Wedding Photos: Why Cousin Danny Is Not Good Enough

We get it.

You have a camera on your phone, your tablet and your laptop. And they do what they need to do — your little nephew Joey’s adorable moment with the thing at the place with the other cute kid is memorialized.

But this is your wedding.

So, here’s the thing. All those perfectly picked and carefully arranged and heavily funded cakes and suits and flowers and dresses and candles and place cards only last for the day. It’s a terrible truth, but all of this perfectly constructed, gorgeous day ends as half eaten, wilted, stained and wrinkled memories when the band stops playing.

Except for your photos.

Two years later, no one pulls out a dried centerpiece, or a half melted candle. And you didn’t even really like the cake. But your photos will be on your desk at the office, go out in your thank you cards, sit on your nightstand, and come out every anniversary. Your parents will have copies. Your grandchildren will ask to see them. They are the laughter and tears and moments of your wedding. They are the remains of the day.

It’s difficult to appreciate the importance of selecting the right Long Island wedding photographer because it is the only pre-wedding task that doesn’t manifest itself until after the wedding. But if you make a mistake, you can never recover. And if you get it right, you will never regret it. There’s no way to know mid-wedding if you chose the right photographer, so there is no way to course correct (the band, you know these things — four Barry Manilow songs in — you know). So here are some tips:

Find a professional photographer. We know that Uncle Frank’s son Danny has taken three — no four — classes at the community center on Photos and Friends. But professional photographers attend art school for four years. They study under experienced professionals. And most will have had multiple clients by the time you meet them, working across a number of challenging situations. Has Danny shot a wedding in a rainstorm? Touched up photos where the bride had red eyes? Photographed a ceremony in a 19th century church lit only via stained glass and candles? Where the wedding party had 36 people? There are truly great amateur photographers. But hobbyists have room for error, they’re not trained to spot and correct a poor shot in the moment, nor are they likely to know what they can correct in the studio. Professionals know when they have the shot. They are always accountable for delivery; not self-amusement.

Ask hard questions. If you don’t use Danny, that doesn’t mean you should go easy on the professionals that you meet. Ask about their background and experience. What is the mix of their portfolio – fashion, weddings, nature (trees don’t get drunk and vomit on bridesmaids)? Have they photographed at your venue before? If you’re not having a Western ceremony, ask if they have ever photographed a non-Western wedding before. And ask what questions they have for you. A big smile and “None, actually.” is a terrible answer. They should want to know if the ceremony is indoors or outdoors. Do you want a lot of traditional shots or a bit more whimsical? Do you want black & white or color? Bride preparation or only ceremony and reception? “None” is a terrible answer.

Wedding Photo Collage

Get an artist, not just a technician. With a professional, you can not only get great quality photos, but you should also get the personality of photos that reflect your wedding, and more importantly, who you are. Wedding photos have moved so far past a stock set of bride and groom, bride’s family, groom’s family, wedding party. If you’re having a country style wedding you should be able to have nontraditional photos that bring in aspects of the barn, or farm, or ranch. A shot in cowboy boots, or at the back of the wagon. We don’t know. But guess who will? A professional photographer is trained to see you, who you are and the landscape (literally and figuratively) around you, and build a story about your day. A hobbyist is, at best, a technician. A professional photographer is an artist. Leverage that talent. It won’t stain, wrinkle or wilt.

After all, it’s your wedding.

Learn the basics of hiring a wedding photographer

Read: Getting To Know Your Wedding Photographer