I am not usually one to knock another professional in my industry, especially not to my clients. It is not a professional way to act. The articles I stumbled upon today made me cringe to the point that I can’t sleep. If you have ever heard me discuss wedding photography, you will have heard my mantra that “you get what you pay for”. A very true statement in my MEGA competitive field. While I do get that there are weddings on every budget as well as photographers for every budget. Here in my area, they can run as low as $400.00 and as high as $7,000.00 – that is a HUGE range. I realize that not everyone can afford a high end or even middle end photographer. What I don’t get, are the many, many “photographers” who claim to be wedding professionals and have several weddings under their belt and still know diddly squat about the craft that is photography. It is one thing to hire a newer photographer and get a good price, knowing you are taking a major risk, a whole different animal to hire one who doesn’t tell you how little experience they have or masks their lack of knowledge. The average bride doesn’t know much about photography. They may know a good pose when they see one but they have no way of gauging a photographer’s true skill level when interviewing them.
So when I read stories about a so-called “expert” in the filed writing an e-book for new photographers and ENCOURAGING them to shoot the wedding on auto mode, it just makes me nauseous. There are so many newbies flocking to this plan for starting a wedding photography business and trusting this guys’ advice. In the end, it is the brides and grooms that suffer. This book actually encourages new wedding photographers to “Spray and Pray”, meaning (on auto mode) – shoot like crazy and pray you get some usable shots. Is this how you want YOUR wedding photography handled? A portrait session that be re-shot is one thing – the biggest day of your life is not a day to be left to chance, no matter how good the photographers connection with God is.
This is a page circling the internet, giving the example of this method of how to start out in wedding photography.
Where to even start? His quote is a VERY good one but the fact that he is encouraging an entire generation of new photographers to shoot a wedding on their own, as a FIRST and NOT second shooting is just insane. I am actually doing 2 weddings this summer as a second shooter, for former “students” of mine – ladies I taught how to shoot on manual. I will never stop learning and this guy suggests you learn by trial and error? UGH!! Now mind you, I must admit that my first two weddings I was the main shooter and I was on auto. They were TINY weddings, knew my experience level and I was not paid. After my second one, I wised up and realized how much I had to learn. I dove into learning my camera inside and out and didn’t shoot another wedding for over a year because I knew I wasn’t ready. I had to have a LOT of experience on manual mode under my belt and I assisted several weddings before taking on my next one. I talk to a lot of new photographers and that is the LAST thing I would ever advise. I wish someone had warned me what a big risk I was taking on behalf of my first 2 weddings. Mind you, I got lucky and it all turned out fine (with the 100 or so hours I spent editing the one to fix the color!) but the stories I hear from truly saddened brides who had an “auto” mode photographer are huge. They are everywhere.
Simple – don’t bring a lot of gear so you don’t get confused. REALLY?!?! Again, does this portray the type of photographer you want at your wedding? I can just see the newbies heading out to shoot weddings, no extra bodies or lenses or flashes, because this guy said so. If your gear confuses you – you have NO BUSINESS shooting the most important day of someone’s life.If you don’t have back-ups, you are gambling with your clients memories. Camera bodies fail, so do memory cards. It happens. A true wedding photographer is prepared for everything they own to break, they have back-ups.
The smile bullet is sorta a good concept. Yes you want your clients to enjoy their day but is this REALLY the MOST important job of a wedding photographer?!?!? NO!!! The bride and groom will be surrounded by loved ones who they didn’t have to pay to be there, who will smile. Yes, be nice and make the portrait part fun but this is nowhere NEAR one of the most important. Personality is a huge deal when hiring a wedding photographer since you have a good chance of spending just as much if not more time with them than your new spouse that day but again – the focus that day isn’t about weather you smile or not, it is about if you can do the job you were hired to do.
The serve bullet is pretty darn dead on. You are there to serve your clients. As wedding photographers, we often have to do tasks unrelated to the photography to assist the couple that day. This concept I agree with
The final one, the Spray bullet is what started this long rant. The “P” mode he refers to a mode on a camera that is essentially an auto mode that you can override the different elements of an exposure. Rather useless if you don’t understand exposure, because if you did, you wouldn’t need “P”rogram mode in the first place. If your wedding photographer “forgets” what to do with their camera, they need to head back to shooting flowers and their cat and NOT weddings!
This is really just a sad day for me in regards to my industry. I want the industry to step up and re-claim the reputation it once had, not make it worse. This cannot be done by teaching newbies this method. Yes digital cameras have come a long way and a super smart but in NO Way does that mean you don’t have to go back to the basics and learn the craft of photography if you call yourself a “pro”.
Rant over. If you made it this far, thanks for hearing me out and PLEASE warn any newly engaged couple you meet to educate themselves on what makes a photographer a true pro and to ALWAYS interview at least 2 different photographers, preferrably one OUTSIDE your price range to see the difference and make an educated decision.