As the name proclaims, this is a photo website but I rarely say much about the hobby in these blogs. Next month, we have been invited to the marriage of a family friend and I began to reflect on wedding photography. Good quality cameras are now comparatively cheaper than they ever were. A budget digital SLR with a wide range of features and kit lens can be picked up for less than £400. With little knowledge or skill, acceptable pictures can be produced. An outcome of this has been the questioning of fees, charged by professional wedding photographers and the growth of amateurs taking on wedding shoots at unrealistic prices.
I know some professional photographers; they work very hard to keep their businesses profitable and few of them make much money; some survive, like the corner shop-keeper, by paying themselves minimal wages and below. The wedding photographer will have many hidden business costs that critics choose to ignore when they make false cost comparisons – premises, transport, taxes, equipment and its maintenance are only some of these. The professional business world is today extremely competitive with fewer weddings to go around. The sh/amateur avoids most of the real costs and just compounds the problem for those who are trying make a living from their work.
In the past, I have occasionally agreed to do some wedding photography for family and friends. Most of it was shot on film and I encountered all of the problems associated with that medium. It was often an anxious wait until colour film returned from the laboratory. On most occasions, it was a very stressful day and, should anything go wrong, it could be a very lonely place to inhabit. The skilled, professional photographer exercises authority and tactfully arranges the images that he thinks will appeal to the couple and their families. The amateur may well find himself being controlled by the mother of the bride who will be probably be very stressed and often irrational.
My advice to fellow amateurs who may be approached about taking wedding photos- leave it to the pros. It’s a specialist area and their experience makes it all happen efficiently. Decline all offers politely and you will not regret it for a minute. It will add years to your life.
I shall take only a little compact with me to the wedding next month.