Top 3 reasons not to hire a friend or relative
Whoa whoa! Controversial topic ahead! But it’s time to write about my top 3 reasons you shouldn’t hire a friend or family member to shoot your wedding or elopement. Most folks may turn to asking a family friend or Relative With A Nice Camera to save some budget. And hey – I get it – budgeting is one of the hardest parts of planning! Proceed with caution, however. You may end up with bad photos and/or a bad experience, a huge bill, a broken heart, or no photos at all! Having no images to look back on and remember how great your day truly was – 10, 30, 50 years from now would be awful. And that’s worth picking up an extra shift to avoid. Read my top 3 reasons to think twice about it. The last one might surprise you, but it’s actually the most important!
Reason #3 Not to hire a friend – Professional Conduct
If you can save some money by hiring a hobbyist photographer, be aware! There are a few distinctions between professionals and hobbyists to note. A professional will carry insurance. Yeah, this is the boring stuff nobody wants to talk about. Insurance is so important because it covers anything the photographer may inadvertently damage. If the photographer’s light burns the wall of the venue, (I’ve seen it) and there’s no insurance – guess who is on the hook for paying for that damage? You! If a guest falls over the photographer’s equipment and injures themselves.. yikes! That insurance policy would save your skin (and your wallet.). Secondly, a professional will always have pro equipment + backups. We have great cameras, great lenses, great lighting, backup cameras, backup lenses, backup lights, batteries, memory cards, I could go on. So no matter if they shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, or Fuji equipment, they will be prepared. Simply put, you can rely on a professional to have what they need to capture your day. Lastly, a real wedding or elopement photographer will have you sign a contract. I CANNOT stress the importance of this enough! A contract binds your photographer to deliver the photos. This means you WILL get your photos by a certain date (make sure that’s in there!). The most common complaint I see when you hire a friend to shoot your wedding is that the friend just doesn’t deliver. I don’t want this to be you!
Reason #2 – Not Being Prepared
Any photography is the same as wedding/elopement photography, right? Well, yes and no. A great landscape photographer will have experience using wide angle lenses, composition, and shooting at sunset and sunrise. But can they anticipate the best moments of the ceremony, and move quickly between diverse situations? A great family photographer can handle those large group photos well. But are they prepared to light and shoot the reception? One of the things I love most about photographing a marriage celebration is how many skills it takes. I truly feel like I get to use 90% of the tools in my arsenal/brain on the big day. Does your friend have experience shooting macro (the rings), documentary (getting ready), product (the dress, the groom’s details), creative and romantic portraiture (photos of the two of you), families and groups (family photos), landscapes (scene setting), fast paced emotion and reactions (toasts, reception events), moving subjects (dancing) and astrophotography (for those dreamy after dark shots and exits)? Can they shoot all of them? Not to mention various lighting situations, staying organized, making you feel comfortable and look your best, and getting all the shots you need while under pressure? Can they do it while hiking? If your friend is a wedding or elopement photographer, that’s great news- but read on to see my #1 reason you should still be cautious.
Reason #1 – Damage Control
There’s a chance that your friend will do a wonderful job. They will perform perfectly and make you feel comfortable throughout the day. There’s a chance you will absolutely LOVE the photos and the overall experience your friend can provide – especially when they are a wedding/elopement photographer that happens to be your friend. It could happen! But what happens when you don’t love the photos? What if they actually make you sad to look at? What if you feel let down by your friend or relative? The number one reason not to hire a family friend is that it can potentially damage your relationship. If you’re unhappy (likely because your photographer doesn’t shoot marriages, see reason #2), you likely will have to have a VERY uncomfortable conversation with them.. or plan to avoid them to hide your hurt feelings. I have seen this happen more times than I can count. And It’s so unfortunate. Before you hire that family friend, think about if you could stand losing that relationship. If they’re close to you, chances are you’ll want to see them standing up beside you, or shaking their booty next to you on the dancefloor instead. That’s what makes this the most important of my reasons not to hire a friend or family member to shoot your event!
If having photos you love is important to you, please hire a professional. Search for someone who aligns with your values. Someone whose experience, meticulous planning, and backups put you at ease. A photographer who gets to know what you value most, and works tirelessly to provide it. Seek someone whose presence puts you at ease, gets you, and makes you feel comfortable in front of the camera. Someone who provides a contract. Ask to see a full gallery so you can see how the entire day is photographed. That’s the golden ticket to relaxing and enjoying your big day for what it should be: a stress-free adventure full of all the people you love!
I hope this guide was helpful to you if you’re planning to have a hobbyist or friend photographer. If you still want to move ahead, just talk to your friend about these concerns.