I bet you didn’t expect to see a full-time professional wedding photographer posting about the alternative options… well, at least not in a (semi) positive way!!
So lets continue with the surprises. Do I think that there can be a place in your big day for your photographically inclined friends/family, social media or iPhone apps? Yes. Yes I do. But done right.
Firstly I am going to ask you why? Why are you considering this? I bet one of the first reasons that comes to mind is the cost. I know, a full time professional photographer isn’t cheap. I mean, we have huge expenses, 2/3- 3/4 of what we charge gets swallowed up in running our business before we even pay ourselves, but thats a post for another day. Let’s just move on and say yes. I understand cost is an issue. So why would I suggest considering using friends and even apps?
Simple. If you are on a tight budget. I suggest you use a Professional photographer AND those things.
I’m going to run the risk of having a whole chunk of the wedding photography community put a photo of me on their dartboard for this, but I’m going to say it. You are far, far better off to book a serious full time photographer for 5 hours at $3000 than a weekend warrior, part time hobbyist for 12. Why? well we are single mindedly focused on you. Not just on the day, but for the days leading up, and for a week or more afterwards. YOU are our 9-5 Monday to Friday that week. Not a job teaching, not a job as a police officer. Not a job as a receptionist (and I am totally not dissing those jobs or the people that do them... my wife is a full time teacher, and she will be the first to point out that doing her job properly leaves no time to shoot a wedding and edit it) There are no distractions to our attention, we are focussed on you. Also, we spend more time immersed photography. We dedicate more time, money and effort into the craft than someone playing with it after work. Generally, the quality will be way, way better, your images will be more secure and you will have much better options for presenting your images. There. I said it. So how does that fit with using friends and apps?
My suggestion is to book the quality professional photographer for the most important bits. 5 hours will get the last of your prep, you leaving for the ceremony, the ceremony, photos afterwards and the start of the reception. With some smart scheduling you can tick off the major items there too and know that your most important moments are captured professionally and are in safe hands.
So where do the friends and apps come in? The rest of the day. The places your professional photographer isn’t.
I think the best way to explain this is to give hypothetical example of how it could work for your wedding with just 5 hours of coverage booked.
So here’s your day. Your day starts at 9am with a champagne breakfast. You have sent all your bridal party, family and guests an invitation to use the Wedbox app, and upload all their phone photos from the day to it instead of uploading anything to social media on the day. You have also created a unique hashtag for Instagram and let everyone know to use that as well for any photos posted after your wedding day (you don’t want people to see you in your dress before you walk down the aisle).
During bridal prep and groom prep, you have asked those members of your squad that have sweet smartphone photography skills to keep snapping away and uploading. Add to that you mum who is a keen hobbyist photographer with a decent DSLR, and you will end up with a heap of photos showing your day from a tonne of different perspectives…now not all will be keepers, but we are compromising quality for savings here, so thats ok. In reality , you will probably get more good ones than you would have if you’d gone with that photographer offering all the day, two “photographers” and the kitchen sink package for $1500.
So the first few hours of your day have been covered by “crowd-sourced” photos.
At 2 pm your professional photographer arrives and starts creating beautifully crafted images of you having the final touches applied to your hair and makeup, your dress fastening, your jewellery and getting into the car to leave. They then head to the ceremony about 10 minutes before you to start shooting there. The rest is pretty standard professional coverage. Ceremony, post ceremony photos, bridal party photos. The reception kicks off at 6, so in that first hour of the reception, you do an early cake cut, and have an early first dance before the meals get into full swing. Your photographer leaves at 7, and the rest of the night your friends and family are snapping away, filling your wedbox account upon with hundreds of photos. As the formalities are done, you get your MC to announce that its open season on Instagram etc, as long as all photos have your specified hashtag on them for you to collate them later. (and no, from a photographers perspective, if my couples are happy for their guests photos to go out before they get mine, I really don’t mind. I believe that my work can hold its own against drunk iPhone instagram filtered snaps, and I also don’t thing that these being out there will lessen your excitement and anticipation of receiving my photos.)
The end result? You get the photographer you want, to create the images that you have dreamt of, you have the most precious memories in safe hands, and then you have a wedbox account full of 100 different peoples perspective of your day, from which, you will be able to pull some fantastic shots.
In a nutshell, rather than hire a “cheap” photographer giving you everything for $3000, hire the professional for less time and let your friends capture the rest for you! It is far far better to have 200 great photos than 1000 really average tacky ones.
In all honesty, we know that smartphone cameras and apps are getting better and better. Does this worry me as a photographer? No. I am not hired for my camera. I am hired for my creativity, for the quality of my work, for the way I tell a story, for my trained eye that sees the moments that might be missed. A smartphone cannot replace a trained, dedicated and experienced professional… They can, and probably will however replace those $1500 “part-time” people with regular 9-5 jobs and treat photography “side-hustle”, as they can rarely provide what those of us invested 100% in our craft and clients can.
There. I said it. Now don’t stress about that lower budget, just use it wisely.