I recently had an inquiry from a couple getting married in Portland in a couple of months. They asked if I was available on their date and gave me a rundown of the schedule for their wedding day: They wanted some shots of both of them getting ready , a few family photos before the ceremony, the ceremony, of course, and then, just a “few photos” at the reception. Their email went on to describe the details of the day and how they hoped it would go. The location was one I had worked at before and is beautiful. I responded by letting them know I was available on their date and that their wedding sounded picture-perfect! I also sent them a list of options for pricing and hours of coverage. They responded a few days later saying that they appreciated my “quick reply” but that they had a decided to use a good friend who was a photographer. This is not unusual and, at first glance, seems reasonable. Let me tell you why it should be avoided at all cost!
Wedding photography is about paying attention to what’s going on during the entire event. While many “moments” are scripted at weddings, the best photos usually come from something unexpected that happens at some unknowable, random point during the day. In order to capture those real moments, it’s important for the photographer to be paying attention to the wedding and not talking to the guest or bride and groom. When the photographer is a friend, it’s impossible for them not to be engaged in conversations with others that often distract them from doing their job as an observer. In addition, unless the “friend” is a wedding photographer, you can’t assume they will know how to shoot a wedding even if they know how to shoot pictures. In addition, weddings require a wide array of skills that differ from most other types of photography, just like being a dentist differs from being an orthodontist – same tools but each requires a completely different skill set. And, in the worst case scenario, if your friend is not a professional photographer at all, but rather a serious hobbyist, you might find that they are totally in over their head. After all, just because a friend is a good cook doesn’t inspire you to hire them to cater your wedding. And, if these reasons aren’t enough to convince you not to hire a friend to shoot your wedding, this last reason should. Think about what might happen to your friendship if you don’t like the photos? This is one of the most important days of your life that you can’t redo – and you end up with pictures you don’t like. It’s not the same as going to a movie a friend suggests and not liking it. This is something you get to recall every year on your anniversary. Don’t let that memory be soured by a friendship lost because of a bad decision.
Friends can help you do a lot of things at your wedding, like adjust the bow on your wedding dress. But being the photographer should not be one of them. To see photos that weren’t shot at a friend’s wedding, check out AlanWeinerPhotography.com.