We Decided to Hire a Family Friend to Shoot Our Wedding….

This is strictly an information post only. This is my opinion and you have the right to agree or disagree with it. I posted about second-shooters and their important role a couple of months ago and had a great response. Thought it might be great to have a little insight on this as well….

I have seen this response in so many emails when following up after what seemed like a stellar meeting and the couple was ready to hire me on the spot to photograph their wedding. Some have even said I was their favorite! So, why didn’t they choose me to photograph their wedding? Was it lack of experience, talent, or professionalism? I have been photographing professionally for 5 years, full time for 3 of those, and have had some high-end commercial clients that are household names. My first full year of photographing weddings I was nationally published and my second year I added 3 magazine covers to my list of accolades. I am certainly not trying to toot my own horn, but I want to let couples know…..KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO WHEN HIRING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER.

“We were going over our wedding budget last night, and unfortunately your services are over our photography budget. Based on what I’ve seen, I am sure your work is worth every penny and then some. I also hope you can understand during these times, we do not want to over extend ourselves either.”

My clients invest in wedding photography. Most of them state photography is one of the most important aspects of their wedding. They are investing in peace of mind. They know I have seen many different lighting scenarios, have shot weddings in other languages, that I know my photography gear and its capabilities, and that all weddings are not the same. They know I have liability insurance, that I have professional backup equipment in the event something happens, and that this is my full-time 100% committed profession! Am I the best photographer out there? Certainly not. There are many great ones I look up to and admire. Now you ask, “Well you had to start somewhere didn’t you?” Of course! I started photographing weddings as a tag-along, second-shooter, and went to several workshops to hone my skills professionally before I decided to put someone’s important memories into my own hands. In weddings and other life events, there are no do-overs. You don’t have a second chance for the ring exchange, you don’t have a second chance for the first time Dad sees his daughter in her wedding dress, you don’t have a second chance for the grand wedding exit with sparklers. Each event does have somewhat of a script. After shooting several weddings, you do have a feel for “what will happen next”. Some events are completely candid and follow no “rules”, but this message is conveyed to us through our clients and we have an idea of what to expect.

day after session with kathryn and ben by dallas wedding photographer amy karp (23)

Above image shot near dusk highlighting only the couple and their silhouettes. I used Live View on my 5dMk2 to get tack sharp focus.

So why this post? The next quotes are email inquiries AFTER their wedding. After all the chances were had, after all the sparklers burned out, and after the wedding dress had been preserved. Now they are sending me a message to ask if I can “fix” it.

…I was recently married and was very dissapointed with my wedding pictures. I was interested in getting bridal portraits and also some cute “engagement style” pics with my husband. Your work is amazing.

…my wedding photos. To say that they did not live up to my expectations would be an understatement. After reading through your website, I never even got to actually meet with the girls that ended up being my photographers before my wedding day. In fact, they barely spoke to me on my actual wedding day. The most they talked to me was when they kept saying, “Do you need anything else? Can we go?”

When I receive these messages, I cringe a bit. I know nothing about their experience. I know nothing about this couple. I only know that it makes me sad that someone is left without beautiful images from such a special day in their life! I am not knocking on any professionals, trying to use scare tactics to book more clients. These are facts. These emails do come in and will continue to come to my inbox. My phone will ring and a message will be left about a botched job. I will be approached at a wedding by a bridesmaid that gushes over the images displayed at the wedding how she WISHES her images would have been better. One thing is certain there are no do-overs for first times. Hire wisely.

jewish wedding kiss under the tallit

Above image shot during the couple’s first kiss. They were under a Tallit, a Jewish Prayer Shawl.

6 thoughts on “We Decided to Hire a Family Friend to Shoot Our Wedding….”

  1. Very well-written post, Amy! I’ve heard from several friends and clients lately that they received the proofs from their wedding, and then their photographer soon went out of business. Sadly, they couldn’t get any nice prints, albums, etc. So sad.

  2. Well said Amy. Perfect words. I’ve had 3 nightmare stories in the last 2 months from clients asking me to save their memories. Yet, I’ve also done several weddings that were so elaborate, yet the couple low-balled me and picked my prices to death. Even before I became a photographer, it was my belief that the photography is one of the most (if not THE most) important decisions. The cake won’t last, the flowers fade, but what remains is the love between the couple and the photographic memories. These should really be the best possible. Thank you for your post.

  3. OMG, of course the photos are the most important thing about a wedding!! It’s the only thing you get to keep forever, except hopefully your new hubby! We’ve been told by everyone we know to spend most of our budget on the photographer. We’re trimming budget everywhere but there, lol. You’re actually in our top 5, tee hee. These people who have a family friend, etc are crazy people, the last thing you want to worry about is if your pictures will turn out. Why would you spend $10k on a wedding that you don’t even get decent photos of?

  4. Hey, I hired a family member to shoot my wedding and the pictures were wonderful! Oh, wait…that photographer was Amy Karp! Haha. Yes, that’s my wife and me smooching under the prayer shawl. We didn’t even tell her we were going to do that and Amy STILL caught it. What a pro. The pictures look absolutely amazing and we’ll cherish them forever.

  5. There are so many soapboxes I could get on right now, but this is a very valid point, one that people are starting to really ignore. I find it sometimes mind-blowing when we show up to a wedding to photograph a wedding where “budgets” and the tightness of it was spoken of before contracting only to find a $4000 cake…. Priorities are everything, and it’s starting to become easier to not feel sorry for those who don’t see the importance of professionalism.

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