You might be thinking to yourself, “So what, what’s the big deal? The DJ is just playing music, any of us can do that.” If that were the case then there would be no need to hire a professional DJ. You see, there are a lot of things that professional DJs can do that average person doesn’t have the training to do. Below are a list of just a few things.
- Ever see a DJ with one headphone to the ear? DJs don’t just do this to look cool. We do this to preview the next song coming up to decide whether or not it will mix in correctly and provide the right amount of energy. And that’s right – I said mix in. Talented DJs don’t just stand there pushing play on a laptop using Spotify or Apple Music. If that were the case, you could do that yourself. It takes experience and talent to be able to mix a whole set and keep people dancing for hours. That is why it is important to find a DJ who can mix and set the right vibe!
- Reading the crowd. You can learn to play poker in one night, but it takes a lifetime to master it. The same applies to DJing. DJing has now become so mainstream with technology that most people can learn how to DJ in a very short amount of time. But it’s the experience behind the wheels of steel that makes you boring or great. While you may think the DJ is staring at people’s dance moves (which is also a possibility lol), he/she is assessing the atmosphere and audience. Assessing the dance floor and knowing where to take the crowd takes years and years of experience. How fast can a DJ think of a tune to revive a dance floor and not lose the energy? The DJ’s ability to read a crowd is one of the biggest differences between an inexperienced, lower in cost DJ (like a family friend who agreed to DJ for $200) or a veteran DJ who can keep you and your guests entertained all night long. You want your guests entertained, right?
- Master of ceremonies (DJs speaking on a microphone). Not knowing how to politely and persuasively change the conversations of your friends and family to direct the attention to your DJ on a microphone can get awkward if the experience is not there! You’ve probably even seen this happen at a wedding before. Announcements are such a huge part of a professional DJ’s job because it allows us to let people know what’s happening. Not every DJ out there goes to mastermind workshops or public speaking classes to make sure your event is the best it can be. Make sure you hire someone with a lot of experience and preferably someone who DJs full-time – not a part-time hobbyist.
Now that you’ve learned just a few things that great DJs do other than simply showing up and “pressing play,” you might be asking what this has to do with photographers. Well, let’s talk about it.
A DJ has more gear, but cameras can be super expensive and can make or break a photo shoot’s quality. So when it comes to gear, the sound quality of the DJ and the visual quality from a photographer’s lens can be pretty even. I’d say it’s a tie on this one. (Even though our setup and breakdown time is a lot longer, but we’ll let that slide.)
A Photographer does most of the work during and after the event editing, and a DJ does most of the work before the event and during the event. Again, pretty much neck to neck here.
Here’s where the biggest difference is: people argue the reason why a photographer costs so much more than a DJ is because of “memories” that photos create, and those memories are far more superior to a DJ just playing music. Well that’s not good enough for me. Let me ask you this – if the DJ is absolutely horrible and you didn’t have a good time at an event, wouldn’t the photos from that event trigger those memories as well? You can see where I’m going with this, in emphasizing an important balance between a quality DJ and a quality photographer. A photographer and DJ should be working hand in hand as a team and are equally as important in this case! The DJ creates the emotion using music as a tool, which then creates the opportunity to catch crying, laughing, and dancing on a lens. Teamwork makes the dream work.
As some photographers are grinding their teeth reading this, get ready to make a dentist appointment because this next topic is my favorite! DJs ARE UNDER WAY MORE PRESSURE TO PERFORM THAN PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE! Don’t believe me? Hand your photographer a mic when it’s time to announce a grand entrance at your wedding. There’s only one chance to get names correct during announcements, only one shot to kill a dance floor and create a fun atmosphere, and one shot to make sure this will be the best night you’ve ever had! There’s no going back for us. So when I say this, I really mean it with conviction, we are in a higher pressure position by far. There’s no editing and no do overs. It’s a live performance and the show must go on!
To conclude, yes I may be a little biased because I’ve been a DJ for 20 years. But it’s time we all stand together and work together as a team. Photographers may have their own opinions about this article and that’s totally reasonable. At the end of the day, as pros, we are trying to provide the best possible outcome for any event and that is my goal. When shopping around for DJs and photographers, please don’t skimp on either as far as pricing goes – go with skill and past experience. We are both very important to your event and could make or break it!