Wedding Photography–Professionals vs Part-timers
A wedding photographer skillfully backpedals as her clients walk down the aisle for the 1st time as a couple at the Edwards Mansion in Redlands, CA
Spend enough time online and I’m sure you’ll notice the number of wedding and portrait photographers has increased exponentially because of the affordability of digital SLRs, the relatively-easy learning curve of photoshop and ease of setting up a website.
What this has done is enable some photography enthusiasts or hobbyists to make a some extra income shooting weddings on their weekends.
In our current economy, this is not a bad thing.
Not surprisingly many so-called professional wedding photographers are complaining that they can’t compete against the wanna-be’s who are charging $500 and giving all the digital files or negatives away as well.
The truth is, this is a business. The more successful photographers aren’t necessarily the best photographers.
It’s after all a perceived value.
I’ve been teaching Digital Wedding Photography through UC Riverside’s Extension program.
Most of my students are exploring this career very seriously.
My students are very motivated. Hey, they have to put up with me jabbering away for 4 consecutive Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm!
Since we’re nearing the end of our 4-session Saturday class, I’ll be concluding this class with some observations about which kind of wedding photographer to be:
- the fulltime professional or
- the occasional weekend shooter
Or worse, they short-change themselves by not educating themselves of their rights as an artist. Some of you might be thinking that it’s easy for me to criticize how a little one photographer charges. I’m not in the same shoes. My wife works, so I have that luxury.
What is important is that you shouldn’t sell yourself short. For instance, if you legally sign your rights away, you have no one else to blame but yourself.
One of my clients, a large educational institution, tried to get all the photography vendors to sign a work-for hire document last year.
I approached each and everyone one of my competitors on that list and discussed this. We all stood our ground. Needless to say, the educational institution scrapped those plans when we all said we weren’t going to agree to those terms.
I was one of those artists not too long ago. My photography instructor never once mentioned what my rights as an artist is.
Now that I’m mentoring others, I never let my students go out in their own photographic journey without touching on this subject.
There will always be a segment of professional wedding and portrait photographers who complain. These are the ones who don’t make a commitment to continuing education in their craft.
Many made the transition to digital grudgingly. If they didn’t see how much digital was saving their bottom-line, they’d still be shooting film. Not surprisingly many are also not very computer literate.
The successful wedding photographers of this generation should expect to be able to
- create multimedia slideshows with music which they pay a licensing fee to use,
- dabble with some video and audio
- understand how to create online proof galleries for their clients quickly
- learn how to use the web and social networking websites to promote themselves
Not knowing those skills means they will have to trust and pay a webmaster or someone else to do so on your behalf.