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The Professional Wedding Photography Difference
by Neil Van Niekerk

Weddings are expensive and complex events, and it often seems tempting to a couple to accept the services of a friend or family member in order to save money and time.  However, there are several very clear benefits to having a professional wedding photographer. With a combination of experience, artistic approach, and choice of equipment, the professional wedding photographer’s work will stand out.


The very best reason to hire professional photographers is their experience in dealing with all the possibilities of the wedding day.  Even though a non-professional who photographs weddings may be quite a capable photographer, the experienced professional wedding photographer has the ability to deliver work of a higher standard in a wide variety of situations.

Although brides and grooms spend months planning their weddings, in the end, a wedding will always be an uncontrolled and spontaneous event.  Timelines frequently change on the spur of the moment.  This is where an experienced photographer can improvise and adapt.  Experience gives the professional photographer knowledge of the flow and timing of a wedding day, and allows them to capture images that highlight the most important moments throughout the day—the emotions, the laughter, and the spontaneity.

A wedding is also the time when family members from afar meet each other again.  The portraits, whether formal or candid, become a timeless keepsake of friendships and relationships.  Quite often, however, the time allotted for the portraits becomes compressed when things run slower than intended.  An experienced wedding photographer will be able to create these important family photographs, even under pressure and working within unexpected time constraints. 

Finally, a professional photographer also knows to look for and react to key moments, especially the subtle ones that others might miss.  For example, one of the key moments that I always look for during Catholic ceremonies is during Mass when the bride and groom sit next to each other during the ceremony.  This is the first time that attention is not directly on them and inevitably the newly wed couple will lean closer and whisper to each other.  As an experienced photographer, I expect this moment and am prepared to photograph it when it happens. 

Artistic Approach

Modern wedding photography may veer more towards a story-telling or photo-journalistic approach, but it is still equally important to photograph the family groups and help portray the relationships within the families.  An experienced photographer knows this and can fluently mingle approaches to give the bride the best possible images.

The portrait session is another time where the professional photographer's approach gives a very specific signature to the wedding photographs.  Through the portraits a photographer can help lend a sense of drama or playfulness to the photographs of the newlyweds.

In this way, wedding photography becomes collaboration between the couple and the photographer.  The couple’s choice of photographer also becomes an artistic choice.  The client chooses how they want to be portrayed on their wedding day. 


The professional wedding photographer’s cameras and lenses also make a big difference.  At a fundamental level, a professional wedding photographer will have extensive experience with the equipment he uses; he will have backup equipment in case of failure or damage.; he will most likely have professional quality gear that is more likely to withstand extremes of temperature or humidity; he will most likely have access to a wider variety of lenses, lights, and accessories than the non-professional will. 

This translates into a stronger stylistic expression on the part of the experienced professional.  Being able to pick from a variety of lenses, lighting accessories, and so forth to obtain a specific look or feel to the photographs, becomes a choice for the photographer.  The experienced photographer is then not limited by his equipment. 

By the very nature of the work, professional wedding photographers love working with people, and tend to be warm and personable.  And coupled with being sensitive to people on a very important day, the bride and groom will often feel as if they are having a friend photograph the wedding.  A very capable friend.

All of this, along with the photographer’s artistic sensibility and vision, will allow the bride and groom and their families to have the best possible photographs of the day. 


Neil van Niekerk is a photographer based in New Jersey, and has photographed weddings and portraits across the United States and internationally. His work can be seen on his website at One Perfect Moment .


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