Having a friend photograph your wedding can seem like a great way to save some cash, but all too often it ends in disaster. The link I’m about to post to is self-explanatory, and I applaud the honesty of the writer for being prepared to share the horrors of enlisting the help of a friend or family member to photograph her wedding. A wedding is, of course, one of the most important landmarks in our existence and most people would agree that it’s important to preserve the memories of the day. Unfortunately amateur and hobbyist photographers are rarely experienced enough to cope with the technical, creative and logistical challenges of wedding photography. The result is tears all round and in some instances, lawsuits. Many brides will spend considerable time and effort, not to mention expense, on the decorations, the outfits, the cars, and the entertainment. Yet all too often they’ll believe that there’s no need to enlist professional help when it comes to the photographs. When the food has been eaten and the flowers have died, the photographs are all that’s left. But all it takes is a decent camera, right? Hardly. A professional photographer will have invested many years and many thousands of pounds in building and investing in their experience of lighting, posing, composition, processing and retouching, and product design. They are used to the flow and stresses of the wedding day, and they can produce consistent photographs within a specified timescale. They are insured and often hold professional photographic distinctions, and they are able to show their customers examples of their work. Wedding photography seems costly – a good wedding photographer supplying a quality hand made album will need to charge the client at least £2,000 in order to cover their overheads, the cost of the album, and the many hours (usually upwards of 40) they invest in each customer. Their profit margin is quite low yet they continue to work as a photographer because the job has genuine meaning to them. A friend or student cannot possibly compete with that. And to be fair, your friends should have the pleasure of enjoying your wedding as a guest, rather than bearing the stress and strain of several hours rushing back and forth with a heavy camera in their hand, followed by days of toil in front of their computer.
I’ve never photographed a wedding as the sole photographer. Despite being technically competent, and despite having won many awards for my portrait photography, I have a very real understanding of just how challenging it can be to produce really good wedding images. If I were ever to photograph a wedding on my own I would shoot my first few weddings on a no-expectation basis, for no fee, in order to build up my portfolio. I would also aim to restrict this to weddings where the couple could not afford to pay a professional, so there is less pressure to perform and deliver. Many wedding photographers start out this way, and the majority have already undergone significant training in their field or else, like me, they are already established and successful within another genre of social photography. Friends and family, no matter how well meaning, often believe they can match the output of a trained photographer, and brides often believe that a fancy camera will take care of everything.
With no further ado, here is the article I’m referring to: A Cautionary Tale