The true value of professional wedding photography

The true value of professional wedding photography

A few years ago while home visiting my family, an interesting debate arose at the dinner table.  I’m not sure how it started but the conversation turned to Facebook and why it has become such a big deal.  Now I should stay that the love for Facebook is split in my family. There are those that love it and use it often (I’m in that category), there are those that view it as a necessary evil and then there are those that refuse to have an account. Getting back to the conversation. We were debating Facebook’s merits and my father suddenly said “in 5 years Facebook will be just a memory”.  Now my father likes a passionate debate and he certainly got one. I remember clearly dropping my fork and launching into a defense of Facebook as if I had invented it myself. I thought it was a ridiculous statement. I told him he just didn’t get it, he didn’t understand what people from my generation wanted. I even went so far as to make him a bet that it would still be up and running 8 years from now. Well here we are 2 years later and I’m starting to think that my dad as he often is, may be correct. Not that Facebook is going anywhere any time soon but I started thinking about the stake we all have in Facebook.  Think about it.  How many photos do we take with our smart phones and post quickly to our Facebook wall? Facebook states that 300 Million photos are uploaded to their site EVERY DAY! But it brings up an interesting question.  How many photos do you personally have on Facebook and most important where else are you keeping these photos?

Recently I conducted a small survey of brides (married within the last two years) to determine their satisfaction with their wedding photography. The brides lived all over the country and none were clients of Melissa Grace Weddings. They didn’t receive anything for participating, it was strictly voluntary.  I was intrigued by what I read as I looked over the results and comments. 50% would have spent more on their wedding photographer, 10% would have spent less and 40% would have spent the same.  What I found most interesting was that the results were confirmed by New York Magazine when they launched an article in their 2013 Summer issue called “What Brides Would Have Done Differently”.  In that survey the #1 thing that brides said they wished they’d spent more on was photography. You can read more about that here.

It was this comment revealed in my survey that really stopped me in my tracks.

I also would have left more time for bridal party pictures and ensured no other cameras were allowed out while we were doing our pictures cause we had a couple where not everyone was looking. – Nicola C.

It’s definitely something professional photographers struggle with. Our goal for the day is to make our brides and grooms happy by capturing their day so that they can relive it again and again. Your guests also have a goal, they love you, they want to take photos of you and many of them want to get them up on Facebook as fast as they can.  But let’s face it, when you are standing in front of a hundred cameras and everyone is clicking their shutter, it’s hard to figure out which camera to look at.  As the photographer, I’d like to say that your bridal party will know that my camera is the one to look at (especially because I say it).  But, I can assure you that’s not always the case. I should say that Melissa Grace Weddings does have a policy of no other camera allowed during bridal party formals. That includes those being photographed.  That rule comes directly from experience. At one wedding I photographed, the groom wanted to stop every few seconds so that he could hand someone his iPhone, snap a picture and post it to Facebook. This became a bit stressful for everyone involved including the bride.  At another wedding the mother of the groom held an iPad up over her face throughout the entire ceremony. Now I understand she was trying to capture the day. But what that meant for the bride and groom was that we couldn’t capture her joy as she watched her son marry the woman of his dreams. It also meant that photos of the bride and groom with mom and dad in the presence of the moment were non-existent on that day.  I suggest  having your officiant make an announcement at the beginning of the ceremony stating that guest should not come into the aisle or even that they put their cameras away and be present.  I’d think it was crazy if I hadn’t seen it many times with my own eyes, but there are guests that will stand in the middle aisle blocking the professional photographer and other guests from seeing the bride and groom. I recently heard a horror story about a couple’s first kiss that was blocked because a man got right up in front of them and blocked everyone, including the photographer from the shot. Your guests are excited for you and they want to capture some great photos to show you. But as the bride and groom, it’s ok to say “we have hired a professional to capture the day so that you can be truly present with us”.

In the end, I leave you with this. There is no substitute for photographs, professionally composed, edited and printed. While the iPhone shot will look great on the Facebook wall a few minutes after the ceremony, my photos are about so much more. They are the photos you will look at on your 50th wedding anniversary.  Their quality will still be as great as the day I hand-delivered them to you. They will be timeless and years from now your grandchildren’s children may look at them and experience your day.  Years from now…. long after Facebook is (dare I say) just a memory.

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