A couple of times each year I’ll miss out on a booking to a family friend or relative. I can’t say any more than that, as I have no idea whether the individuals are photographers or not. It makes me wonder how the photos from those couples weddings will end up. Will they be satisfied with what they receive?
I also realise that there’s a lot of chance that anything I write about this subject could be seen as nothing more than sour grapes. However, I’m a thick-skinned, bounce-back-quick kind of guy, so the grapes are very fast to fade. So here goes, a look at my fears for brides and grooms who ask Uncle Bob to do the photos for them.
Things to consider:
- Has Uncle Bob ever shot a wedding before?
This is important, because wedding photography is not just about sticking a lens in someone’s face and pulling the trigger (OK, maybe the grapes are still there, just a little!) Will Uncle Bob chat with the registrars or ministers about their preferences and rules around photographing the service? Will he visit the venue to talk to the planners about their plans and concerns? Will he be able to treat all the guests, old and young, with the friendliness they deserve?
- What if Uncle Bob’s camera breaks?
Has he brought back up equipment, just in case? Are his batteries fully charged? Does he have multiple sets of redundant batteries and storage cards, just in case? I once had a camera break down mid-shoot – but I’ve plenty of back up equipment. It’s the principle reason my bag is so heavy!
- Is Uncle Bob insured?
What if someone trips over his tripod leg or bag strap? Is Uncle Bob covered for Professional Liability? What if all his photos are terrible? (I’m full covered by the way…)
- Has Bob got alternative plans if things go wrong weatherwise?
Let’s be realistic here – we’re in the north west of the UK, so amazing weather is not necessarily going to be on the cards for your summer wedding day. Neither is the converse true for winter weddings. I always have a plan of where I’ll do the principal photography, should the heavens open on the day, all day. Has Uncle Bob done this?
- Finally, perhaps Uncle Bob would rather just be at the wedding to enjoy the day with you all?
Bottom line here is, I’m an employed professional whose job it is to stay sober and alert, all day, so as not to miss a moment, where humanly possible. Can you rely on Uncle Bob this way?
Now, you’re probably right. I still feel a bit sour when I lose out on a booking. But I think it’s important for brides and grooms to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls of asking a friend or relative to do the shoot for you. In my experience, this has been principally because, “They’ve got a nice camera.” Well, I’ve got three, but that in itself is not what makes me a professional photographer who can be trusted to record your wedding day in pictures. No, it’s the experience, the attention to detail, the ability to think on my feet if things go wrong, the people skills required to marshall a group of over a hundred people without offending anyone – the list goes on.
So if you’re not sure about hiring a professional (and I totally understand where cost is an issue – I’m not the cheapest out there) then please think long and hard about risking your day’s photography to someone who may just be saying yes because they don’t want to disappoint, or may be saying yes, because being asked has buffed their ego (dang, there’s them grapes again!). A good analogy is this: I also have a lovely set of spanners in my toolbox, but that doesn’t make me a mechanic. You’d be a fool to let me loose on your car! Likewise with asking a non-professional to photograph your wedding: you may end up regretting the decision and you can’t get those moments back again.