Wedding Photography and Videography Forum

What to Pay Novice?

Hi everyone! 

I'm having a very small, simple wedding. (Like less than $2,500 small). Our photographer is just a friend of mine who knows how to use her nice camera. She's never shot a wedding before, or any other event for that matter. She mainly uses her camera for fun--selfies, flowers, etc. 

I am trying to figure out a fair amount to pay her, based on the fact she is a newbie and she is not even wanting to develop a portfolio. She's just doing this for me. She has said she would do it for free, but I still want to compensate her for her time a little. (And not just in food). What do y'all think? 

Re: What to Pay Novice?

  • She says she would do it for free, I would do something nice for her after the wedding.  Maybe a gift card to a place she likes, or one of her favorite restaurants.  Trade goodwill for goodwill : )
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Did you ask her to do it? Or did she offer to do it as her gift?

    Are you prepared to have not so great images? If none of the photos turn out will it ruin your friendship?

    It is VERY risky hiring someone with no experience. It is not that easy to shoot a wedding. Shooting events come with different challenges than just knowing how to use her nice camera. Lighting is a major concern. Timing is another, never having done a wedding she might not in place for key shots.

    That said...if she offered without you asking then you can accept her gift. If you asked, which you shouldn't have without having a price in mind, you should pay her, but no one can tell you what that would be. But be certain that you will not be disappointed if you don't get many great shots, you should go into this eyes wide open on the risk.

    GL! I hope the cautionary advice is no warranted and you get great shots :)
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

    bridesontherun
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Hi everyone! 

    I'm having a very small, simple wedding. (Like less than $2,500 small). Our photographer is just a friend of mine who knows how to use her nice camera. She's never shot a wedding before, or any other event for that matter. She mainly uses her camera for fun--selfies, flowers, etc. 

    I am trying to figure out a fair amount to pay her, based on the fact she is a newbie and she is not even wanting to develop a portfolio. She's just doing this for me. She has said she would do it for free, but I still want to compensate her for her time a little. (And not just in food). What do y'all think? 
    I'm sorry, but this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.  Are you prepared to not like your photos?  Will you be disappointed if this happens?  To me, my wedding  was such an important event that there was no way I'd leave this to a novice whose experience includes selfies.
  • mizzoutiger3mizzoutiger3 member
    Seventh Anniversary Name Dropper First Comment
    edited October 2014
    I actually WAS a novice photographer once! A few years ago, my future brother and sister-in-law were getting married. They weren't too concerned with photos, so they asked me to do it. My experience was basically that I have a pretty nice camera and I'm usually the one taking photos at family events. But I'm nowhere near a professional. Here's the advice I'd give you (and your friend): -Since I offered to do it as a gift, I didn't expect any money in return. She did pay me around $100, which I used to make them a nice book on Shutterfly. I felt bad accepting the money because my pictures weren't ANYTHING like they would have been from a professional, so I made sure to spend it on something I hoped they would like and use. -The bride also bought me a flash attachment for my camera. If your friend doesn't have one of these, you might think about getting her one. It was absolutely necessary for the ceremony and reception. -Tell her to practice as if she were shooting a wedding. I didn't practice before and it ended up being one of the most stressful events of my life. Taking photos of everyone walking down the aisle was the worst. Moments before the bride appeared, the battery on my flash died and I had to change it as fast as possible to get just 2 quick shots of her kissing her dad and greeting her groom. I felt horrible. All in all, I wouldn't say you're making a mistake by having your friend do it, I just wouldn't expect anything close to professional photos. Good luck! As long as she practices, I'm sure your photos will be great!
  • edited October 2014
    I'm a photographer, and an upcoming bride. The advice I give brides is if they value at all the memories from their wedding in photographs - never hire a novice. If you're looking to save money, look for a wedding photographer's 2nd shooter. They may not be brilliant, but at least they have a bit of experience working a wedding, and you can negotiate a smaller price for allowing them to build their own portfolio as a main shooter.

    That said... I'm not following my own advice. I asked a hobby photographer friend of mine (who has shot at least 2 other weddings that I know about) how much she would charge to shoot my destination wedding. She offered her services for free, but that is unacceptable to me. Since she has refused money, we are of course paying for her expenses, but also gifting her with additional photography equipment. (Photographers LOVE new gear)! I asked her ahead of time instead of just purchasing what I would want for her. Turns out she's been eyeing a $300 lens. Excellent compromise!

    I agree 100% with @photokitty‌ that if you asked her to work your wedding, then you should ask her to quote you her price/fee.

    And even with seeing her previous novice wedding work, knowing my friend has a great artistic eye, and having my own background available for posing/lighting/important shots I am nervous about the end product I'll recieve. I suppose what it came down to is I'd rather have someone I know and trust accompany us on this adventure of a destination wedding, than to take a chance with a photographer I've never met before. (Due to it being a destination wedding.) So I wish us both good luck on getting great shots!

    As a photographer (weddings are not my speciality) I get asked to shoot for friends or family all the time. They think because they just want the unedited images handed over at the end of the day that I should be extremely cheap considering our connection. I learned in my early days of working that hard for free because that person is family, I often felt taken advantage of, even though I had agreed to it. So be very careful. Hiring friends, especially for an important event such as a wedding, can cause trouble for your friendship. Even though your friend is just a novice with a "good" camera you both should find a contract you both can agree to, since they are providing services. I always find if people know what their responsible for, the interaction goes better most of the time. It should, hopefully, help alleviate a lot of the issues that could cause problems between friends. Best of luck!
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