Post # 1
Alright bees, could really use your unbiased opinions.
The jist of it is we asked a close family friend on my FI’s side to photograph our wedding. Major faux pas I know! He truly is an amazing photographer and his family is so proud of him. He stayed with us for a weekend right after we got engaged and in the excitement and hype of it all, we asked him if he’d be willing to shoot our wedding. Of course we’d pay him the going rate and his flight and accommodations.
The problem is that he actually has never photographed a wedding before. He is more of a nature photographer. And I didn’t realize how important this distinction was until I started planning and reading up on weddings.
He also wants to bring a second shooter from his current city. I definitely want a second photographer but don’t want to pay for the flights and accommodations of a second person (that alone would be around $1000 not including paying for his services) when I could easily hire a second photographer here.
I see these three options:
1) What I really want is for him to just be a guest and we hire an experienced local wedding photographer.
2) Keep him and pay for a second local photographer.
3) Suck it up and go along with him being our photographer and let him bring a second shooter from his city. I really don’t want to do this because it would be so much more expensive and I doubt the quality of photos we’ll have. The second photographer he has in mind doesn’t have any experience with weddings either.
Ack I know I messed up. Ultimately what I want is to have nice pictures but not hurt anyone. Thoughts?
Post # 2
Option 1 — while honoring whatever contract (deposit) you have in place with the family friend.
Post # 3
Option 1. I honestly don’t know why you’d do Option 3. You don’t get anything out of it. I think he wants to bring along a buddy for backup in case he messes up your photos.
Post # 4
Thank you for your thoughts! We never had a contract or a deposit. It was asked while we were out drinking kind of thing.
ETA: We never even discussed pricing specifics. He said he’d do it for free and we chimed in that of course we would pay him the going rate.
Post # 5
Photography is sooo important. I’d hire a local photographer and gently let him know you prefer him be a guest and enjoy your wedding
Post # 6
Option 1. And do it fast before anything formal and any details are being discussed. Your reasoning is good and maybe even throw in that you guys were all drinking so probably got a bit over excited, you really just want him to be there relax and enjoy the event as a guest.
Post # 7
I am so glad everyone said Option 1. I really thought everyone was going to tell me to reap what I sowed and suck it up and deal with it.
Fiance said he’s fine with changing it but I have to be the one to tell him. I’ll try to be as kind as possible! I’m hoping he’s going to be a little bit relieved and can just have a nice time instead.
Thank you everyone!
Post # 8
I wouldn’t immediately jump to option 1. I’d test him out first. Get some engagement photos with him. If you don’t like them, you have a much better excuse than he’s never done a wedding before. Just because he hasn’t done one doesn’t mean his photos will stink.
Post # 9
mrsaime : I actually thought of this but it means that we’d have to fly to him. Flights are about $400-$500/per person. Unfortunately, it’s just not practical. If he was closer, I would do this in a heartbeat.
Post # 10
A lot of photographers include engagement photos in their packages. I think your friend photographer should just attend as a guest, especially since you don’t have anything formal in place and he originally offered to do it for free. I am sure he will be secretly relieved to know he won’t have to bring all his expensive camera equipment on a plane.
As a general rule, I think it’s best to use local vendors because they’re more familiar with the area, weather, lighting, and are more likely to have back up vendors if they have to call in sick or something.
Post # 11
I asked a friend who’s an excellent photographer (semi-pro) but never shot a wedding before. He did it for free in exchange for a charitable donation. We had another gifted friend as a sidekick. She did the pre-wedding getting ready shots.
It worked REALLY well for us. So I would go for it. But what I would say is:
– it’s essential to trust him. We had zero concerns about our friends’ photography skills and already knew we loved their style.
– having two photographs were fab as it made both them and us more relaxed – it was unlikely that both would be disasters! But it was good to be clear about who was ultimately the chief photographer in charge, and what their roles were. We had our chief photographer taking pre-wedding shots of the groom, ceremony from the front, formal family shots, some private shots of us, and he also asked to setup a booth so he could take portraits of guests during the reception. The sidekick took pre-wedding shots of the bride and bridal party, journey to church, ceremony from the side and random candid shots of guests.
– we hadn’t seen any pro photographers who we liked more. Also, I’ve experienced a pro losing all their photos before (not a wedding shoot) so I don’t trust them more than a good amateur.
-we’d have been sad but not devastated if none of his photos came out. Partly because we had back up, and partly because we didn’t have very specific lists of MustHave shots.
I have no regrets at all and would do the same again. But you seem to have more concerns so can’t advise on what’s right for you.
Post # 12
I would highly suggest hiring a photographer who is experienced with weddings. Weddings are a totally different beast than ANY other kind of photography. It’s a fast paced day with a lot of hurdles thrown your way, varying lighting conditions, and lots of emotions/drama. An experienced wedding photographer is well-versed to handle all of those things. Seriously I can’t tell you the number of fires I regularly put out on a wedding day – all while still doing my actual job of photographing. 😉
Now I completely understand that some couples are on a very limited budget and hiring an inexperienced friend might be all they truly can afford. However, if you desire quality photographs and you have the budget you need to hire a professional.
I would just say “Hey friend, the more we thought about it we really would like you to be able to come and enjoy the wedding as a guest. We think your landscape photography is amazing but think we’d feel more comfortable having someone who regularly shoots weddings to capture the day.”