Oh man. There is literally so much I can say about this.
First of all… I don’t HAVE to judge on price alone. Looking at many, many photographers’ websites for bees when I have been trying to help them find someone has taught me that there is a VERY DISTINCT AND REAL quality difference between a higher priced professional and someone starting out that is charging much less. The work of the amateur photographer is visibly much worse every single time.
You may just have to take my word for that, at least to a certain extent, because you may not be able to recognize the difference in quality in quite the same way as I can, since, being a photographer, I know exactly what to look for. Of course, the differences are often evident to someone who doesn’t know anything about photography too. They may not quite be able to put their finger on what it is that’s different, but they can tell too. There is something lacking from an inexperienced photog’s work, and often, many things. If they were delivering results like a top notch pro, they’d be charging prices like one, guaranteed. So that’s another big reason why price is a huge tip off. Because it’s impossible to make a living charging less than starting market value for professional photographers.
Second, and this is really the most important part. I HAVE BEEN THERE. I know what the quality of work was like that I did as a photographer that was starting out, and it was frankly embarassing compared to what I can do now. I was that Craigslist photog, I was that starting out photog, I was that inexperienced photog.
And…. I did not know what the heck I was doing.
That bears repeating. I probably had no business shooting weddings. I messed up. I got things wrong. And this was after having been a talented, successful portrait photographer first. There is SO MUCH learning that has to go on before someone can be a good wedding photographer. Technical skills, different equipment, posing, how to capture candid moments well, how to handle unexpected situations, terrible lighting, etc, etc, etc.
SO NO. Someone who is inexperienced CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT go out and produce professional quality results. Most of the time an inexperienced amateur photographer is going to suck. The best you can hope for is getting “ok” or “passable” results, and even that is not guaranteed. Please understand…. I say this not because I’m an evil pro who is scared that the amazing amateur photographers are going to take all my business! That is laughable, because, as I said, they all really do suck… and brides who want professional quality results are always going to hire a pro. Someone that is going to hire me is not going to be considering just having an amateur do it instead and run the risk of terrible results.
So why do I say it? Why do I tell brides to hire an experienced pro? There are so many reasons it would take me ages to list them… but the bottom line is, BECAUSE I have been there so recently and I know all the ways that I screwed up in the beginning. If a bride really cares about her photos, she NEEDS to hire someone that has the experience and expertise to capture them WELL. And that is not and WILL NEVER BE an inexperienced amateur. Regardless of what anyone says.
I’m about protecting the BRIDES who want quality photos. I’m not on this board dispensing advice because it benefits ME in some way… it doesn’t. And, I’m also not about the “poor aspiring photographers that just need someone to take a chance on them.” I was that photographer and believe me I have not forgotten what it was like. I have not forgotten what it feels like to feel absolutely horrible when I was starting out and I screwed something up and delivered subpar results. Believe me… I don’t wish those results on anyone, and hiring the inexperienced photog is just about guaranteeing that that is what you will get.