Question for Wedding Photographer Bees

posted 3 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 3
3826 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@littlemiss604:   Could you tell her you can either shoot or be a guest but not both – and have her decide?  Which role would you prefer – guest or photographer?

Post # 4
2419 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

You really can’t be both. I’ve shot weddings for several friends and in all cases I’ve been there to work. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the wedding but you do so as a supportive observer and for sure, you have to be in “on duty” mode in order to get the pictures that they expect and deserve.

Post # 5
395 posts
Helper bee

I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t shoot for a friend period. I keep business and pleasure separate. 

Post # 6
104 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2016

I am also a part-time wedding photographer who works full time in the art field. Laughing I have done this twice for friends with destination weddings (so perhaps that’s a little different) and both times it went well.

In each case, I sat with the brides prior to the wedding and developed a plan and expectations, including the financials – in one scenario the bride paid for my travel and lodging, as well as a “friends & family portrait rate” (a few hunded dollars – my normal wedding rate is $2500-3k). In another case, the bride preferred to pay me a partial rate ($1200) over booking travel but also paid for spa treatments for me when we were on the island as a thank you. We also worked out (in writing – important!!) things like when I could sit for dinner (at a main table with other friends, not with the vendors) and when I was technically “off duty.”

Both also expressed that they wanted me to enjoy appetizers and drinks (which…I didn’t really do much of due to being busy, but appreciated the sentiment), dance, mingle with guests, etc. After formal portraits, speeches, and the rest of the formalities it did end up being really fun to enjoy the dance floor (camera in hand, of course!) and have a glass of champagne with the couple.

Other good & bad things that stick out:


  • It was SO fun being with my friends throughout their entire day as they got ready, got their hair and makeup done, first look, etc. Even as a Maid of Honor you don’t always get to see those special moments just between the bride & groom (and yes, both times I cried during vows, WHILE I was taking photos). Embarassed
  • Since you will likely know a lot of the bridal party and family, it makes it much easier/more comfortable to direct poses, call out names to be in group photos, etc.
  • Most of the bridal party expressed relief that “picture time” wasn’t stressful or weird with a photographer they didn’t know.


  • Dressing more formally than I normally do as a wedding photographer since I wanted to present myself well as a guest. It just wasn’t as comfortable.
  • Photographing an ENTIRE weekend as opposed to just the wedding…i.e. “Hey, do you mind having your camera ready at the rehearsal/post-wedding brunch/airport?”
  • Slightly more pressure when it came to post-processing and editing. I was stressed about making sure the photos were perfect, which hurt my turnaround time and then made me even MORE nervous about how they’d feel! Thankfully, both brides loved their photos, which was a relief.
  • Exhaustion!! After the wedding all of my other friends were ready to post-party…I was ready to fall into bed with my lenses and flashes and sleep for 10 hours!

Good luck if you decide to do it – it can be really fun!

Post # 7
631 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@littlemiss604:  In my experience this never works wells. It’s awkward, you cannot enjoy the wedding as a guest AT ALL, and if something goes wrong the friendship can be ruined. I would tell her either or, but if you’d prefer to be a guest, just offer to help her find someone great so you can enjoy the day like everyone else! Us wedding photographers RARELY get a chance to do that so when it comes take it.

Post # 8
1243 posts
Bumble bee

@littlemiss604:  I am not a professional photographer, but have two close friends that are (and another who does it on the side).

I asked the two professionals for a referral for someone who shoots in their style, and invited them as guests.  I really don’t think you can do your job AND be a guest. My professional doesn’t even want to have us book her a lunch at our luncheon venue (but I’m doing it anyway, because a gir;’s gotta eat!).


I would not ask that of someone, and if I was in your shoes, I would go into it knowing you are working, not a guest. Personally, part of of the reason i didn’t ask my VERY professional friends to do it is because if there was any problems with the photos, I wouldn’t want to jeoprodize our relationship.

Tread carefully.

Post # 9
3057 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

@littlemiss604: You can’t do both. Even if she says you can… it won’t work. You will be needed to capture moments throughout the ceremony & reception. You will not enjoy the wedding as guest, you will be running around, working throughout it. You won’t be able to talk to your friends right after the ceremony as there are family & bridal party photos to take! Probably the only time you’ll have a “break” is during your meal. No one wants to be photographed while eating! So that will give you a small amount of time to socialize. If you stop to talk with your friends, you’ll miss something – cake cutting, boquet toss, first dance, so many moments. The next wedding you photograph, try to find time to not be photographing the wedding/ceremony (don’t actually stop just see if there are any breaks in there & I bet you won’t find extra free time).

Also, if you decide to be their photographer, show them one or two full weddings you’ve done to make sure they like your style. And, have a contract, just like any of your other weddings. Make sure you have everything laid out. Pricing, what they’re getting # of hours, TIME start & ending! If your stop time is 8PM, start to enjoy the end of the reception, but at 8:30 the bride needs a photo with a friend that flew in from Australia, you’re the one who is going to be asked to work more & take the photo… that’s one area where things can get tricky.

Keep in mind that you will likely be nervous, you won’t want to mess up your good friend’s wedding photos & possibly ruin the friendship. Yes, that sounds extreme, but I’ve read story after story on other forums & its sad & happens more often than you think. In my experience, I am much more calm photographing someone I’m not friends with as I don’t have the extra pressure of the bride/groom potentially hating me!

Post # 10
1490 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

You can’t be both. I’ve photographed a couple of friends’ weddings and I pretty much was vendor all the way. There’s one wedding coming up that I really want to hang out with the friends and I worked out with the client such that an associate photographer takes over for me starting at cocktail hour. 


I also only photograph selective friends who really, really like my style. You’ll get a lot of friends who ask you to photograph their wedding just because you’re the only photog they know, but that can end pretty badly once you find out they have different style preferences.

Post # 11
729 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

One of our videographers was our friend and for the most part he did his job the whole time while his wife was a guest, and then he joined her for dinner while the other videographer filmed toasts, then they switched for the other guy to have his vendor meal while our friend filmed everything else. I think he had one or two moments of just hanging out, dancing, etc, and was happy to be there in any capacity. As long as your second shooter is fine with having a vendor meal with the other vendors, I think it can work out.


Post # 12
1287 posts
Bumble bee

I posted this on another thread, so I copied and pasted it. I didn’t want to type it out again – and btw, I refunded her deposit and didn’t photograph her wedding.  

I’m a professional wedding photographer, I’ll give you my side as a professional. I do not photograph friend or family weddings.  I will do children/family portraits…but not weddings. Weddings are too stressful and demanding.  I’ve had a friends wedding lined up before.  She was expecting TOO much from me.  She wanted me there for the rehearsal on a Friday night to photograph the church and to get a feel of how things will go the next day.  Ah, for starters, I already have a client booked for that Friday night, secondly, I’ve done TONS of weddings, I know how they work, I know my lighting, I know church rules and if not, I speak to the officiant ASAP when I get to the church for a quick run down (or they find me upon my arrival, no big deal!) lastly, you aren’t willing to pay me for those extra hours to bump out my previously booked client.  

So, basically, from a vendors point of view, friends/family can be a bit demanding of friends in the business.

On the other hand….lol….As a professional photographer getting married and being in the business…We’ve hired friends of ours in the business.  But as we are all professionals, it’s professional, not hiring them as “friends”.  We are still paying them and we will treat each other with respect as a client/professional basis.  


ps…I tell people from the start that I don’t photograph family/friend weddings.  They want too much from you, demanding, free, they are petty with every detail, they try to rush you with finishing their photos, they want special treatment because they are friends or family, but, you have to treat them like regular clients…and that’s tough.  Just say no.

Post # 13
25 posts

I usually offer my friends a free engagement session, but normally would not shoot their wedding.  If I were to shoot their wedding, I would charge full rate since I can’t really enjoy the wedding as a guest if I’m going to be busy taking photos =].

Post # 14
218 posts
Helper bee

You really can’t do both.    In my case, I haven’t worked during a good friends wedding because I wanted to fully enjoy it and socialize ( she wanted me to and I simply helped her pick a trusted photographer that was available on her date ).   

For aquaintances where I’ve offered some discount for knowing the people, I give 100% of the attention to shooting.   

You really can’t do both so you’ll have to decide which role  to take ! Don’t attempt to be a guest and shoot it – it’ll just stress you out!

Leave a comment

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors