Last week I walked you through how to pick your wedding photographer. This is a large part of every wedding planning process, and your photographer can account for a large part of your wedding budget. Something that's come up before with friends, clients, and just around the internet is whether or not it's worth it to cut costs and save money by hiring your friend with a nice camera to capture your wedding photos.
As a wedding coordinator, I've worked weddings where the couple has hired a friend to do their photographs and everything has worked out. However, I've seen what can happen when everything doesn't work out, which is why I wanted to talk through the pros and cons with you today!
Questions to ask yourself when considering hiring a friend to do your photos:
- Do I like the photos I normally see this friend taking and sharing?
- Are they going to be able to focus on taking pictures and not get distracted because they know the other wedding guests? (a.k.a. Are they going to be able to do their job and capture moments or be too busy talking with your mom?)
- How important are really good photos of my wedding day to me?
- Have they been to very many weddings before?
- Do I have enough time on my wedding day to give them a lot of extra time to take photos or are they going to be rushed? (Amateur photographers are going to take longer to get good shots, they will need plenty of buffer time unlike a photographer who is more accustomed to taking wedding photos.)
- Will it stress me or my mom out because we're busy worrying about what the photographer is doing instead of enjoying the day?
- Am I considering this option because I really cannot afford a professional photographer within my budget or am I considering it just because I want to save money?
- Am I considering it because I know that my friend wants to get experience photographing weddings and I feel obligated to ask them?
The last two questions are the most important ones to consider because they paint a more realistic portrait of the situation for you. Why are you really considering hiring a less experienced photographer? Personally, and this is nothing against amateur photographers because I know several and absolutely adore them, I think it's always worth it to hire someone who really knows their way around a camera and has either been trained by a professional wedding photographer or has experience shooting weddings. Your photos are the biggest thing you take away after your wedding day, and I believe strongly in investing in those memories. However, I know that this is not always realistic.
If you are considering hiring a friend because your budget really is small and you don't think you can afford a professional photographer, I would encourage you to:
- Reexamine your budget. Is there any other area that you can compromise in?
- Make a list of the friends that you could consider and figure out who photographs closest to a style that you enjoy. Their photography style will develop over time, but the work they are producing now is the best representation you have regarding what your wedding photos could turn out with.
- Ask them to do engagement photos first to make sure you're comfortable working with them and like the quality of work they produce.
- Consider asking two friends if they would be comfortable working together on your wedding day so that they can help each other capture moments. A lot of photographers have a second shooter, so as long as your friends are comfortable working together, this is a good way to build in a backup in case one person's photo doesn't turn out.
- Talk to them about expectations and give them plenty of time to capture photos on your wedding day.
If you are considering hiring a friend because you just want to save money, then my advice is to invest in the photographs.
Unless the photographer was terrible, I have never known anyone who regretted investing in photography.
If you're considering investing in a friend just because you know they want to start shooting weddings so you feel as if you have to give them experience, it's okay to say no.
Seriously, that's not a good enough reason. It's okay to tell your friend that you would rather they were just able to enjoy your wedding day and then leave it at that.
Remember, a friend who is a photographer is different than an amateur photographer.
If you have a friend who regularly shoots weddings or runs a photography business, then that is is a different story. Michael and I hired a friend to photograph our wedding, but she trained all through college under a very successful wedding photographer, she second shot a lot of their weddings, and then launched her own photography business after college where all she shoots is weddings and engagements. If you have a friend with that type of experience, then you do not need to worry about their qualifications. In those situations you are hiring a professional photographer who happens to be a friend.
What do you think? Is photography worth investing in?