I was asked recently, as often happens, for details of my excellent wedding photography services. On this occasion the bride-to-be followed up by emailing me to say that a friend had offered to take her photos, so she wouldn’t be needing me after all.
I could use this as a post to launch into a tirade about why you should hire a professional, and more specifically why you should hire me. This sort of sarcasm:
However, that isn’t very helpful, so I’m taking a different approach – this is a short guide on what to do if a friend asks you, as a hobbyist photographer, to take photos at their wedding. It’s actually an article I wrote back in 2009 for the now-defunct High Peak Local magazine, but it’s never been shared online so I thought this would be a good opportunity.
How to photograph a wedding for your friends
For a busy professional photographer, the summer months often mean a shift in focus to concentrate on wedding photography. While at first glance shooting a wedding might appear to be a simple brief, in practice it can be relatively complicated. Combined with this is the responsibility that there is only one chance to get it right. Most couples therefore book a professional to cover their day. I must admit some bias in this direction, but of course that is to be expected!
What, however, if a friend asks you to photograph their wedding for them? This is something which often arises, and I have been asked on several occasions if I can offer any guidance as to how to go about it. I thought it might therefore be helpful to suggest a few general points to bear in mind should you find yourself thrown into the role of photographer.
The first thing to do is to sit down and make a plan – get this right and the day will fall smoothly into shape. Work out, with the bride & groom, where you need to be and when, as a wedding can often take place in more than one location. For example, they might like some photos of their pre-wedding preparations (e.g. hair and makeup for the bride and a fortifying visit to the pub for the groom), followed by the ceremony itself at a church or registry office, then on to a hotel for the reception.
It can also help to know in advance of any particular shots they’d like themselves in favourite locations, or specific groups of relatives. If you’re not confident at directing people into position, a good idea is to ask an usher to put down his beer and help you find and arrange the appropriate individuals. Other common photographs might include the rings, the cake cutting and the first dance.
By far the most important thing to remember is this: relax and enjoy the day. Your friends probably wouldn’t have asked you to take the photos in the first place unless you had demonstrable skill with a camera and an interest in photography. Trust your instincts as to what will make a good picture, document the day as it unfolds through your eyes, and you and your by then newlywed friends will be delighted with the results.
Thanks for looking