Why You Should Not Hire A Professional Wedding Photographer?

Why You Should Not Hire A Professional Wedding Photographer?

We've all heard that hiring a professional wedding photographer can save you a lot of headaches. But I've also heard professional photographers dog on the photos normal wedding guests take at a wedding. This latest photography meme might take it a little too far. Not only is it a stretch to infer that both these images were taking using the same cameras and tools, but I'm not completely sure that the image on the left is a great photo to make an argument for hiring a professional. What do you think?

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Nathan Hamler's picture

Took me a while to realize YOU were the one who circled/underlined certain elements....i was confused for a bit...anyway, yes the one on the left is a poor example, all it's showing is that the person knows how to use off camera lighting (clearly they're not the same lighting, as the "example" would have you believe)...the image on the left could be a lot better if they waited like 2 seconds later till the couple turned more, and then cropped to eliminate the "dead space" at the top...

on another note...i'd be PISSED if i was the "friend...with a great camera" who's image got compared to the pro's in a fairly negative way...

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

It was the "friend with a great camera" who asked for the comparison...

I like how you assume that if they waited a moment the couple would have turned toward the photographer for a perfect shot. L O L.

ennuipoet's picture

Yeah, no, the photo on the left is one of those "technically correct" photos where the lighting, exposure and white balance are all great, but the photo itself isn't. Technical prowess is essential, but showcasing your artistic vision is just as vital. I think this instance fails in that goal.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with this whole argument. The way I see the only major problem with the image on the left is the moment captured. The depth, colors and to some extent the framing is pretty good while the only thing missing is the correct moment where you can see either bride or groom's face in the shot. There are too many things wrong in the photo on the left technically but the moment. Then again, that's just the told part of the story... event photography is what you can call is mostly about candid shots and capturing moments. To make sure you get most out of the moments, most of photographers shoot a lot of shots, what we see here is a photo of missed moment. What we don't know if the photographer had captured right moment within next few seconds of the dance.

I'm not a professional photographer, but I like to shoot lot of wild-life and just like events, it's about shooting the right moment. I shoot continuously and many times end up with hundreds of shots of same subject (birds flying, taking off or running animals). But in those hundred shots, I often find those 4-5 great moments. I would still give this wedding photographer a benefit of doubt, cause unless this guy understands the importance of capturing the moment I doubt he survived the business as "professional" wedding photographer. Just showing one case of "friend... with a great camera" isn't enough to invalidate the importance of pro wedding photographers.

Tomas Ramoska's picture

Both images crap lol...

Dylan Mayer's picture

i would like to see the meta data and really compare the two.... im really not wowed by either one to be honest. i would've skipped the image on the left cause i cant see their faces....

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

Meta data. Do you want more than that because I wasn't sure if you were looking for timing or exposure...

President_Putin's picture

sorry but its not same equipment, 85mm will always look different from 35mm.

Glenn Pearson's picture

You really are missing the point. Thats ok though. Looking at your posting history, you obviously spend more time online posting worthless replies than you do taking photos....

Dale Richards's picture

The dead space I agree with, but who cares about the guests faces! You can see their expression through body language. The bride and groom are the key figures you want to draw out. Last thing you want is the brides attractive sister taking the lime light.

There is dead space in both images. I would have cropped into a portrait orientation. I would have also reduced the saturation of the purple dress and the pink blanket from the background.

I am not trying to say I am 'Mr-know-it-all' but I know how to compose a photograph and I would not call the 'professional' image well composed. Here are 2 links to images in 'similar' situations (I use that word loosely) that are much more 'professional' standard: http://500px.com/photo/3746333 / http://500px.com/photo/2226459

My $0.02 on the debate.


Jacob Martin's picture

The smaller circle & 'faces?' go together pointing to the fact that you cannot see the faces of the couple.

perceptionalreality's picture

So, you've never seen a couple dancing so close that you really can't see their faces? This is a great shot, showing great emotion. I've seen Kara's work (I'm in a group where she first shared this comparison), and I know she has better than this, but this is nothing to be ashamed of. I would absolutely show this to the bride.

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

As the person who put this together I just want to clear up a few things.

First, I didn't "dog" on a normal wedding guest's photo and I would never do that. How mean would that be? This was actually shot by my assistant (not second shooter). We had an extra camera and I told her to have at it while I didn't need her. She actually should have MORE knowledge of photography and camera function that your average guest.

So, yes, same camera. Yes, same editing programs.

Same lighting I will give you. We decided to add it because she had the equipment to trigger the OCF but decided that she liked the look better without it. So, same lighting stayed because we were in the same room with the same lighting equipment thus had the same lighting advantages/disadvantages.

Finally, the actual image itself. I actually agree that is not the best first dance photo - we have much better ones. However, we were trying to match moments as closely as we could which means both "photographers" would have to click at the same time. As this was not set up finding pictures so close together limited our options.

I literally have hundreds of examples like these from assistants who just grabbed a camera, to interns I am training, to my brother-in-laws borrowing a camera. Professionals, obviously, cull through their pictures pretty heavily to get rid of the bad photos they snapped and anyone can stumble into a stunningly, beautiful photo. But, that wasn't the point.

Rebecca Britt's picture

Honey, don't worry about other people say about your photography or your memes, or anything else you do for that matter. You made your point and that's great. Hopefully potential wedding clients see this and think twice about using 'Uncle Bob' or a friend with a good camera. Patrick was just being funny, and I thought it was funny. Sometimes we have to learn to laugh at ourselves. I know I do all of the time. Keep doing what you do. :)

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

Thanks Rebecca. I have actually found it kind of fun... as lame as that might sound, to hear all the different thoughts and such. It was actually a request post that I never thought anyone would care about. lol Goodness, this wasn't suppose to be a big deal. :S

I have been following a lot of it but really everyone has a right to their opinion and my previous post was just wanted to clarify a few things so it I was perhaps a little less the crazy photographer pick on the mother-of-the-bride's snap shot or what not. I mean I am significantly insane but that is an entirely different issue. ;)

Matthew Wagg's picture

Regardless of what anyone else says in here. I agree with you. The left photo is simple, elegant and beautiful. The right, a snapshot. Keep up the good work and at least you'll know there's someone else in this big wide world that agrees with you :)

Anthony Riordan's picture

I agree with Rebecca. I've made a meme like this for a few friends who wanted to see what I do differently to anybody else with a camera. I'm only starting out but even the few years experience I have was evident in comparison. It's a cool idea and you should feel proud of your work. I would never post my work on this site, for every genuine piece of feedback there will be three or four people complaining that you didn't use the rule of thirds correctly

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

lol. Every thing you put on the internet as four negative for each positive. It is because all the cool kids are out water skiing instead of combing the internet for things to complain about. I, am obviously, not one of the cool kids. ;)

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

We, Illuminated Moments, where the picture orginated put a blog post together this evening to clarify some things.


Nick Schlax's picture

You've gotta love how the internet turns things like this into a big deal :) Even though the example shot that you used is clearly not your best work, it serves to make your point effectively. Not sure why everyone has to nitpick and analyze these things to death.

You do really beautiful work, and seem like a great person, and I can only hope that you at least got some good publicity through all of this.

Kara Bayles Laws's picture

I just finished telling my husband that i have no idea why this is such a big deal. haha! This isn't the first one of these to come out. But, I just keep Googling it to see where it is now... it is other languages today. Goodness.

Thank you by the way. :)

Alexander Cornes's picture

Capturing the moment? Yeah sure, theres a moment in there and it's been captured. It's a wedding photographers job to capture things well though. You'll probably get there eventually kid, I was the same years ago, we all were.

But anyone telling you thats a good image, moment, whatever is full of shit and in years to come you'll agree. Thats a decent lens, open wide, fauxtography at best. Nothing more. I need to charge more money clearly.

Glenn Pearson's picture

Just looked at your bio. You are all about you. Talk about an ego... You obviously missed the point on this one and failed to see what she was trying to show. And obviously couldn't see past your own ego and read the posts to clarify things. She is a great photographer, no this shot isn't great, which she said it wasn't. It was all about timing and comparing. I feel bad for you. Obviously the only person that you really love is yourself. Now go back to being an assistant... :)

Tam Nguyen's picture

But you guys, the image on the left is so much better with the silky bokeh! Wide open or GTFO!

All jokes aside though, the image on the left has a lot better lighting, no distraction (thanks to the bokeh), and the WB is on point.

Then again wedding photos are repetitive; it really takes the creativity away from any photographer, which is why I've never done it, and I won't do it. I've shot a quinceanera once and it took me less than an hour to PP the images. Just fix a few good ones, sync the adjustments in Lightroom, and you're done. Hell, some photogs don't even do the PP.

That said, I do respect those who shoot weddings and events. It's a hell lot more stressful than any other types of photography, I think.

Robin Andersson's picture

well i had a few weddings this summer.. first time and every time ill try something new. Its the approach thats makes us good or bad .... a few of my weddings is @ http://picrobin.se/tagged/wedding

Nicholas's picture

I agree with the comparison to the extent that it makes it's point with these two images. The moment was caught by the professional rather than the moment being non existent in the hands of the friend they risked hiring. Now, technically, anyone on the web can cast stones and (though in many cases a professional photographer with a DELETE button, really shouldn't ) judge the "professional" image. But any husband and wife would cherish such a photo over the other on the strength of the moment itself. I'm certain many of us can share a capture we didn't think exceeded our artistic ambitions but which the bride was in tears of gratitude that we caught. I'm grateful for this ad.

Robin Andersson's picture

i guess i think that the guest is taking pictures, in that case the coupel gets "amature" photos and pro shoots from the wedding/church etc... then they can choose wich they like...

Matthew Wagg's picture

I like the moment between the couple in the left photo. So you can't see their faces, so what. It's our job as photographers to tell a story, not to just compose 'perfect' images. The left photo shows that moment of tenderness between the couple that would have been impossible to stage. So its not 'perfect', so what. It's a he'll of a lot better than 90% of wedding photos I see every day. The photographer should be commended for capturing the emotion.

Mason Lyman's picture

So i would suggest you all read Kara Bayles Laws's post below before going to far into your thoughts on this. SHE IS THE person who posted this.
She mentions that she was trying to find two shots taken at near same TIME, to help demonstrate her point of two people catch the SAME moment. She has other photos that are better then one used in this example.

Kara was the Photographer at my wedding and the results are AMAZING!
This is a Candid shot just before the Flower Toss

Karo Holmberg's picture

Obviously Patrick Hall is one of the guys who likes documentary "newspaper"-style photos and dislikes photos which come up with a feeling. Yes, there is dead space which could have been cropped out to make an panoramic photo.

But the prophoto passes on the feeling what the wedding couple has as the amateur photo does not. That is the reason to hire a professional, not just one with a "expensive camera" (which really is not that expensive).

For me photographing is all about transferring the feeling from the event to the one who is looking at the pictures later.

And btw. The left photo has been taken using flash (flash to upleft as you can see from the photo). That is something that "normal people with expensive camera" doesn't know or understand how to use - professionals usually do. So the lighning at the room is identical, the skills to use the camera are not :)

Both pictures are shit, left one composition and timing, right one exposure.

Mike Thacker's picture

I agree Patrick, this comparison makes a case for "get in close" and "use a large f/stop" more than it does amateur vs. professional

Posts like this are embarrassing to the wedding photography industry. You don't see Vera Wang posting anything like this- because amateur dress makers are not her competition.

John Schafer's picture

Wow yea- not much of a difference. Many so-called pros have become nothing more than point-n-shooters.

Daniel Yu Suzuki's picture

You don't hire a wedding photographer because he has a great camera and lens. You hire them for taking high quality photos more consistently than anyone else. The "friend" may take one good, or maybe one great photo. But in a wedding you need 300-800 great photos.

Also, the on the right is underexposed, has waaayy more dead space and has many distracting objects. Oh and the guests look completely bored, the groom looks bored, and the brides expression cannot be seen. It's a snapshot, and a bad one at that.

President_Putin's picture

nobody needs 800 great photos trust me.

Joop van Roy's picture

"Hours and hours of experience!" nice.

On a serious note, a picture with a black border is not a ' meme'. a meme is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture." A term coined by Richard Dawkins.

Christopher Hoffmann's picture

It seems to me that a lot of people are missing the point. The point was to show the basic comparison between an amateur and a professional with similar set-ups. Basically, the exposure, wb, motion blur, and w/b. To that extent, these photos capture a striking difference That is all... Thanks for the insight Kara!!!

UGH... discus is horrible

jniz22's picture

So maybe a bit OT, but similarly, as a "semi pro" photographer, meaning i've had various paying jobs and have been published across a few different mediums, I was recently asked by an acquaintance photographer to photograph a few events with him for his website.... When i asked what the pay would be like... he got upset and told me it was "all about having fun with friends". I'm flattered, promise... but does any one else find this equally absurd and maybe even a bit clandestine? BTW Kara... no matter what peoples take on all of this is... its all exposure. Could even get a few gigs out of it?? :P

Briand Liong's picture

bad article!

perceptionalreality's picture

So, Patrick, having "dogged" on her skills, and now that you've heard from Kara herself, are you not going to follow up on this? Not even a comment along the lines of, "Oh, yeah, I guess that makes more sense"???

Patrick Hall's picture

Ah, I actually did respond to her personally already...yeah I was wrong about the cameras. It's crazy to think that someone with a Canon DSLR could take such a bad photograph...I guess her point does hold some weight. I've never seen such a difference in photographs from a photography team that I assumed, wrongly, that these images weren't from the same camera. Obviously the lighting is different and the vertical image hasn't really been edited that much but I was wrong. It has started some great conversation though

HustlaDaRabbit's picture

They're both shitty photos.

Glenn Pearson's picture

And this was a worthless post... :)

Glenn Pearson's picture

I for one love the comparison. Its obvious what point Kara is trying to make and I think she did a great job. She herself admitted that the images wasn't the best, but that wasn't what she was going for. She was trying to get 2 images as close to the same time as possible shot by a pro and the other by.. well not a pro. The one on the left is much clearer and nicer to look at as far as image quality, WB and contrast go. The one on the right is nothing but a quick snapshot.

Brian Shaw's picture

I was going to make a blog about this.  I saw a friend post this on facebook and used it to promote his GF's photography (which i honestly think isn't anything to shout about).  I took a long look at this and noticed that the so called photographer's shot is actually worse than the friend's photography...only difference i noticed was the flash which look off camera...apart from this, there was nothing in the composition, the faces were tucked, so much negative space, even a simple rule of thirds composition would improve this but wasn't used (i would have asked the crowd to even cheer for the newlyweds to make the bokeh people look interesting). The funnt things is the photographer bothered to cut off the legs of the couple but left the boring wall in the background...there just too much to mention and nitpick at it might cook my egg.  With the shot i'm assuming that the photog also used a crappy lens 
(or a DSLR with bad iso performance) , I think a good fast lens can do a better shot with this than an off camera flash though that's the style depending on the shooter.  Not a good example if you asked me

Some PS, LR...

George Martinez's picture

Very poor comparison.

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