Wedding Wednesday Discussions – Why Hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer is SO Important



Today I want to talk to you about photography and the importance of hiring a professional wedding photographer, opposed to letting a friend with a good camera do it, leaving it to your guests or hiring a non-wedding photographer.
Yes I know I talk a lot about photography on the blog but I really do feel it is a part of the wedding that is really important to get right!
As a planner and a blogger I have heard a number of horror stories about wedding photography. People being let down with the results that a non-professional has produced. Couples choosing to let ‘a friend’ do it, or ‘I know someone with a good camera’, or ‘we’re just going to let our guests take the photos’. This is all well and good and you may feel that you will be saving money by doing this, but in the long run I can guarantee you will be disappointed. Your photos are the only lasting memory you will have of the day, and if they don’t turn out as you want, then your memories will be ruined.

wedding photograhy 1

(Photo by Tux and Tales)

Many people when they first start planning their wedding and researching prices may think that a photographer comes with a hefty price tag; ‘they only do one day’s work a week’ or ‘their job is simple’,  well think again. A Photographer will meet with you for an initial consultation, they will then have email or skype contact with you before the wedding, they will listen to your plans and answer your questions, in some cases acting as an unpaid wedding planner. Then on the day of the wedding they will be with you for 10-12 hours. After this they will edit your wedding, going through the thousands of images they took and cutting it down to 500 (ish) images for you to look though. All these images will be edited individually, this can take anything from 2 days to a week. After this they will design your wedding album, another day or two worth of work. Not only is there the time there is the cost of running their photography business. Most photographers will shoot with 2 cameras each costing thousands, as well as a back-up camera in case anything goes wrong. They will carry a multitude of lenses each costing hundreds of pounds, some thousands, flash guns, video lights, spare batteries, memory cards amongst a whole host of other technical kit. They will pay for insurance, some have studio hire, and then there is their transport and hotel fees for those weddings further from home. All in all wedding photography isn’t cheap because it isn’t a cheap business to set up, run or maintain.

wedding photograhy 2

(Photo by Siegrid Cain)

I asked a Photographer friend of mine why they think hiring a professional is a good idea…..

1) Good photography is more than a fancy camera. I have spent literally a thousand hours training to be a photographer and another thousand or so photographing weddings. I know how to get the shot predictably every time. I know how to compose the shot beautifully and then execute it with skill and precision. It isn’t the camera that does this – it is me. As I shoot in manual – I tell the camera what it should be doing rather than allowing the camera’s sensors to make the decisions for me. So if you want that beautiful photograph of you and your new husband or wife gorgeously backlit by a red sunset – you can only get that with a pro because the camera just cannot correctly read that light.

2) I know how the day flows. It is the experience of being at 100s of different weddings that allows me to know just where to look and when. I know the time in the wedding when I can sneak a shot of your dad looking at you with a tear in his eye. I know to expect that moment just after the vicar asks for objections and know the church will break into nervous laughter and the bride will pull a priceless face. These are the things you can only get with experience.

3) I know how to work in tricky lighting. I am not flapped by bright sunlight or cave dark ceremony rooms. I can walk into any room and know within seconds where the best spot is to stand and where the best light will be. Every time. Without fail.

4) I am experienced in dealing with the raw emotions of a wedding day. I know how to get mum to stop repeating the time every 10 minutes whilst the bride breaks out into a cold sweat because she might be 3 minutes late for the wedding. I know how to deal with the usher who had a few too many before the ceremony even started. I can get a big group of people rounded up for photos – cheerfully, cooperatively and without yelling. I know how to advise you on lacing that dress that looked so easy to lace in the shop but now looks like a 50000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I know how to get you calmed down when the flowers show up and they are the wrong colour. This takes years of experience and finding out what to say (and what not to say!) during a day when everyone’s emotions are sky high.

wedding photograhy 3

(Photo by Christopher Ian)

And if that isn’t enough here are some more reasons……..

  • A non-professional won’t carry back up gear with them, a professional will. This means that if anything goes wrong with one camera then they will always have another one with them. It also means that they will know what to do if a memory card corrupts or if the battery runs out they will always have a spare one.
  • Your guests won’t always know how to light a dark venue such as a tipi or a barn. Going from a dark venue to a light venue requires you to monitor the light constantly and react by changing iso, aperture and shutter speed
  • What if your friend is ill on the day? Will they have someone they can call in an emergency? A professional will have a network of photographers and 2nd shooters they can call upon in an emergency.
  • A friend or guest won’t have insurance, what if something goes wrong and they cause an accident?
  • Hiring a professional photographer who doesn’t have experience of weddings can also be a bad move. These people won’t know the general running of a wedding day, what happens when and where they need to be for the bet shots. Yes they may photograph landscapes beautifully but do they have experience of moving from group shots to close up shots of flowers all in the same breath?
  • If you get a friend or your guests to take the photos are they really going to be committed to the whole day? Guests will get drunk and a friend with a good camera may not realise the full impact of a wedding. Professionals can start any time from 10am-11am and some don’t finish till 10pm-11pm. Do you really think your friend will keep going for this time, chances are important shots will be lost as your friend gets bored and wanders off to enjoy themselves.
wedding photograhy 4

(Photo by This and That Photography)

OK so it’s all very well me telling you to spend all your wedding budget on a photographer, but I also appreciate that not everyone has a huge budget, so here are some ideas to help you make your budget go a bit further.

  • Choosing a mid-week wedding may help to keep the cost down, as many photographers will offer mid-week packages for less than the full price for a weekend wedding. (This doesn’t include a Friday)
  • Also choosing an off-season wedding will help with the budget. Many photographers will offer discounts for off-season weddings as these dates are less popular and they are less likely to get booked up quickly. These months include November, January and February .
  • Book a Photographer that offers a half day package or pay by the hour. Personally I always think it’s best to book the full day (believe me I didn’t and so wish I had). However if your budget is limited then having a professional there for the key times is better than nothing. A six hour package could take you from an hour before the ceremony to just after the speeches.
  • Book a digital package only. Again I always think it’s best to purchase an album from you photographer as a disc or USB stick won’t be around for ever as technology changes, BUT if your budget is small then a digital only package can save you a few hundred pounds. My advice if you do this, is to ask for Photography vouchers from your guests as a wedding present and pay for an album this way. Also some photographers will let you order an album 6-12 months after the wedding date, so you could save up yourselves after the wedding.
  • Look through all the wedding blogs and magazines as there are often photographers offering discounts or even competitions to win free photography.
  • Ask your photographer if they take payment plans? Some photographers will allow you to pay in instalments so spreading the cost of payments.
wedding photograhy 5

(Photo by Jacqui Mcsweeney )


So now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you a bride or groom who didn’t hire a professional for your wedding? What was the outcome? Are you currently thinking of getting a friend to do it but not too sure? Or are you a bride or groom who is going all out  with your budget for a professional? Are you a wedding photographer and want to have your say?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.




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    Laura {Babb Photo}

    The first two weddings I photographed were for friends, so I have been that friend with a camera. I did a pretty good job, given my lack of experience. I got some nice shots but I wasn’t consistent and I think that’s the point. You want consistently good photos, across the whole of the wedding day, and that means working with someone who can take great photographs in all situations. Dark venues, rain, back lit, harsh mid day sun.

    Helen Leach

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post – as a planner I always emphasise the importance of getting a good wedding photographer. Years ago we went to the wedding of a couple who had decided that booking a photographer was a waste of money, so they’d asked a friend to do it. The outcome was that they ended up with just one photo of the two of them together and none at all of either the groom’s or bride’s parents. They were so disappointed and now, 7 years on, all they have left to look back on is snaps taken by friends and family and one not-very-good picture of them as newlyweds.

    Jane Alexander Photography

    This is all so spot on……it amazes how much money can be spent on a wedding but then the haggling starts with the photographer!! I always say to the brides that their pictures are the one thing that they have as a reminder of the day – nothing else!! Why do they feel that this is the one thing that they ought to be cutting back on? You can lead a horse to water………. you can always tell when they are going to go off and find the cheapest photographer that they can find cos it boils down to the cost and not how they feel about that person and the trust for capturing their day!! Anyway, I’ll stop otherwise I’ll just be ranting but I guess what I want to say is good blog and so true xx

    Ally Byrom {Photography by Ally Byrom}

    Buying top quality wedding photography is the best purchase you will ever make for your wedding day. It is one day in your life where there can be no re-run if you are disappointed in your budget images. Invest in your wedding photographer as you would invest in anything else, buy the best you can afford – because you will get what you pay for. Great blog post.

    Jonathan Brown (Browns Photography)

    Lots of very useful advice. In recent years, I’ve started to get more couples who place a huge value on their wedding photographs and so spend a large part of their budget on photography. However, I’m also getting more bookings for photography by the hour (rather than a full package). For me, it’s really important to be flexible and offer bespoke quotations as every couple has a different budget and timings on wedding days can vary so much. You probably don’t need a full package if you’re getting married at 4 o’clock in the afternoon!

    Martin Price Photography

    Really great blog post. This year I’ve had a couple of brides ask if I could look at their brother/sister’s wedding photos, taken by an amateur and see if I could do anything to improve them. It’s heartbreaking to see the blurred, poorly composed and badly timed images that are now the couples only record of the day and to have to tell them that Photoshop can’t rescue images like that.

    Red Adair’s famous quote might not have been about wedding photography, but it seems very appropriate – “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Jo Blackwell

    Great post. People forget that a camera is just a tool and the result depends on the operator’s eye as well as their technical skill. As a wedding photographer, you need so many other skills too, as the author says – diplomacy, tact, friendliness. Capturing such an important day is a huge responsibility and in my opinion it isn’t fair to ask a friend to take that on, not least because if they shoot without insurance and someone trips over their kit, the consequences would be horrendous!

    Katariina Jarvinen

    Splendid article! Most people don’t realise how much work, preparation and training goes into being a good quality professional wedding photographer, nor are they aware of all the costs that make it “so expensive”. Very well explained!

    It is heart breaking every time someone confines in me telling me how they didn’t hire a proper professional and that their wedding photos turned out so badly that they never want to look at them again. I’d also add that there are so many rogue people trying to present themselves as experienced professionals nowadays that couples really need to do their research and meet the photographer and see their work before hiring. But that’s a whole nother subject of its own!

    Jan Zawada

    Absolutely brilliant article, very well researched, formulated and delivered. As a professional I never leave anything to chance, meet the clients, visit the venues, all-inclusive pre-shoots to
    ensure they are comfortable with the style of photography. Show them all my recent wedding
    albums and most importantly I don’t have a single client who would not be more than happy to take a telephone call enquiry to confirm my abilities from a potential wedding couple…

    Dirk van der Werff Wedding Photography

    First class .. Can I add one thing?
    Digital packages are all well and good, but, ALL DIGITAL MEDIA WILL FAIL, USB sticks will fail, CD’s / DVD’s will fail, Hard Drives will fail.
    Where’s your wedding then?
    If you get a digital only package, MAKE SURE you do a full set of prints asap, prints don’t fail
    All my couples get a full set of prints in a bespoke box as well as the digital media, then they’re covered!


    Great post. You summarized what I try to convey to couples at every meeting. Thanks for recognizing the importance of hiring a professional, as opposed to cousin Sally who will do it for free with the new camera she got for Christmas.

    heather shuker (brighton_photo)

    Ive only just stumbled upon this great post. Same as Laura Babb – my first 2 weddings were also for friends, however, id been a professional live music and events photographer for 4 years prior to that and still my first wedding experiences were a total mare – totally stressful, challenging light and i full of technical mistakes and most of all not that creative. Looking back now – i had no creative vision as I was not in control and there was too much going on for that part of my brain to work! I can remember my digital camera 20D (I only had one at the time) had an 99 error and i had to switch to film right in the middle of it all and it totally stressed me out further ! Ive shot over 50 weddings now and everytime there is a new challenge to overcome and my experience now enables me to pre-empt and eliminate and work around most challenges. The main challenge one has now to to be better and better and keep pushing the art on with every wedding. x


    I have to say though that this is an old story in many ways. We all know so many “horror stories” and more will always circulate. Everyone knows you get what you pay for, but people continue to take the risk – the truth is, some people just don’t care. They lack the foresight, or just have “different” values.

    I admire your effort to put together the argument. I think those that are visiting boho-weddings will already reconognise and appreciate good photography, but of course there will be some who are still sitting on the fence, and hopefully your post has and will push some over the right side. That’s only a good thing.


    Sam Devoti (Top Photography)

    This blog was like a breath of fresh air to me. Finally someone willing to acknowledge just how hard us photographers work!

    Its so true too. The cake will be eaten, the flowers will die, the dress will be packed away but the photography will live on forever!

    Steve Korel

    Over all points are brilliant and helpful. I also agree with you that you should hire on mid-week wedding because of many photographers will offer mid-week packages for less than the full price for a weekend wedding.

    Cyprus Wedding Photographer

    Indeed, very valid reasons for hiring a professional wedding photographer. I’ve had numerous requests to photograph couples at their 1st, 5th, 10th anniversary, as they neglected such important aspects for their wedding. Very well written!


    Really good article. However, the price a photographer charges does not in any way correlate to how professional they are. A photographer who charges £2000 may well believe they are more professional than someone who charges £1000, but there are photographers who charge a lot more than £2000 too – so is the £2000 photographer less professional? Of course they aren’t. The price is totally subjective.
    There are many part-time Wedding photographers who charge a substantial amount of more money than a full-time photographer simply because it is no hardship if they don’t get the bookings – but if they do it is an absolute bonus. What is more professional – charging less but being able to take a phone call from your Wedding client during the day, or charging more but not being able to take the call because you are stuck in a meeting in your “normal job”?
    What you charge doth not a professional photographer make – the yardstick people should use when looking for their photographer should be the images they have in their portfolio and the experience they have.

    Chimlin Dao

    Good article. I completely agree with you that couple choosing friend to shoot their wedding rather than hiring professional photographer will regret their decision in future and photography is not an easy task as it involve lot of hard work.


    Photographer is very important part of a wedding. Photograph means here included lots of memory with joy and sorrow. Lots of people takes shots but here huge got difference between professional photographer and nonprofessional photographer. A real photographer can understand about moment which can make a photo so precious. Here very much important is need to understand about light, this is very much important in photography but only real man can understand. Outstanding man, very clean and easy to understand. Thanks man this article is very much important for me.

    S Bhalaje

    A very good article! I really enjoyed reading it because it showcases the importance of a wedding photographer. If you wish to create your memories in a good way then their presence really matter more. They have years of experience in the photography industry and they have some special tactics behind each and every awesome click.


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