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3 Reasons "Fake Wedding" Shoots Don't Make You A Photographer

Top Tips For Choosing A Wedding Photographer

By Jeffrey House Photography


If you discovered your wedding photographers portfolio was made up of photos from a "fake wedding," how would you feel?

It's referred to as a "styled wedding shoot."  

How does it work?  Essentially, a group of photographers pay a fee to photograph professional models posing as a bride and groom.  To help you better understand what I mean, check out this link to a real styled wedding shoot

So, what do you think?  

 Images by Jeffrey House Photography (

3 Reasons "styled wedding shoots" don't make you a photographer!

If a wedding photographer tells you photographing a wedding isn't demanding, difficult, stressful or extremely challenging, they are either lying or they aren't doing their job properly. 

If you took a minute to watch the short video on styled wedding shoots, you heard several different reasons why photographers participate in them.  The one that stuck out most to me was the photographer that said, "you don't want to practice on a real wedding, so this is the perfect way to practice your skills."  

I certainly agree that a wedding photographer shouldn't be "practicing" at your wedding, but is a styled wedding shoot really practice?  It's practice, but it's not good practice.  If you want to practice something, it's imperative you create an environment that simulates real life as much as possible.  Styled wedding shoots don't achieve this and that's why they don't prepare you to be a wedding photographer.  

Let's take a closer look!  

1.  Professional Models

Styled wedding shoots use professional models.  Using professional models doesn't not even come close to creating a real-life environment.  Professional models:

  • Are highly-skilled at posing
  • Are comfortable in front of the camera
  • Don't reflect the "average" person or the "average" body type

As a professional photographer, you must be efficient at photographing various body types and various flaws to create the most flattering photographs possible.  This is accomplished by using lighting and camera angles.  

Most couples don't have modeling experience; therefore, they have no idea what they should do with their bodies - how they should stand, where they should look, etc.  Your photographer will need to be skilled at directing and guiding you through posing to create candid, and beautiful imagery. 

Models are in front of a camera all the time, so they are used to it.  If you're like most couples, you're so concerned about how you're going to look you feel completely rigid.  A great photographer is going to understand how to make you feel at ease and bring out your true emotion, and expression.  

If a wedding photographer wants to truly and deliberately practice their craft, find an everyday couple that you don't know to be your "bride and groom."  Also, they should not have any modeling experience.  Let them know you're looking to practice your skills and you will give them the photos in exchange for their time.  This will force the photographer to engage in real wedding day scenarios - they will have to use lighting and camera angles to reduce their subjects flaws, they will have to properly pose them, and they will need to find creative ways to bring out their subjects true personality.  

 Images by Jeffrey House Photography (

2.  No "Wedding" Pressure

When photographing a wedding, there is a lot of pressure.  Weddings run on strict schedules; therefore, we have to work quickly and efficiently, and we only get once chance to get everything right.  

Every wedding has a timeline.  For example, hair and makeup will take place from 11 am - 2pm, the bridal portrait session will go from 2pm - 3:00pm, and the ceremony will begin at 3pm.  At least 90% of weddings run late and most often it's because couples underestimate the timeline. 

Most photographers can attest to this - hair and makeup usually take longer than expected.  Instead of starting the bridal portrait session at 2pm, now it's starting at 2:40 pm.  We now have 20 minutes to accomplish what we had allotted an hour to do.  This is part of why weddings are so challenging.  Even though we only have 20 minutes for the session, the client still expects you to produce the same quality of work.  

Styled wedding shoots do not even come close to replicating this kind of pressure. 

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3.  No Problem-Solving Skills

One of the best attributes a wedding photographer can and should have is being an excellent problem-solver.  Weddings require photographers to make thousands of split-second decisions which can be the difference between capturing and missing the moment.  

In the styled wedding shoot video clip, the conditions were perfect.  The models were placed in perfect locations with perfect surroundings, and perfect lighting.  None of the photographers in the video had to use problem-solving skills to create beautiful photographs in the harsh light of the bright sun.  The models were perfectly placed in shaded areas and the photographers didn't have to worry about "raccoon" eyes from the overhead sun.  They didn't have worry about cloudy conditions that can make your subjects look flat without the use of off-camera lighting.  They didn't have to worry about creating amazing photographs in 20 minutes before the bride and groom head off to the reception. 

And let's remember our very first point - while taking these photos they weren't worried about posing, creating flattering images and pulling out real emotions.

 Images by Jeffrey House Photography (

choose your photographer wisely

Choosing a quality wedding photographer has become extremely difficult thanks to the availability DSLR cameras.  It's created quite a wave in photography because now everyone thinks they are a "professional" photographer just because they have a DSLR and a Facebook business page.  

Photographing a real wedding is nothing like a styled wedding shoot.  While it's very difficult to recreate the pressures of a real wedding, there are certainly more effective ways to practice and develop your skills.  Before hiring a "photographer," be sure to ask them if their photos are from real or fake weddings.  

Your memories shouldn't be placed at risk because your photographer took some pictures of models.  

what do you think?  would you hire a photographer based on a stylized wedding shoot?



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