In today’s digital and social environment, smartphones are becoming increasingly necessary for communicating, documenting, and sharing life’s greatest moments. To keep up with this societal change, smartphone cameras have vastly improved and are now incorporating features found on professional cameras. Articles are popping up on the web and in print about how we can now start taking pictures on our phones that are just as good as the ones we get from paid professional photographers. But I think there are a few key reasons why you shouldn’t be so keen on jumping ship from hiring professionals and relying on your friends and family members to document your day for you.
For starters, a wedding photographer isn’t JUST taking pictures on your wedding day.
Oftentimes behind the scenes, we’re running point on issues, gathering family members, and keeping track of the schedule of the day so you don’t have to. As a bride or groom, you should be focusing on just having fun and celebrating the day away! After all of that planning, why would you want to be the one organizing your family for pictures when you can hire a professional photographer to do that for you?
Wedding photography also sets the tempo and rhythm of your entire day, and a great wedding photographer will work with you to create and edit the timeline of your day with you. That means there’s one less project you have to do by yourself in the midst of wedding planning! Since your photographer is often in charge of the pace of the wedding day, he/she is one of the only wedding vendors (other than perhaps your wedding coordinator) that is with you from when you start getting ready to when you’re saying goodbye at the end of the night. They’re even with the bride more than her spouse is on her wedding day! You’ll want to have a professional by your side that you really get along with and trust since they’ll be with you not just during the celebratory parts of the day but also the potentially stressful parts too.
“Hiring” your friends and family to make sure your day is captured will likely create more stress!
There won’t be one person who is fully committed to making sure all of the details and story of your wedding day is captured for you. In fact, there is a good chance that your friends and family will be too busy enjoying your wedding day to remember to capture it! After all, you want them to attend your wedding too! You also might get a very truncated view of your day. For example, the same friend who wants to take your portraits during the reception probably won’t be there in the morning to capture you stepping into your bridal gown and the tearful embrace between mother and daughter afterward. Which takes me to my next point:
Being a photographer is more than just owning a fancy camera.
Professional wedding photographers photograph hundreds of weddings during their careers and have the skills and experience to show for it. They know what to expect on your wedding day and can handle tough situations. More importantly, they how to anticipate moments. What happens if your friend gets so caught up in the vow exchange that they forget to open their camera to capture the kiss? What if your friend records your first dance, but forgets to record the father/daughter dance or mother/son dance until partway through? Wedding photographers also know how to read a scene and sneak quick photos of often-missed moments. But most importantly, wedding photographers are able to consistently take high-quality photos in the tricky and ever-changing lighting scenarios of a wedding day. Your friend or family member that only takes photos in good weather and good lighting, might be ill-equipped to handle a rainy day or that gross yellow tungsten light in your getting ready space. Even most smartphone cameras will still take poor photos or have trouble focusing in poor lighting!
Professional photographers also know that, in addition to all of the hard work you put in planning, your vendors put a lot of work into your day as well.
All wedding vendors will all want portfolio-worthy imagery of their work to share and use for their businesses. A professional photographer understands these vendor needs and works to make sure they are satisfied. A friend or family member won’t know how to deliver these images, who to deliver them to, or might not even be able to take the kind of quality photos that are needed! This also ties into my first point that wedding photographers are often taking care of additional wedding day needs beyond just photographing the important points during the wedding day.
What about bad weather? What if your friend falls ill or their phone dies? Professional photographers always have a plan B, and sometimes even a plan C, D, and E for wedding days.
As stated before, a professional photographer is always anticipating moments, timelines, and equipment needs and rarely has time to immerse his or her self fully in the celebration. Your friend might not have enough experience with their camera to anticipate just how draining a wedding day can be on a photographer’s physical health, mental health, and their equipment. Most people aren’t on their feet 10-14 hours of the day or know how to stay energized on little food and minimal breaks! In addition, assuming your friend has an inexpensive camera, they might not know just how long their camera battery lasts, or how many memory cards they’ll need for a full day of photographs. They also might not expect a worst-case scenario, or have the ability to afford a backup plan!
Wedding photography is an investment but truly one that is worth it. Hiring a professional photographer means you’re investing in planning assistance, day-of coordination, beautiful pictures in any lighting situation, and the overall peace of mind required for a stress-free day. I highly encourage anyone who is considering having a friend or family member photograph their wedding, to just invite that friend or family member as a guest. That way they can truly celebrate with you rather than worrying about capturing the day in a vendor role!