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Is it worth gambling your memories with a novice wedding photographer?

15 September 2017

As the wedding excitement bubbles over like the Champagne-filled glasses, brides and grooms begin planning a picture-perfect day that will capture their personalities and be remembered fondly forever.

The Scribbler is well aware of how expensive a wedding can be – and has the receipts and credit card bills to prove it.

However, while it is understandable that people want to reduce unnecessary costs in as many areas as possible, scrimping on the photographer by going with a very cheap (or even free) option isn’t usually the answer.

Tales of photo woes are all too common in such circumstances – from poorly-executed snaps with the main parties out of focus through to losing all of the pictures because they weren’t backed up.

The Scribbler spoke to Kate Mallender, a professional photographer based in Yorkshire, to pick through the potential pitfalls of going for the budget option with your wedding pics.

“I am employed to do a job,” she said. “If a friend or family member decides to do the pictures, they often get distracted – or in other words… drunk! Also, they don't feel they can organise people to get the shots that are needed.

“With a professional photographer, you get years of experience, excellent equipment and, most importantly, back-up equipment in case something fails!!”

Everyone thinks they can take a good picture these days, especially with high-resolution photographic technology available at our fingertips on smartphones.

However, Kate urges brides and grooms-to-be not to cut corners with the photographer.

“You need someone to capture pictures that tell the full story of the day, and capture your memories for a lifetime,” she added.

The Scribbler agrees with Kate… and together, we’ve put together the top four reasons why trying to trim down your bulging wedding budget by asking a friend or family member to step in and shoot your wedding is not the answer! Trust us – we’re professionals.

1. Pros deliver top-notch results

At the end of it all – the photos are all that’s left. Once the cake is gone and the flowers are dead, it’s the memories and the photos that will last forever. Professional photographers will know to shoot all the details and get candid and gorgeous shots that you will be able to reflect on with a smile.

“Almost everyone I work with wants natural shots, but when they show me exactly what it is they like, I tell them it’s posed,” Kate explained. “That’s where experience comes in; knowing how to make posed shots look natural and stunning.

“It’s my experience that helps me to notice little details like a necklace that has turned around with the fastener showing or something like that. A friend with a point-and-shoot could snap away, but to get the ‘money shot’ you need experience.”

Each venue also provides different challenges for a photographer, with lighting conditions, backdrops, and unpredictable weather.

2. Photographers are experts at rounding up the herd

Weddings are wonderful events, not only for the couple, but for all the family and friends that might not have seen each other for months – or even years! It’s beautiful to see everyone catching up and laughing in groups, but with the drinks flowing, things can get rowdy pretty quickly.

“Having a professional at your wedding brings in the experience of being able to round people up… and it can be like herding cats,” Kate said.

“You need someone who’s going to be polite and warm, but firm. Many photographers end up barking orders and people moan about photographers – so you need to make sure they have good experience.”

According to Kate, it makes her life easier by adding a second photographer to help capture all the reactions and moments that should be documented and remembered forever.

Weddings have a lot of transitions. From the ‘getting ready’ shots at the hotel, to the church or venue, then on to the after party. Therefore, a photographer needs to get all the shots at each ‘stop’ and then be at the next place before everyone else arrives. A second photographer certainly lightens the load. It might not help in terms of cutting costs, but you get what you pay for.

3. A snapper can help to organise the order of the day

A good photographer, like Kate, will actually become integral in guiding the bride and groom through the order of the day during the planning process. Kate says many couples don’t even think about this aspect of their plans until they meet to discuss the flow of the day, so that the photographer can plan when to get certain group shots or ‘getting ready’ shots.

“I need to know what time the bride is getting in her dress, with bridesmaids getting into their dresses first so that I can get some shots of them helping her into her dress,” Kate said.

“I also need to know how many group photos I’m taking and who needs to be in them. From there, I can work out roughly how long that will take me and that usually helps other people like the caterers in terms of knowing when everyone will be available to start serving food,” Kate added.

Kate emails, phones and sits down with the couple a few times during the planning stages to hammer out all of the details and to find out what it is exactly that the couple is looking for. Photographers understand the preferences of the bride and groom and also spend time making them feel comfortable before the big day.

Kate added that experience in the field has helped her to show people how to relax in front of a camera, since so many people stiffen up as soon as they get a lens pointing at their face.

“I try to have a laugh and joke with nervous brides, and guys are often really nervous about the big day too,” she said. “Photographs help people relax throughout the course of the day and I’ll try to prompt people with little poses and it brings out the most natural and candid photos.”

4. Friends and family want to enjoy the day 

It’s a massive undertaking to shoot a wedding, with so much pressure and expectation hanging in the balance – especially if it’s for someone that you hold dear. As lovely a gesture as it may be to volunteer to take pictures for the family of a friend or loved one, a true friend should be a part of your wedding, enjoying the social aspects and touching moments. If they are concerned with capturing it through a lens, they won’t be engaged in the day and will probably be drifting around on the outskirts watching all the fun unravel.

Not only are they missing out, but if it all goes wrong for technical reasons or the lack of experience kicks in, it would be a sad outcome if the relationship between the snapper and the couple could be tainted.

Wedding photos are a big deal and should not be taken lightly, but even the best intentions can turn sour.

Wedding photographers only get one chance to get it right and moments are fleeting. While everyone thinks they can take a good photo these days, it takes a true professional to capture the important stills that will last forever.