Should We Let Uncle Fred Do Our Wedding Photography?

One of the things that crops up now and again when chatting to acquaintances, colleagues and potential clients are their friends or family that have an interest in photography. Some clients debate whether to just let Uncle Fred (or Joe Bloggs) to take the photographs instead. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad idea; it all depends on how good your friend/relative is for one thing and how keen you are as a couple for them to do the photography. I’d like to debate the pros and cons of having a friend or family member do the photography for free rather than paying a professional.

I love the idea of having a friend or relative, someone who really knows me and my bride, take my wedding photographs. He would know me better than a pro, it would be really informal, friendly and they’d be a guest as well. Most people own a fairly decent camera these days since they’re readily available to the general public and they’re pretty easy to use. They’ll usually offer to do it for free, so I can save money on my wedding and spend more on other things. They are also going to know who shouldn’t be left out of the pictures as they will know plenty of the guests. Plus,  the guests will be more relaxed in front of the camera operated by someone they know. So why wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, I allow Uncle Fred to take my wedding pictures?


Cute? Heck yeah, but is this who you want capturing your big day on film?

Besides the obvious reasons, such as the professional level equipment, editing skills and years of experience, a pro often offers some assistance with the flow of the day’s events. Helpful, especially if there is no wedding planner or toastmaster. Anything can happen at weddings, and if you’ve read my previous blog about the importance of wedding photography,  you will already know why it’s important that these photographs are captured. A good photographer knows the flow of weddings, has the needed experience of weddings and can also drive a wedding where necessary. Once a couple asked how to cut their cake and I was able to chime in with the instructions, something Uncle Fred probably doesn’t know, and after shooting the photos, I also initiated the applause. A photographer can lead your wedding sometimes, whereas a friend or family member might “wing it” snapping haphazardly based  on what they’ve seen or maybe remember from previous weddings, which often just isn’t enough.

So now you might be thinking, “Hey, Uncle Fred IS a professional wedding photographer”, so he’ll have all of the above. Isn’t that a great fit? Maybe. But if Uncle Fred makes a mistake with your photos it could be the end of that relationship or, at least put a rift into it. Plus, I’m pretty sure both you and Uncle Fred will want him to be a full fledged guest, enjoying all of the amenities that a guest can enjoy and being the photographer and the guest means that one or the other, or maybe both, will be lacking. Only you can decide if all of these considerations are worth the lack of price tag. Personally, there are some weddings that I refuse to do that I’m invited to, I’d rather be there celebrating than working!

Hiring and paying a professional wedding photographer means that you get someone performing a service who is totally dedicated to that service and the product of that service will be professional quality.  And, as I have said before, a truly great photographer will also know how to make himself a guest at your wedding as well, allowing your guests to feel more relaxed which makes the photos  a true memory of the day. When I work with people, I enjoy getting to know them and having a smashing time at their wedding!

Perhaps allow Uncle Fred and a few friends to take some random photos to add to your album of candids, with the professional providing the bulk of the service.

What’s your opinion? Do you think Uncle Fred or Joe Bloggs can do a great job or is it always better to hire that professional? Why? I always love to hear others’ views so please comment below. Hey, everybody’s got an opinion, right?