August 12, 2022
As a full-time wedding and elopement photographer, I’ve heard from many other photographers that they would hesitate to photograph a friend or family’s wedding. While I’m sure many photographers have their own reasons as to why, I wanted to share my experience photographing a friend’s wedding. If you’re a photographer contemplating whether you should or shouldn’t shoot that friend (or family member’s) wedding, this one’s for you!
I thought the best way to go about this would be to actually interview a past bride – who just so happens to be one of my closest friends. Lindsey and her husband, Darek, tied the knot back in May. The process of hiring a photographer for a wedding is typically a lengthy process, since most couples book their wedding vendors early on in the wedding planning process. So when interviewing Lindsey, I wanted to discuss the process as a whole- from beginning to end. I asked Lindsey 3 questions, to which I also discuss my own perspective. Let’s dive in!
Was it nerve wracking at all or stressful talking to a friend about the booking process?
Lindsey: “It wasn’t awkward at all! I thought our communication was great during the entire process. Michelle was straight forward about her pricing and what was included, which was great.”
From my end, I wanted to ensure that Lindsey and Darek received the same experience as any other client of mine. It’s always a goal of mine to go above and beyond when serving my clients – from the very first inquiry to when their gallery is delivered.
My biggest piece of advice to other photographers would be to keep this in mind. While you may feel tempted to take a casual approach to the initial meeting, I find it best to still remain professional. I explained each package, and recommended what I thought would best fit the vision for their day.
Lindsey has always been super supportive of my photography business. I never felt like there was an expectation to shoot her wedding for free; which I think would result in a very toxic situation. While you may feel tempted to “as a wedding gift”, you could end up resenting the couple in the end. And, the couple may resent you as the photographer if they don’t feel like they received the ‘full package’. As a photographer, you still deserve to be paid. And as a bride/couple, it’s important to respect your photographer + friend.
What advice can you give other brides who are thinking of asking a friend to work their wedding?
Lindsey: “I think it’s important to understand and respect that if you’re asking your friend to work a wedding, they are of course your friend, but it’s also their business. A level of respect for that is so important!! … I tried to respect her time (especially when we weren’t getting together for wedding stuff).”
Being respectful of time is crucial to working with a friend; from both the bride’s perspective as well as the photographer’s. Just as Lindsey didn’t want to ask me questions when we were just hanging out, I didn’t want to overwhelm her with excessive information; it doesn’t make sense in the initial booking process to go into every single detail. Planning a wedding is stressful. The last thing I ever want is to make a bride feel overwhelmed.
I also completely agree that there needs to be some separation; wedding photographer + friend vs. friend + friend.
Did you still feel like I was a part of your day and was able to enjoy each other’s company?
Lindsey: “Yes, 100%! It felt like having her as a bridesmaid who also was taking our photos.
When Lindsey got engaged, she told me she was having a hard time deciding whether she wanted me to be a bridesmaid or photograph her wedding. We discussed that I would be able to spend the same amount of time with her on her day whether I was a photographer or a bridesmaid. So once she decided to go ahead with booking me, I felt like it was so special getting to capture the day for her.
I was able to spend time with the rest of the bridal party during hair and makeup, and go everywhere with the entire wedding party. After dinner, Lindsey came up to me and told me to put my camera down to come celebrate. It was truly the best of both worlds. I’m so thankful that my experience photographing a friend’s wedding went as well as it did.
Do you have any additional comments?
Lindsey: “It was just so fun to have Michelle taking our pics and being there for all those moments. It made the moments feel so much more intimate and special. I was relaxed and just myself, especially when I wouldn’t consider myself someone who’s “good in front of the camera”.”
Photographing Lindsey and Darek’s wedding was just such a blast; my husband was even a groomsman. I felt like I even had an advantage knowing both the bride and groom so well. While I do my very best to get to know every couple before their wedding, I already knew them like the back of my hand. Knowing their mannerisms gave me an advantage to know that Darek was definitely going to cry all day. 😉 It just really added to the experience to know them so well.
All in all, my experience photographing a friend’s wedding was exactly as I had hoped. From what I’ve seen online, I know that not many photographers talk about this topic. While in most businesses, “don’t mix business with pleasure” seems to be the mantra, photographing a wedding is a whole other ballgame. My biggest piece of advice for couples or photographers is to go with your gut, establish boundaries, and weigh the rewards vs. risks. Definitely prepare for some water works while editing your friend’s photos but I hope this was helpful!
Shoot me a message on Instagram (@michellegodfreyphoto) and let me know if you would photograph a friend or family’s wedding! And if you’re looking for more blog content? CLICK HERE TO BINGE THE LATEST✨ But for now, prepare to swoon over Lindsey and Darek’s beautiful wedding day.