I’m not going to tell you that you should definitely hire us to shoot your wedding. But I am going to tell you that you should probably hire someone.
Q. Why should I hire a wedding photographer? My uncle’s wife’s nephew’s next-door-neighbour has a cameraphone and will take pictures for free.
A. At the risk of sounding like your grandmother, you get what you pay for.
If you want good wedding photographers, usually you have to pay a good wage – there are exceptions, but they’re… exceptional. You can’t count on being one of the very lucky people who gets amazing photos without paying for them – it’s really, really unusual and very risky.
Q. Why should I hire a wedding photographer? My best friend is a fantastic photographer and will be offended if I choose anyone but her.
A. I’m not going to try to talk you out of this entirely: I’m only going to talk you out of it 95 per cent. I’ve shot friends weddings. If you read all this and still want to hire your friend, Godspeed.
a) Shooting a wedding is really hard work. It’s ideally really fun and an honour… but if your photographer’s back isn’t killing her by the first dance, she’s doing it wrong. If you’re not paying your friend, that’s an incredibly generous wedding present she’s giving you.
b) Friends usually have a great time at weddings, dancing and drinking and eating and chatting and dabbing hankies at their eyes while you’re saying “I do” and all that. If your friend is doing all those fantastic friend things, she’s not shooting. If your friend is shooting instead of doing all those fantastic friend things, your other friends will be constantly grabbing her and telling her to put the camera down and do tequila shots with them. When you hire a non-friend instead of using someone who would be there anyway, your photographer won’t have those distractions (and they’ll hopefully stay sober).
c) Does your photographer friend shoot weddings regularly? Because even the most exceptional art/wildlife/fashion/underwater/crime-scene/pet/travel photographers might still screw up your wedding. Weddings are really weird things to shoot. An experienced wedding photographer will know what to expect and will bring the right gear.
d) Turning up and shooting’s one thing, but the real work starts once your wedding photographer gets back to her studio. It basically takes FIVE MILLION YEARS* to get the pictures off the memory cards and turn them into the spectacular finished product you’re going to adore for as long as you both shall live. I’m not even going to get into the process because it would bore you to tears (unless you’re a photographer; photographers are obsessed with hearing about this stuff) so I’ll just say that you want someone who’s done this before.
e) Dealing with contracts and money with friends gets really awkward. It might not seem like it at first, but it does. Plus, it’s tempting for both sides up be overly relaxed with each other and gloss over details that later turn out to have been really important.
Q. Why should I hire a wedding photographer? My sister got a wedding photographer and the pictures were so terrible we’re still making fun of her for them three years later.
A. First off, good job for keeping up the time-honoured tradition of being mean to your siblings! I approve wholeheartedly.
Secondly, that’s awful. I hate that there are terrible photographers who don’t give you gorgeous wedding pictures that you’ll love and your great-grandchildren will one day treasure. I want every bride and groom to love their wedding photos, even if it’s not me shooting them.
You’ve definitely got a point. Hiring just any old wedding photographer isn’t a good idea. You’d probably be better off with your uncle’s wife’s nephew’s neighbour taking camera-phone pictures for free than hiring a really rubbish wedding photographer. (My Russian teacher’s daughter’s wedding photographer shot everything with a fish-eye lens. Everything. Everyone looked like aliens. It was awful. There were tears.)
But, have heart: not all wedding photographers are rubbish. Some are actually quite good! And a few even really care about both the process and the result: a brilliant wedding day, and brilliant wedding pictures.
When you’re choosing your shooter, study their wedding photography portfolio, study their non-wedding photography too, read every word of their website, make them take you out for fancy coffee with whipped cream and nutmeg in top and possibly even some cake. Get to know their photographs and get to know them. If they’re the really good kind of wedding photographer, they’ll want to get to know their bride and groom, too.
Q. Why should I hire a wedding photographer? I don’t want some random stranger at my wedding.
A. The wedding photographer you hire won’t be a random stranger, because you’ll have seen tons of their work, read their blog, followed their chatty wedding photography Twitter account, gone out for coffee with them, and only hired them after you felt like you were really excited to be working with them, right? Good.
*only a very slight exaggeration
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