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It’s definitely not a new topic, but the hot debate over whether or not you should use a friend or a professional to shoot your wedding photographs is a popular and widely discussed one. I have shot several weddings and have stood next to the barrage of friends and family lining up for a shot on their iphone or, increasingly more common, their D-SLR. But relying on a friend or member of your family to capture your magical and most special day can have more problems than benefits.

Before I ramble on much more though -I do want to add that if anybody is looking for a photographer and wants some top tips on who to find and what sort of prices to look for – then do let me know. Whilst I’m in the business, it’s not my full time job. My hobby is to capture the magical moments, or to help somebody else know where to go to find the best people. I won’t dissuade you from asking me for a quote, I’d love it in fact. But I will always give tips and advice too with absolutely no obligation that you let me walk down the aisle with you. Metaphorically speaking…

The main, most obvious benefit, is cost. Wedding Photographers are expensive. For the most part you can pay anything upwards of ¬£1500 for your Photographer and that will get you a days worth of shooting and anything from 30 – 40 hours of work from the Photographer after the wedding is over. It would likely get you a beautiful photo album and prints – the biggest cost to the photographer in shooting your wedding. But really in this modern day where we are surrounded by the ability to develop and do things that we once relied on others for – do you need that? For ease, time-saving and speed – your answer would probably be yes. However that’s not always best. My parents paid a considerable amount back in the day when they got married, for a wedding photographer. They look back at their album now and are disappointed – greatly so – with the results. Most of the guests that they remember being present are missing from the photographic memoir. They have a handful of shots, most of which are staged and stiff.

So getting your friend to shoot your wedding and hand over the shots afterwards seems the better option right now. However there’s a new wave of professionals with a completely different price range, different skillsets and a vastly improved outlook. The Candid and Journalistic Photographers amongst us are beginning to shine. And why? It’s because they don’t promise the best, they don’t offer the full works but because of these factors, they don’t charge you more than the average wedding dress. Yet, they aren’t your best friend or cousin.

Using a potential guest to shoot your wedding is already a mistake in itself. Weddings carry emotional moments, and getting caught up in those moments is quite easy – especially if you’re a female! Before you know it, vows are said, kisses are exchanged and you’ve not taken a single shot because you’ve been clutching a tissue to your eyes and gazing in adoration at the happy couple.

The two most important things to consider when looking for a wedding photographer and contemplating the sorts of things that you’d like captured on your big day (aside from the usual) are as follows:

  • You must take your photographer to the ceremony location or be able to describe it in intricate detail so that they have a feel for lighting, room, space and positioning. Any Photographer that doesn’t ask, that doesn’t even attempt to scout out the venue is simply not worth your time let alone your money.
  • Your Wedding Photographer will be investing hours of their time into you. You will be investing one of the happiest days of your life – and a considerable amount of money – into them. You must be happy with the decisions you are making and the person that will be capturing your every breathing moment on the day that you get married.

I have had many brides and the occasional groom ask me for advice on picking a wedding photographer in their local area. (By the way I do travel!) I’ve always stressed the same thing – the candid and journalistic approach will get your more images, more casualness and in general a better essence of the day. Paying excruciating amounts of money for a Photographer that specialises in portraits and portraiture only – may be what some people wish to do. However there is another option out there – a considerably more cheaper option that gives you more scope. Artistic flair is not a crime. If your prospective photographer has a colourful spectrum of photography in their portfolio ranging from landscapes to people, from food to journalism – then they might well be the person for you.

Being creative is not a flaw and if you can find a photographer that will make up shots, stage moments and make a reality of the photographs you only dream of then don’t let go of them. These people are rare. You don’t need somebody who can organize your in-laws in order of height and ensure the children have their hands clasped¬† in exactly the same way. Nobody takes a stance like that in real life and I doubt that Great Great Grandma Mary wants to be remembered as a woman who couldn’t crack a smile. Your perfect wedding photographer is somebody who can capture the casual smiles, the natural positions and who, where required, can help tie up a wedding dress.

For more information on the Candid Approach to Wedding Photography please check out my portfolio which is full of exactly those sorts of images. Additionally there are some other fantastic guides out there to help you with finding the right one (and at this point you do need to already have a groom/bride!) and choosing the right one.

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