This is a post a little different from what I normally do. Most of the time I post photos from my engagement shoots or weddings so people looking at my website can have a deeper insight into my work. Today I will post no photos, today’s subject is: professional wedding photographer vs friend. These are my thoughts about what I think about this and the dangers of couples getting married having a friend taking their photos instead of a professional photographer.
I also understand that if you are reading this by chance, you may think that I am writing this just to get me or other colleagues photographers more work. However, what it pushed me to write this post is a meeting I had yesterday. I had an email three or four weeks ago from a girl who got married last year and because she got married abroad she was not organizing the wedding herself. Someone organized for a couple of friends to be in charge of taking the photos of the day. She told me by email and on the phone that she hated her wedding photos so much…and wanted a photoshoot here in London with her husband dressed the same as on their wedding day to get some beautiful photos.
Unfortunately, we will have to leave this photoshoot for another time, but for now, what she couldn’t wait for, was to have some of her wedding photos fixed, so I am in charge now of “fixing” some of her wedding photos, even though I don’t often do retouching services for clients who have not booked my complete photographic services.
Her wedding venues were gorgeous, but the light used was not the best to say the least, on-camera flash used in most of the photos, which gives a lot of harsh shadows. I am just brightening the photos up, contrast and tone correction and simple things like that. Unfortunately there is not a magic bottom to change the light, and those shadows will stay. Basically, retouching will make the photos less bad and not so painful to look at, but no retouching turns a bad photo into a good one, this is why I say “fix”. Notice the quotations.
This is the first experience of someone coming to me distressed about their wedding photos and asking for help. A friend of mine didn’t have such an horrific experience, but got married abroad in an intimate ceremony years ago and they didn’t think about having a photographer, now that she sees lots of wedding photos because of me, she regrets not having them.
Wedding photography is hard, you are outside, then two seconds later you are in a dark church, you need to adjust your camera settings very quickly! I would even say that for a professional photographer who does other type of work can be quite difficult and challenging.
There is this widespread idea of good cameras taking good photos. I can say that from the photos showed to me by this bride, one of the cameras was a Canon 1D, not bad… however, it is not just the camera but the skills of the photographer and at a wedding being quick is very important too. Would an unexperienced amateur photographer be able to deliver wedding photos as a professional? Well, that’s quite unrealistic. If you are having an outdoors wedding with gorgeous light all day long you may get lucky and the difference can be not as painful, but otherwise…if your wedding photos are important for you, you should go for a professional.
Shooting a wedding is hard work on the day and it takes a long time to finish the work (editing), it is unlikely that a friend is going to do a week’s worth work too. I can work on my photos as much as I need to as I am being paid for that, but would I spent many hours editing hundreds of images if Iweren’t? probably I wouldn’t do as much as I wouldn´t have the time.
It is also clear that a person who does something often has more experience and resources that someone who doesn´t and obviously that shows.
I think it is important to be realistic, most of the times you get what you paid for. Consider how important are your wedding photos for you and make your decision accordingly. Should you take the risk or not? I wouldn’t do it obviously, I am a photographer and images are very important to me, capturing something so important beautifully would be a must. But not everyone has the same perception about photography, so if you are not bothered too much about photos and it is not important at all, then you may risk it and go for a friend… What I try in this post is opening the eyes of people who expect and would like to have beautiful photos that they are important to them but trust in a friend instead of a professional wedding photographer thinking only in finances as if that fact didn’t matter at all. The reality is that someone who doesn’t make a living of photography won’t have the equipment of a photographer or the skills or the expertise in 99.99% of the cases.
I really felt sorry for this girl and how unhappy she was! and remember when something is done for free (and friends) you don’t really have any right to complaint, have you?
I hope all this makes sense and it is not seen just as something that obviously a photographer has to say, I have tried to give an opinion from my heart and I hope is valuable for someone out there.
Thanks for reading!