In my line of work, I receive quite a number of emails that go like this:
"I hope you can help us. We got married in [insert month/year here] and our photos are really bad. They’re [insert flaw here – blurry/dark/etc]. How much does it cost for you to fix them so that we have some memories of our day?"
Often these emails go on to say:
"We’ve been trying to contact the photographer but s/he won’t return our calls."
Very often I can’t help these poor people, and my heart bleeds for them.
So I’m putting out a general plea to all photographers, everywhere. For the love of God, don’t start shooting weddings until you’re completely sure you DON’T SUCK.
Second shooting, sure. But as the main shooter? That’s incredibly weighty responsibility. Two people’s happiness literally rests in your hands. If you can’t, as a bare minimum, hit focus most of the time, and competently clean-process the images afterwards, you’re NOT READY. Keep finding opportunities to practice and learn and improve until you are.
Too often on photography forums I see this issue descend into the "They get what they pay for" debate. Statements such as "People shouldn’t choose the cheapest photographer if they don’t want crap photos", or the old "Pay peanuts, get monkeys".
This boils my blood. I have no patience for victim bashing.
This is about the responsibility of a photographer offering a service. If I get food poisoning eating at fast food outlet, nobody except a moron would say it’s my fault for not eating at a more expensive restaurant. The food industry has certain standards to which even the cheapest establishments must adhere by law. Such laws do not exist for photography, but the standards should. End of story.
If you have a question about this article, please feel free to post it in Ask Damien.