Northumberland Camera Club

Professionals cameras need to be good enough to achieve usable images without flash in very low light. Picture by Ivor Rackham.
Professionals cameras need to be good enough to achieve usable images without flash in very low light. Picture by Ivor Rackham.

A photographer raised his camera to his eye, stepped backwards to take the shot and knocked into someone who fell, banged their head and suffered brain damage.

The example above actually happened. Although being insured for £1million public liability, it was not enough to cover the claim.

Some photographers rush at the opportunity to photograph a wedding, without considering whether they are covered. Insurance is costly.

Then there are additional buildings, vehicle and equipment insurance; private home and car insurance probably won’t cover you for commercial use.

When employing a photographer, you are buying into some of their costs. They pay for ICO and other registration fees, advertising costs, web space, National Insurance and pension contributions, plus endless running expenses.

A photo shoot may take a week’s work to process and edit so you are paying for that time too.

Then there are the years of experience and training to both take and develop high-quality images. Plus, they need to feed their families.

You are also accessing the fortune invested in at least two sets of professional-grade equipment.

Two sets? Imagine the photographer’s camera failing at an event – a friend’s DSLR lost its mirror half-way through a wedding service – or receiving blurry images because the lens was too slow and the camera’s low-light performance was not good enough.

Going through the trauma of getting a photographer’s fees refunded at a small claims court does not bring back a wedding day.

Many disappointed couples learn a hard lesson getting what they paid for. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

Digitally fixing another photographer’s failed images is something many professionals, including me, have been asked to do.

A realistic fee is just one indicator of quality.

A photographer’s gallery might demonstrate that their photos are good enough, but these galleries showcase only their best shots.

They are not a true reflection of an overall standard. Furthermore, hundreds of photographers get caught and their reputations ruined after stealing others’ images from the internet. Beware.

Membership of a trade body may be a measure of quality, but some fantastic photographers shun these establishments.

The photographer can decide if he wants to work for you too. I am lucky, all my clients have been great. I do know photographers who have turned commissions away because the clients’ expectations were unrealistic, or simply because they just could not get on.

The best way of deciding whether to employ a photographer is getting first-hand experience of them at work. Any photographer worth their salt will take you on a pre-event photo shoot. You will also discover if this is someone you want at your wedding or party and whether their photographic style is to your taste.

Do look at the photographer’s style.

Do you like it? Consider whether it will still look good years from now. Modern fashions in editing will become dated.

I predict that the current vogue of imitating phone apps in wedding albums will look as trendy as mullet hair-dos and platform shoes in a few years.

Oh, and check they are insured.