Do It Yourself Or Hire A Pro - Part 2 - Photographers

I already touched on the importance of professional entertainment. Now I would like to talk about professional photography for you wedding. Do you really need to hire a professional for your wedding or can you do it yourself?

Once again, if you want beautiful pictures that you will treasure for many years, hire a reputable professional to photograph your wedding. A professional photographer knows what shots to take, how to set up the shots and how to work with the officiate or clergy. He/she will also have backup equipment just in case of mechanical malfunction.

Most professionals have different packages to make them affordable for most budgets. Types of wedding albums and amount of time the photographer is being hired for can greatly affect the total cost. I even worked with a couple of photographers who charged a flat rate and gave the film or digital files to the bride and groom and let them create their own album.

I always preferred to work with a photographer who was hired for the entire wedding ceremony and reception. That way, the natural flow of the wedding can be captured. Sure, there is a lot of stand around time for the photographer, but the important moments will be captured.

Sometimes, I worked with photographers who were hired for the first hour of a reception. In these cases, all the formalities had to be crammed into the first hour – the grand entrance, first dance, father/daughter, groom/mother dances, cake cutting, throwing of the bouquet and garter, etc. I know that some couple’s philosophy, besides saving some money, was to get everything out of the way so they could relax. That sounds good on paper but doesn’t always work that way!

In a perfect “party” world and for parties with a lot of high energy partiers, this might work out really well, especially when there are 300 or more guests. Most weddings that I performed at were in the 125 – 175 range. (Time of day and location greatly influence getting people into “party mode.”) Some groups need a little more time to coax guests into party mode. The skill of a party entertainer helps achieve that party mode as early in the party as possible so there is more time to party. Even with a relatively unskilled party entertainer, the last half hour of a party will attract people to the dance floor. The formalities added an activity that kept the guests interest until they “loosened up.”

What is the entertainer to do if all the formalities are done and the group is reluctant to dance? I had my secrets that kept me in business for 30 years but for some it could mean PARTY OVER!

When 35mm cameras first became affordable, there was a trend to have a friend with a nice camera shoot the wedding. Unfortunately, for many couples, this didn’t work out very well. It isn’t so much about the gear but how you use it.

Smart phone cameras and digital take amazing quality photos but the same applies to them as 35mm cameras.

Once in a while there would be disposable cameras placed on tables for the guests to capture important moments. It is amazing how many vulgar and obscene shots I saw being taken. While these might be found amusing by some, most likely these are not the moments the bride and groom had hoped to capture.

One other thought on experienced, professional photographers: They know what shots to take and the ones that you will want to purchase. They know the importance of being efficient and help keeping the flow of the party going. During the reception, it is important to have the bride, groom and bridal party available for wedding formalities. If the inexperienced photographer is constantly taking the bride, groom and bridal party for “just one more shot” by the lake, or at sunset even though they already have plenty of pictures taken, what they are doing is killing the moment that they are trying to capture. After a while, most couples get really tired of endless photos.

I saw one photographer’s assistant crawling around on the floor during a wedding ceremony in order to capture the ceremony from a unique angle. It was embarrassing!

Group family photos are very important. Have them taken during the cocktail hour. When it is time to get the party going, there is nothing worse than to have the bride and groom and family members have to leave the reception room.

I hope my words of experience will help you.

R.J.

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