Today we are going to be talking about photographing a friend’s wedding, what to expect and should you do it in the first place?
Angus sent in a question and said, my friends like my street photography photos and I’ve taken photos of them in the past just for fun. When meeting with them they said they have confidence in me. The problem is I’ve never photographed a wedding before.
I have all the equipment I need including backup equipment. But I’m not sure if I should photograph their wedding as my first or even how much I should charge them?
Should you photograph a friend’s wedding?
This is a tricky one because it comes down to your confidence level.
Clearly, your friends have trust in you and they like your photography as a whole, which is excellent. You have the equipment by the sounds of things. It really comes down to how comfortable you feel.
There are going to be people who will listen to this podcast who are professional photographers, and they’re going to say “ don’t do it because you could stuff it up”.
You know what? They’re right.
There are a lot of things that could go wrong and may even lose a friend in the process.
But, What people need to understand is sometimes the bride and groom want photography done for their wedding, ask friends because they want to save money, they feel more confident with a friend doing it, or they don’t value photography as a whole and just want to get it done the cheapest way possible.
Regardless of how they feel, don’t worry about people giving you negative advice and saying you shouldn’t do it.
1. Offer the wedding photos as a gift
What I think you should do is maybe use this as an opportunity to think about doing wedding photography and see if you like it.
Think of it this way,
You could offer the wedding photos as a wedding gift.
By doing so, you can say to them,
I am going to photograph your wedding. But I have no prior experience. I will only photograph the ceremony, bridal party, family portraits and a portion of the reception. After that, you’re allowed to sit down, enjoy the meal, and enjoy the festivities.
They may want more from you and it’s up to you if you want to do it. Think of yourself first as it is a big responsibility and will be a super long day.
2. Setting Expectations and price
You asked if you should charge your friends to photograph their wedding?
I think you shouldn’t, especially for your first wedding and by not charging, it will reduce the stress of photographing your friend’s wedding day.
I would also ask your friends to sign a one page document that lists the price of $0 and what you are going to photograph, how you will deliver the photos and when the photos will be ready.
Even though I’ve photographed weddings for a long time. I only ever offer free weddings to close friends as a wedding gift and I still get them to sign a contract.
I think your friends would be understanding, I think anybody would love to get their wedding photos as a gift.
The fact that they like your street photography, which a lot of wedding photography is about candid moments, which is what happens in street photography. You’re photographing people, sometimes with their knowledge, other times not.
One big difference is that there are parts of the day where you have to take charge of what’s going on.
You may need to ask the bride to move to a particular part of the house during the getting ready stage in order to get them in a more flattering light or if you’re doing group photos, you’ve got to get people in line.
You need to be confident with your camera and be able to work fast. By all means use the assurance bridal party throughout the day, everybody wants the day to go smoothly, so don’t think that you’re on your own here, but just remember if something does go wrong, you need to be able to solve issues quickly.
So meeting with the bride and groom ahead of time to go over the wedding timeline and who can assist with the group photos.
Having backup equipment is one aspect that you definitely need and you mentioned that you have that. Having enough lenses, camera bodies, flashes and memory cards to last you through the day, even in the event of an accident it’s extremely important to be prepared.
I think if you’re game, you should do it.
3. Understanding The Wedding Day timeline
If you’ve witnessed a wedding before, you probably would have seen what the photographer was doing during the different parts of the day.
Also, if you’ve been a part of a bridal party, you’ll see how the day starts off , how it ends and everything in between.
As you know a wedding does end quite late, which is why it’s important for you to set the amount of time you are going to photograph on the day. This clears up any issues with the bride and groom, with you sitting down and enjoying yourself after a certain time, you need a cut off.
If you explain this to your friends and they’re obviously keen for you to take photos, I think that you will be fine.
There are plenty of resources online about wedding photography, I know that they don’t replace experience, but they will give you a general idea. Googling wedding photography and seeing what some people show online will kind of give you a good idea.
Visiting professional photographer’s websites and seeing their photos, seeing how they pose people is good, as that will be part of the day also.
I’ve been in business for over 17 years and it wasn’t until my seventh year in business that I started my portrait and wedding photography business.
Up until that point i was working towards it. I was doing small portraits and then small events, which had a few hundred people and then up to a thousand people and so on and so forth. I could manage large crowds and understood how to work long days and what I needed to organise.
I know it’s your first wedding, if you do decide to do it, that is! there will be a million things you’ve got to think of.
If you go with the flow and try to take as many photos as you can that are well exposed and composed, and only pose when it’s needed, like the group photos and some of the bridal party photos. You will be fine.
The other bonus for you is they’re friends so potentially your friends with their friends and interacting with them is not going to be a problem.
In fact, in some of the weddings that I have photographed, where I have known extended family or even friends of the bride and groom, the day has gone so much easier and relaxed.
4. Learning From The Experience
Friend or no friend, when photographing a wedding everyone knows you’re there to do a job, to make everyone at the wedding look good in the photos.
If wedding photography was not something you were interested in, this may be an opportunity for you to try it.
If you did do it and didn’t like it, It was only one wedding and an experience you couldn’t get elsewhere.
Only you can make the choice if you should photograph your friend’s wedding.
I suggest meeting with your friends, get as much information about the wedding, so you can understand their expectations.
It will also allow you to work out whether it’s possible for you to even do it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, however silly they may seem.
Lastly if you have any doubts in your own ability or your friends are pressuring you, say NO, because you need to be 100% committed to doing a good job for them.