Friend or Pro

I want to talk to you about a topic that is coming up more and more in the wedding photography industry,  hiring a professional photographer vs friend. Please don’t take it that I am pushing you into spending money you may not have but I want to show you why the professional photographer is best.

I understand the temptation to cut costs and let your best mates friend do the photographs because he a) has a good camera and b) thinks he is David Bailey. While your wallet will thank you, gambling with your memories of the most important and not to mention expensive day of your life isn’t advisable.

Finding a professional wedding photographer that has a good track record and a great approach who is also an expert in lighting and composition is something you should research very carefully. Remember if you are not happy with your wedding pictures it is almost impossible to recreate them.

When deciding between a friend or a professional you need to be able to make decisions with your eyes wide open and look at all of the pitfalls of not hiring a pro. Year after year I hear of so many storys about the wreck of photos a ‘friend’ has left the bride and groom with.

The aim of this article is to make you aware of the downfalls that can occur when not using a pro, I want you to look back at your wedding with pride and no regrets at all.

When you hire a professional you really do get what you paid for, as with everything in life if something sounds too good to be true (Uncle Joe with a big camera and free of charge) then it probably is!

If you are not that bothered about your wedding photography or how the images will look at the end then I am not going to argue with you, however, it breaks my heart when I hear newly-weds say ‘I wish I had thought more about our photography, we spent so much on the cake/my dress/ flowers but our photographs just don’t represent how they really looked’

You have probably read other articles on how to and why choose a professional photographer, but I just want to help you make the difficult decision to invest so much of your hard earned cash in a photographer, that at the moment may not seem that important, and you can just get Uncle Joe to do it for free!? Please note that just because your ‘friend’ has a good camera, does not a good wedding photographer make!

Think a little bit more logically – you are about to embark on a life journey, planning, preparation, laughter and tears, you are about to spend the most you have ever spent on a party and celebrations. All of the details you plan, make and spend money on may just be a waste of time if you have no record of it at all. Can you be sure that your guests will remember the colour, vibrancy and romance in years to come? Will you?

Nonetheless it will look amazing to the eye on the day but will uncle Joe have the skills needed to capture it all?

I have photographed weddings for 12 years and it is bloody hard work! You have to understand that the romantic candle lit room you had your heart set on may look amazing in ‘real life’ but it requires a level of skill and experience to capture it.

Ok, so, your guests see how beautiful the wedding is on the day and everyone comments on how lovely it looks, the day goes by in a flash and before you know it, the caterers have gone home and the flowers are wilting, the cake has been gobbled and the bridesmaids are a little worse for wear, you have had a great day and you can’t wait to relive it over a coffee with your new spouse while looking through your images. Finally the day is here and you sit down ready to view your day, what do you expect to see? what do you want to get back from the images you are seeing? all the emotion, detail and bits you missed, will Uncle Joe’s  images take you back to the best day of your life or will the colours be flat, shadows dark, motion blurring in low light before he decides to hit the bar and forget the later part of the day? I can hear you say….. but Uncle Joe has a DSLR and takes great pictures of cars so he must be able to shoot a wedding of maybe 100 people in constant changing conditions and lighting… wrong!

I know that everyone has their own wedding budget and I don’t mean to nag, it is just that I feel very passionate about this subject, when you think how much money and time is invested in bridesmaids dresses and flowers etc I just think that a little bit of smart prioritising when it comes to the budget is definitely needed.

It is your wedding and you can of course choose whoever you like to photograph it, but when going with the cheaper option there are things to consider, keep your mind and your eyes wide open and remember no matter what no one will get the same results as a pro.

If I still haven’t convinced you and you decide you are a gambler after all, here are some things you need to address with your Uncle Joe…


  • take them to the wedding venue at the same time of day and season that the wedding is going to take place so that they can see the lighting conditions they are dealing with, get them to take some test shots to make sure they have the correct camera settings for each scene.


  • Show them how you intend on lighting the wedding and the reception area – lighting is so important.


  • Check their kit includes at least one low light (high aperture) lens of at least 2.8f or lower.


  • Research their work – shooting birds in the middle of the day is nothing like shooting a wedding, with so much going on, when it’s dark!


  • Plan an early ceremony, give them a fighting chance against the dark.


  • Consider having the lights turned up during important parts of the day, speeches, dance, cutting of the cake etc.


  • See how confident they are around people, crowd control is a huge part of the day


  • Make them shoot in RAW format, as you can have a bit more control over the final image in photo shop afterwards, if need be you can hire someone to rectify bad images. Pricey but you may need it.


If you really can’t afford a professional photographer then my advice is to spend as much as you can on getting the best within your budget, do your research and if you are using a non professional then be prepared to put some work in yourself.