Wedding Photographer - I Do or Do Not

29th April 2017
A question I get asked a lot, as it appears do a lot of professional wedding photographers, is 'why?'

Why should we book a professional photographer?

Why does a professional photographer charge so much for just a few hours?

I have a guest/friend/relative coming to the wedding who has a nice camera, why don't I just ask them to take some photos?

All my guests will have their phones with them, why don't I just ask them to give me the photos they take?

If you're planning your wedding, there is the possibility that you've asked yourself one or more of these questions.

To answer these questions one must remember a very important fact, and this fact does actually answer the questions for you: The camera doesn't take the photographs, the person using the camera does.

Ask yourself this question - what does the person using the camera do for a living? If they're not a professional photographer (i.e. someone who earns all their living from being a photographer) then the chances are they won't be experienced enough to capture your day as you would hope.

So the question 'Why book a professional wedding photographer?' already looks a little easier to answer. Photography is what we do, day in, day out, so we know how to get a great shot. Our experience means we see the best way to photograph you, so you look perfect.

How do you know though that the photographer selling themselves as experienced and professional is just that? Chat to them and see their work (namely body of work). This will usually help remove the 'cowboys' from your list. Personally, I have a studio on the high street in Poynton, where my work and I are on show, so my credibility is there to see (if you've not already seen it on this website!)

But what does a professional photographer bring to the show? Well, experience, skill, artistry, personality are a start. Knowing how to capture all the elements of a wedding. Knowing the do's and do not's. Knowing how to communicate with all the different parties, from the bride and groom to the organisers. Creating photographs as well as capturing spontaneous moments.

And all the time staying calm and professional, and helping the day run smoothly. There's also the side you take for granted but perhaps don't realise is just as important - equipment. A professional wedding photographer not only has the right equipment for the day, but has everything in duplicate, so should something fail or break, within minutes he's back up and running without you even realising. Oh, and insurance - a professional is fully insured, not just the equipment, but public liability and indemnity too.

So why does it cost so much to book a professional photographer? Well, some of that is answered above - the investment in training, equipment, insurance and the years of experience. Then there's the actual amount of time it takes to photograph a wedding. For example, if I get booked for just the wedding ceremony and drinks reception, I will be there at least an hour before the ceremony begins, plus there's travelling time either side. Then there's the backing up of the images, so even when we leave we're still working. Then there's the processing of the photographs, which can take several days to a week to complete (much longer for full day weddings and two shooter weddings). Then there's the disc and presentation pack.

I often hear about weddings where a friend or relative, who happens to own a nice looking camera, has been asked to shoot the wedding. And the results are nearly always the same: hit and miss. You see, a guest with a camera is a guest first and photographer second, who could be drinking all day. Will they really get the perfect photograph after several pints? A guest who could be wanting time to chat to friends all day. A guest who has never organised a confetti moment, never shot a portrait session, never photographed in changing and challenging conditions. You're asking a lot of your guest. And as I stated earlier, if they're not a photographer, are they really going to get as good a shot? And that 'nice' looking camera - although a £400 camera and lens will get a great shot in the right hands, do you think it will perform as well as a £4000 camera and lens in the right hands? Just like a pair of wedding shoes costing £40 and another pair costing £400. They could look the same, but are they?

As for phone cameras, well, you take your chances with that one! Tiny little cameras inside a phone, no matter how many mega pixels they quote, will ever produce a result as good as a professional camera, especially in low light; that's down to physics and technology. And what if everyone has different styles applied to their photographs? And what if you want to print them out, as a framed print or even an album? Phone cameras are designed to look good online. Yes they will print out, but the larger you go, the worse they'll look, especially if shot in low light, such as indoors.

You should also take into account the ceremony. Most vicars/ministers/registrars don't allow guests to take photographs during the service. So now you're left with no photographs of the service itself, no ring exchange, no 'I do' moment, no first kiss. Isn't that the most important part of the day?

I'll leave you with this final thought. You have spent a great deal of money on your dress, which you will wear once (and have you bought the bridesmaid's dresses too?). You have spent a great deal of money hiring the groomsmen's outfits, which will only be worn once. You have hired a venue, or two, for just a few hours. Then there's the cost of the catering. The cake. The DJ. The band. The flowers. Not to mention the ceremony itself. And all these things you are happy to pay for, at the cost quoted, irrespective of what it is, because you want (and deserve) the perfect day. But after the day is over, what have you got? A nice dress, that you may not be able to wear again (because it's a wedding dress). And that's it. Unless you also book a professional wedding photographer. Because then you will have in your hand lots of visual memories that will last you a lifetime, and beyond.