After I took a series of portraits of the guests in the wonderful hotel patio next to the Ammersee, the sister of the bride took interest in my work and started chatting with me. So in the crisp spring air on a beer garden bench right next to the Ammersee, I reviewed the pictures with her that I had just taken at her sister’s wedding. She was pleasantly surprised to see the small treasure of memories that her newly-wed sister and husband were going to take home from this day. And she soon took out her smartphone to show me pictures of a wedding she had recently attended.
The sister of the bride had been invited to her best friend’s wedding right across the border in neighboring Austria – to another one of those pleasant lakes in the Alpine area – the Achensee. The pictures of the bride and groom and their guests at church were great. The wedding photographer had managed to deal with the challenging lighting conditions during the ceremony at the St. Notburga church near the lake, and details such as the bridal bouquet or the wedding rings were superbly captured with his camera. But further on, those pictures were history: The bride tossed her bouquet to her bridesmaids, but the bouquet was not visible in the photograph. The newly-weds’ heads were cut off during their first waltz. A dozen of underexposed pictures followed, blurry motives, red eye photos … Above all, there was not a single nice picture of the bride and groom which they certainly would have loved to have for their wedding album.
I must have looked quite puzzled in light of such bad pictures, so the bride’s sister soon commented her little slide show. “My friend spent so much money on her wedding – a designer wedding dress, a top wedding location, a horse carriage, a very special dinner menu, a cool DJ who rocked the after-wedding party – and now she will not have any nice pictures to look at that remind her of her wedding day – that is actually quite sad.” I must say that I very much agree with what she told me out there at the Ammersee. In the age of digital photography, everything seems so easy. So why not ask a relative or friend to shoot some pictures at a wedding? Such a thought is certainly understandable, and some pictures may in fact turn out decent. But the decision to pass on a professional wedding photographer may also mean that there might not be a real wedding album to browse through after the event, no picture memories that accompany the bride and groom for their lifetime.
That said, I left the Ammersee with two impressions on that day: I was happy to have worked amongst the possibly most international and outgoing wedding guests of my professional life. But I also drove home with a conviction that a professional wedding photographer should accompany a wedding in full – and not only shoot select pictures at the church or civil ceremony