Can my friend take pictures at my wedding? | FAQ with Andrea Dozier

I get really excited to meet new couples and work with so many inspired people. Many of these talented couples are surround by talented creatives.  The question comes up pretty often about how I feel about their family or friends bringing cameras to weddings. My answer is based on my own beliefs, so it’s always best to run this by your own wedding photographer before your event.

In my contract I do state that I am the only commissioned wedding photographer. I believe that for order and to omit confusion, you really do need to pick one official photographer. However, many people have friends or family who are either enthusiastic hobbyists or up and coming photographers in their own right. If anyone ever wants to take pictures during unscripted events, I really don’t mind! I feel like it’s a great way to have even more photographs at your wedding since there’s no way my assistant & I can be omnipotent! There are three things I would encourage couples to consider:

  1. What is the goal of the images? Does your good friend just want to give your family extra photographs {what a good friend, right?!} or is someone wanting to mislead others into thinking they were paid to shoot this wedding? It is easy {and free} to set up a Facebook page and slap a logo on a few images, and therefore mislead fans into thinking they were selected to shoot this wedding. Can you see a difference? It’s easy to snap a picture or two out of the whole wedding day that is amazing. It’s a different situation if you must operate your own business, coordinate all the moments, shoot in many different types of light, and guarantee to process hundreds of outstanding photographs.
  2. What type of wedding are you having and what space will the photographer have to work with?  Weddings comes in all shapes and sizes, they are each getting pretty unique! This is actually an important aspect to think about. Are you having an outdoor wedding in the summer with a lot of natural light? Or are you having a small intimate evening affair in the late fall in a small dark chapel? If you have spacious grounds and guests won’t have to use their flashes, the photographer will barely notice they are there. It’s very unfortunate when a couple is exiting a church and a guest unknowingly messes up the shot by having their flash go off at the exact moment the official photographer is taking the picture. Although some heavy editing can help salvage an overexposed image (the photographer’s flash + the guest’s flash makes the image too bright), it’s not quite the same as if the photographer had been able to take the image as they had originally exposed it. On the other hand, there can be completely opposite experiences. I had a gorgeous outdoor wedding in Toledo a few months ago. A friend of the couple photographed some of it too, (the bride ok’d it with me months beforehand), and he was incredibly kind! I was not intimated at all, and he was able to give them some beautiful images in addition to the ones I took. I didn’t notice him at all since we were both using natural light and he was very respectful. It was also nice for me to “talk photography” with someone else. I have actually met some really amazing photographers that are guests at weddings I’ve photographed!

    The other part of thinking about your venue is the space available. Is there room for someone else to be there, or is it cramped even for the photographer & assistant? This goes for the dressing room, the ceremony, and the dance floor at the reception. I typically shoot intimate weddings and am used to the challenge of working in close quarters. Adding others can make it difficult to get a clean shot or move around like I need to.

  3. Do they want to shoot portraits with the couple?  This is the part where I don’t really compromise. During the intimate portrait session with the couple, where I am working on a tight timeline & posing them in a very specific way, I must insist I am the only one who can photograph them. Not only does it take longer to add another voice asking for types of shots, the couples portrait session is a big reason they hired me. I have to produce images under pressure and I have a lot to do with the body language, location, and light of the images. During family or bridal party formals, I honestly don’t mind if other people have cameras and take pictures. I just ask that they allow me to get the shot(s) I need, then I scoot over so they can shoot a few. I completely understand how exciting it is to see all your family together and I feel like you should get as many images as possible of that rare & beautiful moment! I want to encourage good energy at weddings and not have anyone feel apologetic for wanting to take a picture!

 What do you think of my line of thought as a bride or colleague? Extra cameras nay or yay?

This is one of those subjects that can get pretty touchy and to be honest every wedding is different! I think that a lot of amazing and positive things can come of being understanding & respectful of each other. As I mentioned above, I’ve met and gotten to know some really wonderful and TALENTED photographers through weddings I’ve photographed! If anything, I will probably ask for a business card or Facebook name so I can follow your work! ♥

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