The first question I was asked yesterday at the open house for NWA wedding venue Osage House was, “what is unique about a luxury wedding photographer?” I was so thankful for the question because there are a lot of photographers claiming to be luxury wedding photographers all of a sudden. When you hear “luxury” anything, it usually means there is a big bump in price. While that is often the case, price isn’t a determining factor for luxury vs. non-luxe. There are so many factors a photographer weighs when deciding their packages and prices, like studio rent, which have nothing to do with the level of luxury. So, I thought I would share the 5 Qualities of a Luxury Wedding Photographer.
5 Qualities of a Luxury Wedding Photographer
1. “No Curve Balls”
I take pride in my ability to read people, relationships, and situations. One of my best and most used skills on a wedding day is capturing real, raw (and beautiful) emotions from brides, grooms, parents, bridesmaids, and even flower girls. Most likely, this is an ability I have as an empath, feeling what others feel. That feeling hasn’t numbed over the years of shooting weddings; actually, it’s gotten stronger and more fine-tuned. Capturing sweet moments is my favorite part of the wedding, and it allows me to avoid the cheesy prompts I’ve heard many photographers use to invoke inauthentic images. Also, because we only photograph 12 weddings each year, it allows us the attention to detail when immersing ourselves into the beautiful dynamics of our couples’ families.
The OTHER type of experience:
A luxury wedding photographer should be comfortable shooting in any venue, and in any lighting scenario. I call this the “no curve ball” experience. I’ve photographed weddings at airports, weddings in casinos, weddings out in the middle of the field, in private homes, etc. Venues don’t phase me. In fact, they inspire me.
Weather is another element a luxury wedding photographer should feel comfortable shooting in. The last thing a bride wants to worry about on her wedding day is rain or snow. We have photographed 500 weddings in all kinds of weather conditions. Most wedding photographers can produce beautiful wedding images on a perfect day, at the perfect venue, with the perfect couple. Doing so with less than perfect conditions is the true testament brides and grooms should consider when booking a wedding photographer.
2. Finest Products using Finest Materials
Luxury Wedding Photographer – the products
This category is two-fold. Luxury wedding photographers must have the best wedding gear (with appropriate backups). There is no excuse for a photographer to shoot a wedding with missing or broken equipment. However, our tools are as important as the products we offer.
Delivering quality digital files or negatives to a couple is paramount. But equally important are the products we give our clients. Mass production typically doesn’t equal luxury, especially when it comes to photography. Our products are unique. We just announced our commercial-quality printing on handmade paper. It’s a beautiful product worthy of being framed in your home. Our albums are archival, with the inks and papers rated for 180+ years. That’s a true family heirloom.
Could you imagine investing in a Louis Vuitton purse and then the strap breaking after six months? Of course not. Luxury wedding products should not only be around for a generation but be timeless.
3. Technical Perfection
I think this should go without saying, but luxury wedding photographers are experts at their craft. There are three main aspects of a technically sound photograph: composition, lighting, and exposure. A true craftsman understands how to use each to his or her advantage. There are times to blur out backgrounds, and other times to increase the depth of field to include more in the field of focus. Also, knowing how over-exposing or under-exposing can change the mood of an image. And most definitely, how composition tools like angle can make a subject look flattering, or unflattering. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to imagery while preserving authenticity. It’s a delicate balance.
Do you ever cringe when someone says something embarrassing? Or worse, has anyone ever said anything to you that made you hurt, be embarrassed, or get angry? Basic people skills aren’t a given, especially with artists. The vendors a couple hires are a reflection of the couple themselves. Unfortunately, an obnoxious vendor looks poorly upon the couple and their families. That’s why we pay close attention to how we dress (yeah, we’ve also heard the stories of a wedding photographer wearing jeans to a formal ceremony), and have strong communication skills. You can have peace of mind knowing your photographer will have your family and friends raving about how great we were. (yes, we’re fun, too… but most importantly, we are respectful!)
5. Workflow + Business Optimization
Benfield Photography isn’t a wedding mill. We aren’t cranking out 30, 40, or 50 weddings a year. We used to, don’t get me wrong, but I would say that back then, I was not a luxury wedding photographer. Now, we are very selective on our weddings, vowing only to take 12 weddings a year. That allows us to stay inspired and focused on each of our couples. While I perfected my workflow over the past 10+ years, my current couples still benefit from same-day sneak peeks, and wedding galleries returned the same week of the wedding. Tyler has more to say on this topic, but I’ll wrap it up by saying when you hire Benfield Photography to photograph your wedding, you have peace of mind knowing ALL your images are safe and will be returned to you within a week.
I can’t believe I have to say this last part, but being a luxury wedding photographer means that we are a legitimate business. Many “well-known” local photographers don’t have the proper licenses and insurance even to conduct business. This is just one more thing you can have peace of mind about when choosing a luxury wedding photographer.
Did this help? I could clearly go on and on about the benefits of hiring a luxury wedding photographer because it’s so true that you get what you pay for. It’s true that quality matters. My heart breaks when I hear horror stories from couples after their wedding day about their photographer or the images they get back, even from well-known photographers. Nobody thinks it’ll happen to them, until it happens to them.
Talk to you soon,