The discussion of whether you should hire a professional wedding photographer or you should just ask a family member or friend to take the photos at your wedding, is something that I see a lot on facebook wedding groups and other wedding forums, and more recently in some news articles, and it’s something that I feel very passionately about.
The reasons against asking a friend or family member over a professional wedding photographer are simple, so I want to chat through each one of them here and debunk the seemingly valid reasons not to hire a professional wedding photographer to capture your day.
10 reasons to hire a Professional Wedding Photographer over a friend or family member
1. Instant results
Most professional wedding photographers take anywhere between 3 and 10 weeks during peak times to deliver your photos. I have an editing queue where my couples can check at any point, where their wedding is in line.
I can completely understand the attraction to thinking that if your friend or family member doesn’t do this for a living they will be able to immediately start editing your photos and you will have your photos much sooner if not straight away.
But, you can only have instant results if they don’t edit or select the best photos for you, in which case you will have to do it yourself.
And If they do offer to do it for you, they most likely have full-time jobs and other commitments and responsibilities that will slow them down. They will also not be used to wading through hundreds if not thousands of photos and taking out the ones of you with your eyes closed or where you or your husband are blurry, or where you pull an unflattering face that you wouldn’t want anyone to see, to produce a coherent and consistently beautiful set that covers all parts of your day.
With all of this, 2-6 weeks go by in a flash to the point where you might even start wondering if you will ever see your photos at all.
As opposed to this, when you hire a professional wedding photographer, this is their only job. That’s it. We might also be designing albums, editing engagement shoots, or meeting current and future clients, but on the whole, editing weddings is pretty much what we do for a very very large chunk of our time.
When I come home from a wedding, I immediately back up all of your photos to three different locations. Will your friend do this, to be sure that even if his computer fails, your photos are safe?
During the following days I select the unique and best shots from your wedding, discarding the blinkers, blurries and funny-not-funny faces. I spend a lot of time, making sure that your group shots are complete and perfect. I edit each photograph to have a consistent look and feel in a quality that works both for online and for print.
And I double and triple save my work ALL. THE. TIME.
And I, just like my other professional wedding photgrapher colleagues, do this for every wedding client.
You might think that you’ll feel more awkward in front of the camera if you hire a professional wedding photographer (check out my posing guide if you think you might have difficulties with this), and that you might feel more comfortable with somebody you’ve known for a long time.
I make a big effort before the wedding to meet and chat with my couples and I also offer engagement shoots, which gets us used to working together, let’s us get to know each other, gets you used to being in front of the camera and let’s not forget, gives you a lovely set of photos as a couple to enjoy, share, print and frame.
As opposed to this, your friend or family member might struggle in the heat of the moment to find the right settings, take ages to set their camera up correctly, not have the ideal equipment for weddings and so miss the confetti moments or be chatting to Aunt Mavis whilst you are cutting your cake.
Familiarity shouldn’t be a deciding factor over appropriate skills, especially when most professional wedding photographers will go out of their way to make you feel at ease.
This kind of goes together with cost, in the sense that if your friend or family member was going to your wedding anyway it would be convenient and cheaper for them to photograph it as well.
I have photographed some of my friends’ weddings and doing a good job meant that I had little time to chat to Uncle Tom or sip some champagne or chomp down many canapés because I was busy capturing group shots, or the shots of the couple laughing with Uncle Tom, or photos of their guests enjoying the day. It’s what you hire a professional wedding photographer for.
If you ask your friend or family member to shoot your day, be aware that they will not participate in your day as fully if they are to do a good job on your photos, and if they are going to enjoy it with you, then your photos will likely suffer.
It’s like running a marathon while you’re trying to cook a 3 course meal. It’s very difficult do both at the same time.
4. They know how to make you smile.
Ok, I can see why you might think that, but I promise, you will be smiling all day. You will be happy! It’s your wedding day. You won’t need anybody to MAKE you smile. And you will be beautiful.
Please don’t worry about that.
Secondly, even if you’re nervous or emotional at times, your professional wedding photographer will capture you in a way that you look stunning, perhaps vulnerable or emotional, but definitely flattering anyway.
Your friend, who isn’t used to capturing people in these moments, might not find the optimal position in the room to frame you in the best way. They might under or overestimate the light, so your photo doesn’t come out right. Or they might not have the best lens on for the shot. Or they might frame it in a way that doesn’t quite capture that emotion on your face, or they might miss the moment altogether because they are not used to looking out for it or can’t get their camera settings right quickly enough.
5. It costs too much to hire a professional wedding photographer
One of my brides spent over 30% of her wedding budget on me and her wedding photography. That’s a lot.
She told me that for her, the most important thing was that her family and friends had a blast and that she ended up with the best photos she could afford to look back on in the years to come. She wanted to hire a professional wedding photographer so that she could rest assured that the moments of her friends and family celebrating would be captured well, so that she could relive them when some of these people wont be around anymore, when she wants to show her future children who had been there on her day and what they had been like, what she herself had been like, how they had cried at the speeches, and sung at full volume along to that one funny song.
What cost do YOU place on capturing memories of the most important day of your life? On the details that you are planning so meticulously? Or on the moments that will whizz by on your day so quickly you might not even notice them? And the people who matter most to you and the ones you would like to tell your children about?
More importantly, what value do you place on the relationship you have with that family member or friend, and how much do you think you will be willing to give to just be able to take this moment back and get the relationship back again after it goes sour because you are disappointed in your wedding photos?
It’s a hard choice.
Asking a friend or family member to capture your wedding photos may seem like a great money-saving idea, but it’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who, most likely, would prefer to celebrate your big day with you.
6. Get everyone involved
It can be a fun experience for everyone to take Polaroid photos at your wedding or snap away on those disposable cameras.
However, most people tend to take selfies and take snaps of their mates, rather than take photos of your dad’s speech.
And as the day goes on and more alcohol is drunk, those photos inevitably go down in quality or the cameras stay forgotten on the tables while everyone is rocking out on the dance floor.
Finally, there are also many registrars and vicars, who don’t allow anyone but a professional wedding photographer to take photos during the ceremony so as not to disrupt the proceedings, so you could end up with a massive gaping holes in the coverage of your day.
My advice? Hire a professional wedding photographer and enjoy the polaroids in a photo booth corner, and then the hilarious photos of your friends and family.
7. Different perspectives
If you are worried about capturing your day from multiple perspectives then choose a second photographer when you hire a professional wedding photographer.
I am part of a network of professional wedding photographers who assist each other when we are not booked on a date.
They can capture moments of your guests having fun while I take your group shots or capture your ceremony from a different part of the room to give you a more complete view.
We have a similar shooting style so your photos will be gorgeous. The combination of our photographs will give you a much richer final set and because I edit all the photos, you won’t notice a difference between the two.
It only adds a little bit to your total price and gives you peace of mind.
OK, this is a biggie!
25 different styles of editing in your wedding album from Uncle Bob’s favourite sepia to your cousin Toby’s super-saturated pictures of beer bottles aren’t anybody’s idea of what your wedding album should ideally look like. Just don’t do this to yourself.
It has taken me a long time to develop the look and feel of my photos and my settings give them a style that although you may not be able to put your finger on it, creates a consistent look and feel to your overall set of photos. Just check out my instagram for a quick snapshot of what I mean.
They will easily sit beside each other in a frame, on a canvas or on the pages of your wedding album not distracting from what happened on your day, but beautifully telling your story.
Here’s an example of a guest’s photo versus mine captured at the same time.
9. They will feel honoured
No doubt they will feel honoured. Especially at first, but then they will realise the magnitude of what you are actually asking them to do and the responsibility they will have to carry for your future happiness.
They might feel incredibly stressed, cancel at the last-minute, or they will try their best, potentially fail monumentally and you will end up resenting each other bitterly for the rest of your lives.
But what if they ask you or suggest it? Can you say no?
Yes, you can, because even if they mean well and think they can handle it, they might not realise just how much is involved and how they are jeopardising not only your wedding photos but also your relationship.
If they do a good job, you’ll think of that person each time you look at your photos and remember them fondly for their help and hard work.
But just imagine if they don’t?
Just because you love their Instagram wall, doesn’t mean they’ll have the necessary skills to capture your wedding photos in a way that you’ll want to hang them on your wall.
This all sounds very negative, and it really isn’t meant to be. I’m not here to tell you about how you should do your wedding planning, what you should spend to hire a professional wedding photographer or to push you to hire me, I just know that it’s one of those decisions that is impossible to make right and can lead to a lot of unhappiness. So why risk it?
If I had to boil it down to one point, it would be this:
If you value your memories, don’t want to worry about your photography on your wedding day, and want to have great photos, then hire the best wedding photographer your money can buy who shoots in the style that you like and who you get on with as a person.
I promise, you will not regret it.