Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

 In Advice, Photographers

Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

Evening ladies… Monday’s come around so damn quickly don’t they? I do hope you’ve had a goodie? Mine has been rather exciting as I’ve been putting the finishing touches together for my Find Your Wedding Vendor Directory. It’s a great place for you to start the search for your wedding vendors… So get stuck in and good luck… I hope you find the wedding service you’re looking for and please do feel free to give me any feedback.

Today’s guest post is written by the talented and passionate wedding photographer Cat Hepple. Cat discusses why it’s so important to hire a professional photographer and why it’s also a wise idea not to rely on a friend or family member. I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree… wedding photography is such an important aspect of your wedding day and not something that should be dismissed lightly…


“ Our family friend is going to do our photography”

Those few words send shivers down my spine. I always want to ask why, but most often I already know the reason… budget.

It seems like such a good idea when the never ending wedding costs are spiraling, to take up the offer of “free” photography from a friend with a nice camera, or a hobbyist who is keen to try their hand at wedding photography for your wedding day. But I can honestly say that more often that not, it’s a decision couples come to regret, deeply.

© 2012 Cat Hepple Photography

Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

I feel passionately about this issue, and yes of course you’d expect me to say that being a wedding photographer. But I felt strongly about it long before I changed careers and back in 2008 when I married, (then a reporter for the BBC), I knew that photography was something we absolutely should invest in. I could see that long after the dress was boxed and stored, long after the flowers had wilted and died, that’s how we would remember our amazing day, through incredible photographs. So we hired the best photographer our budget would allow and you know what, our photographs are utterly priceless. And they grow in importance each year as memories fade and we all grow older. I cannot put a value on how much they mean to us. Photographs are that important.

Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

I understand the financial pressure many couples face as they plan their big day. It’s tricky juggling a budget and fitting in everything you want. But to prioritize other areas over the only thing you’ll have left after the big day, makes no sense to me. Wedding photography is not just another thing on the wedding list to be ticked off- it’s not something you can gamble with, you get one go at this, there are no reruns, you can’t go back and do it all again. If you don’t like your wedding photographs, it’s simply too late. And that is why gambling on a friend getting it right for you, seems like madness to me.

You see wedding photography is a HUGE skill. It takes expertise, real expertise to cope with different lighting situations, to deal with the nuances of timings on a wedding day, to skillfully direct and record events, to understand exposure, composition, focus, balance, depth, to assess each image and re-touch skin and hair for example, to create stunning albums which tell a story. Wedding photographers don’t simply turn up on the day and take a few snaps. Most weddings equate to 2-3 weeks work for us, from engagement shoots, to editing, to venue visits, to planning, to the day itself and album design and all post production work. I could go on and on. There are so many elements to doing the job properly for each couple, and that’s before we even get onto the issue of vision, creativity, and versatility.

Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

I know it’s hard to imagine life beyond the wedding day, when all your focus is on that oh so special day ahead. Of course that’s natural and understandable. But there lies the problem I believe. Many couples simply don’t realize that once the big day has come and gone, their photography suddenly becomes far more significant and important. My couples often tell me that on honeymoon, lying on a beach, it’s what they are excited about, it’s suddenly so important to them that their images are amazing. They can’t wait to see them, share them and re-live their fabulous day.

So before you take up your friends offer, these are some important questions; ask them how many weddings have they shot before, can they shoot in low light, and after dark, have they shot a wedding in your season before, what is their experience if it rains? How do they store your images, how do they process them, are they fully insured, do they have back up equipment and full sets of all camera bodies and lenses in case of technical problems, ask them if they understand exposure, composition, and lighting- these are just some of the skills a professional brings, more often than not with plenty of experience and huge amounts of investment in training too.Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

In the last few months I’ve had emails from 2 brides, upset about the quality of the wedding photographs they have because they chose a family friend to record their big day. In both cases they were looking to pay for another shoot, this time with me, in the hope of creating some images they can be proud of. While I am of course always happy to help, I always feel frustrated too because no couple should be left in that situation. On the biggest day of your life, when you’ve invested time, effort and so much money into creating your perfect day, you should know that you will have fabulous images to cherish for the rest of your life. But you should also know this doesn’t come free.

It’s about priorities in the end. Each couple will have different ideas of what is important. Photography usually comes fairly high in that list, but then many go on to spend thousands on a venue and dress, only to try to cut corners with photography. But I can’t stress enough that I believe using a friend is not the way to do it. There are professional photographers out there within almost every budget. While top dollar doesn’t necessarily mean the best, with a professional you can ask to see full weddings they’ve photographed, you can see albums to assess their work, read testimonials from former clients, check on all of the issues I’ve already raised, and if you choose wisely you can then relax and know your wedding is in safe hands.

Hire A Professional Photographer: Not Your Friend | Wedding Advice

Wedding photographs should make you catch your breath, stop, daydream, smile and fall in love again. It’s one of the most amazing days in your life, don’t settle for anything less.

Such a great post Cat, I really couldn’t have explained the importance any better than this! You only have to look around the Internet and read the papers to hear about poor newlyweds who’ve ended up with no decent images {memories} of their big day.

So… have we helped to change your mind? Or do you already know the importance of your wedding photography and have it all worked out? I would love to hear your thoughts.



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Showing 10 comments
  • Reply

    Great post and a subject that we need to keep talking about, I keep hearing about couples who were disappointed by their wedding photography. Fab images Cat!

  • Laura Jayne

    Completely agree. Great article and beautiful images highlighting the point perfectly! It just isn’t worth the risk!!
    L xxx

  • Hannah Webster

    So true! Well written post, Cat. Couldn’t agree more. x

  • mcserverlist.net

    Great post! We will be linking to thіs great artіcle
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  • Sharron

    Such worldly-wise advice Cat. All too often I hear people say that they’ll “just get a friend to do it” and it breaks my heart. Your beautiful images hopefully will show couples what they will be missing! Sx

  • Lizzie Jones

    Definatley agree its so important, would not take the risk of disappointment by not having a professional!! You want your pictures to be special and to last forever!! They are your memories set in concrete! Cat’s pictures are amazing and so imaginative!! Love them!! xx

  • Cat Hepple

    Thank you for all the lovely feedback, especially to LIzzie, one of my brides. It’s nice to know so many agree with the advice.
    Good luck to everyone planning their big day.


  • Michael Freeman

    I used a friend for my wedding… but fortunately it was Craig from the fantastically brilliant McBeth Photographpy.
    Simply put his work is amazing.

    • Sonia

      Ha! There are of course, exceptions to the rule ;)

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  • Splendid Sundays 03.02.13 |

    […] really thought provoking blog post over on Want That Wedding – Hire a Professional Photographer : Not Your Friend  beautifully written  by Cat Hepple, from Cat Hepple […]

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