Budding Professional Wedding Photographer?

Posted on 23rd, June 2012

What makes a wedding photographer “professional”? Obviously the fact that money changes hands, but it should be so much more. There are basic elements of “being professional” – of professionalism – that ought to be automatic, routine. A client ought to be able to take them for granted.

I was struck by an article posted on Yahoo News about a couple who lost all their wedding pictures after their photographer lost the memory card in a drunken fight after a funeral a week later. I have every sympathy for Jackie and Adam Sanderson and hope that their pictures may yet be found.

Choosing a photographer for your wedding is not simply about someone who has the right eye and a style that suits you. It is also about choosing someone who is going to treat you, your day, your family, your guests and your pictures with respect and who empathises with you in the joy and specialness of the occasion.

In the case of the Sandersons, so many of Ben Fagan’s reported actions were cringeworthy.

According to the article:

After the wedding, Ben slipped his 16 GB memory card from his camera into his wallet, which he then put into his black suit jacket for a friend’s funeral on Friday June 1.

A few questions:

Why only one large memory card? Things can go wrong with digital storage: Tim and I shoot on multiple cards (generally seven or eight 4 or 8 gig cards) at a wedding, ensuring that if something does go down, only a relatively small proportion of your precious photographs is lost. To date no card has failed, but we want to be covered.

This is actually also an advantage of having a second photographer. When your key moments are being covered by two people, you not only have more angles, but more security. And with Nikon D3 camera body involved, with its twin card slots that can back up every shot as it is taken, there is lower risk still of losing anything vital!

Why into your wallet? I keep my used wedding cards with my cameras. Obviously, I look after both my wallet and my camera bag, but I am far less likely to overlook the importance and urgency of the memory card in the camera bag (which I only have with me at a shoot) than in my wallet which I always have with me.

Why still in your wallet a week later? This is incomprehensible to me. Given that digital media are not fool-proof, the top priority immediately after a wedding or any important shoot is back-up of the images. We copy our files onto two separate hard discs as soon as possible after the wedding. When we have time we also make a further copy that the other photographer in the team takes away with him. The images are left on the cards so that, if we find that anything has cuased a glitch in the transfer process, we can still go back to our source files. That way, in the immediate period after your wedding, there are actually at least three if not four copies of your files. Once copied, I try to store the two hard discs separately so that there is the maximum chance of recovery even in the event of fire or break-in.

The same attention to valuing your wedding photos continues afterwards, of course. I deliver edited files to my wedding clients on disc – but retain both the edits and all the originals on my hard drives. To date, I retain all wedding shots taken on a professional basis. If any of my clients should have a disaster with computers or hard discs, I am able to replace their lost wedding pictures.

On top of all that, any photographer worth their salt will have professional indemnity insurance… but more about that another time!

If you wish to read the Yahoo News story, please click here.