Today is our 5-year wedding anniversary. It feels like forever, but really our marriage is only a kindergartener.
We were definitely on a tight budget when planning our wedding. I was still in school at the time, and our apartment furniture consisted of a bookshelf and two camping chairs.
When it came to hiring a wedding photographer, I decided to ask a fellow student photographer who I’d worked with in class. I knew he was talented, and he had a job working with a professional photographer. He also had some great studio portraits online, and I was pretty impressed with them at the time.
Our wedding was a perfectly happy day; we were surrounded by friends & family, and the weather was absolutely beautiful. I wasn’t paying much attention to the photographer, though I do remember being slightly concerned when he showed up and said this was his first wedding he’d photographed – ever – and then proceeded to fumble around with his camera like he’d never used it before (I later found out it was borrowed).
I wasn’t worried – I was getting married, it was a beautiful day, how could the photos not be fantastic?
Well, they weren’t fantastic because he had no idea what he was doing. That much became apparent when I received the unedited photos a week later. That’s right; evidently he didn’t think to edit them.
In all fairness, he made all the typical mistakes any new photographer makes. He photographed most the day with a wide-angled lens, and the distortions made us look like we walked straight out of a carnival mirror. He wasn’t able to control his shutter speed, causing motion blur. He wasn’t standing in the right place at the right time, causing him to miss shots or create very strange shots.
It became painfully apparent that the photos online were in no way, shape, or form taken by him. He may have stood behind the camera and clicked the shutter, but he did not set up the lighting or adjust the camera’s settings.
It’s disappointing, because there are no do-overs for wedding photos. What you get is what you get. Forever. I do have a few photos around the house from the wedding that were okay, but I’ll never have a wedding album. Out of 400 images, about 4 were worth printing. Here are three of the four:
He didn’t know what makes weddings special, how to direct a wedding party, or what kind of wedding images are successful. He didn’t know that I didn’t care to have 8 candids of the best man’s now ex-girlfriend, or 30 photos of kids playing with balloons. Unfortunately, these were things I didn’t even notice at the time. If you’d asked me the day of the wedding, I’d have said he did a great job. A week later, I was shocked on just how badly things were really going on behind the camera.
The best photo of us sits on my dresser, and I look at it every day. It’s small, dark, and uninspired. My memories of the day are far more beautiful that that photo. Even though we had a bad experience, those few photos still make me happy, because we are happy. And that’s all that really counts. I just wish I had some better photos to prove it.