Should I Book a Professional Wedding Photographer or Get a Friend to do it for Free? A Cautionary Tale…

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Photography Credit: James Melia (full wedding)

You’ve probably seen similar discussions to this on other wedding blogs, however today I wanted to share with you this cautionary tale from a bride who had personal experience of taking the cheaper option and was unhappy with the results. Now, I know spending £2000 on a wedding photographer isn’t possible for everyone, however the point of this post is not to bully you into paying for someone you can’t afford. No, I wanted to share this story with you so that you make your decision with your eyes wide open. I just want to be open and honest with you and to let you know that, as with most things in life, you really do get what you pay for…and if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

If wedding photography isn’t that big a deal to you, the great – who am I to tell you that’s wrong? However it breaks my heart when I hear from newlyweds that say ‘I wish we’d thought more about our photography. We spent more on the cake/my dress/the flowers and now we have no good photos to remember our day’.

OK, Over to you Mrs X…

♥  ♥  ♥

I have asked for this post to be anonymous so that people reading this don’t think it’s a shameless marketing ploy. I may now be a professional wedding photographer myself, but I didn’t want to write this article to promote myself. No, I really just wanted to share this cautionary tale with those of you who might not understand the importance of having great wedding photographs.

It’s been a few years since I got married but when I think back to it I get a sick feeling.  It wasn’t the family argument that happened (don’t get me started on that!), nor was it the fact that we funded it with a loan which we are still paying off.  Nope, the sick feeling is purely centred around my foolishness and the pretty terrible images we now have to look back on for the rest of our lives.

Here I am a few years later, now a ‘pro’ photographer myself (who knew that would happen!!) and I now have a new found understanding of the skills required to shoot a wedding. I find myself wishing I knew then what I know now. You may have read articles from photographers before staying how important it is that your wedding photographer has experience, knows how to handle lighting and uses the right equipment etc, and while I am here to reiterate these points, I’m not here to say these things to pimp my own services. I figured this article could be a little cathartic for me and I really hope I can help you think a little bit more about your decision – whether that be to spend money on your wedding photography, or to go for the cheaper option of hiring someone with no experience – maybe a friend with a nice camera who has offered to do it for free. Please note that a ‘nice camera’ does not a good wedding photographer make!

We got married in December and I now appreciate that winter weddings, where you come out of the ceremony to the cold and dark, are bloody hard work and really difficult to photograph.  I understand that romantic candle lit receptions might look gorgeous in ‘real life’ but require a certain level of skill to capture on camera, and above all I now know that all of the money I spent making the venue look beautiful and cosy was pretty much wasted.  OK so our guests will always remember how beautiful the venue looked, but for me the day flew by so fast and I don’t remember much of it myself!  Every time I mention my wedding my Mum says ‘But it looked so beautiful’ and whilst I’m sure that’s not just her being kind (it’s really not her style) it has made me hate my own wedding because I don’t look back at my photos and see a beautiful wedding, I look at them and see horribly dark and blurry photos.

You see, not realising the true impact of what I was doing, I asked my friend to shoot my big day.  He had a DSLR and could take amazing pictures of cars so he must be able to shoot my winter wedding right? Wrong!

It wasn’t his fault really, I should have learnt more, understood a bit about light (or lack of it) and made things easier.  But here’s the worst part, I wasn’t on a £1000 budget, I spent quite a lot more.  I prioritised wrongly.  I spent more on bridesmaids dresses than I did on my photographer, more on pretty decorations than pretty images…simply put, I was a fool!

Don’t get me wrong, I know not everyone has the budget to pay much for their wedding photographer and this is not an article to make you feel bad.  I say use whoever you want – a professional, a friend, whoever…it’s your wedding after all. But I urge you to do your research first and go into it knowing that the results of the cheap option just won’t be the same as someone with experience shooting weddings.

If you aren’t using a professional then you need to take some responsibility and help them out a bit, consider it a creative project.  Here’s the things I wish I had done…

♥ Took them to the ceremony venue at a date and time with similar light (light is so important, I can’t stress that enough) and took sample images to get the right camera settings.

♥ Showed them the way I intended to light the reception and had fun taking practise images with them to get a feel for the correct look.

♥ Checked their kit included at least one low light lens (2.8f or lower…it’s the number that’s important) and if not budgeted to hire them one for the day (try www.lensesforhire.co.uk)

♥ Showed more interest in their work and ensured they had practiced shooting in similar lighting situations – shooting static cars in the middle of the day is nothing like shooting a wedding, with loads going on, when its dark!

♥ Had my wedding earlier in the day…to give them a fighting chance.

♥ Turned the lights up a bit for important things like the first dance and the speeches.

♥ Most controversial of all, perhaps I should have held my wedding when the light was better and not in the winter.

Sadly I only realised how important my wedding pictures were after the big day.  I waited for months for images that I am now too embarrassed to show people!

My parting words are these.  If you can afford a professional wedding photographer then please please please spend as much as you can to get the best! These images mark the start of your family album and they can’t be easily redone.  If you use a non ‘pro’, be sure to put some work in yourself, show an interest and consider the previous tips.  Oh and finally, if your shooter is using a DSLR (and they have enough memory…RAW files average 28MB each) ask them to shoot and provide RAW images as well as JPEG (they can set their camera to do this automatically).  RAW files are much easier to correct in Photoshop afterwards if you do have problems with the images, plus you could always pay someone to edit the RAW files in the future when you have the budget for it. Just remember you’re still not going to get the same results as with photos that were shot by a skilled professional (you can’t polish a turd after all!) but the images may be able to be improved with some clever edits in Photoshop.

My final words of advice are this, please be careful when choosing a friend or family member to shoot your wedding. If they do a bad job it could even ruin your relationship. It kind of did ours, and that makes me even more sad.

If my words don’t convince you then take a look at my wedding photos! If you do recognise me…ssssshhhhh Mum’s the word!

It’s actually hard to put in to words how upsetting it is to look at these but mostly because I know it’s a problem of my own causing!

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349 comments

  1. I always tell my potential customers to look for continuity in work displayed in the galleries of Photographers before deciding on who they wish to employ, but even this is difficult i recently found my own pictures being displayed on another photographers site as his work. Depth, and emotion will always be lacking in the weekend warriors efforts, But as people have already pointed out some couples simply don’t care about the quality of their photo’s and to be honest these are the couples i try to avoid. http://www.karlredshaw.com

  2. Awesome article! It really does hit some great points. I understand your pain. My first wedding was photographed by a member of the family. The photos were ok, but not great. Even though we divorced, I still wish I had better photos for my children. For my second wedding, we hired a professional photographer, and had a December wedding. She knew what to do with the lighting and we got some fabulous photos! Little did I know then that I would go on to be a professional photographer, also!

    Do you mind if I share your blog post on my own blog and my Facebook page? It would be great to get this information out to more Brides.

  3. Ooof! Those pictures almost sent me into a coma, bad luck dude!

    Having never covered a wedding before it seems personal referrals are the only ‘way in’ to the wedding scene as a photographer, so it’s always going to be risky biscuits for someone! That said, pretty sure I would do a better job than these images! http://www.vanloop.com

  4. This is WAY too familiar! Now that we’re doing wedding professionally I completely understand the importance of what I do. We didn’t have a photographer either….not sure what I was thinking! Did I think I could shoot it myself? And I’ve not one single image of me in full length. My daughter now asks to see me as a bride, and I have nothing to show her. Thank you for this message, it validates the fact that photography is one of the most important factors in planning a wedding, or at least it should be.

  5. PJ

    This is a great article but there is another side to the story that is also sad. Think about the photographer. Everyone has been telling him/her how great their pictures look. S/he is a friend that wants to help. That friend will find it very difficult to turn the bride/groom down. Without experience, the friend/photographer probably doesn’t know about manual photography, bokeh, custom WB, posing, low light techniques, fast lenses and dozens of other unpredictable conditions. Even with experience, there is no time to think about the best way to take a photo of an wedding event that will be over in a minute like a kiss, a dance, or a cake cutting. A portrait and an action photo require completely different settings in low light. Knowing the difference and the quick reaction it requires comes with experience. The new photographer also generally doesn’t realize that the photo on the back of the camera will look much better than how it will look printed or on a computer screen. After the event, what are they going to do about post production, cropping, adjusting WB, and checking for sharpness. Then the worst part, they realize the photos are not as good as they thought they would be, but they still have to provide them to the couple. Think about how that friend/photographer must feel, providing bad photos as a favor. Will that end the friendship. perhaps. So do a favor for your friend and don’t put them in that position by asking for their help. They may not say no!

  6. Melissa

    Oh yes…I made the same mistake. I had my wedding in a venue with low lighting, in the winter, late in the day, ect. I had a friend do pictures because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone. She actually did a good job editing the pictures, but I waited over a year, until after the birth of my first child to get them, and then there were only a few. There were none of the first dance, the father daughter dance, of me and my sisters getting ready, of me with either of my dads…not even a nice shot of me and my husband. A huge disappointment. So many special moments lost, that I will never get to redo, with only me who knows the ever happened. Pay for a photographer. That’s what I tell people now. Don’t have your friend do it, unless they have some experience.

  7. We too made this very sad mistake, we got married in October so light wasn’t even an issue .. the thing that really teases me is that we hired a ‘pro’ we didn’t use a family member or friend. The portfolio we viewed was really ace, the style of photos we wanted and at a decent price too. Shame his real work wasn’t as good.

    Even if you hire a pro, research really is important. It’s not all about the price they charge either, don’t be fooled into thinking if they charge £2k+ they ‘must’ be brilliant and if they charge sub £1k they are not so good!

    I hope this article saves a fair few brides/grooms from the same mistakes! x

  8. I certainly hope these are just a representation of the overall job, and not some of the best. Sad indeed, but on the positive side you are using this as a learning tool for others.

  9. Lena

    Love the article… but I would NEVER ask your photographer for the RAWs. That’s intellectual property and RAWs are nothing without a highly skilled and trained photographer to process them in Photoshop. I would never ever give RAW files out as a professional and I don’t know a single other one who would either.

  10. Sui

    While I am not specifically a wedding photographer I am a photographer and the most important thing is having someone who nows how to handle a camera. Now that can be a professional or a friend. Look through there images see if they resonate with what YOU want not what they want. I have shot weddings with both film and digitally in all types of lighting. This is where it is important to know what your cameras abilities and how to use them and this includes the post processing. This is especially important if you are having a friend do this for you but also can be applied to professionals as well. But the most important part is to go with what you feel comfortable with and can afford.

  11. Sarah

    The wedding photos were very important to us when we were planning our wedding. We paid $5000 for our wedding pictures and although that is on the high end, we have no regrets. They turned out amazing!!! We also didn’t have a large budget and had to borrow money to pay for the wedding. Hope this helps!

  12. This is a very good example of the heartache after the once in a lifetime event has taken place. How have we gotten to the point where substandard work as become “acceptable” in the eyes of our brides. There are only several things you have to remember your special day, your photos, your video and your dress which usually gets dry cleaned and boxed up. Your flowers (unless they were silk) are dried up etc, etc. I can’t help someone after the fact! A image that is out of focus, very dark or has strange shadows is often not able to be corrected. Not all photographers are created equal. Don’t chance it to someone with little experience. I have been doing weddings for over 30 years. And continue to hone my skills all the time keeping up with the latest in technology and equipment.

  13. It really makes me cross when I hear a story like this. Some brides spend more time trying on dresses and and getting those little details just right leaving little budget or thought for the photography which, when done by a professional are the memories of the day for the rest of their married lives!
    When brides come to me at wedding fayres I point out that once the cake is eaten, the dress is in the attic (which it will be once it starts to get in the way)and the flowers have died, the only tangible memories of the day are the images. Professionally taken images of the couple looking fabulous and their friends and family having a wonderful day.

    Sadly my wife died 3 years ago but only two days ago I was showing someone my wedding album photographs taken by a professional 27 years ago. My wife looked absolutely fantastic and the memories of the day came flooding back to me, you can not buy back those memories with the money you save getting your photography for free.

    Occasionally at wedding fayres when future brides are walking by and I ask if they have a photographer a growing percentage of them say “my uncle/good friend is doing it for me”I then ask if their uncle/friend has any experience with wedding photography. With the ones who say no but his landscapes /car photos are great I then make no bones about it I just tell them “it will probably be a disaster then” I do not do it because I am losing a potential client, I say it to put a seed of doubt in their minds so they think more about their decision and hopefully then seek a professional with a body of work who can do the job properly……. I own a hairbrush and a hairdryer it does not make me a hairdresser!
    I plead with all brides seek a good photographer for your big day (having a camera which most people own in some form or other) does not make a person a photographer. Think about it like this….Could someone do your job without any experience? If they did do your job and make a hash of it it could in most cases be corrected….you only have one crack at a wedding day!

  14. Nicole Wint

    Well i booked a so called “professional” photographer for my wedding in 2009 to a man I had been with for 18 years, so it was a very emotional day. We spent a long time looking for the right photographer which I found at a wedding show -with the right feel and style paid an awful lot of money as I felt that once the day is over it’s such an important thing to have for the rest of your life . Once the wedding was over he sent the photographs over on a beautiful cd for us to choose which ones we wanted only to find he had done a runner with my money and in effect left us with just a cd of photos which we can’t get photos off due to encryption, have tried so hard to track this man down but have had no luck .So my warning would be go off recommendation meet people they have photographed before look at their work make sure they have an office and are contactable by land line as well as mobile or all the memories of a beautiful day like ours will be ruined :(( I’m still not over it and it was the most expensive mistake ever !!

  15. A perfect example, written very well. I too am a pro wedding photographer and wonder how much longer this kind of ‘trend’ will continue. I know of four photographers, all exceptional, who have ‘gone to the wall’ in the past twelve months. We too have seen a massive decrease in bookings, over 50% in the past two years! It’s unsustainable, so not only are people who don’t employ professional photographers runnning the risk of spoiling one of the most important days of their lives, but they’re also running the risk of having a massive impact on the photography profession!

  16. The images are awful and I can’t believe anyone would commission someone to shoot their most important day of their lives and end up with the images shown.
    The basics when commissioning a ”wedding” photographer is to check out his last wedding shoots, there should be references too. Check out his website. Does it look professional ? Google his name, google his name for images.
    Ask the basic questions…. “how many weddings have you shot”, “what’s YOUR preferred genre”, ” what happens if it rains”, ” the church doesn’t allow flash, how do you take pictures in dimly lit rooms”, ” are you insured” , ” do you have back up cameras”, ‘how and where are the images stored’ and lastly ask them this question, which wedding photographer do they admire ? If they’re lost for words they’re not a wedding photographer. I truly believe a wedding photographer is passionate about wedding photography.

  17. Razor512

    For those saying you get what you pay for, this goes beyond that, that photographer seemed to intentionally take bad photos. He or she did not do any post processing, and made no attempt to even correct for slanted images.

    There were many images which were clearly underexposed, and for the extent in those images the photographer would have gotten far better results if the camera was just left on full auto.

    I have photographed weddings for family and friends, and I have seen far better wedding photos from non photographers using their cellphone cameras (in terms of exposure, composition, and color accuracy).
    I can understand taking bad images due to lack of experience, but for them to be that bad, you wither have to not be looking at the camera or viewfinder at all, or purposely taking bad photos.

  18. Sadly it’s too familiar a story these days. What do they say, “Buy cheap, buy twice”? Except with a wedding there is no second chance.

    I’m sorry if this is all you have to show for your big day – these really are very poor indeed. And it’s good of you to show them as a warning to others.

    As a professional photographer I must pick up on the RAW issue though. No professional worth his or her salt would give them to you; and if they agreed, I’d be suspicious that you were dealing with an amateur or someone not very experienced. While you’re right that RAWs give much more latitude for working on than JPEGS, the whole point of booking a professional is that they do this part of the job too, not just take the images at the wedding day. Post-production is a skill set in itself, and not something to be taken on lightly. If you book a professional in the first place you’re hiring them as much for their processing as their skill with a camera.

  19. Our industry is SO IN NEED of being regulated to stop examples like this occuring over and over again and devaluating the art of photography. You can point the finger and pass the buck but some people are just unaware of good photography from bad and look at the content in an image more than the lighting, composition, exposure etc, thinking that if the camera looks professional enough, that’s all that matters… It would shake up the industry and lose more than a few cowboys & girls if EVERY ‘Professional’ in the business had to submit images for appraisal towards accreditation before they were allowed to set up in business as a ‘Professional.’ Our industry is open to abuse and it is being OPENLY ABUSED.. Remember put it on ‘P’ for Professional & Bob (your uncle) can do what you do…!

  20. Oofta! From what I can see (not being distracted by the photos and their quality) there WAS so many beautiful aspects of your wedding that were clearly not celebrated or captured how they could have been. I agree with your words of caution and hope future brides and grooms do the same! Ultimately, fantastic service and results do not come paired with little to no payment.. it just isn’t practical. Clients would be willing to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on repairing their car, plumbing, flying in an airplane, etc. etc. but it continues to puzzle me why art, design, and photography is not treated with the same appreciation :/ Definitely appreciate your article and am so sorry that your beautiful memories weren’t adequately captured. Congrats on being a professional photographer yourself though, it’s such a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor, best of luck to you, cheers!

  21. Just as important as taking great pictures on your day, a professional will have back-up equipment. Not just 2-3 camera bodies, numerous flashes and numerous lenses. They will have the ability to save, backup, and protect your digital files. A friend of a friend might completely lose all of your files with one hard-drive crash. Professionals have redundant on-site and off-site backups to keep your images safe for many years.

  22. I read every pain staking sentence of this and it’s just terrible. I keep my prices as low as I possibly can because of the way I like to make my offering and I think it takes the mick when people try and chip me down from what is already a steal. It wasn’t long ago actually that I had a meeting lined up with someone only to be told that they had now got a family friend to do it. I just hope to god they are a professional and I wish I had seen this article before then so I could let them read these words of wisdom. I really hope this trend doesn’t continue, this is why we have people in “trades” – because they are good at what they do. I wouldn’t build a house on the cheap myself because I can’t afford a builder without any knowledge of building myself. It is unfortunately this kind of mentality that doesn’t keep the economy spinning in my opinion, as with anything in life you get what you pay for and that is something I will carry to my grave. However I do also believe in not charging extortionate rocketing prices unless there is some extremely good justification for why that cost is there i.e. extra runners, lighting etc etc. Thanks for this article.

  23. How to spot a fake:

    If you ask to see a full wedding and they don’t want to show it, that’s a BIG red flag. Anyone can put on their greatest hits album and look brilliant but if you can see what the did the whole day and its awesome then that photographer is legit. Just my two cents.

  24. Kathy Worley

    I am one of those amateur photographers that is often asked to shoot weddings for family or friends. I have helped as a second shooter and assistant at many weddings to learn about lighting, posing, important shots and have attended several photography workshops. I have learned weddings are very hard work. On your feet for hours, working with bad lighting in fast paced stressful situations. I do accept weddings for family members but I always tell them I am NOT a professional and cannot guarantee results. It’s not like taking pictures in the park that you can shoot again if they don’t like them. You only have one chance to get it right and I take that very seriously and make sure they understand as well.

  25. Sadly, this story is such a common one. I can understand why couples do it – weddings are massively expensive affairs and budgets can’t always be as big as we like.

    However, as a pro wedding photographer and someone who is married, I know how essential a good set of photos are. Weddings are one of the most important days of your life. So much time, money, energy and emotion has gone in to the day. Getting wonderful photos of your big day is a must – you can’t have them done again. How you will remember your wedding is entirely tied in with the photography. Great photos will take you straight back to the day every time you look at them and help you to re-live the wedding whether it was two weeks ago or thirty years ago.

    Things happen really fast at a wedding, the lighting can vary enormously so booking someone who has tons of experience, can think on their feet and knows how to deal with every situation under the sun is so important. Someone who thrives in low light situations is a must.

    My heart goes out to you, but well done for such a great article – I’m sure you have helped countless couples by sharing your story.

  26. April Hunter

    Thank you for this. I had the exact same thing happen to me. I gave very little thought to the photos, and very little money, and it’s one of my biggest regrets ever. It makes me sick every time I think about it and reading this blog and other people’s comments helps me not feel like the only Bride who had this happen to them. :(

  27. An excellent article!
    I am increasingly hearing tales of woe, where a Bride’s relative has told me “I wish they had asked you to take their wedding photos, the person they had really didn’t seem to know what they were doing….”

    A Pro Wedding Photographer uses a large set of skills on the day – skills which have been learned and practiced over time. The ‘mate with a camera’ knows nothing of these – a wedding is one place where you can’t learn on the job.

  28. im so sorry to see this, i really feel for you… cant believe the clearest picture was of a plate of chicken… i know that turning down a friend is hard but they really shouldnt have offered or made out that they were going to be good… i hope you have made lots of lovely new memories together and can look back at the wedding fondly without remembering it via the botched pictures… my best wishes are with you.

  29. Megan

    I read this article and felt your pain. We did hire a professional but looking back, I don’t think she was very experienced. I hate my photos! I did look at some of her previous work, but my wedding was so small (only 10 of us). I don’t think she had experienced such an intimate wedding before and didn’t know how to handle the scrutiny, therefore she rushed photos instead of taking a good look at the whole scene. Statue arms poking out of heads and the slightly plump bride looking pregnant on certain angles are not acceptable from a professional. There was one photo of us signing the register that could have fit everyone in if she’d asked people to move to fill in the empty chairs. Instead I have a photo with two people missing and two empty chairs!
    There needs to be more articles in wedding magazines about exactly what to look for when viewing photographers work and the questions to ask. The pictures my photographer showed me of other weddings looked fine to the untrained eye. I didn’t know what questions to ask and now I don’t look at those precious memories because I get so angry when I do.

  30. Joe Geoghegan

    I am a professional photographer with nearly forty years experience. I have been doing wedding photography for about thirty years of that. I have well over a thousand weddings ‘in the can’. In county Galway in Ireland where I live, there are over four hundred so called ‘professional wedding photographers’ pitching for work. I would rate about half a dozen of these so called ‘professional wedding photographers as competent. This is the reality of professional wedding photography and will remain so until the profession is regulated. Caveat emptor!

  31. I could not agree more, you really do get what you pay for, people spend more on small details and they should invest more in a photographer.

  32. I couldn’t afford the photographers I wanted but I was under no illusions about getting what I paid for. We just couldn’t afford it!

    I’m going to edit the photos at some point but wish I’d been able to scrape £1000 to get better photos. The limits of my kit are my sensor so for low lighting need to compensate or in a few months time upgrade the body & get an extra lens in the mean time.

    One of my favourite photographers posted a link to this article.

    A friend a few months ago said to me about photographing her wedding & I said to her well allocate at least £2000 for me to do it as by the time you pay for, time editing & your album don’t expect to pay less, but if you don’t hire me I’ll help you find a great photographer.

    It’s hard to get any form of second shooter or apprentice work at the moment but I’ve been lucky to have had help from 3 photographers in the form of chatting to me, and showing me things when I met one of them I’d a bit of rock star syndrome because it’s amazing to have someone who’s work you adore help you.

    I’m privileged to have spoken to some of who I class amazing photographers, and for the help they give me. X

  33. Hello, I fully agree, people seem to want to spend loads on venue, reception etc, but not the person who is going to capture it all. I think people believe if you can take a nice picture of a landscape, that is good enough for you to photograph a wedding. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You have to be a manager (think 150+ people to organise), you have be able to deal with situations quickly and efficiently, you need backup equipment, you need to be organised, you need to be experienced at posing and getting the best from a venue. You need to be a confident image editor, the list goes on..

  34. David J Severn

    Some of your points are valid some are ridiculous, no bridal party should be paying for a photography to hire a lens, or reaarange the time etc.
    The images are the bit that will last longer than the marriage,

  35. Taking your photographer to the venue at a similar date and time to know what settings to use is outragously stupid!!
    It only takes a few clouds to come over for the required settings to completely change!

    Have you got the picture of the chicken blown up on a canvass? It’s the best one!!!

  36. Unfortunately this seems to be a very common issue since digital photography has become so popular. I have every year a potential client that doesn’t book me because “I’m to expensive” and then they write me back after their wedding telling me how much they regret not to have booked me.
    People tend to think wedding photography is just about having a big and expensive camera with a finger to press the shutter release. What they don’t realize is that you need to know (and master) different genres of photography (portrait, details, journalism, etc.) to offer great pictures. It also takes some social skills in order to fit in the guests as best as possible.
    As photographers it’s become essential to educate our clients and make them understand that what we offer aren’t just pictures. We offer an experience, our wedding knowledge, memories that will last, etc.

  37. Those pictures look bad but a minimum Photoshop knowledge would help lift most of them.

    If the bride is interested, I’d be happy to have a go at making some of her photos better.

    Free of charge.

  38. What a great article. Yes I have heard several similar stories. I cringe every time I hear another. Oh well you pay (or do not pay) for what you get has never been a truer statement. Even today I get messages from brides telling me that a family friend has agreed to do the wedding. So it seems no matter how many times we hear stories like this we will continue to do so. Some people will never learn

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