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I Hate My Wedding Photos—What Do I Do?

If you don't like your wedding photos, you're probably wondering what to do. Fortunately, there are options that can help fix the situation.

By Jane Chertoff

couple in back of car kissing after wedding
Photo by Zola

Wedding photos are the one souvenir from your big day that you’ll want to keep forever. Ideally, you’ll be one of the couples thrilled with the final product and display them proudly. However, wedding photos don’t always come out as expected. Even with all the significance riding on them, they may look different than you envisioned once the proofs surface. And, yes, this can be true even if you did your due diligence beforehand and selected a photographer you trusted.

With all the expectations you put into the wedding photos, not liking how they turn out can feel devastating. Although you can’t have a wedding do-over, you can take a deep breath and figure out how to salvage the situation. Here’s how to deal if you don’t like your wedding photos.

INLINE ApolloFotografie 1080x720 Dennie&John Photo Credit // Apollo Fotografie

Our photos look nothing like we expected.

Step one to figuring out how to deal with wedding photos you don’t like is to determine what’s wrong, exactly. If you can narrow down what exactly it is about the photos you’d like to change, you may (not always) be able to salvage some.

  • Are you unhappy with the photos because they don’t seem like what you saw on the photographer’s portfolio or social media? If that’s the case, you can probably work with the photographer to change some of the editing and lighting.
  • Are you unhappy because the photos look nothing like your engagement shoot photos? Engagement shoots are basically test drives for couples and wedding photographers. So, if you like your engagement photos you likely assumed that you would like your wedding photos, too. In this case, you need to talk to your photographer—and you need to be honest. Be direct, come with examples of where the two works differentiate, and try to figure out what happened. You may get a discount or another deal or a refund.
  • Are you unhappy and don’t know why? Lighting, coloring, cropping—a lot goes into editing wedding photos. If you’re just not pleased with the way your photos look, first of all, ask yourself if you’re being nit-picky. Then, if not, schedule a meeting with your photographer. He or she is presumably a master photo editor and can maybe work with you to achieve a look that fits more with your vision. Consider compensating him or her for the extra time and work, though.

Never underestimate the power of switching a color photo to black and white, too. Liking turning electronics on and off when they’re not working, a simple color switch can do wonders.

Our photographer didn’t take enough photos.

Anyone who’s ever attempted to take a group picture knows that it takes about a dozen to get everyone looking the right way, smiling, and visible. Wedding photographers know this all too well. Most will actually overshoot weddings to compensate for the fact that many couples won’t like (for any number of reasons) a good chunk of the final product.

However, if you have the opposite problem and think your photographer took too few, get in touch with them ASAP. It’s possible they only sent you a sampling of the images or they sent you a previously agreed upon number of edited photos. They may have tried their best to pick the images they thought you may like, but they also probably have many, many more outtakes to share if requested.

If they did, in fact, simply take too few photos, it’s time to crowdsource. Reach out to all your wedding guests and ask them to send all the photos from their phones of different moments from the day. Even though these aren’t the same quality as professional shots, you can put together a supplemental album with your favorites. Plus, they may even feel more special if they are candid and taken by your favorite people.

Note: If your photographer underdelivered based on your contract, however, that may be grounds for a discount or a refund. Be sure to keep your contract and read it carefully so you know what was expected of your vendor.

Our photographer went off the shot list.

Wedding photo shot lists are a gift for both the photographer and the couple. A shot list is the clearest way to articulate exactly what pictures you want your photographer to take. Many wedding photographers ask for them (some require them) because it gives them an easy-to-follow guide that they can’t really mess up. OK, but yours went rogue. And now you’re here.

In this case, first, ask the photographer if there are other shots or outtakes that didn’t make the cut. You may find a photo dancing with your cousins you hadn’t previously seen and end up liking that more than the requested posed shot you initially requested.

While you can’t go back in time and get the shots you wanted, you can focus on what you do have. After some time, you may realize your photographer ultimately took the shots they did because the lighting was better for your venue, or they had to work within space constraints.

Note: However, if your shot list was part of your contract or was otherwise outlined as an obligation for the role, you may be eligible for a discount from your photographer’s company.

I’m unhappy with the way I look.

In this seemingly always-filtered world, it’s easy to look at yourself critically, especially on your wedding day. Alas, comparison is the thief of joy and you’re your harshest critic.

If you’re unhappy with how you look in your wedding photos, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re being fair. If you need to, close the photos and don’t look at them for a few days or a week. You may come back with a different outlook and realize you were being too harsh.

You can also enlist an honest friend and let them know you are unhappy with how you look in your photos. They will likely be able to provide some perspective and help you pick out some shots you love. We get it—pictures feel like they’re forever and self-image can be wavering.

INLINE OneLovePhotography 1080x720 Fallon&Jeremy Photo Credit // One Love Photography

If you feel comfortable, ask your photographer or a close creative friend for help cropping a photo here, editing a blemish there—whatever makes you feel better. However, before you do that, be sure to focus on the full photo. Are you happy? Is everyone smiling? Is your new husband or wife by your side? You may come to love a picture once you take the rest of it in.

Wedding photos are tricky. By nature, they’re unnatural and can sometimes leave us wanting something completely different. Remember that, while you paid for them and you definitely want some captured memories, your wedding day was filled with more happiness and love than any set of photos could ever capture.

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