In the day and age of no entry barriers to go into business as a wedding photographer, and various levels of skill and experience, it raises the question; what makes a pro? Besides the obvious such as a signature style, experience, polish. and overall resources; The short answer is how he or she performs when things don’t go right. One should know, if they have any experience with wedding photography, or weddings in general, that there are always curve balls. Some minor, others major. A wedding photographer with some seasoning is more likely to perform under pressure when things go awry, than a novice.
What goes wrong?
- Equipment and other technical malfunctions- A responsible pro has backup equipment, charged batteries, spare memory cards, etc. Also making sure gear is in good working condition before the big day. Sooner or later, snafus will happen, perhaps during critical moments. Being organized and efficient helps work through the event without a hiccup, or with minimal hiccups. Swapping out gear and troubleshooting can be done at an appropriate time. I have had a good track record with few equipment related failures, though sooner or later, it will happen. I had a shutter break on my old Canon. flash power packs or cables failing, a flash hit the floor, and a shutter button on my second Fuji body stick. Yeah, it sucks, but I was able to quickly swap out and get back to work. The couple just wants the job done, and would expect a professional to work through whatever comes.
- Meltdowns, delays, timeline changes, etc. I’ve seen that too. Remaining adaptable and not going into an event with a specific dogma is critical. Weddings are built on emotion. The service provider must stay level headed and not crack under pressure. The way I see it: I’m there to tell a story regardless of who freaks out, is late, or decided not to show up / participate. We can’t fret what we can’t control. We can however keep moving and be ready for what is next. This is where following the event is more important to me that obsessing over a timeline.
What makes a pro? Adapting and reacting appropriately, efficiency, organization, and preparedness. Hip image and gift of gab alone don’t do it. Smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor. The key is not seeing in the photos that anything went wrong at all.