Post # 1
Alright ladies, I’ve been married barely over two weeks and am loving being a wife. The wedding went well, the honeymoon was awesome and relaxing, and life is great without the stress of wedding planning! As always, there’s a but. It’s not big or life altering, but I’m frustrated and unsure of what to do. We used a friend as our photographer who is not experienced with shooting weddings. He mostly does glamour and beauty photography. We had him take our engagement pictures and they turned out great, so we were hopeful for the wedding because he does have a really amazing eye. For a little background, we basically paid for his trip and board from GA to SC for his payment. I think he said he spent like $20 the whole time he was there. And the issue is that I’m really not thrilled with the work he did. He took a few really amazing photos, but there are a lot missing that I hoped he would have gotten. For instance, we discussed photos that I’d like to replicate and I sent him about 10 that I wanted to do. We ended up with 2 of them. (Not my job on my wedding day to remind my photograoher of the photos I wanted, right?) There are maybe 15 photos of my husband and me from after the ceremony and about 40 of my nieces and nephews and random things around the wedding. I certainly wasn’t a bridezilla at the time but if I’d realized how he was spending his time at the wedding I would have turned into one. It was our day and we don’t have nearly as many usable photos as I wanted. My sister’s boyfriend literally took more photos than our photographer. Now I definitely blame myself for hiring someone inexperienced and don’t really think it’s his fault that he obviously didn’t know what his job was, but I was thinking that would be something he’d done heaps of research on before shooting his best friend’s wedding. Husband and the photographer have been friends for over 10 years. This was a big deal. So obviously I can’t bring my wedding day back and have him fix it, which is a serious bummer, but my question now is how to discuss with him that he is in no way ready to be a wedding photographer and he’s got some serious improving to do if he ever to intends to shoot a wedding again. I genuinely want to give him some constructive criticism but I’m not sure how to go about it. Especially without getting emotional or angry about the things I wanted and didn’t get. So does anyone have some advice? Or like a questionnaire that was used to review a wedding photographer that I could maybe fill out and send his way or something? Any suggestions are welcome. I want to tell him what he needs to work on and why I wasn’t entirely satisfied with his work without it becoming personal, basically.
Post # 3
@mgkush: I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Does he even want to go into wedding photography? Or did he simply help you out on the day of?
I think it’s been said many times, that one should not hire a friend to do their wedding photography, unless they are established professionals. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t say anything. You didn’t pay him for his services, other than for travel expenses. It seems like he did this as a favor… and by what he delivered, It doesn’t seem like he tried hard. I would do a styled shoot with the hubby with a professional photographer, and get the photos you wanted.
The question I asked first: If he is trying to be a wedding photographer, then be honest to him about what he did well, and what he could improve on. If he has no interest in wedding photography and just did this as a favor, don’t say anything, if you want to keep the friendship.
Post # 4
@zarethacosta: I certainly regret hiring a friend, but it was better than not having a photographer at all and we couldn’t afford one. I’m not actually sure if he wants to go into wedding photography or not. I know he’s shot one other wedding but it was a courthouse type deal, so very simple and sort of similar to our engagement pictures. Since his career has just been taking off in the past year or so I think he’s kind of open to whatever avenues present themselves. Especially if it will give him good pictures for his portfolio. I guess I should ask whether or not this is something he hopes to do again before bothering to tell him how I felt about the work he did. You’re right, if it’s not something he intends to do again it’s unnecessary for me to give him constructive feedback on it that would probably just upset him. Thanks for the advice!
Post # 5
If you were the one who suggested he do this (because you weren’t willing to pay for a pro) you don’t have much of a leg to stand on when complaining about not getting professional results, unfotunately. ESPECIALLY if it was your idea he take the photos, you should not provide him a list of what he did wrong. I am sure he is well aware that he is an inexperienced amateur, and by providing him that list, you’re not only stating the obvious, you’re also insulting him by implying he doesn’t have enough of an “eye” to see what he did wrong himself. Just because he wasn’t able to execute the shots does not mean he didn’t try!
I was put into a similar situation recently with a friend. I begged her to not make me do the photos, but she was so upset that she couldn’t get anyone else. I got some good ones, but I also have an entire SD card where I can go through and say “This one had the wrong part in focus. This one had the wrong shutter speed. This one, I should have asked her to move her hair out of her face. This one was taken slightly later than it should have been.” I can KNOW exactly what’s wrong with them with one glance. That’s the easy part, and unless he is completely clueless, your telling him these things won’t be anything but insulting. It’s the execution in the split-second moment you get to capture something that’s the hard part.
I am sure he knows he needs practice. Just tell him that you are really pleased with a number of them, and go on about your day. Anything else risks putting a strain on the friendship. I am sure he did the very best he could.
Post # 6
@mgkush: I agree it’s a good idea to see if wedding photography is something he’s actually interested in doing. I’m not engaged yet, but I have thought about asking a friend who is an artist and semi-professional photographer to do my future wedding. He’s done a lot of events in a photo journalism style that appeals to me, but I don’t know if he’d be a good wedding photographer even then. At least you did get SOME useable pictures! My godmother hired a professional for her wedding and he took off with payment and never gave her ANY pictures! This was in the 70s, so even the guest pictures are few and far between.
Post # 7
You didn’t pay him to do this for you, so you have no basis for critiquing him whatsoever. And you cannot say that you paying for his trip is equivalent of what you asked him to do. Who approached who in this scenario? If anything I think the lesson out of this is to take your experience and tell the story to other future brides. If you want to let a photographer practice learning weddings at your wedding, you need to not have expectations on what the results are going to be.
@MexiPino: After all of the stories you read in here, and after reading this one, you STILL are considering hiring an amateur to do your wedding? Also – a professional is not going to take off with anyone’s payment and not deliver images.
Post # 8
@continuumphotography: LOL The friend semi-professional, as in his main “job” is being an artist, but he shoots gala events several times a year. So he isn’t exactly an “amateur”. I’ve seen his work and love it, but, yeah, I am concerned about not getting the right shots. I definitely would pay him and he is not someone who would be invited otherwise. I think when you’re treating someone as basically a guest with a camera, you can’t really expect much.
Post # 9
You have to decide what is more important to you – salvaging the friendship or venting your frustrations. You probably can’t do both. It sounds like he did you a favor and you had some unrealistic expectations about someone you actually didn’t even hire for cheap – they worked for free at your wedding. I am sure this was a bummer for them too if he’s such a close friend of your husband’s, that he had to juggle enjoying/participating in his best friend’s wedding and being responsible for taking all the photos you wanted. You expected him to do hours and hours of research on top of driving and shooting for hours and hours for free? You get what you pay (or don’t pay) for.
You say things like “Not my job on my wedding day to remind my photographer of the photos I wanted, right?” Honestly, considering he was an unpaid friend at your wedding, it IS your job to remind him of photos you wanted. He’s not a professional and you shouldn’t have had professional expectations. Needing to remember what shots you wanted is one of the sacrifices you make when you don’t hire a pro with previous wedding experience who has a financial and contractual obligation to go above and beyond on your wedding day. This is a great story though for engaged bees who might be considering this route – it rarely results in a happy ending.
Post # 10
Because you are not a real “paying” client of his, I don’t think it’s your place to critique his work.
Post # 11
I don’t really think you are in any place to critique him. He did you a favor. When someone goes out of their way to do something for you (for free), all you can really do is say “thanks” and move on.
I probably wouldn’t give him any criticism unless he asks for some.
Post # 12
@MexiPino: Weddings are a completely different sort of animal than any other sort of photography.
Post # 13
I don’t think I would critique him. I would probably tell him about the couple photos I loved, thank him and then keep my mouth shut. If he asked for any critiques, I would mention one or two of the big ones, but not overall dissatisfaction.
There is a good chance he has already realized some of the things he would do differently. I would imagine things came up that he didn’t even realize would make it difficult until they happened. Now he knows.
Post # 14
I think at this point, the only thing you can do is try your best to let it go and move on. I know it’s not what you want to hear, and you’re probably just venting, but you can’t expect professional results from someone who is not professional. It really sucks, and I’m sorry you’re unhappy with the results. I think letting it eat away at you will only make it worse, and make you resentful.
So here’s where my Public Service Announcement to other brides comes in….
I know a lot of people will say things like….”but they’re a great portrait photographer” or “they shoot a lot of company events” or “they did our engagement photos and they turned out good”.
I know many have said it before, but I’ll say it again…..no amount of photography experience in fine art, landscapes, modeling/commerical, portraits, babies, or nature in any way, shape, or form qualifies someone to be a wedding photographer. No matter how great they are at whatever other genre they shoot (professionally or as a hobby) will not prepare them for shooting a wedding. Period. No amount of research will either. The only way to learn is by experience, and that should ONLY be done as an assistant and/or second shooter – never as the main photographer.
Before I get hounded, I 100% acknowledge that for some brides paying for a qualified professional just isn’t in the budget. I totally understand that, and I respect that. There are photographers for all budgets, and unfortunatly, the lower the buget the worse the photographer. That being said, it’s important to have realistic expectations that when you hire someone who isn’t professional, there are going to be things missing or that didn’t turn out well. It’s the nature of the beast. When I was first starting out (and only second shooting) there were most definitely things I missed, or messed up. It’s because I didn’t have the experience to know better, to anticipate the moments, and deal with the stress of so much going on around me.
Post # 15
I agree that you need to choose between venting frustations and keeping a friend. There’s nothing to do at this point, so I’d just get over the missing pictures, frame the ones you like, and keep a friend.
Post # 16
@mgkush You have NO right to say anything to him and understand if you do you are probably jeopardizing any relationship he has with you and hubby. You get what you pay for. Did he approach you about shooting the wedding or did you ask him? He didn’t get to enjoy the wedding because he was working, I’m sure to the best of his knowledge. PLUS worked AFTER your wedding to narrow the images down and process them for you. This takes days. He will see you as ungrateful that you don’t see the work he did put into..for free. You didn’t hire a pro WEDDING photographer so you ended up with what you got.
And you should check out my post from earlier on this topic. http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/do-not-use-angel-eye-photography-northern-michigan-photographer-1#axzz2S0Oqf65u