This week, yet another news story about an amateur photographer ‘ruining’ a couple’s wedding photos hit the headlines. “Poor couple!” the comments read, “What a terrible woman this photographer is!” “She deserved to get sued!” The comment threads (including on the photographer’s business social media accounts, which have all now been deactivated) read like the modern day equivalent to the Salem witch hunts. They might as well have been chanting “BURN THE PHOTOGRAPHER!”
Now I’m not saying the photographer was wrongfully called out here. In this particular instance the photos that we made public were, for all intents and purposes, utterly terrible. There are also always two sides to any story so I’m not even going to get into the claims that she was 45 minutes late, only took 15 photos of the reception and spent more time in the photo booth than doing anything else. That’s really all superfluous to the point I want to make.
However, what is important is that when these types of stories come out, the recurring theme always seems to be that the couple hired a cheap, brand new or (as in this case) student photographer yet still expected their photographs to be of the same quality that a seasoned professional charging ten times more might deliver. There appears to be a complete lack of value placed on what a professional wedding photographer actually does. And believe me, its way more than having a fancy camera, lighting equipment and retouching software installed on their computer.
Here’s the other thing that perplexes me about these stories: when it comes to other aspects of the wedding where a couple might want to save money, they always also seem to understand that cutting corners involves some element of risk. I’ve spoken to countless brides who’ve ordered dresses online from China for example, but they always preface by saying “I knew it was a gamble, but I thought it was worth it to save so much money”, or “The quality wasn’t as good as ones on sale in bridal boutiques, but we didn’t have the budget to spend any more so I was fine with it”.
So why, when it comes to the photographs, which are one of the only things you’ll have left after the wedding, do so many couples spend way less than average but are completely blind to the risks of doing so?
I understand that professional wedding photographers are expensive. I would never, ever want to tell you that you HAD to spend more than you were able (or wanted) to on your pictures. If you’re not to fussed about having them, you think they’re just overpriced Instagram fodder, or you’d just rather have pictures taken by your friends then AWESOME, you own that! It’s your wedding and you have the right to spend, or not spend, your money on whatever you damn well please.