Have you announced your engagement on social media and now several “friends with fancy cameras” are nudging you to have coffee & discuss your wedding plans with them? Or maybe you are getting not so subtle hints from your family to hire your uncle with a fancy camera to photograph this incredible milestone.
AS I WAS CHATTING WITH ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS, I ASKED WHAT HER BIGGEST WEDDING DAY REGRET WAS AND SHE SAID…
“FEELING OBLIGATED TO HIRE A FRIEND TO PHOTOGRAPH HER WEDDING.”
I understand the sensitive situation you are in - You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and of course, support their business or passion, but you under no obligation to work with anyone simply because they have a fancy camera.
Our wedding photographer said it best “ There is the right photographer for every couple and the right couple for every photographer.” I can’t thank Matthew enough for saying that me/us because I’ve clung to those words in every aspect of my life since 2006!
4 REASONS YOU SHOULD BREAK UP WITH YOUR FRIEND WITH THE FANCY CAMERA
- Their style of photography isn’t your style of photography. As you begin your photography search you’ll notice several different styles and you’ll be drawn to one more than the other. Light & Airy with muted tones, Dark & Moody with deeper tones, or someone like me who opts for bold, vibrant colors, and true skin tones. One style isn’t better over the other, it’s simply a preference and a very important know which you are drawn to.
- If your wedding would be the first they have ever photographed solo, I would proceed with caution. Granted we all need to start somewhere, but this might not be the ideal situation for a friend/uncle to use your wedding as a test run. Should things go sideways it can put a strain on your friendship/relationship.
- Your friend specializes in another type of photography; like pets or newborns. Wedding photography isn’t for every photographer. If weddings really aren’t their thing it is better to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
- You’ve had your heart set on working with a specific photographer for years and love their work.
BONUS REASONS TO ENLIST A PROFESSIONAL:
- A professional photographer understands their equipment inside and out, plus is armed with backups for backups.
- Sometimes friends or family flake out at the last minute because something else came up - like sick kiddos, didn’t feel like attending, or worse you had a fight and now they don’t think it would be wise to attend let alone photograph your wedding.
- A professional photographer knows what works and doesn’t work when it comes to posing, lighting, working with family members for posed photographs, and communicating with other key vendors to help the day run smoothly.
- Professional photographers have a workflow that they follow to deliver your photos promptly. You don’t want awkward conversations at parties when you still haven’t received your photographs 4 to 6 months (or sadly longer) after your wedding day.
HOW TO SAY “THANKS, BUT NO THANKS”.
- You can simply say that we’d love for you to kick back, relax, and dance the night away rather than cart around your camera!
- Ask your friend or uncle to take your engagement photographs even if your photographer offers a complimentary session - it will give your friend/uncle a chance to practice :)
- Be honest! Share what you’ve had your heart set on working with X-Y-Z from the beginning of your wedding planning stages. If your friend has recently married or is planning a wedding of their own they will understand. If it’s family - remind them that this will give them plenty of time to catch up with family and not have to be concerned with getting the “shot”.
- Lastly, hope that their specialty isn’t weddings so you can avoid the conversation altogether.
In all seriousness, work with the venues and vendors you have dreamed of working with. There should be no hard feelings or a sense of obligation in who you choose to hire. Truth be told your friend or uncle is most likely hoping you won’t ask them to photograph your wedding so they can enjoy the day celebrating with you!
As a professional photographer with over 100 weddings photographed, I’ve been in this situation a handful of times in reverse - being asked to photograph their wedding. Most of the time I decline. This gives me a break from a busy wedding season and an excuse to get dressed up, be with my husband, and enjoy expensive hors d'oeuvres I am denied when armed with a camera :)
The few times I have photographed for family or close friends it’s worked because we established a proper contract, payment structure, and outlined deliverables, plus I had been in the industry for 10+ years and treated the job as a vendor, not a guest with a fancy camera.
At the time of originally writing this post - I hadn't encountered this situation previously, but since it has presented itself, I felt obligated to share this as an important reminder.
Under no circumstances agree with work with a vendor (family, friend, or professional) who does not have you sign a contract or agreement.
A handshake and a prayer won't cut it in the event a vendor or venue falls through.
In October, I received a call from a dear friend who's daughter was only weeks away from getting married. The photographer whom they had worked with for their engagement photographs was now ghosting them. I can't share specifics because I do not have them. I don't know if this photographer had a health conflict, shut their business due to Covid, or simply had something else come up.
The couple hired this photographer at the referral of a friend and agreed without a contract. Giving the couple no legal recourse nor a leg to stand on.
I'm not a lawyer nor have I played one on TV so I don't know if the couple could have sought legal action based on a verbal agreement or not. Outline all of the details to protect everyone involved (especially if you have a professional or personal relationship with the vendor or venue)
A contract protects both parties and of course, I am sure there are legal loopholes (for those who want to say, Yeah...But!) at least you have something in writing.
One last thought: As we navigate life after Covid, it might wise to discuss how vendors handled various stages of lockdowns, reopening, and obtaining resources from their vendors. Personally, I'd put out as many fires in advance as I could to save myself from wedding planning headaches and heartaches.