Feb 24

Should I Have a Friend or Relative do my Wedding Photography?

With newer model cameras on the current market, more people are entering photography as a hobby. Everyone seems to have a friend or family member who is “into” photography. It can therefore be very tempting to have such a friend be the official wedding photographer at your event. This may be a very tempting proposition to save money on your wedding.  Some points to consider:

Is this their first full wedding? No re-dos!

Wedding moments, candids, kisses, expressions, first bites of cake are some of the many important shots cherished by couples.  They typically can be captured by good timing within 1/40th -  1/80th a second time frame at best.  It can only take a pro who can “feel and know” when to get ready, compose and trigger the shutter button at the exact moment(s).

If you are not happy…then what? Will your friendship survive or be strained?

Quality of Equipment: Not all expensive cameras are created equal.

The single most noticeable thing I have found on the field are the hobbyist with cameras that do well in fair light, but suffer greatly in most typical darker settings. Does their cameras take adequate pictures in low light without being too dark or fuzzy or orange?

Do they know how to shoot in Manual? Some pros do not shoot in Manual, but most do. Full manual has the advantage of completely controlling the outcome of your images. Otherwise the camera is left to do the guess-work.

Professional have specialty lenses costing over $1,000 each, high-end powerful flashes (several) at about $400+ each, and cameras that take non-grainy images (over 2000 ISO) for dark reception halls and churches.

Do they have backup lenses, cameras and flashes? It is not uncommon to have some equipment failure happen.

What happens if their camera “freezes”, won’t turn on, etc. It happens. I was attending a friend’s wedding (as a guest only), and I brought one of my Non-field  cameras. I took about 15 shots or so while sitting in the pew. Suddenly it stopped working.

While shooting a wedding, one of my flashes clunked out. As an FYI, I have now 2 main flashes and 4 other flashes I also use. Breakdowns happen. It is Murphy’s Law in full swing. It is entirely possible that your friend/ relative may have the same thing happen.

I will say that a  typical photographer will take anywhere from 500-1200+ photos in a wedding, Especially when taking that many photos, equipment malfunction even with newer equipment can happen. With no back-up lenses, flashes, cameras, you leave your memories in a gambling situation.

Will they be able to adequately cover the Formals and get full and fair coverage?

They may end up talking to their friends and family…and easily miss something. It is easy to do…they know people there. :-)

Also, if they are related to the Bride, the Groom or groomsmen may not get photographed properly or at all. If the friend or relative know the Groom, they may take pictures of their friends and maybe not enough of your family and friends, parents, etc.

90% of the horror stories I hear about other Brides’ friends (or friend of friend, etc), can be traced back to that “photographer” having little or no real experience. Typically that will come from a friend/relative, or someone wanting to “get-into” the wedding business.

You owe it to yourself to have fabulous wedding pictures. It is a very special moment in your life and definitely one of the more expensive events you will have in your life. Why would you want to take such a chance on the only thing you will have to take away from that day – the pictures / memories on paper /disk / film not only for your enjoyment, but as a gift/heirloom for your children and grandchildren, etc.

Too many Brides have cried over lousy dark and fuzzy pictures (or not taken/missed).

Unless you have no choice to go this route, it may be worth the investment to hire a proven exclusive professional wedding photographer. Look at their full weddings…not just a highlighted few good pics from a few weddings. Do they have a constant high level of consistency? This is extremely important. Anyone can get a few lucky shots here and there.

Just like any other thing in life…you get what you pay for. Photography, like any other real profession, takes skill, equipment and a good personality, etc. and that is priceless when you consider that both in the short term as well as the long term. There are no “do-overs” in this area. Get it done right the first time and you won’t be THATBride who is left disappointed at the end.

by Maureen Sifuentes 2011

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