Got camera, will hire: Pro wedding photogs facing competition from amateurs

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Professional photographers are seeing their jobs being threatened by an unlikely source: digital cameras. It may seem ironic, but because cameras have become so easy to use and prices have fallen, amateur photographers are now able to attain employment in an industry that used to require professional training, according to The New York Times. Focusing on the wedding photography sector, The Times reports that amateurs – the unemployed and underemployed, in particular – are booking gigs shooting weddings, thanks to access to equipment that were once unattainable due to costs and the technical know-how required.

One such amateur photographer The Times spoke to is Chad Redling, who was already working part-time as a wedding photographer. But since being laid off from his job as a computer programmer, he is now considering going into the wedding photography profession full-time. Michelle Naca, a publisher of a wedding website and guide in upstate New York, told The Times, “The technology has gotten awesome, and they’re easy to use, so a lot of people are picking up a camera these days and thinking, ‘I can do this.’”

Amateurs are undercutting the pros by $1,000; unlike wedding photography veterans, these newly minted shooters don’t have overheads like studio space rentals and additional equipment, according to the story.

Another reason why amateur photographers are being hired – besides the lower fees – is because quality has taken a backseat. Brides and grooms are now more willing to accept photos that are “good enough.” Veteran photographers, who also make extra money by producing wedding albums, are finding that people no longer want those products, just a disc of photos. Some photographers have to lower their prices to compete. But they also argue that wedding photography staples like portraitures can only be done well by a professional.

While the pros are feeling the pinch from amateurs, some have found ways to compete successfully. One veteran wedding photographer, Daryn Backal, told the Times he moved his business to Florida for the longer wedding season and cut out overhead like studio space. Although he had to lower his fees, he was able to recoup some of his losses by making changes to his business operations.

And, while hiring an amateur photographer to lower wedding costs might seem appealing during planning, New York Magazine recently published some wedding statistics that found 21 percent of brides wished they had spent more on wedding photography. Sometimes you still need the pros to do things right.

(Image via Andrei Contiu / Shutterstock)

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