Why not just have your (insert family member with DSLR here) take the photos for your wedding instead of spending so much?

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I hear this question a lot, and don’t get me wrong I get why people wouldn’t want to spend as much money as wedding photographers charge. Often times, even over $1000 is an overwhelming amount of money to see drained out of your wedding budget. I understand how much stress goes into not only consider the cost of your venue but to also then have to consider the costs of feeding your guests, having seats for them, even the costs of the favors you’ll hand out to your guests at the end of the night. It adds up, FAST! Put the word, “wedding” in front of just about anything and suddenly the price skyrockets. So, wedding photography might not be on your list of priorities or maybe just really low on your list of priorities. That’s fine, but be aware that that may be one of the biggest mistakes you’ll make for your wedding. Everything about a wedding is temporary. Obviously, it only lasts for a day. Your favors, the food you serve, even down to the invitations that you originally sent will eventually be tossed to the side or forgotten about later down the line. Those things are  trivial in the long run, however the pictures that you have on your phone, your computer, and around your house are memories that you continue to take with you and be reminded of over the years. Your wedding is definitely one of those large milestones that you’ll want plenty of pictures from to remember every moment of your big day!  While it might be tempting to let someone in your family or one of your friends with a “nice camera”  take your wedding day photos, in my experience those are the clients that come to me with regret in their hearts. They wished they had just splurged a little on paying someone to do it because at least their photos wouldn’t be blurry, at least they would have gotten their first kiss documented...I could go on for days with the tragic stories I’ve been told about not prioritizing wedding photos but let me just give you one story about a couple I worked with who let their cousin who had a “fancy camera” take their wedding photos.

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The couple I was working with had their reservations about being photographed. You could see as soon as they got out of their car that they were a bit uneasy and hesitant to start taking photos with me. We started off our session by having them hold hands and walk while they laughed and talked, as we started to move to our next pose the husband looked at me and said, “Wow you’re really fast! Our cousin kept having to stop and make us take a million photos on our wedding day. It was so uncomfortable.”  I was flattered that he noticed how efficient I was in my posing and my capability of capturing a moment quickly with ease, but it made me reflect on how this couple was actually put off by photographers because of their experience with an amateur. This happens all too often. Many times, people are afraid to hire professional photographers because they had an experience with someone who wasn’t a professional. Now that’s not always the case, I’ve definitely heard my fair share of professionals being unprofessional but I’d venture to say that 90% of the time if you’re hiring a professional, you’ll get professional quality. This particular couple had me take their photos because they didn’t have a professional on their big day to do it for them, and I’m so glad I was able to provide at least some  of what they were looking to get out of their wedding. By the end of the session my couple was completely blown away with what we had done in the hour that I had allotted. We had photos sitting, we had photos standing, we even got photos of them dancing, and every fun little pose in between!  They left in a good mood, I’d even like to think that they left in a better mood than when they came in to the session. We had so much fun talking, laughing, and capturing photos that the hour seemed to flash by without any effort. When they left, they were so grateful they had taken time out of their day to do it because  their wedding photos didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. I don’t know about you, but if it were me I would much rather have spent a little more for photos on my actual day than to have to go back and get formal photos done without all of the people and details I wished were there.

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So what’s the point of this story? The point of the story is that you want your wedding to be remembered in a positive way. I hate hearing stories of people regretting that they asked a family member or friend to do it for free just because they had a nice camera. Those stories are often met with feelings of frustration and sadness. As a professional, my job is to make you feel like you’re a million bucks on one of the biggest days of your life! You hire professionals to take stress away from you, not add to it. If you decide to take a risk with someone who may not know what they’re doing, you’re also inherently taking the risk of your wedding not going the way you intended simply because their lack of ability is slowing them down, making them less efficient. As a photographer, I try to stay as far back and out of the way as I possibly can in order for authentic moments to happen. Since I know my settings, I know how to compose a shot, and I know how to pose people when needed, I’m a lot faster and more efficient at what I do. It’s this knowledge that separates me, or any professional from your uncle Joe. Uncle Joe might be a fantastic, charismatic person who just happened to have a dslr to take photos on but that doesn’t necessarily mean uncle Joe knows how to use it correctly, and for all you know, uncle Joe forgot to charge his batteries for the entire day or didn’t bring a flash for when it gets dark. I know how easy it is to think that photographers just click the button. It genuinely looks like that’s all we do because...well thats all you see! But to us, that’s like saying the food on your table at a restaurant was simply microwaved by some guy getting paid minimum wage in the kitchen. That’s just silly to think (unless you’re at chilli’s, then you’re probably right ;). Our work requires so much more than our equipment, it also requires us to actively be learning and applying that knowledge to your day. It requires us to be attentive, alert, and on our feet for upwards of 10 hours in order to capture all the important things you’d like to remember from your wedding day. 

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Remember that your photos are what you ultimately keep from your wedding outside of your spouse, there’s not really much else you’ll take away. So prioritize your wedding photographer! Spend a bit more than you originally intended. I promise you won’t regret it! Especially after all is said and done and you get to have art of yourself and the person you love most in the world hanging all over your walls. That’s a special thing to have that future generations will be thankful for because it will tell them a story they couldn’t experience themselves.  

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