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DIY or Hire a Pro?

Garden Flowers

I’m fortunate to live on a lovely 1.5 acres of rural land in Hermon. The former owners planted a beautiful peony bush and it blooms every year with gorgeous white and slightly pink blooms. This year I decided to cut the blooms off and create some beautiful arrangements for the house and my desk at the Bangor Daily News.

I stopped into Chapel Hill Floral, my local florist, on my way home recently and picked up some spray roses and greenery to accent my DIY arrangements. I could have purchased the same arrangement, but I enjoy doing some floral design on my own.

But there’s always a time and place to DIY it. Your treasured family photos, special event photos, and wedding photos are not a place to be a DIY diva.

But why, you might ask? Uncle Joe just got an amazing new camera and it looks just like the ones a pro uses. He can take the photos for cheap, burn them to a DVD and then we can do whatever with them. And best of all they’ll cost a fraction of what a professional photographer is asking.

This blog post is the first of a series that will focus on the benefits of a professional photographer and how to go from placing focus on cost to placing value on the product.

Why not to DIY: Weddings Let’s step away from the fact that I’m a professional photographer for just a moment. I’m going to talk to you as your friend.

Let’s talk about wedding photography first: Weddings are expensive. That’s kind of a “duh” statement isn’t it? They’re probably the most expensive party you’ll ever throw while you’re alive. And there are lots of components to the party: food, location, flowers, décor, photography, music, attire, entertainment, and more.

So where to place value? It starts with understanding the nature of the beast.

You’re getting married. It’ll be one of the major moments in both your life and in the lives of your family. Often it’s one of the few times all family members are present. And they’ll be happy. The right wedding photographer will ensure that the first chapter of your family history is documented fully and painlessly. When you leave events like this in the hands of well-meaning folks, sometimes bad things happen. Bad lighting, no backups, not being able to adapt to a situation quickly will only hinder your photographer unless you’re prepared.

And sometimes, not being respected by family.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve been the family photographer for longer than I can remember. It’s stressful. It’s time consuming. It prevents you from having a good time with your husband or visiting with family you only see at weddings and funerals and the occasional birthday party. It requires that you take on a tremendous responsibility when it comes to making sure everything is done right.

Here’s the truth: Weddings are stressful. They’re fast moving. And they require an even temper. When you allow your well meaning family or friends to capture the moments, know that you are asking them to essentially step into the line of fire and produce results that will be with you throughout your married life. And what happens if your friend or family member backs down at the last minute? What will happen then?

The biggest reason NOT to DIY your wedding photography: These are YOUR memories and YOUR family. In the same way that you place value in your dress, your food, and your rings, your photos are perhaps one of the only things that remain with you for your entire marriage.

How to wade through the forest of photographers There are myriad photographers to choose from when it comes to your wedding. From $500 all-inclusive packages, to $5,000+ wedding packages, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Again, been there, done that. I remember what it was like when I was planning my own wedding and there were fewer photographer websites than there are now and certainly no facebook.

It’s not all about the cost when it comes to wedding photography. While cost is important, sometimes you can find a way to make a quality wedding photographer work in your budget.

Experience: The best gun in your wedding day arsenal is a wedding photographer you “click” with and who has experience. That includes experience at the venue, experience working with couples, and experience with the wedding day timeline. They should be prepared to handle challenges as they arise having to do with lighting and requirements by the venue.

Bell Imaging & Design has been part of more than 50 weddings/receptions/ceremonies and has travelled all over the state to document Big Days!

DIYers will have varying degrees of experience. Before hiring a family member or friend, ask to see a wide array of photos and ensure they’re prepared for this type of job.

Insurance and backups: Choose a wedding photographer who has insurance, including liability. A photographer who is insured is serious about their business.

Bell Imaging & Design is fully insured and is a member of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI).

DIYers will likely not have the proper amount of insurance necessary to protect you, the venue, or your guests. They may not have the appropriate types of back-up equipment necessary to ensure that if something goes wrong your images will be safe.

Inclusives/products: Your wedding photographer should offer more than just prints. They should offer albums, unique products, canvas wraps, and other items you feel are important. Ask to see samples before hiring a pro. Don’t just assume that you’ll make your own album. I’ve been married for 10 years this year and I still haven’t gotten around to making my own wedding album.

Bell Imaging & Design offers a variety of products including prints, canvas prints, albums, ornaments, and cards.

DIYers may not be able to offer you these types of options which means extra time and energy placed on your shoulders.

Digital images: Many photographers offer digital images as part of the wedding photography package. Most wedding photographers will not sign away copyright. You will likely receive a reprint license that details how you can use the images. A good photographer will not release images that have not been edited.

Bell Imaging & Design offers digital images as part of the wedding package. It’s important to me that you have a digital record in addition to a print record of your Big Day. The digital images come with a reprint license allowing for PERSONAL use only.

DIYers will likely offer a whole disk of all images, but they will not take the time to edit the images to make them look their best. Think about if you REALLY have the time and experience to make the images look their best.

Networked pros: Quality wedding photographers are well connected and can offer quality referrals for couples to help them with vendor choices. A well-connected photographer is a benefit to their couple.

Bell Imaging & Design is a member of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, the Paul Bunyan Chapter of BNI, Tuesday Forum, and is a preferred vendor at the Lucerne Inn, Atlantic Oakes, and the Sea Dog Brewing Company in Bangor. Debra Bell delights in helping couples choose quality vendors for their Big Day.

DIYERS may not have access or experience with the different vendors helping make your Big Day a delight.

So think long and hard. If you have concerns about price, talk with your photographer about your needs and find out what their recommendation is. Understand that pros have experience and there’s likely a reason why their price may be higher than another photographer.

And always remember that it’s important to look at the big picture when considering wedding photography. Don’t go on price alone. Go on ultimate value.