Friend or Pro?

This is an article from the blog of Boho Weddings in the UK. Written by Kelly Hood who is an award winning wedding planner. She summerizes nicly some things you should think about when deciding on your wedding photographer.

Today I want to talk to you about photography and the importance of hiring a professional wedding photographer, opposed to letting a friend with a good camera do it, leaving it to your guests or hiring a non-wedding photographer.
Yes I know I talk a lot about photography on the blog but I really do feel it is a part of the wedding that is really important to get right!
As a planner and a blogger I have heard a number of horror stories about wedding photography. People being let down with the results that a non-professional has produced. Couples choosing to let ‘a friend’ do it, or ‘I know someone with a good camera’, or ‘we’re just going to let our guests take the photos’. This is all well and good and you may feel that you will be saving money by doing this, but in the long run I can guarantee you will be disappointed. Your photos are the only lasting memory you will have of the day, and if they don’t turn out as you want, then your memories will be ruined.

Many people when they first start planning their wedding and researching prices may think that a photographer comes with a hefty price tag; ‘they only do one day’s work a week’ or ‘their job is simple’,  well think again. A Photographer will meet with you for an initial consultation, they will then have email or skype contact with you before the wedding, they will listen to your plans and answer your questions, in some cases acting as an unpaid wedding planner. Then on the day of the wedding they will be with you for 6-12 hours. After this they will edit your wedding, going through the thousands of images they took and cutting it down to 500 (ish) images for you to look though. All these images will be edited individually, this can take anything from 2 days to a week. After this they will design your wedding album, another day or two worth of work. Not only is there the time there is the cost of running their photography business. Most photographers will shoot with 2 cameras each costing thousands, as well as a back-up camera in case anything goes wrong. They will carry a multitude of lenses each costing hundreds of dollars, some thousands, flash guns, video lights, spare batteries, memory cards amongst a whole host of other technical kit. They will pay for insurance, some have studio hire, and then there is their transport and hotel fees for those weddings further from home. All in all wedding photography isn’t cheap because it isn’t a cheap business to set up, run or maintain.

I asked a Photographer friend of mine why they think hiring a professional is a good idea…..

1) Good photography is more than a fancy camera. I have spent literally a thousand hours training to be a photographer and another thousand or so photographing weddings. I know how to get the shot predictably every time. I know how to compose the shot beautifully and then execute it with skill and precision. It isn’t the camera that does this – it is me. As I shoot in manual – I tell the camera what it should be doing rather than allowing the camera’s sensors to make the decisions for me. So if you want that beautiful photograph of you and your new husband or wife gorgeously backlit by a red sunset – you can only get that with a pro because the camera just cannot correctly read that light.

2) I know how the day flows. It is the experience of being at 100s of different weddings that allows me to know just where to look and when. I know the time in the wedding when I can sneak a shot of your dad looking at you with a tear in his eye. I know to expect that moment just after the vicar asks for objections and know the church will break into nervous laughter and the bride will pull a priceless face. These are the things you can only get with experience.

3) I know how to work in tricky lighting. I am not flapped by bright sunlight or cave dark ceremony rooms. I can walk into any room and know within seconds where the best spot is to stand and where the best light will be. Every time. Without fail.

4) I am experienced in dealing with the raw emotions of a wedding day. I know how to get mum to stop repeating the time every 10 minutes whilst the bride breaks out into a cold sweat because she might be 3 minutes late for the wedding. I know how to deal with the usher who had a few too many before the ceremony even started. I can get a big group of people rounded up for photos – cheerfully, cooperatively and without yelling. I know how to advise you on lacing that dress that looked so easy to lace in the shop but now looks like a 50000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I know how to get you calmed down when the flowers show up and they are the wrong colour. This takes years of experience and finding out what to say (and what not to say!) during a day when everyone’s emotions are sky high.


And if that isn’t enough here are some more reasons……..

  • A non-professional won’t carry back up gear with them, a professional will. This means that if anything goes wrong with one camera then they will always have another one with them. It also means that they will know what to do if a memory card corrupts or if the battery runs out they will always have a spare one.
  • Your guests won’t always know how to light a dark venue such as a tipi or a barn. Going from a dark venue to a light venue requires you to monitor the light constantly and react by changing iso, aperture and shutter speed
  • What if your friend is ill on the day? Will they have someone they can call in an emergency? A professional will have a network of photographers and 2nd shooters they can call upon in an emergency.
  • A friend or guest won’t have insurance, what if something goes wrong and they cause an accident?
  • Hiring a professional photographer who doesn’t have experience of weddings can also be a bad move. These people won’t know the general running of a wedding day, what happens when and where they need to be for the best shots. Yes they may photograph landscapes beautifully but do they have experience of moving from group shots to close up shots of flowers all in the same breath?
  • If you get a friend or your guests to take the photos are they really going to be committed to the whole day? Guests will get drunk and a friend with a good camera may not realise the full impact of a wedding. Professionals can start any time from 10am-11am and some don’t finish till 10pm-11pm. Do you really think your friend will keep going for this time, chances are important shots will be lost as your friend gets bored and wanders off to enjoy themselves.

Thought this was a great blog post that could help many people when planning their wedding. Something to think about!