Mike Meller professional photographer, has not only caught our eye with his wonderful wedding images, but he took some of our dresses on a hike to Glencoe, and the results were simply, out of this world. We thought it would be a great opportunity to ask him the importance of selecting the right wedding photographer for your big day. We hope you enjoy his guest blog post below.
Why hire a professional photographer?
I can imagine that one of the biggest dilemmas most brides have to face is when it comes to photography. Do I really need to hire someone, since everyone will have a phone and some probably will have “pro” cameras with them as well? Does it have to be an expensive photographer or should I just find someone who has a new camera and takes some pictures occasionally? Well, it’s not an easy decision, but sooner or later, it needs to be made.
Let me help you to make it easier going through the whole process of seeking a professional photographer. I would like to explain to you the difference between the professional photographer and a guy with an expensive camera. Which, unfortunately, might not be that obvious.
– It’s not about the gear –
When you consider hiring a professional photographer I’m pretty sure the first thing that comes to your mind, if not the only one, is that it is going to cost a lot, and that professional is just a synonym for unjustified expense. The thing to realise is, that price doesn’t make anyone professional, but the price is a result of someone’s professionalism. And contrary to popular belief, a photographer doesn’t work only 8 hours during your wedding – there are several weeks of editing your photographs afterward included as well.
First of all, a professional photographer gives you the guarantee of his presence on the day. Hiring a full-time photographer means that you, as a customer, will not be let down under any circumstances. That would ruin not only your wedding but the photographer’s reputation and business too. For someone who only makes some extra money on weddings and has another job, your wedding will never be a priority. So it might be possible that two weeks before your wedding you will be left without a photographer, with an excuse that something came up at the other job. Might seem silly at first, but that does really happen. Hiring a professional photographer gives you that comfort and reassurance you won’t be left in the lurch. Even in the case of an accident or misadventure, a professional photographer will be able to get a back up for your big day. You should rest assured that this will be someone with a similar style and someone that works with your photographer on a regular basis.
Many people think that a pro photographer is just a person with a very expensive camera and a couple of lenses. Well, for sure that’s needed to do the job but this is just one of the essentials. Buying an expensive set of paints and brushes doesn’t make you an artist and an amazing painter. Those are just tools. To use them properly you need talent, knowledge, and experience. It seems like the most misunderstood concept is the element of experience. It should not be measured by how many years you were holding a camera but, by how efficiently you did it. The key is to check the consistency and quality of the pictures. A photographer is always as good as his last session. It’s always good to search for progress – as in every profession, photographers should want to develop themselves. I think that every open-minded photographer is trying to evolve their own style and get better each time.
Always keep in mind that a professional photographer knows very well the general outline of the wedding. Of course, with every wedding an exact timeline is required, but in terms of pictures, you should be able to rely on your photographer’s help. Experience allows us to catch crucial and important moments while ensuring we do not to miss a shot. And when it comes to group photos, to know where and when to set everyone is where you photographer is essential. It’s not the favorite part of the day for many, but the truth is that everyone expects it to happen so it’s better to get through this part as smoothly as possible.
– It’s your story – how would you like to have it told –
I think that no matter what the style is, every wedding photographer should tell a story with pictures. Journalistic style with many candid photographs – this is what I prefer, and tend to do. In my opinion, it reflects better what was going on during the entire day. Catching the moments no one ever noticed were being photographed. After 10, 30 or even more years following your wedding, you should remind yourself of those moments. Moments that you have spent with your closest family and friends. Maybe it’ll remind you what you felt at that time or what you were thinking about. From pictures where everyone was forced to look at the camera and smile, the only thing you will remember is a cheesy photographer who yelled at everyone and how mad you were at that time by be constantly interrupted. For me, a wedding is a family time where a photographer is only invited to capture family moments. Not to be the belle of the ball, showman or a clown. And that’s what professionalism means to me.
– Quality First, not Quantity –
You shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the number of pictures delivered by a photographer. More doesn’t always mean better. There should be a variety of different frames and moments. Otherwise, it’s just a production of useless duplicates in order to get as many pictures as possible. It’s easy to take thousands of pictures, but there’s not much point when every couple of pictures presents almost exactly the same thing. It’s a photographer’s job to select only the most valuable photos for you. Photographs that help to tell your story and bring something new to it, not to make you feel that you’ve already seen the same one before. And I think it’s easier and much more pleasant to go through 500 hundred interesting pictures than 1000 if every second picture is almost the same as the previous one. Wedding photography should not look like a production line in a factory.
– Prints and packaging –
As a photographer, I cannot imagine providing only digital files with photographs for a couple after a wedding. It’s of course really great that in a digital era there’s a possibility to deliver hundreds of pictures on a small SD card or USB drive. However, for me, it is nothing more than a half product. My job is finished only when I print pictures and when I know the best quality of prints is preserved. This is what every professional photographer should do. We know that digital pictures look differently on different screens. Cell phones, laptops, tablets etc, every device will have a screen with different resolution, depth of colours and quality in general. I always want others to see the final product in the way I made it look. To reach that quality I edit all pictures using a calibrated screen devoted for photographers and graphic designers. Once this part is finished photos are sent to a professional printing laboratory. Only then I can be sure that the paper for prints has the highest quality and prints look the same as on computer screen in terms of colours. Printing in a drug store or some small printing shops is just a heresy. The difference is like between day and night.
The other thing is that prints give a completely different feeling. It brings back old days when everyone could sit together, talk and look at all photographs by passing them from one to another. I think we show more respect for each other that way, then just watching a slideshow on a screen, on our own. We can pay more attention to the person who sits next to us. It engages us to interact with each other when we need to pass a few prints over a table. We can share emotional moments and thoughts. Besides, everyone can have that special isolated moment while holding and looking at that one picture by themselves. Especially nowadays, when everyone tends to swipe through as many pictures as possible every minute, looking at everything for less than a second.
– So which one is the one –
Anyway, if you finally decide to hire a pro photographer, the question is how to find one and be sure that this is a photographer you really want?
Basically, the more friends you have, the more recommendations and suggestions you’ll get. And that’s really good, more options means more variety. However, it becomes much more confusing and not helpful at all if every person suggests photographers with completely different styles. So that should give you a good view on how subjective an issue it is. No matter how much someone tells you how good a photographer is, never book one before checking the portfolio. Give yourself a time and check the photographer’s most recent work to be sure you like the style and this is something you would like to receive. Pay attention to consistency and quality because good photos cannot be just a coincidence. Otherwise, you won’t be guaranteed to receive the pictures you wanted from your wedding.
Mike Meller Photography