Wedding Photographer Portsmouth – Antony R Turner Photography
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Photography Articles

Should we hire a professional wedding photographer?


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Let’ start this off by stating that it’s not my intention in this article to persuade you to hire me as your wedding photographer but it’s here to make you aware of the implications if you decide against not hiring a professional photographer to document your event.

Couples don't just decide against hiring a professional photographer; they often have a valid reason, this could be due to many reasons such as budget, bad experiences in the past, or self-confidence. This decision you make could potentially save you thousands of pounds, but it could also cost you your priceless memories, so do please take some time and think carefully about your wedding photography.

Professional photography is considered a luxury as it’s not something you would often pay for in everyday life. Its considered as both an art and security, a very odd mixture but you'll also find that it’s not always about the photography, it’s also about what the photographer can bring to your wedding. I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings since 2008 and gained tons of wedding-related knowledge which is often called upon at least once per wedding. Past couples have mentioned in my testimonies that I have an easy going and reassuring nature allowing the Bride and Groom to feel confident about both their appearances and how their wedding is planning out compared to others.

Unlike friends, family, or students, most photographers will anticipate what will happen next, these are often the photographs that shine through! Capturing these photographs can be achieved by communicating with the couple before the wedding day, analysing the wedding schedule and occasionally scouting the venue location before the wedding. The photographer won’t be away during critical moments, waiting at the bar, in the toilets or chatting to family members they’ve not seen in a long time. The photographer is never really distracted unless they’re thinking of their next photograph.

I’ve heard some couples in the past consider hiring a camera for a guest to use so they could capture the event like a professional. Sorry to say, but the results are nothing to do with the camera the photographer is using, yes it helps with quality and low light capabilities, but it’s kind of like expecting to paint like Picasso or Edward Hopper because you are using their paint brushes. Remember its the person that is the creator, not the tools.

When your wedding day is over, when all the wedding cake has been eaten, when the venue is cleared away for the next event, and you’ve just arrived home from the honeymoon; nothing is left except for your memories, the rings and the photographs. Sadly fine details of memories fade over time, and you may not have something you are proud to show off too future generations, which is something my family has personally experienced in the past.


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Below are some questions I’ve asked married couples who’ve used non-professional photographers to capture their weddings in the past, I hope their answers to my questions help your expectations and to also decide if you want to have an amateur or professional photograph your wedding.


Matt & Emma

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

We were doing our wedding on a very tight budget. We looked at professional photographers at first but ultimately felt it was one area that wasn't the most important to us and we could save money on. We were lucky as we had a couple of amateur photographer friends who had semi-decent SLR cameras able to capture some shots for us.

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

Overall we were pleased with how things turned out. However, there were a few areas that could have been better with a professional. The large group photos aren't very clear. We didn't have anyone coordinating the photos, which was the biggest issue. So we missed one of the bridesmaids coming up the aisle, and the cake cutting almost got forgotten.

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

You have to be 100% certain about how important the photos are. You only get to do the day once, and some things will get missed. We love the candid nature of our photos. It suits us and the day we had. However, if we'd had the budget, we would have had a professional as well to capture the more staged formal shots.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

The venue we had the ceremony in had a large winding wooden staircase, and I wanted a photo of my wife coming down this in her dress. However, nobody remembered to capture this. Also, our pictures of the cake cutting aren't great as everyone was a bit drunk by that point.


Anne & Luke

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

We had decided not to have a photographer, as we wanted to have an intimate wedding. Our wedding party consisted of our immediate family; our venues weren't exactly high brow either, the day was about the coming of us together. Because we had a very simple wedding, cost didn't come into account, but it seemed at the time a bit unusual to spend more on a photographer than the day collectively.

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

Not really, we had a wonderful day and guests captured the special moments. If we were to have had a more elaborate wedding, then we would have hired a photographer, most definitely!

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

We didn't ask anyone to capture the day. For us, the day was more important. I'd advise others to bear in mind; these are guests who have taken the time to witness your big day. By placing the pressure on them to capture the day, be mindful the added stress, this may cause and what they are giving up. Don't rely on others to capture the moment for you.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

Yes, after the wedding. I wish that there were pictures of us walking around the city. Instead, we ended up taking silly selfies! I also wish some of the photographs taken make me better looking!



Joanne & Dale

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

We didn't hire a photographer because we were on a strict budget and getting married within two weeks of setting the date so would we doubted we could find someone on such short notice and within our budget. We also didn't have a fancy wedding and felt the need of a professional would be wasted on the day.

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

No regrets, mainly because my brother in law who took our photos did a great job and captured everything we asked.

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

Our brother in law had a backup camera ready to hand should his camera fail which thankfully didn't! So my advice is always to make sure who's taking your photos has a spare camera just in case. I'd also make sure they are not distracted and to listen to your instructions as to where and when you'd like photos taken.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

I would have loved some pictures of both myself and my husband getting ready for our day. When we got married, camera photos were rare, so we never got any photos of that.


Karen & Trevor

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

We didn’t hire a professional because our friend offered to do our wedding photography as a wedding present.

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

Yes we regret not hiring a professional as the photographs are not of good quality. Most of them are either under or overexposed with bad composition.

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

My advice would be to check the quality of the friends/family members photographs and maybe have a practice run through.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

Our 'photographer' let us down big time, and there were lots of moments missed by her. If it weren't for my brother we wouldn't have any photos at all. Our daughter is getting married later this year, and we insisted that they hire a professional photographer, also insisted they met them and saw their portfolio before they book.



Amie & Calum

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

We had a super small wedding which was planned very fast; we didn't see the need to have one for the size of the wedding.

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

YES!! I have some beautiful photos from my wedding day, but none of them flow, none are consistent. And they took a lot of editing to make work. Nothing was controlled. It was a bit of just thrown together to make work if that makes any sense.

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

A photographer is a must. There are so many moments in a wedding day that you will want to remember forever but won't make it past the first week married. It's such a blur, photos help that. Photographers know what to capture, guests just don't. Also you won't get all your pics back.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

Yes, I don't have any photos of my mother and me but I have far to many of my mother in law.


Deborah & Paul

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

The reason for not hiring a photographer was mainly cost and only 14 guests attended our wedding, I was studying photography at night school and one of the other students offered. (Like most people who don’t photograph wedding professionally, they imagine it’s easy!)

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

Oh totally regretted it as we only have photos our guests took which are obviously not great, this was in the days of film, he got his settings completely wrong and we ended up with nothing! I guess I wasn’t expecting award winning, but a story of our day would have been lovely. 

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

I have advised many B&G why not to hire friend/family, Mainly of how it’s an enormous responsibility to take on shooting and only a professional is really prepared with kit, experience and even insurance.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

I wished he had captured anything that could have been printed, but also a professional would have known how to pose us. I am afraid I don’t have any pics to share with you and I think this is one of the reasons I went on to become a wedding photographer.



Ashley & Tara

At the time, what was the reasoning for not hiring a professional wedding photographer?

When hiring our photographer, we chose a friend that had taken studio pictures for us. She worked in a high street photography studio at the time and had booked our entire wedding within a six-week time-frame (We moved our wedding forward due to finding out we were going to be parents to our first daughter). Therefore we were short on time and budget.

Did you ever regret not having a wedding photographer and why?

We did regret not hiring a professional to some degree. We have some lovely photographs that have captured us on our wedding day, but ultimately the images we have do not necessarily convey the emotional feeling of the day. We also didn’t manage to get some group pictures of all of the families, only a few.

What advice would you give to others thinking of using a friend or family members to capture their day?

My advice to people considering getting friends or family to take pictures of the wedding is "don't" although this is not to say our experience was entirely terrible, it wasn’t. However, the benefits of hiring a professional photographer are two-fold. You will get professional results, and the story of your wedding will be captured, and those images will emote precious feelings when you look at them but secondly and maybe most importantly; your friends and family should enjoy the experience with you. I would urge you to encourage your guests to leave their cameras and phones in their pockets. The photographer is there to capture the day (it’s their sole job) and friends and family are not required to take pictures. The photographer's images will also look ten times better if everybody in the pictures are focused on the wedding and enjoying it and not making their own photos! For example, the ceremony pictures containing people taking pictures on their phones don’t look quite as lovely as all attention on the celebration.

Was there any moments that you wished were captured but was unfortunately missed?

For me there are few images that I could imagine would have been nice to capture. Things like me (the groom) looking back at my wife walking down the aisle towards me. The natural, almost candid pictures.


Using an amateur could potentially result in more stress and work for you both on your wedding day as you’ll have certain photographs that you would like captured which would take a while to organise or get forgotten about entirely. Let’s say you want a formal group photograph of a particular group of people that you’ve not seen in a very long time. You get everyone lined ready, and the picture is taken. That person taking the photograph may not hold the same value of that photograph as yourself, and if you have high expectations, you might end up disappointed.

The difference being is that a professional wedding photographer will want to capture this to the best of their ability because it’s a win-win scenario from a business perspective, that photographer will want to show off all the photographs he’s captured to potential customers so that they can be hired again and you will have some amazing photography to keep forever.