Should I Hire a Professional Photographer for My Wedding?

Everyone knows planning a wedding is expensive. That’s no secret! Yet, while you think that you may be saving money by getting family or friends to help you out with some of the services you would otherwise hire out, it’s safe to say its a short-term gain. For many couples, the first thing that comes to mind when saving money is hiring a friend or family member who is a really good amateur photographer to take their wedding photos.

I mean, how hard is it to take a photo, right? Wrong!

Taking wedding photos is actually more complicated than you think and goes so far beyond clicking a button. Similiar to any other wedding vendor you may be thinking of hiring, they are experts for a reason. Your wedding photographer, if you hire a good professional one, is shooting weddings EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND during wedding season!  That means they are constantly and consistently practicing their craft.

As our final article in our Photo and Video Summit, we asked Hudson Valley wedding photographers to share their thoughts on hiring a professional wedding photographer. You may be surprised by what they have to say…


Hire a professional wedding photographer for peace of mind


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography says, “When planning a wedding, I think it is absolutely normal to try to save money wherever possible. Weddings are expensive! It’s common to want to try to save a few dollars where you can, and so the idea of potentially asking a friend to take care of your wedding visual needs is often presented. However, while some minor items can be swapped out for less expensive options, photography and videography shouldn’t be one. When hiring a professional photography or videography vendor, you are basically, first and foremost, paying for peace of mind. When hiring these types of individuals, you are hiring them not only for their talent behind the camera but also for their dedication to your wedding; the assurance that they will be at your wedding, prepared and on time; their insurance backing; their skills as an editor; and their experience in the industry and with weddings, in general. Weddings are not days to take lightly, and hiring a trusted vendor over a friend is always a better choice.”

Hire a wedding photographer based on passion


“Friends should be your guests,” says Doug Madden of Duetimage Photography… “Unless your friend has a great passion for photography and photographing you.  If that sounds like the friend you have in mind, then, by all means, have him or her shoot for free.  Seriously.  Because that’s what a pro brings to the table.  Passion for the craft, passion for the equipment, passion for making great imagery for their clients.  If you sense a lack of passion on the part of your friend, or even a pro, then you should look elsewhere for your photographer.  Otherwise, you’re likely to regret it.”

Hire a wedding photographer based on proven results, not just hope


A wedding is an uncontrolled, once in a lifetime event,” says Lynette Romero of Pioneer Media. “Even if your friend has a creative eye and a good camera, they are missing real-life experience. A professional videographer will excel when difficulties arise, because of their EXPERIENCE. Difficult lighting? Less than perfect sound setup? Huge bridal party? Makeup and hair running late? These hurdles can happen on any wedding day, and you don’t want your “photographer friend” learning on-the-job at your wedding. A pro will come to your wedding with proven solutions, backups, and contingency plans.

Editor’s Note: This is the last of the The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit – a weekly series where the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post.

Featured Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

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Featured Couple: Jenny & Janine

Their Love Story…


“We met at a summer camp for children in Cold Spring Harbor, NY the summer of 2008,” says Jenny. “We were both camp counselors.” Jenny and Janine are long Island Natives and still live there today.

Their Proposal…


Jenny said yes in July of 2015. She says, “We spent a week at the shore in our favorite beach spot Rehobeth Beach, DE. I went to the University of Delaware for my undergraduate degree and we have a lot of memories from many fun-filled weekends at the beach. On our return trip home from vacation, we stopped at the University of Delaware to walk the campus, visit with old friends who stayed in the area, and bought some new college sweatshirts from the college bookstore just like old times. We ate lunch on Main Street and then decided to walk the large campus green. Janine got down on one knee under a huge oak tree in front of my favorite college historic dorm. I cried, and of course, I said yes! We had been together already 6 years prior. I was completely surprised!”

Why the Hudson Valley…?


Photo Credit: J.Ferrara Photography

“The Hudson Valley is near and dear to my heart,” says Jenny. “My grandparents lived in Cornwall-on- the- Hudson their entire lives. I spent many summers, holidays and special occasions at my grandparents’ house. In 2014 my grandfather passed away, their beloved home, which my grandfather built by hand, was sold, and the Hudson Valley is the one place in the world I can still feel close to him. There is something about the Hudson River and the mountains and the smell of the air of there that I feel his presence. Having our wedding at the Caldwell House Bed and Breakfast was a no-brainer. We wanted a long weekend wedding celebration with our immediate families, just 15 people. We rented every room in the entire main house for the weekend.”

Wedding Theme…


Jenny and Janine had a small wedding with a rustic, autumn theme full of simple, elegant touches

Most Memorable Moment…


Jenny says, “When I met my soon-to-be wife under the most beautifully decorated fall gazebo under the bluest clear sky. It was a picture perfect weather day.”

Advice for Engaged Couples…


Jenny says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. The magic of the day passes so quickly so savor every moment. Everything will fall into place.” She also says to “Laugh a lot. It’s a good stress reliever.”



Venue: The Caldwell Bed & Breakfast, Salisbury Mills, NY

Photography: J. Ferrara Photography, Cornwall, NY

Dessert: Jones Farm, Cornwall, NY

Rehearsal Dinner: Billy Joe’s Ribworks, Newburgh, NY

Centerpieces and Bouquets: hand-made by Jenny

Photo Credit to all J. Ferrara Photography



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Expert Advice For Finding Perfect Photo Locations

I remember when my husband and I were planning our wedding, I spent hours looking for perfect locations for photos.  I scoured Pinterest endlessly pinning wedding photos of every kind…outdoor photos, indoor photos, posed photos, and everything in between. Then my husband and I made a list of all the places we wanted to go to get photos that would give us the desired look we found in all those Pinterest photos.

Through no fault of our own, we had a 3-hour gap between our ceremony and reception, so we thought we had all the time in the world. In fact, one of the places we thought about going for photos was 40 minutes away from our wedding and reception.


When we finally got our list complete and felt it was good enough to show our photographer, he stood in silence for a few minutes. I’m not quite sure what he was thinking, but we could tell right away that we had no idea what we were doing and that our lack of knowledge cost us a ton of time, time we could have used doing other things.

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Once our photographer had time to process our list, he broke it down and rationalized what we gave him. He gave us the best advice we ever received. Keep the list small, keep the list simple, and keep the list local. While three hours was a long time, it actually did go by very fast, which he warned us it would. We narrowed down our list from 6 locations, two three, one of which was the church.

Apparently, choosing too many locations is a common mistake couples make. So, we asked Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography, for advice on how to find perfect wedding photo locations:

Keep locations close


“It has become standard for most weddings to occur in either one or two main locations,” says Leman. “Either both ceremony and reception in one spot, or ceremony in one location, and reception in another. As much as possible, I would recommend staying in one main location for photos. Traveling between a few different places for photos, especially with families and wedding party groups, can cost precious time on a wedding day.”

You’ll be surprised how many photos/poses you’ll be taking at each location, and all the little nooks within a location you’ll find for your photo, so there’s no need to drive all over town to find the perfect spot.



Look for at least one outdoor spot


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

“If your ceremony and/or reception location is really not conducive to photographs,” says Leman,”I would recommend finding a great outdoor spot that:

1) Has enough space for the entire wedding party and family, if needed, and

2) Has open shade, and the ability for at least a semblance of privacy so you do not have meanderers in the background of your photos (local and state parks are great for wedding photographs, but sometimes picnickers will be around – just be aware!).”

Keep in mind that locations can change


Leman says, “One location may look amazing in summer, but it will be a totally different story in the winter! And, keep in mind that some locations change occasionally; for example, if you are counting on an open field, and a developer buys it, they may start to build on your awesome space before your wedding day (this does happen)! It’s important to take a peek at your photo location just prior to your wedding to ensure that it is as you expected it to be.”

Pay attention to permits


Leman says “If you do choose a location besides your ceremony/reception spot, make sure you don’t need permits to shoot there. If you do, make sure you request them as soon as possible to ensure that you won’t run into any snafus on your wedding day. Keep in mind that ordering a permit is often the responsibility of you as the client, rather than the photographer – take a peek at your photographer’s contract to be sure of where this responsibility lies!”

So, we want to know, what locations have you chosen for your wedding photos? Did that list change at all?


Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post. Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions.

Featured Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography


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