So…. I have wanted to write this blog post for a while now, but I keep chickening out – which, if you know me, is kinda weird! I am not afraid of controversial topics, I actually enjoy debate, and I am not bothered in the slightest if someone disagrees with me on something. I am entirely capable of disagreeing with someone but still liking them, which isn’t very common these days! But THIS post made me nervous…and I don’t think it’s a very controversial topic. My main concern is that it may make people feel bad – and I honestly NEVER do that on purpose. If I express an opinion and it makes someone feel bad, that’s maybe unfortunate, but I don’t express my opinions IN ORDER TO make someone feel bad. That’s never my intention. But with blog posts (or Facebook posts, Tweets, etc.) there are some extra concerns.
The main issue with blog posts is that they are text. Words on the screen aren’t very good at expressing emotion or even a totally clear picture of intent. We tend to read something in a tone we impose on the text (trust me; this WILL have something to do with wedding photography!) If we disagree with something or something irritates us, we tend to read it as though the writer INTENDED to irritate us.
And that is NOT my intention here.
A while ago a list of questions was published. A list of questions for brides to ask potential wedding photographers. Overall, it’s not a horrible list… but it’s not a very good list either. We get asked questions from this list ALL THE TIME. And we don’t mind. At all. Seriously. Your wedding is YOUR wedding. It’s YOUR big day – and it’s YOUR money! You have EVERY right to ask any darn question you want – and if a wedding photographer gets mad that you asked a particular question, that should be a red flag. So, if you have “the list” – feel free to fire away. Ask any question on that list that you want, as well as ANY other questions that you want answered. I can’t imagine a wedding photographer not wanting to answer those questions.
But THAT’S not my point.
One of those questions in particular from that list is problematic. The list suggests that you ask what kind of camera the photographer uses. Now, it’s not top secret information or anything. If you hire us, you are GOING to see the camera – lol I can’t even come up with a hypothetical reason a photographer would try to hide what camera they were using. We don’t mind getting asked this question – but I find myself wondering what you are supposed to do with the information you get from a photographer answering this question. There are several issues with this question:
1. A good photographer can take a good picture with ANY camera. They understand posing, framing, how light works, how different backgrounds will impact the picture, etc. – they can use a cell phone and get some awesome pictures. My wife and I recently took a mini vacation to Las Vegas. While we were there, we went into one of the casinos (I don’t remember which one) that had a rather amazing looking indoor garden. A very nice lady asked my wife to take a picture of her and her son in the garden with her (the lady’s) cell phone. A non-photographer would have likely just taken the cell phone from her and snapped the picture. But my wife, all in the matter of about 30 seconds, slightly moved the location of the picture, had them face a slightly different way (so the sun wasn’t in their face), put them in a flattering pose, framed the image in the cell phone in a better way and shot the image. It was a MUCH better picture than the lady was going to get if she asked anyone who wasn’t a photographer. And my wife simply used the cell phone she was handed….and the knowledge and skill she had gained in her years as a photographer. The camera itself was not the major factor. It was the skill of the photographer.
2. A bad photographer will most likely take a bad picture regardless of what camera they are using. Sure, anyone can get lucky and get a great shot every now and then, but a good camera won’t make a bad photographer into a good one. Ever. Hand a non-photographer the most expensive camera in the world, and you will most likely get a bad, or at best average, picture. There are no restrictions on camera purchases. Any person can purchase any camera they want. Owning a good camera doesn’t make you a good photographer.
3. People tend to know what they know – and they don’t know what they don’t know. When you ask a photographer what camera they use, if you are not a photographer yourself, there is a better than average chance that the answer they give you won’t mean very much. In an attempt to get past this problem, the author of “the list” said your photographer should use a “Cannon or Nikon.” Well, the author’s credibility takes a major hit here – first off, the author misspelled “Canon.” Next, those are not the only professional cameras out there. There are dozens of cameras. Fuji, Sony, Lumix, Olympus, Hassleblad, the list goes on and on. And THEN you have to understand that most (if not all) camera manufacturers make professional, “prosumer,” amateur and “point and shoot” cameras. And there are several different models of each level of cameras. So you can ask this question (seriously, go ahead and ask it, we TRULY don’t mind the question), but there is a decent chance the photographer will give an answer that contains a lot of stuff you don’t understand or care about. Seriously – this stuff is only really interesting to photographers lol! I can admit it!
4. The camera itself is actually (in many ways) LESS important than the lenses the photographer uses…. And while there are dozens and dozens of different variations for a camera, there are HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of different possible lenses. Some lenses differ from others in huge and obvious ways. Other lenses only differ in very slight ways. And the names for these lenses….. the names are even boring to photographers! One of my favorite lenses is the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 for Canon EF Digital SLR Cameras. What a mouthful! But I love this lens! But I can’t imagine a non-photographer being even slightly interested in what all that gobbledegook means! What they DO care about is the images I am able to get with that lens.
And that last thing is kind of the point! The only thing (on the technical end of things) that really matters is this: Does the photographer you are talking to take pictures you like for a price you are willing to pay? If you can answer “yes” to that question, then what gear they are using is, essentially, irrelevant. Yes, there are other things – perhaps the most important thing is: do you even LIKE this person (remember, you will be spending your entire wedding day with them!), but what gear they are using is actually very much secondary. The gear they are using is not really what determines whether or not they take good pictures.
Like I said – we don’t mind getting asked this question. We photographers are actually fairly nerdy people – we LIKE talking about our gear! So if you ask the question, we WILL answer it – and we WILL enjoy doing so…..maybe too much lol! But when I am giving the answer to this question, I usually have a nagging thought in my head along the lines of “I should shut up – this answer is boring them!” So I, when I can control myself, try to keep the answer brief…. And I secretly hope they will look very interested and say “please, tell me more!” …they never do lol! But yes, ask this question if you want – EVERY photographer should be willing to answer this question. But I sincerely don’t think the answer really matters nearly as much as: does the photographer you are talking to take pictures you like for a price you are willing to pay?
Thanks for readin!