The Importance of Good Photography

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Brides know better than anyone just how much goes into planning the perfect wedding. From the moment you are engaged the months, or even years, of organising everything from flower arrangements, to settling age old family feuds in order to make the seating work. Amazingly, we are willing to put up with all of this -and the funding that makes it all possible- for that one memorable day.


When the actual day comes along, it seems to blend into a blur of excitement, colour, speeches, cake and passion. Then it’s over and all you have to show for it, is a newly attached second half and, of course, the photographs and video.

Let’s be honest, weddings don’t come cheap. And for the women who started sketching their wedding dress at five, chose their bridesmaids by sixteen and had imaginary fittings in front of the mirror since the dating stage, we don’t really want it to come cheap. Even when working on a budget, more likely than not, your wedding is going to take a sizable chunk out of your pocket. Photography might seem like one of the items you’d rather skimp on.

Take if from the helpful insight of the newly devoted that I have spoken to, their opinions were unanimous;

You are going to want to have good photos to remember the day by, no matter the outcome. 

So what can you expect to spend, and get back from your investment? And what can you do to ensure the best possible outcome?

Opting to Do it Yourself

This might involve getting a talented friend to take the photos for you, or even allowing the guests to do it themselves which could be a great success, or an unmitigated disaster. The last thing you want after spending so much time and bloodshed to have the perfect wedding is to look back at the photos and discover that throughout the ceremony the camera was focused on the person in the third row from the back, and that you and your partner are a blurry black and white smudge in the distant background.

Perhaps you’re lucky and the person who is in focus is your great uncle Albert who passed away a month after the wedding, but I’m guessing that you’d rather just remember the wedding.

So if you find yourself leaning towards option two, here’s some experiential advice: Gen had the great fortune of getting engaged to a professional photographer which ensured a lifetime of great photography.

The problem came in when making a decision about the wedding photography. Being a professional in the field, Gen’s fiancé, Marc, couldn’t stomach paying someone else double what he, as a professional photographer, earns. In the end they decided to ask Marc’s assistant and brother to do the wedding photography, and Gen asked all the guests to forward their photos of the wedding on to her.

Throughout the ceremony Marc could hear the camera, and could tell from where he stood at the altar that the shutter speed was too slow. For those who don’t know anything about photography this meant that the camera was not letting enough light in, resulting in blurry, underdeveloped pictures. All through the ceremony Marc had to subtlety attempt to direct his brother’s photography; not an easy task when you have a church full of people watching you. To the couple’s absolute dismay, most of the ceremony photos were blurry.

There is no better late than never with photography

If she could have done it again, Gen says that she would have paid someone to take photos for her. In her opinion, it might not seem important at the time, but a year or two after the day you’ll be wishing you had those gorgeous photos to remember it all by. Gen was lucky enough to have had the foresight to ask the guests to take pictures, which meant that she had tons of guest photography to fall back on.

If you get someone you know to take pictures for you, make sure you have seen some of their work. Don’t take their word for it when they say they are good. Ask to view some of their previous work to make sure you like their style of photography, and that they do know their aperture from their shutter speed. Be certain you can be open and honest with them about what you do, and do not want, and never hesitate to communicate with them. It might even be a good idea to do a test afternoon with them; leave nothing to chance.

Perhaps your sister is a wonderful photographer and does it for a living; that doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to spend her sister’s wedding day working, but if she is willing to do it, insist on paying her for it. There is nothing that motivates a photographer to deliver the photos quickly, like a  pay cheque.

A great idea that could add a vintage touch is to leave disposable film cameras on each of the guest tables for the guests to use at their discretion. Including the guests in the photography can have fun and exciting results. You’ll have a lot of shots to sift through, but might be surprised at the beautiful and unexpected shots you find in-between.

Hiring a photographer

Hiring a professional photographer is undoubtedly going to be a pricey exercise, and the better the photographer, the more costly they are likely to be. This route can produce amazing shots that perfectly capture the atmosphere, theme, and moments that made the day, but it can also leave you wondering why on earth you paid a fortune for photos that look like they were taken in sauna, or given to your niece to have a field day with in Photoshop.

Carlene: When I interviewed Carlene, who very recently had a stunning beach wedding, and hired a professional to capture the day, she said she would do it again without a moment’s hesitation.

Carlene received 8 hours of shooting time, including pre-wedding photos, and a coffee table book of a 150 pages. The photos came out beautifully, with a great mix of experimental, pose and action shots.  Carlene can highly recommend her photographer to anyone because of their amazing photography as well as their willingness to go the extra mile; they stayed two hours longer expected, with no extra charge.

That might be another option to finding the right photographer, talk to your friends and family about who they have used in the past.

Look at your Photographers Portfolio and learn to trust them.

Go through enough portfolios to be sure about their photographer’s individual style, and the style you are looking for. Don't always go for the cheapest; sometimes the professionals are very expensive but are known to give discount when they’re feeling generous. Remember; the photos are what last, they’re all you have left of your wedding, together with the memories. It’s important to get the best photographer you can afford, not only the cheapest you can find. You can tell a passionate and talented photographer by the way they do business; don’t underestimate the importance of their professional conduct.

Kim is both a recent bride and part-time wedding photographer. She has worked with  a photographer who has been used for a few high-profile weddings, so she had some valuable insight when interviewed about her experience.The bride’ advice: Kim paid R10 000 to hire a photographer for her own wedding.

Would she do it again? Kim says yes. The photos, and peace of mind, are worth it. Her only wish was that she could have had an album made up for her, as this is a nice way to tie up all the pictures and is a lovely keepsake.

As a photographer, Kim says the best you can do to get to know your photographer, and let them get to know you. Let your photographer know exactly what you are looking for, but trust their better judgment. Don’t be closed-minded; make sure you trust the photographer enough to follow their direction. Let them know what you want from the start, but don’t be afraid when they want to try a few experimental shots. Sometimes these can be the most beautiful, and striking photos of them all.

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