I recently came across several articles (some old and some new) which gave reasons to break wedding rules or to throw them away in their entirety. One subject which came up time and time again, was reasons not to hire a professional wedding photographer.
Now before we start, I’m not saying that everyone can or should hire a pro. I'm not telling you to hire a £3,000 wedding photographer, when your entire budget is £1,000. Professional wedding photography does cost money; it is an investment. But price does not always equal quality, sometimes it can purely relate to business plans and income goals.
I know plenty of amazing photographers who charge under £1,000 but I also know plenty who offer services over £3,000 - there are professional options for all budgets.
Regardless of your budget, a professional photographer may not actually be right for you, so here are some reasons not to hire one.
Ironically, one of the articles I read was from Vogue, a magazine very well-known for its incredible high-end photography, and even the top of the piece in question had a beautiful fine art image by Arthur Elgort.
Part of their reasoning against hiring a wedding photographer was that in a world of Instagram and Facebook, and where everyone has a camera on their phone and therefore on them at all times, high-end photography is pointless. They go on to say that, photography’s only purpose is to prove that an event happened. So if you can plaster it all over social media within seconds of it happening, then the need for a professional is a non-starter. Just let your guests take the photos.
This is followed up with saying that if social media isn’t your thing, then why not get a load of disposable cameras and let your drunk friends go to town? “You’ll end up with hilarious and candid pictures without the pressure of ‘likes’.”
While what they say is completely contradictory to their own actions, it is true. If you just want snaps from your friends, then maybe a professional isn’t for you. Be careful though, you may be in for a shock. One friend of mine had disposable cameras out, alongside a professional, and the disposable cameras were either unused or had, let’s say, ‘inappropriate’ photos on them when the films were developed.
The She Knows blog lists 5 reasons not to hire a professional wedding photographer. The first is the same as Vogue’s argument above. The other 4 are:
‘You can ask a pal or turn your family into paparazzi.’
Let them go crazy with the DSLR that they bought for a one-time trip and haven’t used since. “For the moments you may want to Instagram or put in a frame and hang beside your LCD flat screen TV, you can ask a friend you know is going easy on the open bar.”
‘You’ll never look at 95 per cent of your wedding photos again.’
“Maybe you’ll pull out your wedding album once every 12 years or share the link to your digital wedding photo album, once, to 12 people, but the truth is, professional wedding photography is an investment that doesn’t bring much of a return in the future.”
‘You can DIY - selfie style’
If it's from a phone the quality will be about 7 megapixels at best. It will print an ok quality at about 6x4 inches and if lucky you might push it to a standard 10x8 but I highly doubt the quality would exist. If you wanted to only have the images on your phone then that's fine but the low light quality of these cameras really sent up to much in comparison to a full digital SLR.
‘Staged photos may make you feel awkward.’
Yes, they do, if done wrong or they’re over-used. Thankfully though, wedding photography hasn’t looked like what most people think of as wedding photography for about 20 years. It’s all a lot less formal these days and you can find someone to fit your wants, needs and style very easily.
The last reason not to hire a professional wedding photographer kept coming up on all the blogs I read.
You can hire a student / beginner.
Now, this is potentially the best solution around the issue for two main reasons.
1. We all have to start somewhere. Think about it, even the best in the world of any given field of work had to start at the bottom. You might just be the people to provide a future star with their break into the industry. At my first wedding I charged £100, and it was for a fellow student at uni. Not only was it low-cost for them but they got reason two (below) as well.
2. You get an ‘outsider’ to document what happens. It frees you and your guests to enjoy the day, to talk to aunt Mavis who they haven’t seen 20 years and/or to hit the bar hard and celebrate with you. It also gets rid of any issues of families not liking each other and not being photographed at all (it happens!). They can be a fly on the wall, they have no restrictions to where or what they can do. They can express ideas and play around, all the while, you can just enjoy your time.
Are there any downsides to this?
Of course. They are still not a professional photographer and are likely just doing this job for an extra few quid. If they lack the motivation, then the outcome won’t be what you want or expect.
A beginner may also lack professional kit. They probably don’t have all the gear that is necessary for a wedding shoot. Like flashguns, low light lenses or a high-end camera to manage those dark reception shots.
So, do you need a pro?
If you have read the above, agree with most points and now you don't want a professional wedding photographer, then congratulations! You have just saved yourself several hundred or thousands of pounds, and you’ve saved a wedding photographer from photographing a couple who don’t want them there. I have only experienced this once (about 7 years ago) but it's a painful feeling knowing you're not welcome and that your photos don't actually mean much to the couple.
If you’re still on the fence about it, do some research, ask questions to photographers and see what you can do. My blog is full of tips, you can also see my blog about why you SHOULD hire a professional photographer.
You might also find these other blog posts helpful:
If you're now wondering how much you should budget for a professional wedding photographer, then you can click onto my budget calculator, which will tell you the national average spend on photography based on your overall wedding budget.
Or perhaps you’d like to find out more about having me capture your big day? My contact form is always open, so feel free to ask more questions and I'll help as much as I can.
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