My Wedding Photographs Are Embarrassing
Wedding Photography: A Cautionary tale
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 on 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 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 fascinating story which illustrates how even smart, smart 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' 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 kinds 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 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 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 absolute, heart-stoppingly beautiful. I emailed him immediately to see if he was free and if so, would 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 breastfeeding, 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 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 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, large chunks were 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....”