Why Hiring 'Uncle Bob' for your Wedding Is Not Such A Good Idea

by Daniel E. Paano

Weddings, or any kind of momentous event, can be very expensive with costs quickly adding up from the cost of the venue, a plate per guests, the dj, the flowers, the cake and all the other little details. All too often couples have to do whatever they can to stay within their wedding or event budget. Many couples find themselves asking where they can save money and still have an enjoyable and memorable wedding, and more often than not, wedding photography and/or videography is usually one of the expenses that gets left on the cutting room floor. It’s usually not the case that couples don’t want to have professional photos or video of their big day. In fact, it's quite the opposite, couples DO want to have photos and video of their momentous event but with budget constraints, they have to consider all of their options.

When couples find photographers in their local craigslist area, hire photographers referred to them by friends, or have family members or family friends who own fancy camera equipment offer to shoot their wedding 'for practically nothing', they enter into a potentially more costly contract by hiring what we in the industry call, 'Uncle Bob'.

Usually it's the 'for practically nothing' that gets the bride and groom's interest without consideration of some of the potential pitfalls. The thought usually goes something like, “What if Uncle Bob could photograph our wedding, that could help cut our wedding cost". With the thought of cutting costs, couples erroneously try to justify the differences between Uncle Bob’s work and that of a professional photographer. I break down just some of the big differences between professional wedding photographers and amateur photographers in my post – Qualifying a Professional Wedding Photographer – that will explain in more detail.

In our professional experience as wedding photographers and videographers, 'Uncle Bob' is that family friend or relative with the latest DSLR camera kit from your local Best Buy, Walmart or Costco store. Those camera kit packages that are usually purchased with the intention of shooting the children’s milestones and everyday moments in life. The couple figures, if 'uncle bob' can get nice photos of kids running around, then shooting a wedding should be no different. How hard could it be, right? Leave the fancy camera on fully automatic setting, snap some photos, maybe add some photo editing filters for effects, save them onto a USB drive, and deliver, thank you uncle bob!. Easy decision right? and Uncle Bob is now part of the wedding as the photographer instead of being just another person on the guest list.

Well, most of the time, Uncle Bob does not have the experience to consider or simply don't know just some of the other factors of wedding photography and will eventually understand why professional wedding photographers charge as much as they do for their services. Unless Uncle Bob is experienced shooting in poor lighting conditions, or harsh lighting situations, facilitating group photos, posing wedding portraits, and/or having a variety of lenses and equipment to get all the angles, he or she will usually have a miserable time behind the camera. Even experienced photographers find it difficult to facilitate group photos. Uncle Bob won’t be able to mingle with other friends there and will have to stay with the couple who will want photos with their wedding guests. The wedding couple may begin to feel guilty seeing Uncle Bob work so hard on their big day, knowing that he or she is not getting compensated enough for all the effort. Or maybe that Uncle Bob doesn't have the experience to know how or doesn't have the enthusiasm to engage the guests to get better photos. The worse thing is if this ends up affecting the dynamic of all parties involved after the wedding because the photos were not what the couple wanted, or does not have the style the couple liked, or any other things that professional photographers discuss with their clients during meetings. Moreover, what if somethng happens to Uncle Bob or his equipment while photographing your wedding uninsured? Hiring professional photographers and videographers with experience and who are insured will save you from potentially having to deal with damage costs while at your honeymoon. Seriously, who wants that kind of headache after your special event?

In the end, it’s still up to the couple to consider the pros and cons of paying for a professional wedding photographer/videographer or risking it by taking up the offer from the 'Uncle Bobs'. We believe that there are other places to take short cuts to stay within budget. One way we can save you on cost is to bundle the services you want with just one vendor like us who can negotiate a better price for you with other services! Ask about some of the many ways we work with your budget. Because besides the ring and of course the love itself that you share, wedding photos and videos are the only other thing that lasts. It's truly in your best interest to hire professionals to do what we’re good at and let Uncle Bob enjoy the celebration with everyone else!