Don’t Ask Your ‘Friend with a Nice Camera’ to Shoot Your Wedding

What’s happened has happened. But I just kind of want to rant so that maybe, if some future brides/grooms see this, they’ll understand the perspective of a photographer who may also be their friend.

Friends of mine got hitched. It was kind of last moment but they delayed their wedding due to COVID and decided to have a small two-man ceremony (bride, groom, two witnesses and the commissioner).

I was given details about the wedding two weeks prior to the wedding. Then, one week before, I got the inevitable “please bring your camera.” I’m usually pretty passive and I honestly don’t mind, but since it’s such a small intimate ceremony I wanted to share the moment with my homies rather than running around all over the place with the camera.

I am by no means a professional. I would, however, consider myself a pretty serious shooter who can consistently generate decent images. Also, I generally dislike any type of work where I’m being told what to do, although I do love photography. I didn’t think I’d get an opportunity like this in the future, though, so I just sort of let it slide.

The day comes and I take a half-day off work. I start to get ordered around by the bride and groom, being told what type of photos to take, they ask me to take some posed studio photos typical of weddings (bouquet shots, vows, veil, etc). And while I’m very happy to join them on their special day, I honestly just wanted to be intimate with the ceremony and enjoying the moment of my two friends coming together.

Instead, I was running around trying to get them the best shots possible because I want them to have the best photos ever because I need to ensure the quality I output meets up to my personal standards. I made a light-hearted comment about how on average a wedding photographer gets two to four grand for the day and that’s my wedding gift for them until they have their real ceremony post-COVID.

Most photographers aren’t as passive as me and we honestly just want to enjoy your special day. If you do want to use a friend for photography just be honest and a have a serious discussion like a work contract. Always offer financial compensation, gear, time and skill set are extremely valuable. And even though I probably would have refused it, it’s just a nice touch that can make the situation slightly better.

Don’t forget: if your friend screws up, it can really strain a relationship. If you are not happy with the quality of the photos they take, it can make things awkward between you two as well.

Regardless, I’m happy for my friends and I’m happy to have been there. I’m not really mad at anything that transpired, but just understand that it’s difficult to celebrate your moment with you. Understand that this is work and hiring a professional can be expensive as hell.

About the author: Andreas Samaris is a Vancouver, Canada-based semi-pro landscape and travel photographer and a Red Seal plumber by trade. You can find out more about Andreas on his website or follow him on Instagram. This article was also published here.

Image credits: Header photo by Drew Coffman, CC0

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