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Why I’ll Never Be a Wedding Photographer


I have seen so many posts across various websites and Facebook groups this week all centered around one theme: wedding photography. Wedding season is well and truly upon us and I guess that everyone who’s getting married this summer has already booked their photographer. But their guests who are getting married next year or the year after? They’re the ones probably starting to think about who’s going to photograph their big day. And it’s a huge decision to make.

So why this article? What has riled me up so much that I feel the need to write about it?! Well to start with, I am not nor have I ever been a wedding photographer. So I’m not touting for business. But when people book a photographer — any kind of photographer — I want them to get what they’re paying for. I love value for money no matter what your budget. But certain threads and posts written recently by professional photographers make me think that not everyone has the same standards and that really winds me up.

So why will I never be a wedding photographer?

1. I hate my own wedding photos. There it is, I’ve said it out loud. I’m not going to name and shame and I hope my photographer never reads this. I don’t have one single wedding photo up in my house. The only one you’ll ever see online is this one:

The only wedding photo of mine that you’ll ever see. It really gives a sense of my mood after 2 hours of photos.

I asked for documentary style photos, snapshots of the day. “I don’t want poses” is what I said. “Let’s spend 2 hours of your day doing posed photos” is what the photographer heard. You’d think that in all that time that every base would be covered. Apparently not, because there’s not one photo of me and my dad on my wedding day. He’s in some group ones, but not one photo exists of just me and him on that day.

So the number one reason that I would never want to photograph someone else’s wedding is that I know how it feels to be disappointed with the results. And I would NEVER want that pressure on myself. When I take photos, I want my clients to be over the moon when they see them, and they are. The thing is with wedding photography that you don’t get a do-over. Not even if the client isn’t happy. There is no second chance to catch a shot, there’s no asking “can you just do that again please?” You have to nail it, first time, every time, all day.

2. Which brings me to my second point. If you don’t know that you can nail it the first time, every time, all day, don’t tell people that you can. I can take great photos of your family for you, I know I can. But if you asked me to be your wedding photographer? I’d say that I really appreciate you asking, but that there are people who are better suited to what you need. But not every photographer will be that honest with you. And I have a real issue with that.

“But all photographers are the same aren’t they?” Put it this way: would you ask a primary care physician (AKA general practitioner) to perform a kidney transplant? Even if you asked, would an honest primary care physician say they’d do it for you? Because a primary care physician and a surgeon are both doctors, right?

There are some people who really can be (and are) amazing family photographers and wedding photographers. Because they’ve had years of practice as second shooters, or they were wedding photographers first and then went into family photography. But there are others who’ve been asked to do wedding photos by existing family clients and thought “well why not?” I’ll tell you why not: if you cock it up, they won’t be existing clients for much longer. And you will have ruined their wedding day.

3. We all know that weddings can be expensive. I say “can be” because loads of people can and do get married on a small budget. But it doesn’t seem to matter how much people are willing to spend on other aspects of their day; when it comes to booking a photographer, I hear the words “that’s so expensive!” stupidly often. I couldn’t cope with hearing that about my own work again and again. Does it cost a lot to hire a good wedding photographer? Most of the time – yes.

But here’s why. Think of all the prep that goes into shooting a wedding — the meetings with the bride and groom, the countless emails back and forth, the recces to the church and reception venue. How about the 2 cameras and 2 sets of lenses, just in case one set breaks? And the second photographer that you want because you need photos of the bride and groom preparing for the ceremony.

And then, of course, there’s the whole day of actual shooting. A whole day’s worth of photos to sort through and edit. If you’re a seasoned wedding photographer, then you’ll know all that it entails and you’ll know how to price accordingly. If you need to be told how much work being a wedding photographer is, then trust me, you’re not ready to be a wedding photographer. And when you break it down, the money you make for the work you put in isn’t as lucrative as it seems at first glance. It’s not okay to think that shooting a wedding will earn you a quick buck.

So if you’re a bride-to-be reading this, please please please do your research. Ask your potential photographers to see their real-life work, ask them if they know your venue, ask them exactly what you get for your money and ask them why you should pick them over others that are on your list. (“I’m cheaper” shouldn’t be the answer you accept).

And if you’re a photographer reading this, and you want to get into wedding photography, please please please learn your trade under an experienced wedding photographer’s wing, not at the expense of your client’s big day. If I save even one person from feeling the way I do about my wedding photos, I’ll consider my article worth the time it took me to write it.

About the author: Clare Harding is a family photographer (and definitely not a wedding photographer) based in South Wales. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Harding’s work on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.