One of the age-old problems with being a professional photographer, whether its wedding photography or another branch of the industry, is the so-called "Weekend Warrior" - the keen amateur who has a real job during the week and likes to earn some extra money by shooting at weekends.
When you're looking for a photographer for your wedding you need to be aware that these people exist and make an informed decision about the person you decide to book.
I'm not going to say that amateurs shouldn't shoot real jobs for real money if they want to. Personally, I'm comfortable enough in my own abilities as a photographer to not see the part-timers as a threat to my business. If budgets are tight, or you know someone who is keen to have a go at shooting your wedding, and photography is not a high priority for you, then a part-timer or amateur is a good compromise.
However, if photography is high up on your list of priorities for your wedding day (and hopefully you're reading this because it is!) then you should make sure that you hire someone who does it for a living.
A full time professional photographer has to be good at it or the bills don't get paid.
So, how can you filter out the person who owns a nice camera from the real professionals?
- Do they use a written booking form/contract? Its important to get an agreement in writing in case anything goes wrong.
- Are they insured? Both Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance are an absolute must these days.
- Do they have backup equipment in case of failures on the day?
- Do they have colleagues they can call on to take over the photography in case of last minute emergencies?
- Do they have reliable transport?
- Do they answer emails/telephone calls promptly, even during the working week?
- Are they available to meet up in person during the working week?
- Are they registered for income tax or do they ask for "cash-in-hand"?
And lastly, does what they offer seem too good to be true?
It costs money to run any business, and photography in particular is an expensive business to be in. If someone is offering to photograph your entire wedding day for a couple of hundred pounds then there is no way that person is making a full-time living as a photographer. Its just not financially possible.