I've got a friend to take my wedding photos...

By Brian Wilson, Scottish Wedding Photographer, Edinburgh. Reviews. Updated April 2014.
If you're planning your wedding this year you'll be looking to save money somewhere and, wedding photography can be expensive so, your best friend's boyfriend has just bought a new Canon or Nikon DSLR that came with a zoom lens and he's offered to take the weddings pictures for you. 
Maybe not. Read on and ask yourself a few questions as you go...

Q: Is this the best saving I can make?

A: There are plenty of ways to save money on your wedding. Ask yourself how much value you place on guaranteeing your wedding photography being great? 
Apart from memories, your photographs will be what you have to remember the day. You'll also have other photos taken by guests, many of which will be blurry, poorly composed, will likely have red-eye in the subjects and will have cut their feet off. These shots can compliment great professional photography and add fun to the day, but if that's all you have you'll be very disappointed.

Q: I can't turn my best friend down!

A: How will she explain to you when the photos the now ex-boyfriend took are pretty ordinary. Your wedding is over and the photographs can't be re-shot. You'll maybe have lost a friend but you'll then wish you'd hired a professional photographer. I've heard this lament often.

Q: A professional wedding photographer costs so much!

A: Here's an inventory of what's needed to be a working pro wedding photographer today. Mainly, I shoot weddings but I also get income from family portraits, events, stock and some non-wedding print sales. The prices I charge represent the security and certainty that you'll get great pictures. 
I use 2 Canon professional cameras, the 5D and 5D MK III along with "L series" professional lenses; 16-35 f2.8, 24-105 f4 and 70-200 f2.8. I have lighting, light stands, soft-boxes, umbrellas, backgrounds, tripods, wireless triggers and a whole box of stuff too small to mention. I have 3 computers; 2 top-range desktop machines plus a laptop, all running Microsoft Windows and all using Adobe's latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. I have 2 printers; an A3 professional photo printer and small event printer, plus a flat-bed scanner. I have an on-line website that you are looking at now and a gallery/proofing/purchasing site, plus I have Google, Facebook and Twitter accounts for marketing. As a rolling investment its worth close to GBP 25k at any time. All this to guarantee I produce stunning photographs for my brides every time. 

Q: He knows how to use the camera, I've seen his holiday snaps!

The next time you ask your best friend's boyfriend to shoot your wedding photography ask them what experience they have of working with people. Here's a list of the things your best friend's boyfriend probably doesn't have...
1. Has he ever shot anyone else's wedding photography?
2. Any experience of being the bride & groom's best friend for that one day and getting great photographs of them? 
3. Any experience of posing people and helping them look their best in pictures?
4. Any experience of managing large groups of people and getting them to do what you want so they enjoy the experience?
5. Any experience of working in small, dark or dimly lit venues with or without flash and still getting the shots?
6. Any experience of working outside in spring, summer or winter with rain, sun and wind - usually all of them at the same time?
7. Any experience of post-processing 1,000+ digital photographs in a few hours?
8. Any artistic flair in the visual arts complimented by a qualification from the UK's SWPP?
9. Any experience of video processing, stop-animation or slide-show editing techniques?
10. Any experience of using social media for marketing; Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
To guarantee great wedding photography your photographer must score 10 out of 10. Every time.
If, after reading this article you still feel your best friend's boyfriend is good value, make your choice.
Brian, 19th December 2011 
(Updated April 2014)