Wedding Photography and Videography Forum

Should I Hire My Friend Photographer?

Hi Everyone,

I have a friend who I think is a wonderful dramatic, artsy, creative photographer. Shortly after I announced my engagement she offered to shoot my wedding in exchange for a round trip plane ticket (she is currently attending the Art Institute of Chicago).  Tickets are around 400-500 compared to professional photographers who charge thousands so I would be saving a lot of money if I went with my friend. 

The only problem is she doesn't have that much experience photographing weddings (but she has done a lot of portraits and still life). I have only seen one of her wedding projects and while the photos were fine, they were not as strong as her other work. Should I give my friend the job or hire a professional?

Re: Should I Hire My Friend Photographer?

  • edited December 2011
    I'm having my friend do my photography.  He's done a lot of concerts and artsy stuff like your friend has.  I've actually been someone he's photographed and it came out beautifull.  I didn't hesitate and it sounds like you're friend would be a good fit! Good luck Cool
  • edited December 2011
    If they are giving you a great deal, ....why not! Im sure they will do a great job!
    Just Married Photo
  • fallbride1109fallbride1109 member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    Speaking as someone to whom photography was very important, my advice is no.  Your wedding photos are all you are going to have to remember your wedding by.  I would not trust that to someone who you admit is inexperienced and is "not very strong" in wedding photography.  Photographing a wedding is not the same as photographing trees and families.  JMO.  You get what you pay for.  Only you can decide if it's worth the risk.
  • Tikki 77Tikki 77 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I would say a resounding NO.

      First of all, you run a GREAT risk of losing your friendship, or stressing it horribly if the photos don't come out well.  Wedding photography is a thing all in itself, and it takes experience to do it right. (like anything else).    There is no re-shoot.

      Wedding photography is the hardest, most challenging photography there is really. The lighting is constantly different from place to place. For example, the bride's "getting ready" quarters have a certain lighting (which includes both quantity of light, as well as what's called white balance)  Then the ceremony will usually be pretty dark for photography, and it takes "fast" lenses to function in low light.  There may be many shots outdoors with the family and such. Basically, the lighting is always changing, and a wedding photographer has to deal with that all day long. It's not something other photographers have to deal with on a minute by minute basis. In photography, lighting is everything. 

     It's also a very very fast paced day. A photographer has to know what to do and when.  Where to be, and how to get the right shot. Experience.

      What if things go wrong, and the photos are a disaster, which could happen?  Are you willing to risk or severely stress a friendship over that?  Just something to think about.

       The only people who should be shooting weddings are wedding photographers.  But I totally understand the desire to save money.  It's a balance you will have to find.  If you do have the friend do it, I recommend she rent some fast lenses from somewhere like www.TheLensDepot.com She needs to use f2.8 lenses and better.  A 50mm 1.4 is another standard wedding lens. 

      So, take it from a wedding photographer, it's more than just walking around shooting pictures.  We haven't even discussed post processing yet.  That's the other half.
    Nashville Photographer.
  • edited December 2011
    I wouldn't be as worried about her level of experience as I would be worried with doing business with friends in general. 

    I think that it's best to do business dealings at arms length with vendors and not get too personal.  Just watch two or three episodes of People's Court and you'll see what I mean.  

    Even if your friend is entirely professional I just think it's a bad idea. 
  • edited December 2011
    Hiring a friend is risky - there's a huge amount of work that goes into shooting a wedding, and experience counts for a lot, especially when it comes to anticipating the important shots, cute little intimate moments, not to mention all that happens after the wedding - HOURS AND HOURS of editing and selecting the best few hundred pics from thousands (literally). My best friend is a wedding photographer, so I've seen this all first hand. After being her assistant a few times at weddings, I've learned that you can't be a guest AND a photographer at the same time. If you hired your friend, you'd need to talk extensively first and make sure that she'd have the right equipment (lenses, flashes, and backups for the above, etc.), a comprehensive list of the shots that you definitely want taken (getting ready, ceremony, reception, family groupings, candids, etc.), and also how you'd like them edited (artsy, photojournalistic, candids, etc.) You'll get better coverage of the whole event if the friend-photog has an assistant to help switch out memory cards, test lighting, corral family members during portraits, etc. But then that's another guest that won't really be getting to enjoy being a guest at your wedding. The biggest thing I'd be worrying about in your shoes is that if your friend backs out or something goes wrong with her equipment, then you won't have the time and/or budget for a plan B. Or worse, you won't even know until after the wedding that the photos are all garbage, and all you have are Uncle Joe's point & shoot photos.

    I'm not saying that hiring a friend can't turn out great, because it can save you a ton of money, but you're also taking a big risk
  • edited December 2011
    stephiehall and MoCookies both raise a lot valid points about doing business with a friend, the big commitment they have to make, and the skills needed for shooting a wedding. All important things to consider. However, if you talk to your friend and you both feel like she can do the job, then why not? I have known several people who had a budding photographer do their wedding photos, and they've turned out very nicely. 
  • edited December 2011
    I'm with NOLA and Mocookies. It's just risking ruining a friendship and puts you into a powerless position should something go wrong. Good, legit, photographers have insurance that according to my photographer - were something catastrophic to happen - like his computer dumps all of the images at the same time his offsite server loses them - would pay to restage the entire wedding. But that's the other thing - all of the pros not only store your images on their computer - they store them on remote servers so that even if something happens to their computer, your images are safe. If their lens breaks mid-wedding, they have extras. It's just best to have a pro.

    I would tell her that you would much rather have her there as a guest instead of as staff. (Especially if she knows lots of people who will be there - they're likely to act as distractions and suck her into conversations when she should be taking pictures). Which is probably true anyways. I want all of the people I'm inviting there to have fun - not to work. The max I would do if I were you would be to see if the photographer you do hire would be willing to have her around as a second shooter, and if so, then I would pick up her ticket. Otherwise, tell her that the best gift she could give you would be to come as a guest.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • edited December 2011
    A good median might be to hire a professional and ask, as part of the deal, for them to allow your friend to shoot as second shooter. They get free help, she gets experience without all the pressure. The only way this might work is if she releases the rights to her images to the pro. Keeping a set for herself of course. Depends on the temperament of the photographer. Eesh, thats a tough call!  You would need to find someone who would be willing to work with her. Which should be easy, she sounds very cool.

    You wedding pictures are really important. Hope you can get that worked out.

    And, congratulations on your future wedding!

    Best to you.

    Joseph


  • katphotogirlkatphotogirl member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I think it is necessary to look at her photography overall and see what you think and if you like her work.  I am a professional photographer.  For my wedding I am hiring a friend who is a professional commercial photographer do the pictures.  I have seen his artistic shots and his portraits and he is an excellent photographer.  If she has worked on other events then she knows how to take pictures on the fly and have them still come out well.  If she has only worked in a studio setting, I would agree with josephnorris, hire a professional but ask her to be a second shooter.

    Good Luck with the Planning!

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