My Wedding Photographs Are Embarrassing

Wedding Photography: A Cautionary tale

rubbish wedding photos

Last week I had a Saturday off - unheard of in August in the good old days - and I went to a friends Birthday party in Prestwich. It was great to be out with my lovely wife at the weekend rather than waiting for the first dance to start in a green cast grim marquee in Cheshire. If ever I’m out at the weekend all I get is the same question, “ Not working?”. Then I’ll be introduced to someone I don’t know and once they find out I’m a wedding photographer they will invariably tell me they hated their own wedding photographs - funny how you never meet anyone who actually liked their pictures. At this party I met a recently married bride from London who told me a really interesting story which illustrates how even smart, clever couples can end up with some terrible wedding photos. Hopefully this will serve as a cautionary tale for brides to be...

 

“I’d heard the horror stories of the wedding pictures taken by Barry’s cousin Phil who happened to have done a short course in photography in 1986, and now likes to take his camera out at weekends and get intimate with the landscape. Or Tom, who’s currently at Stafford University doing Media Studies and sometimes assists a friends’s brother on  celebrity shoots for Heat Magazine. Lovely blokes, and very cheap - if not free - but these types have devastated many a bride after the event with blurry, badly lit pictures. Tempting though it was, I felt wised up to the fact that asking a friend or a cousin to do the pictures, can be a little bit dangerous.... it might pay off but the chances are you’ll be left disappointed.

I knew about these kind of mistakes - I did. I’m 39, and have been with Dave for 14 years and we have three children. I’ve been to countless weddings and helped practically all of my friends with planning their nuptials over the years.

And so when I got married last May, the one thing I knew was that I definitely wanted a professional photographer.

We live in London but wanted to get married in Dorset, which is where I’m from. We chose a beautiful venue in the form of a family friendly rambling hotel. We had a 150 guests including 24 children....

My best friend Sarah’s brother in Law is a professional wedding photographer. I’d met him once or twice as he and his family lived near me in London but I’d never looked at his work as up until we decided to get married, I’d never had reason to. Sarah gave me his website address and checked it out. I was blown away! He style was truly reportage but it was the quality of the light that struck me. His pictures were absolutely, heart-stoppingly beautiful. I emailed him immediately to see if he was free and if so, would be be able to give me a quote for 8 hours photography. 

Amazingly he was available, but the quote was way out of my budget, at £1,450 plus travel. I discussed it with Dave (a hard nosed financier) and he suggested we have a look at some other photographers to see if we could perhaps beat him down on price with some healthy competition!

Most of the London photographers that I liked were of similar price, and of course there was the travel and accommodation to factor in. And then my brother suggested I look in Dorset, for a local photographer. He knew of one he said who seemed fine and he directed me to his website. Conner wasn’t on the same level as Sarah’s brother-in-law but he seemed good, and with the costs mounting up, his fee was attractive. His package was this - The whole day covered with two photographers nothing will be missed, Files, album, free engagement shoot etc ...all for £750. And obviously there was minimal travel and no accommodation to worry about. 

I’m not sure if the whole wedding business was getting to me by this point. I was incredibly stressed - I work part time and have three children under 8...we’d wanted to get married for years but it never felt like the right time. I was always either pregnant, or breast feeding but now my youngest was 4, it felt like I could cope with organising the day. But looking back I don’t think I was coping that well - our budget and my image of the day weren’t in sync. I was indecisive and weepy. Anyway, I cheekily emailed Sarah’s brother in Law and asked if he could drop the price a bit. I told him about the Dorset photographer and his incredible package. He came back to me after a few days with a reduction of £250. He very kindly said he’d do that as I was a friend of his wife’s sister but he would still have to charge for travel and a night in a hotel. 

This is the bit when I cringe. He had now dropped his price to £1200 which I know now is an absolute bargain for such a brilliant photographer. But I knew that there would be at least another £100 for travel etc so I asked him if he could get a lift with Sarah and her husband and maybe bed down with them in their hotel room. What was I thinking?! I barely knew him - this was the way he made a living!! Incredibly, he didn’t tell me to f*** off, but he made it very clear, that no, he would need his own hotel room, and that he preferred to travel by himself.

So I didn’t do anything for a week or so because I didn’t know what to do. Although I didn’t love the pictures on Conners’s website, they seemed perfectly fine and the testimonials on his site were incredibly enthusiastic. People really rated him, apparently. He worked with his wife and they stayed as long as the party was going on. Two photographers! All the hours! Bargain! I booked Conner and his wife Mary to photograph my wedding.

I’m not going to say that it was the biggest mistake of my life. But it’s up there. 

He and his wife seemed nice on the day - I wasn’t hugely aware of them which has got to be a good thing right? And they really did stay for hours....

However, the pictures took two months to arrive and when they did, I burst into tears. They were absolutely awful. I couldn’t find one I wanted to use for even a thank you card. They were shockingly lit and even out of focus in some cases. Considering there were two of them, there were large chunks missing, for example there is not one picture of us cutting the cake. There is no sense of the day I remember and I am so embarrassed I haven’t shown them to anyone.

How this couple call themselves professional I do not know? Were those testimonials made up? They must have been. My advice to anyone about to book a wedding photographer, is make sure you don’t do what I did. For the sake of a few hundred quid, I could have got pictures I was proud of. To be honest I’d have done better to get Barry’s cousin Phil to take some snaps....”

4.7/5 rating (6 votes)

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Comments (10)

  • Lee Graham

    Lee Graham

    09 September 2013 at 20:23 | #

    These kind of stories are all too common these days - hopefully if enough brides read this heartbreaking tale then the wedding photography cowboys will disappear. Book a professional wedding photographer for your wedding to avoid disappointment!

    reply

  • Tina

    Tina

    10 September 2013 at 15:51 | #

    It is sad that brides think they can save money on their wedding photography by shopping on price alone - she has wasted £750 rather than saving a few hundred.

    reply

  • Derek Pye

    Derek Pye

    10 September 2013 at 16:33 | #

    There is no point pouring yourself a nice big glass of cold milk and then nodding off in front of the telly and then inadvertently spilling it when you wake with a start and then crying over it like a big fat baby - it's too late! Personally I wouldn't fret too much. Most people these days end up with rubbish and tedious wedding photos anyway so you are not alone - just put them in the bottom of a drawer and forget about it. For all we know maybe you had a terrible wedding and that is the problem rather than the photography!
    All the best

    Derek

    reply

    • Guest

      Guest

      17 September 2014 at 10:34 | #

      Idiot.

      reply

  • Paul

    Paul

    10 September 2013 at 21:00 | #

    "But I knew that there would be at least another £100 for travel etc so I asked him if he could get a lift with Sarah and her husband and maybe bed down with them in their hotel room. What was I thinking?" - pretty much sums up the public's current attitude to photographers. They don't think of us as professionals doing a stressful and important job.

    reply

  • Rockstar Photographer with Ponytail

    Rockstar Photographer with Ponytail

    06 April 2014 at 17:35 | #

    Wouldn't worry about it. Most marriages fail within a few years, so the pics will become irrelevant.

    reply

  • Jean-Luc Benazet

    Jean-Luc Benazet

    22 July 2014 at 14:51 | #

    If you still have the dress, why don't you and your now husband book yourself a post wedding shoot, on a beach in Dorset with your kiddies and Sarah’s brother in law as your photographer? And Bob's your uncle! It may cost you a bit, but you'll have fab pictures you will want to frame and hang all around the house!

    reply

  • Sara Danvers

    Sara Danvers

    31 October 2014 at 00:37 | #

    Please don't tar all cheap(er) photographers with the same 'cowboy' brush though. I'm just starting out myself and do the job for the sheer love of photography. I understand and appreciate the skill of professional photographers but find it morally difficult to charge so much money! I'm dreading finding my own wedding photographer! I like to think there are some 'amateurs' out there who are fighting our corner. In fact, I'd really appreciate some feedback on my ventures thus far. If anyone has time, please have a look at my (newly completed - wayhey!)
    I absolutely adore photography and wouldn't want anyone to think cheap price = awful pics. I like to think mine are ok!

    reply

  • bill surian

    bill surian

    01 November 2014 at 09:53 | #

    Photographer. 35-40 hours worth of work to include photography, meetings, admin, processing, album design, images on a usb - £1500

    Frireworks. Gone in a puff of smoke in 5 minutes - £1000

    reply

  • Andrew Miller

    Andrew Miller

    08 January 2016 at 16:39 | #

    You asked the decent photographer if he could get a lift and bed down in someone else's room? I'm surprised he didn't tell you to f*ck off. That is outrageous, especially after he dropped his price by £250; or to put it another way about 17%. How many of your other suppliers dropped their prices by 17%?

    Note to other brides - if you want memories you can look at years later and the photographer you want is out of your budget cut something else in your budget.

    I'm really sorry the photos you got were not up to the standard you expected (regardless of the money paid) but your comments are typical of the way full time professional photographers get treated.

    reply

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