However, I personally think that there is a big difference between professional and amateur wedding photographs. Sure, your friend has a camera which looks half decent and they've uploaded a few nice photos to Facebook of their holiday to South America. But many photos did they take before they got one which looked half decent?
The problem with digital photography is that a monkey with a decent SLR camera could produce a few decent photos out of a several hundred bad ones.
At a wedding there are a few moments you need to get right as a photographer or you will miss them. And it's also much more complicated than discreetly hanging around taking natural photos of the sides of people's faces. At most weddings it requires creative ideas, a general willingness to shout at people and an understanding that there is a tight timetable because the parnsip soup starter is getting cold.
So, I'd say you've got three options from wedding photography:
- Rely on friends taking photos and accept that you will mostly end up with blurry iPhone photos of the back of your head
- Take a gamble on a hobbyist, who works in Tesco during the week but has a good quality camera and does half a dozen weddings a year. Some of these people are very good, but others are not. You can take a look at their website, but a handful of good photos doesn't mean a lot - see if you can see a whole album from a wedding instead. Of course, they tend to be cheap as it isn't their main income. Expect to pay a few hundred pounds.
- Cough up for someone who makes their livelihood from wedding photography. Again, try to look at a whole album from a wedding rather than a couple of nice photos on their home page. Expect to pay a thousand pounds or more.
If you go for the third option, there are still ways you can save yourself some money.
Firstly, take a look at the package on offer from the photographer. Often they include lots of extras which they will cut out if you are on a budget.
For our wedding, the quoted package included a hefty photo album. I asked for a quote for just a disc of photos and they cut it down to nearly half the price. I then made a photo album myself, which took me hours but was a big saving.
Second, decide which part of the wedding you want to have photographed. The high cost of wedding photography is often because you are asking them to attend from 9am for the bride's makeup, through to midnight when Uncle Ken is throwing up in the car park.
You may feel that photos of the wedding ceremony are all that you won't done professionally, so ask for a quote just for that. During the busy summer season you might find a busy photographer is reluctant to take a three hour job, but on a quieter day they will do you a reduced rate.
Thirdly, create a shared location for guests to give their photos. Images on Facebook are heavily compressed so they aren't great for printing off, so try to get the higher resolution versions. Most of your friend's photo will be blurry rubbish, but you'll find a few gems.
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