If you are looking for a wedding photographer and value picture quality, this page may help you to understand how photography works and has changed since we switched from computers to phones.
First of all
Photographers are not the same. Having a website and Instagram does not make one a pro photographer. It takes years of study and practice to understand photography well. Great photographers should be ready for anything in any lighting condition. Just like with any other artistic profession, photographers represent different skill levels. Some are better as business person and some are better taking great photographs. It is not easy for someone with no or some photo experience to determine what is the skill level of the photographer they are interested in. The difference between a beginner photographer and a seasoned pro is the beginner (term applies to work quality not years in business) takes pictures most of us can take with a good phone. A pro photographer takes pictures none of us can take with a phone or camera.
Wedding photography rates very a lot. They are a combination of what is included in the offer, photographers personal rate and photographers business connections. So, what effects photography prices the most. In a perfect world, photographers portfolio should be the most driving factor when it comes to the pricing. Unfortunately, today it it business factors that influence that rate the most. Some great photographers with limited business network and sales person skill will undercharge for their work, you want to hire one of them. Others who are not so good behind the camera, but excellent with marketing will overcharge. You will pay for their business side more than actual picture quality.
At the end you are left with pictures from one of the most important days of your life. The value of your photo investment should be visible in photographers you will keep forever.
Assuming that you value photography as one of the most important parts of the wedding day. You did your research and found this photographer who happens to charge more than your budget. The question is, how you came to conclusion what your photography budget should be? Are you spending a lot more on other things which will only last a few hours, pictures are forever. Can you evaluate the spending and relocate the money based on what is really important to you.
Here are a few pricing scenarios. #1 a $4,000 photographer with great marketing can possibly deliver only $2,000 level pictures #2 another photographer who is asking for $5,000 and has incredible passion and impressive portfolio, should be charging $7,000 #3 another photographer asking for $9,000 with a fancy studio and referral coming from top $$$$ venue may just deliver average images which most photographers charging $3,000 do at every wedding.
Which is actually a better deal, a lifetime deal?
Setting a tight photo budget may often result in hiring a person delivering photography below professional level. Sometimes $1,000 or $2,000 price difference can mean a world of difference in photo quality like old clunker car and luxury SUV.
In the last 15 years technology has improved so much that now we can have amazing equipment within a reach of every person. We also have many tools, especially lighting devices which help us beautify images while we take them. There are endless computer programs to edit pictures any way we wish in seconds. We can also share those images in no time with the whole world. If you have passion for stopping moments and creating art, it has never been a better time to learn photography and achieve incredible results.
Now that we have all those amazing tools and computer power in our hands, many photographers stopped educating themselves what it really means to take a good picture. Despite availability of the amazing equipment and technology, the quality of an average wedding image is disappointing. The new wedding trends also promote photography with entry level technique and often incorrect photography basics. Much of the today's photography lacks: composition, correct exposure, colors, detail and correct lighting.
Another negative aspect effecting photography quality is the fact of viewing images on a small phone screen (i-phone 8 plus is still very small compare to quality laptops not to mention computer desktop monitors) Unless you are a very skilled photographer, you will not notice imperfections or important parts of an image looking on the phone. Most people scroll quickly through pictures often overlooking what really stands out in an image. Many of us would be very surprised to discover so much about images displayed in 20-30 inch format.
Is there any good photography left?
Yes, there are still great photographers who learn correct photography basics and apply them in a very creative way. Unfortunately some of them face a difficult market since the percentage of people willing to pay for quality work is much smaller than people who will pay for basic images. Some photographers facing financial issues are forced to join the group of popular photography in order to make a living. There seams to be a growing disconnection between what the bridal websites and magazines show and what the leading photographers actually do. Great photographers are usually not very good when it comes to selling their work often falling behind on social media.
When you hire a photographer, you pay for the final product, which is photographs. Make sure you pay attention to the portfolio more than presentation and selling skill of the person you meet with. At the end you will be left with memories captured by that person behind the camera.
Lets define photography, as it should be defined or judged, whether it was 50 years ago, today or will be tomorrow.
Here are a few photography fundamentals:
1. EXPOSURE - where the middle tones are in relationship to dark and light tones
2. LIGHTING - either natural, artificial, or combination of both, how it effects the whole image. The more skilled photographer is, the better he/she can balance the different lights making them sometimes unrecognizable to untrained viewer.
3. COMPOSITION - where the main subject is in the frame in relation to the whole image, both wide angle and telephoto lenses have their own benefits depending on the scene we are capturing
4. FOCUS - where is the sharpest point or area in the photograph, its important that the focus is where its should be
5. MOMENTS- freezing moments-photojournalistic photography, which pays less attention to the 4 components described above in order to get that moment. The best journalistic photographers can still apply correct exposure, interesting lighting, precise focus and use great composition when catching that unique moment.
So should a bride and a groom care about their wedding picture quality?
Assuming that you look at your wedding day as one of the most important of your new family life and those pictures tell the story showing moments, people and details how it all happened. I think its fair to say, yes they should. How can this be done?
First of all, review photographers portfolio on a large computer screen, at least the eliminating process of portfolio reviews. If you see images in a portfolio that all look the same like very bright, ask yourself. Do we see what is around us very bright regardless of the time of the day and lighting we are in? No, we see colors, shapes, emotions, life. Look for life in photographs. Dark tones are natural part of our surroundings.
We are not guaranteed great weather on the wedding day. Most weddings will also take place in different lighting conditions: indoors, outdoors, in shade, in sun, in rooms with combination of difference lights. Make sure your photographer knows how to work well in all of those conditions.
Your wedding pictures will only be as good as the technical and artistic skill of the person who took them!
At the end
What photographer a couple will choose or what style of pictures is a personal decision. This is a life time decision without going back. We all can easily tell the difference between a quality and junk car yet it is not a life time decision. Spending a little time to learn about photography quality may not be a bad thing, its a life time investment.