are shots that will be taken by any experienced wedding photographer anyway. Ex: Bride with her Father (really??) The Cake (really??) Many more are simply superfluous groupings only listed to make the list look good. In reality, if you must have a list, the best way to utilize it is to simply give it to a family member or bridesmaid who actually knows the people on the list, and make them responsible for gathering them up. Not only will this save some time for you but this also will free your professional up to create the kind of images that attracted you to him in the first place.

4. Table shots.

Sounds great right? But the reality of it is this: The only time when everyone is at the table is during dinner. The images really aren’t typically chosen to be part of the brides album. The guests normally aren’t going to want them unless the bride and groom are in the photo with them, so really you need to go to each table with us to make the images mean anything. Now when we get there, they are all going to want to talk a little, and in order to see everyone, half the table will need to go stand on the opposite side; so you are going to average 3-5 minutes per table to get it set up. Now say you have an average crowd of 150 people. Tables are normally 8 each. That’s 19 tables at 5 minutes each which is 1-1.5hrs of your reception devoted to taking image of folks gathered around a cluttered table. Kind of a long way to go for shots like this. Of course if the client wants them, we will shoot them!

5. Our Job is easy now that its digital.

I love this one. In some ways sure its easier. In a lot more ways its much more difficult. Here’s why: When shooting film, the typical wedding took about 200 images. Now that has swelled to often more than 1000. When shooting film, the film process held about a 5 stop exposure latitude, which means that as long as you were in that safe zone, the lab could make a decent print. With digital we have about 1.5 stops. No problem if you know what you are doing, but sadly many struggle with this every week. Uncle bobs don’t stand a chance here. 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 1700 bucks and would pretty much last for 15 years or more. Top quality digital slr’s from those same companies are now often 5-8K each, and seemingly become “antiques” about every 2-4 years as technology increases.

6. We don’t even need prints.

Well this one is unfortunately propagated by professional photographers. They say this because it eliminates a huge cost and lots of time. In truth, wouldn’t you really rather have 500 actual photographs to keep and share rather than having to load a cd or log onto a website and fool around with passwords, waiting for images to load up. What if your internet’s down?? or what if you’re not near a pc?? This one is a biggie. Consider that maybe 10% of your images are going to make it into your final bridal album. What about the others? If you have your proofs, you have them all right there. Besides, most photographers now give you the files anyway, so you can still do the pc thing should you want to. Key is you don’t have to.

7. Its best to find a company that does both Video and Photography .

We don’t hear this as much as we used too now that video has faded from popularity somewhat. (20% of weddings according to a national study). But it is an interesting one. Here’s why this isn’t such a good idea as it may seem. Sure its easy to write one check. But…..most photographers and most videographers are good at doing one or the other. The methods of capture are completely different. Very few are actually good at both. The old saying “Jack of all trades; master at none” rings true here as well. There are even companies that suggest they can do it all – Limo, video, photo, dj, invitations, etc. I’ve worked with most of these companies. Fact is, they simply are ok at each of them. If they were really that great at any one, they wouldn’t need to be doing all the others. The best practitioners in any field are called specialists. Isn’t that what you want for each vendor? Someone who specialized in just that field? You wouldn’t have a podiatrist do your eye exam would you? Or have a civil lawyer defend you if you got arrested? Of course not, you would want someone who specialized in exactly what you need. If you want a videographer, fine, find a good one; but be wary of the guys trying to sell you a package deal.

8. 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, its actually priceless. Similarly, the regret faced by those whose job botched, makes what we charge seem like a pittance. Remember, the average wedding professional will spend 30-40 hrs on you and your job. Similarly, the national average net “salary” for wedding photographers in the USA is 28K per year. Why? Because of all the expenses, overhead, and the limited number of events we can work in any given year.  Bottom line; not very many rich photographers out there.

9. Photographers charge ridiculous prices for reprints.

On first glance it may seem so, with many charging 30 dollars or more for 5×7 or 8×10. Even a little 4×6 can run 10-20 dollars. Why should it cost so much since we all know what walmart charges right?? Well, frankly speaking, you aren’t buying the paper, you are buying a smaller version of the image that was captured by your professional. The print is merely the container for that image. Your professional is also skilled at making each print look its best, and the time it takes to prepare a print is the same regardless of whether its a 4×6 or a 24×36. Many photographers nowadays will include the files in your packages 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, organizing, print optimization, and cropping issues to name just a few. Simply put, most find its well worth the extra price to get it done right.