There is a lot to be said for a relative or friend taking your wedding photographs and my first wedding photography 'booking' was for my brother over thirty years ago. I am writing this article to clarify a few key points from my perspective on the difference between a relative taking wedding photographs and a professional.
My brother's wedding I did as a present for him and I included a beautiful album too. Cannot say I was not just a bit anxious as it was my first time organising a lot of people in front of a camera, although training as a teacher at the time did help, and no doubt I made lots of mistakes. It was also back in the days of film and I had to wait for the negatives and the prints to come back from my high street chemist before I knew I had captured it as well as I did, all very stressful. In those days as an amateur I had a dark room and specialised in black and white edits and have included a few of my modern black and whites in this blog.
By the way, I am not in any of my brother's wedding photographs!
So like me Uncle Tom is a loved family member, a passionate amateur photographer, and he will certainly get good images of your wedding. They will be special because he took them and he will have an advantage in that everyone will relax because they know him and trust him. Many people do have a relative or friend taking their wedding photos and although I don't know for sure, many people will love their wedding pictures because they were taken by someone close to them.
But, is it fair on Uncle Tom? He will be put under some demanding expectations and however reassuring his family are, he will feel under a lot of pressure. He too will also not be in any of the pictures!
Or, does the bride and groom, and everyone including Tom want to be carefree about the wedding photographs, relying on me, a professional, to make sure the images are wonderful? Tom can certainly take pictures, I always encourage people to join in as long as I am able to do my work.
Now I have referred to uncle Tom, but this applies equally to Auntie Julie, not to mention any family or friend who loves their photography just like I do.
Photographic and wedding experience
A professional like myself has the photographic and wedding experience to get those photographs that people will love and use to remind them of a wonderful wedding day. I am very used to the pressures of photographing one of the most important days of a couple's life together and there are so many brides and grooms who will vouch for this. Brides and grooms, and Tom, want to enjoy the wedding. Will he get stressed out not wishing to let them down?
Tom may well have taken some wonderful pictures in the past: landscapes, family pictures and the like, and some may even hang on the wall at home- beautiful. As a professional I have taken thousands of wedding images under all sorts of lighting conditions. I am not only applying my understanding of light, photojournalism, portraiture and artistic composition but I am continually learning and developing as a professional. There are hundreds of online galleries, framed images, photobooks and weddings albums providing my clients with fantastic works of art.
Uncle Tom is a fantastic accountant and loves photography because it is so different from work. Uncle Tom may even have done some people management courses and is willing to do a bit of research on wedding photography on Google and Youtube. However, I have an open and friendly persona and have learnt through experience to get on with people and make them smile, even if I have only just met them, gaining their confidence quickly and leaving them having enjoyed the experience of being photographed. I am beyond worrying about camera settings and knowing how the composition of the photograph will work; I am into the soft skills of working with the bride and groom, their family and friends, to get the very best images which reflect their memories of their day.
Cameras do not take pictures, photographers do!
Uncle Tom probably has a really good camera and other equipment, he is an enthusiast after all. When I go to a wedding I also have all sorts of backup equipment, I backup all the image files I make because my cameras take two memory cards. I shoot in what is called ‘manual mode’ giving me full artistic control of how the camera records the light and situation; this is where the creativity comes in.
I also guarantee the tones and colour quality of my images and do all the editorial work on them before clients see them. I have specially calibrated screens in my studio which show the picture as it would come out of the printer. Uncle Tom does very well with the equipment that is personal to his photographic needs, wild life photography, etc., but he is not generally using it to photograph weddings every weekend.
Contracted and insured – it is peace of mind
Assured and insured
I will talk to brides and grooms about exactly which pictures they would like, take them in the style they prefer, and present them in a way that will amaze, and I will commit that to a signed contract. If anything goes wrong I carry business and public liability. I pay for insurance, it is one of my costs. I am afraid that if anything goes wrong for Tom there may be a lot of sincere apologies and sorrow. Let’s also hope no one is upset or injured tripping over the camera bag and does not want to sue!
Pre-care and after-care
My reputation your recommendation
I take time to meet brides and grooms, set up engagement shoots in my studio and at the venue. I listen to the bride and groom and give them my advice on what will make for the very best images. I have experience of what does and does not work. I work with Jorgensen and Acerboni to make up the most beautiful of albums and presentations of your images. Uncle Tom does not have access to such companies who only make up albums for professionals with whom they have an ongoing working relationship.
My camera, computer, printers and professional print laboratories are all calibrated so that what you see is what you get. It is in my interest to make sure you are more than happy with my pictures so that you recommend me to all your family and friends. You can read reviews of my work on Google or Freeindex. Uncle Tom will do what he normally does to his pictures, he may use top professional standard software or not, but he is unlikely to have access to market leaders in the presentation of images.
Price and value
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get
Uncle Tom will do the wedding for nothing, no charge because he loves the bride and groom and he will do his very best. I do not love you, but I might like you. I am a quality wedding photographer and this means I am not necessarily cheap, although I do try to be competitive, and if you are on a budget a bespoke level of service can be discussed and for part of your wedding you can have the very best.
I would say that wouldn’t I!
Yes, I want people's business, because I think I can give them something that Uncle Tom cannot. I add value because I have a friendly professional approach to providing people with such high quality images that they will come back for more in the future: anniversaries, first child portrait, family portraits, even their own children’s weddings!
Final choices are always the bride and groom's.
All the images for this article were taken at Rowton Castle, an exceptional venue in the heart of the Shropshire countryside.