Hiring A Professional Photographer VS. Your Uncle Bob

First thing’s first – congrats on your engagement! Making the decision to say “yes” to your future spouse was an easy one, but now it’s time to make some tough choices as you now chose the wedding vendors that will bring your dream wedding to life. It has to do with the trust as much as falling in love with their work, which is why choosing a professional {no matter which category they are} is extremely important; especially when it comes to the person capturing all of the important and magical moments of the biggest day of your life. I 100% can understand why it may be tempting to take an offer for a free wedding photographer.

When you hire a professional photographer for your wedding day, the question that you will immediately think is:

“Why is she so expensive for one days worth of work?” 

“I have a friend who can do this for us for free.”

Myriam + Jeremie Wedding

“Her camera pretty much does it for her, what else does she do?”

Today I’m here to talk to you about what all actually goes into wedding photography from the photographers standpoint so you have all the facts before you let you friend shoot your wedding. 

Now; this isn’t coming from the petty part inside of me that is upset you didn’t book with me. Instead it comes from the sad place inside of me where couples get a friend to shoot their wedding and then are devastated when they see the photos and they aren’t great. You only get married once (most of the time) and you want the wedding photos of your dreams to remember the day from. 

Here is why it’s not all that it is cracked up to be.

What your money actually covers:

While it’s normal to question why photography has such a steep price tag, there are actually a bunch of factors built into the cost - all of them are meant to benefit you! Perhaps the more obvious reasons a photographer charges for the value of their knowledge and skill, as well as the cost of their professional grade equipment and programs that help them capture your day in the first place. A canon rebel doesn’t count as professional equipment and most non-professional people have one and consider it a professional piece of equipment. A canon rebel is a crop sensor camera and doesn’t have the dimensions or the quality and resolution to get the extremely high resolution photos that a full frame professional grade camera does. It’s not all about the camera but also how you use it.  The collection prices also includes the cost of services like insurance for their gear and even liability insurance should something happen to you or them during your shoot/wedding day.

Booking a free friend photographer can leave you vulnerable and open if something bad were to happen, whether it is the gear getting stolen or broken before your wedding day or if something happens to the photographer themselves and they aren’t able to show up on your wedding day. Being a professional is more than talent, it’s being prepared and accountable no matter the situation.

There are no do-overs:

When it comes to a wedding day, there are no re-dos allowed. There’s no re-doing a first look, a first kiss, or first dance. If your photographer doesn’t have experience photographing weddings specifically, they are more likely to become flustered by the quick timeline that becomes delayed due to problems arising, crowd of people and be unaware of where they need to be to get the perfect shot or forget all about a specific image that you wanted from your big day.

Being a nature photographer or even a family photographer doesn’t mean you are at the place where a wedding photographer is due to the unique and fast-paced world of wedding photography. There is nothing wrong about people wanting to gain experience but being the sole person in charge of photographing the most important and special moment of your life is not the time or place, and is not a good idea, as nice is it is that your college roommate or uncle Bob has offered to do it for free for you.

Wedding industry connections and skills:

Being in the wedding industry as a professional has opened up so many doors for me and taught me a lot as well as forged some great connections with other vendors. The nice thing about me as a professional doing your wedding, I have other vendors that I have personally worked with that I can recommend and actually know how their product or service is like. {I have a whole blog post about vendors I have worked with! Check it out here!} I also have many skills that come in handy on the big day. For example I work in a bridal shop in the winter time and that has taught me how to secure a veil properly, how to bustle a train, how to tie a corset back right enough that you won’t constantly be pulling your dress up all night, as well as I know how to re-pin a curl in your hair if your hair comes lose. I also know how to fix a bouquet if something happens to it, as well as the whole timeline for your wedding day. You spend the most time with your photographer that day, it helps to have them be super organized as well as be skilled to keep your day in track.  

Payment & A ContRact Seals the Deal:

Anytime money changes hands, it becomes absolutely more serious. Seeing as it is a major event such as your wedding day, each service hired should be taken very seriously! With no money involved, your free photographer isn’t necessarily held to the same standard and level as a professional photographer. Whether that be a certain level of work or even that you receive your images in a timely manner, or ever! With a professional photographer you are making a payment in exchange of services and the photographer is contractually obligated to perform and deliver or face consequences.

Cristin + Mitch Wedding

In order for someone to hold up their end of the deal, there was a deal made that needs to be held up. Otherwise, who can determine if your free photographer has to deliver your images in the next 6-8 weeks (which is my timeline), this year or even ever! Your payment goes beyond setting expectations and adds another sense of legitimacy to the deal that was made. A professional photographer will also have you sign a contract that lays out what is expected from you and from them, so there is no confusion. When a contract is signed, the professional is contracted and obligated to perform the services while a friend who is doing this for free may not take it as seriously and chose not to show up.

Getting what you pay for:

When you think about your wedding day, you focus initially on where it takes place, who attends, and what’s for dinner. However, once the rentals are returned, the cake is eaten and the dress is put away for safe keeping, all you will have left is your new spouse and your photos to relive your wedding day. You want to cherish your photos for years to come, not get a bad feeling in your stomach when you remember what’s missing and what could have been.

Wedding photography is a job that encompasses so many unique skills. Not only are they aware of exactly what needs photographing and what needs documenting at your wedding, but they have abilities to turn whats in the camera into art after the fact using a variety of post-production processes. A photo can be perfect in camera, but still need some work out of camera to create images that are something that you will want to show off on the walls of your home. Another thing that professional photographers have that amatures don’t is lots of exprience with posing as well as setting up the perfect shot. I have done multiple posing courses to get my knowledge and skills up to par with other professionals, and professionals are always working on upping their skills and knowledge and you can’t put a price tag on that.

Just like with any other service, invest in a wedding photographer you trust, not only to nail every moment but to be prepared, responsible, and professional. Because I guarantee to you that it will be worth it.

Here’s a little food for thought:

would you trust your brother’s friend to fix your engine if he isn’t a mechanic, but has a nice tool set?

What about letting your childhood friend perform minor surgery if they went to school for marketing, but they want to contribute to your healing process?

probably not.

So don’t do it for your wedding photography either.