Shall we talk about having friends and family as your wedding photographer? 🤔
I’m a huuuge supporter of having your wedding your way and doing exactly what is right for you, regardless of the opinions of others; I totally understand that there are tons of reasons why couples might choose to go down that route. However, there’s a lot that goes on ‘behind the photos’ when it comes to wedding photography, and it’s really important to consider the potential pitfalls of having a friend or relative as your wedding photographer.
Read on for some of my thoughts on the topic, and for some pointers at the end for those who are set on going ahead with it.
1. The familiarity can actually make things awkward.
This might not be the case for everyone, but it can often feel pretty awkward to be smooching your other half in front of friends or family, or displaying moments of sensitivity or vulnerability. Awkwardness shines through in photographs, and as wedding photographers, we've seen a million kisses, hugs and intimate moments, and are experts at putting our couples at ease to get the best possible results.
2. They may not have much experience.
Photographing a wedding is so much more than 'just' the photos. Wedding photographers are experts in wedding day timelines, crowd management, communication, last minute changes, flexibility and problem-solving. Timings are often tight, and it's important to have the experience of photographing weddings so you know where to be when, and how to deal with anything that's thrown your way (think sudden downpours, crying children, etc.!) Without this, it's likely that important moments will be missed and the day may not run as smoothly.
3. You're unlikely to be covered by a contract or insurance.
Sure, the paperwork involved in hiring a professional photographer can seem boring and a bit of a 'vibe killer', but ultimately it's there to keep both you and the photographer safe and happy. Professional photographers will provide you with a clear contract outlining what you can expect in all situations, as well as being covered by extensive insurance in case of any accidents, mishaps or damage.
4. It can be seriously awkward if there are any issues.
Picture the scene: you get your wedding photos back and there's a ton of key moments missing/the photos are really poor quality/etc. It can be really difficult to raise these issues with someone you're close to, and doing so can cause awkwardness and even long term damage to your relationship. Think carefully about whether this is a risk you're happy to take.
5. They won't be able to fully enjoy your wedding day
You want all of your guests to be able to fully get into the spirit of your wedding day and enjoy it with you - right? If someone close to you is responsible for your wedding photography, they won't be able to relax, eat, drink and party with you and your guests as they'll be too busy trying to capture all the action.
6. It's a lot of pressure!
Both for that person, and on your relationship with them. Your wedding day is only going to happen once, and whoever is taking those photos is going to get one chance to get it right. That's a hell of a lot of pressure to put on a friend or family member, and it can cause a lot stress and anxiety! The more stressed and anxious they are, the less likely they are to catch those key moments and the more likely it is that you'll be disappointed.
7. Your photos may not be their top priority.
Family and friends are likely to know lots of other people at your wedding, meaning that there's lots of opportunities to get caught in conversations or prioritise other things over getting those key moments. Whilst a professional photographer will put your photos at the top of their list of priorities at all points of your wedding day, the same can't always be said of one of your guests.
8. They may not have procedures in place to protect your photos.
Image storage sounds boring, but it's a hugely important part of being a wedding photographer. We spend hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds per year investing in both hardware and software to ensure that all of our couples' galleries are safe, secure and delivered to the highest possible quality, no matter what happens. Without these practices in place, there's a definite risk of damage or loss.
So, you're still set on having a friend or relative photographing your wedding - I get it. I totally understand that there are many reasons why couples may choose to do this. So how can you protect yourself if you do go down this route?
Set out clear boundaries and expectations well in advance
Consider asking them to do a pre-wedding photoshoot for you, so you get used to the dynamic and know what calibre of photos you're likely to receive
Check that they're definitely happy to take your photos, and make sure you have a back up plan in place!