The Jack of All Trades is a Master of None in Wedding Photography and Videography.
It's been a while since I went on a rant, so I'm due. Not so much a rant as something to keep in mind when looking for Wedding Vendors.
We've been hearing from brides and grooms and seeing online in advertising and social media this idea that you should hire a company that does both Photo and Video for your wedding instead of hiring a Photographer and a Videographer separately. On the surface it sounds like a good idea, until we dig a little deeper.
First, I want to say that I cannot deny the fact that most of the time, this will be a less expensive option. There's reasons for that and not all of them good for the consumer, but it will save you money, that's for sure.
Let's talk about photography for a moment. What skills does a good Wedding Photographer need to know in order to be effective at their chosen profession?
- Basic Camera Skills (ISO, Shutter, Aperture, Focussing, Composition, Lens Choice, etc)
- Lighting (how to detect good light, create it when not present and enhance it when it's just not enough)
- Posing (how to make people look their best determined by body shape, mood, clothing, scene, etc)
- People Skills (It's almost impossible to take a great photo of someone who doesn't like you and won't listen or cooperate, this is crucial and where most photographers fail IMHO)
- Architecture (Wedding Photographers are expected to make venues and rooms and tables look amazing)
- Food Photography (Wedding Photographers are expected to make any food at a wedding look like it came out of a magazine)
- Commercial Photography (Rings, shoes, dresses hanging, all the details that make up a wedding are products that must be photographed perfectly to properly tell the story of the day)
- Portrait Photography (Wedding Photographers are expected to produce group and individual portraits of family, bridal party, etc throughout the day)
- Model and Fashion Photography (Modern Weddings are a bit of a mix of traditional and forward thinking styles. A great wedding photographer has an eye for fashion and modelling and can create amazing portraits that stand the test of time, but also fit in with current trends)
- Direction and Communication (A Wedding Photographer has to be able to communicate effectively, as they might have 20, 30 or more people to photograph in a very short period of time, and they have to toe the line of directing vs being bossy. See #4)
- Editing (This is a whole other ball of wax, but it's important that as a Photographer they at least understand that half of their perceived style comes from their editing of the photos, not just the photos themselves. This is why I can't understand people who send their files to India to be edited)
While not an exhaustive list, it does give you some food for thought as to just how many skills a Wedding Photographer needs to have to be effective at their job. Kinda makes you look at your guests with Cell Phones with more suspicion, right? This is why experience is so important. You don't master all of those skills in one wedding, or ten weddings, or even a hundred weddings. It takes years.
If it takes years to accumulate the skills needed to do "just" photography for a wedding... how long does it take to master both photography and videography? Well, it can be done, as there is a lot of crossover, and similarity, but... they are not one in the same as far as skill set.
I often joke that I can only master one medium in a lifetime, and I haven't quite done it yet.
This is really about companies that have both photo and video options. It's not always true, but most who offer more than one thing are "Jack of All Trade" type companies who package things together and offer it at a substantial discount versus buying each individually. The sad truth, and this is not ALWAYS true, but it is in most cases is that:
You are getting less than the best photography, less than the best videography, and less than the best (insert other vendor service here) when you buy in bulk like this. Why? Well, it's just pure business and marketing really. They are trying to lure you with the promise of "Get it all under one Roof" and "It's so simple, just buy it all from us", and "Save money by packaging things together".
Then you have to think about who works for a company like this.... generally speaking, you're getting newer people to the craft, who are there to gain experience, or, people who can't or won't make a living doing it on their own. In other words, you're getting laborers and workers, not artists.
Artists have far too much ego, we need our name in big letters on everything. Just scroll to the top of the page. See?
Why is hiring the Artist better? Well... they have more at stake. In most cases, it's their livelihood, not just a summer or college job. It's literally how they feed their family and keep a roof over their head. Most of the true artists are in the business because they love it, not because they see it as a way to get rich. Also, it's about how serious they are about it. My name is on the door, so to speak, so to me, it's super important. But if I was some college kid getting $10 an hour, I might not care as much to do the most amazing job ever, just enough to keep my job and not get fired.
So... the whole reason to hire an "all in one" is to have vendors who work well together. Erm, well, here's the truth there too. I know a few videographers that I work with all the time, they have their own businesses and do great work and work amazingly well with us. I also know some "all in one" companies that hire people on a temporary basis for this wedding or that wedding as needed. They may never have even met and work for the same company. So.... hiring from an all in one has much less of a guarantee than simply asking your vendors for vendor recommendations.
And that's the gist of all of this....
Ask questions. If you find a Photographer you trust and adore, ask them who they recommend. I know I'll tell you. Why? If I'm working with vendors that I trust... I know your day will be that much better.