There is a huge quality difference in what a professional can do, and what an armature will capture. Let's not forget the quality of the camera and all the equipment that the professional uses... because I hope by now you have learned IT DOES matter! The simple fact remains that you gain not only camera knowlage, but a comfort and expertise when you shoot weddings professionally.
To most people, a "professional" is simply someone who has been paid, or compensated for a service. Yikes! I've been paid for a lot of things... I don't consider myself a professional for most of them! (hey... that is not what I was talking about!) I found this listing on a website... and I agree in the theory, perhaps not the numbers - but the theory...
- 1-5 Weddings – Inexperienced
- 6-10 Weddings – Amateur (Qualified as an assistant photographer)
- 10-20 Weddings – Knowledgeable
- 21-30 Weddings – Experienced
- 31+ Weddings – Professional (Qualified as an associate photographer)
Experience separates us, as much as it defines us. You can have the most professional equipment, and a reasonable understanding of photography, or even be a very experienced landscape photographer.. but it simply doesn't mean you have the "right stuff" to handle a wedding. At the same time, I will be the first to tell you - I really don't enjoy, or capture landscapes well. It's just a different animal, so to speak.
I simply can not bring myself to think that I am a good enough writer or teacher to "virtually" give you the experience you will need in this venue, not that I am not awesome... I am. However, I don't think anyone can accomplish this task. It isn't something you learn by reading or studying.. you learn by doing. If you want to do wedding photography, look up some photographers in your area and ask to do an internship with them, once you have done a few they may bring you on for an additional shooter, or assistant.. this is how you gain experience and knowlage. Work with a mentor.
(If a friend asks you to help her out by doing the photography, make it your gift! Hire one! Not in the budget? See if you can work for a discount or trade for a wedding photographer to do it for her! Even if your not qualified to do work for the photographer, if you offer other services many will work in trade! I LOVE trade! Get together with other friends and put together a trade bundle! I had a group do this once and it was AWESOME !! )
If your a bride looking for a photographer - my advice is go all out. Pay for quality images. Cut costs on DIY flowers, make-up... even cake... but spend money on a photographer.
I decided a long time ago, even before shooting weddings that at the end of your wedding day.. your left with 2 things. Memories and Photographs (ok, perhaps three if you did video). Let's face it, 10 years from now your not going to bust out that playlist all the time, your not going to eat the cake that I hope isn't still in your fridge... you wont be tucking yourself into your wedding gown for a night on the town... but if you have a fantastic wedding print hanging above your mantle that captures the love, excitement, hopes and dreams of the future... wont you smile when you see it?