Do you need a professional wedding photographer?

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Recently I’ve noticed a trend for more of the couples I’m working with to be considering perhaps not booking a professional photographer. Most of these couples have swerved in the run up to the big day and booked someone, perhaps a friend-of-a-friend who is a photographer and luckily willing and able to step in.

I must admit, I’ve always felt relieved when the photographer has fallen into place. I see first-hand just how much their wedding photographs mean to couples. A few months after the wedding, perhaps they’re still doing battle with the thank-you cards but apart from that, whilst it is all still so emotionally vivid to them, there are fewer and fewer visual reminders of the day.

It is so much easier to re-live all these precious moments when you have beautiful photos to look at, to share with each other and your friends and family. The photos jog memories and other people share their anecdotes of the day that you will treasure in years to come. Professional wedding photographers will capture all the stand-out moments of your wedding, as well as some of the details you simply didn’t have time to pause and take in fully on the day.

I know just how much joy viewing the photographs bring me as your celebrant. For couples, taking receipt of their wedding gallery can be the biggest and best wedding gift they could possible invest in for themselves.

Equally, I do understand that many couples need to think carefully about costs. Weddings shouldn’t have to cost the earth and there are some hard choices to be made when you’re on a budget. But I’ve also known couples who didn’t book a photographer and later regretted it, and I’ve heard some horror stories of couples who economised on a bargain-basement photographer, and received images that were so much less than professional. So, I’ve done some anecdotal research via social media and via the power of google, gained some insights on both sides of the debate.

quirky, alternative wedding newly wed couple with a steam punk style under rainbow umbrella with blue smoke in the background

I also caught up with local photographer Caz Holbrook to seek her advice and insights from working in the field. Caz is based in Ross-on-Wye, she’s a local girl and has over 20 years’ experience in wedding photography. She loves quirky and alternative weddings, and all weddings where couples’ individuality is expressed.

If you genuinely aren’t interested in photographs, and would get no real satisfaction from having a set of gorgeous images that capture your happiness on your big day.  If you don’t want photos of the friends and family you gathered around you, or that capture all the special, beautiful details you agonised over.  If that is how you feel, I completely respect your decision not to book a photographer.

As your celebrant, my role is to help you champion your day your way, and it’s certainly not my place to query photography choices with a couple I’m working with who feel happy and confident with their decision. But I do see some couples decide to avoid a photographer, based on false economies and false logic. So, I’m hoping this blog post will be a diplomatic way to highlight the issues and hopefully help others avoid a decision that they might later regret.

There are only 3 GOOD reasons not to book a wedding photographer:

  • you don’t like photographs
  • you’d never look at them
  • you can’t afford to choose any professional elements in an entirely DIY wedding.

But here are 5 common but BAD Reasons not to book a professional photographer.

1. Photography takes too long and will ruin the flow of our day

No smoke without fire on this one, it is true, photography can be time-consuming. Not that many guests will complain if you are plying them with fizz and canapés… But if an epic photo-shoot is not your bag, photography really doesn’t have to take a big chunk out of your day. You don’t need to have any more formal group shots than you wish to; just think it through in advance and prioritise the group photographs that seem essential to you. Your older relatives for instance may not be well-represented in informal party shots taken in the evening. And they may not be mobile enough to photo-bomb you throughout the day! So, a picture with your grandparents might make even the shortest of scripted photo shot lists.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that ‘disappearing for your couple photos’ can be a lovely chance to steal some quiet time together on such a busy and emotionally-overwhelming day. Maybe just arrange to take couple of glasses of fizz with you when you sneak off with your photographer!

2. You’re not interested in posed, formal shots

If that ‘dip and kiss’ straight off the Strictly dance floor, or staring inanely into the distance, are not your style – all respect to you for that! But fear not, there will be photographer out there who shares your abhorrence for the photo clichés and is committed to working with a natural and documentary-reportage style. You can choose to work with a photographer that will capture the real moments as they unfold. The post-ceremony bear-hugs, the biggest grins, the silly antics.

Caz comments “my style of wedding photography doesn’t include much in the way of posing at all. I love catching photographs of people when they are unaware – natural, relaxed photographs.”

candid photograph of the bouquet toss by Caz Holbrook


3. You hate the camera

This is a really understandable reason why some couples veer away from booking a photographer. But in the long run, it is probably a reason you would regret giving in to. Instead, tackle your nervousness head-on by finding a photographer that you feel relaxed and comfortable around.

Caz recommends booking a pre-wedding shoot (all her full day wedding package offer a complimentary couple shoot or can be added to your package if you’re booking less than a full day wedding photography). “I always suggest an outdoor lifestyle portrait shoot. I’ve had couples choose a variety of locations from where they met, a castle they’ve always wanted to visit, or just a stroll up in the woods with their dog.”

The session will really help you get used to the camera so you can relax on your wedding day. And chances are, when the pressure is off, you will surprise yourself and enjoy it!

4. Your friend can do just a good a job and/or everyone will send you photos.

Our camera phones are undoubtedly getting better and more whizzy every year. On the small-screen they can produce some amazing images. But if you’re considering ‘crowd-sourcing’ your wedding photographs just remember they rarely look as good printed and you can’t be sure that the quality for larger prints or canvases. Other pitfalls are that the coverage of your day may be patchy, and the best images may never even make it off the phones and onto your shared google album.

Perhaps you have a friend in mind that has the grid of dreams on Instagram and you thought you might ask them to take photographs for you. Beware, weddings are an altogether different beast. You’re only going to walk down the aisle once, not several times until it looks right. You can’t instruct guests to walk back 5 paces and 2 to the right ‘and do that laugh again.’ At crucial moments the sun may be coming from the wrong angle, or absent entirely, or it may be dazzling, casting dark shadows across faces. That’s where the professionals come into their own. They can read the light and are also adept at subtle venue and crowd management when they need to be.

In fact, wedding photographers are so good at being inconspicuous you may never have noticed how darn hard they are working. Who could blame your friend from be distracted by the emotion of the day and the fun of the party and not thinking ‘photo-first’ in every moment. But your pro will be entirely focused on capturing the best photographs throughout the day.

Caz comments: “A professional photographer will have experience on helping a face paced day run smoothly. They’ll know who to deal with every scenario when it comes to tricky lighting and they’ll be used to thinking and working fast if the weather isn’t’ the best too. They’ll also be insured and have the right kit to get the best possible results whatever the location or the light conditions. Finally, they will also take the time to give your wedding photographs that added polish in professional editing software.”

a newly-wed couple, in the dark, holding umbrellas kiss in the rain, with the light reflecting off the raindrops


5. It’s too expensive, and you’d rather spend the money on your honeymoon

I must admit I am torn on this reason. As a general rule I do agree that experiences are more important than things. But are photos things? Or are they just a visual tool, that even years later will help you jump straight back into your memories of the day? You will have many holidays in your future lives together but only one wedding day. Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be the one defining holiday of your life. And when you’re crazy in love – you can make a windswept weekend in Skegness fun and memorable! Good photographs are also a record and a legacy and you can be sure that future generations are going to be 100% more interested in looking at your wedding photographs than contemplating how luxurious your honeymoon may have been.

Long after every last crumb of cake has been swept away, the bouquet has hit the compost heap and the dress has been cleaned, boxed and stored, the moments captured in your wedding photographs will still be just as fresh and vivid as the very second the shutter went click.

Caz offers some advice on choosing a photographer “You’ll know you’ve found a good match if you feel comfortable with your photographer and if you like their style.”

relaxed newly wed embracing couple share a moment of laughter in their professional wedding photographs by Caz Holbrook

Caz also shared these tips on questions to ask when selecting a photographer:

  • Will they meet with you, without obligation prior to booking, to see if you are a good match and find out more about their photographic style?
  • Check they are fully insurance – public liability and professional indemnity insurance too.
  • Ask how many years’ experience they have.
  • If relevant, make them aware of any family disputes and check how they would handle those?
  • Check if they carry back-up kit in case of mechanical break-down.
All images featured: Caz Holbrook Photography

I hope this post has been of some help if you’re wavering. Good photography is certainly an investment. It’s an investment in beautiful images that will help you keep the memories of your wedding alive through the years to come. And if you want to make sure that these are powerful, joyful memories right from the start of your ceremony, let’s chat humanist wedding ceremonies ?