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 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!