Ask a friend to photograph wedding

Should I ask a friend to photograph my wedding?

Should I ask a friend to photograph my wedding? – Advice from a professional wedding photographer.

Let me start out by saying that, “I get it.” – The process of finding the right wedding photographer for you can often feel overwhelming. And sometimes it just seems easier (and probably cheaper) to “hire a friend” who’s a hobby photographer to take your wedding photos. But I also want to mention that, when your wedding is over, and you’re thinking back on the experience, your wedding photos will be the basis for how your day is remembered. So, it’s important to choose someone who will see and document the day in a way that you want to look back on it.

Reasons you might be considering asking a friend to take your wedding photos:

  • You feel inclined you accept a generous offer from a friend who’s said they’d photograph your wedding for free or for a steep discount.

  • You “only need a few photos,” so you don’t think it is necessary to hire a dedicated photographer.

  • Hiring a professional photographer seems out of your budget.

  • Familiarity – you’d rather hire someone that you know.

Content Summary: (click section number to jump to a section)

Before you agree to have your friend shoot your wedding, here is what you should ask if:

  • Section 1: Your friend is a hobby photographer.

  • Section 2: Your friend is a “professional photographer” but not a “professional wedding photographer.”

  • Section 3: Your friend is a professional wedding photographer and has offered to provide the service for free or for a steep discount.


Scenario 1: Your friend is a hobby photographer.

Here’s what you should ask them:

  1. Can your friend enjoy your wedding AND take all the photos you want? – There is legitimately no way I could enjoy a wedding as a guest AND dedicate the focus and energy required to photograph a wedding. Again, if you legitimately just want “a few photos” or your friend doesn’t care if they don’t enjoy the wedding, then go for it and have your friend shoot the wedding.

  2. Has your friend shot weddings before? – Wedding photography is very different ballgame from landscape, travel photos, or even portraits. A wedding is a day-long sprint of thinking on your feet and problem solving the most ridiculous scenarios so that you can get photos of your best day no matter what the heck doesn’t go according to plan. You want someone who knows how to perform under stress, in weird lighting, and in the presence of any and all situations that might arise.

  3. Can you see a full wedding album they’ve shot? I know your friend’s photos might look ah-mazing on Instagram – but that’s just the highlight reel. When I first started shooting weddings (as a hobbyist way back when), I had maybe 10-20 “good-enough” photos from a whole wedding day. But if you asked to see the rest of the photos…it was a mess. Now, being more than 100 weddings and elopements into my professional wedding photography career, I can proudly display an album of HUNDREDS images from a full-day wedding. Make sure your friend is able to deliver the number of quality images that you’d like from your wedding day.

    TLDR: Don’t assess a photographer’s skill (hobbyist or professional) by what they post on Instagram. Ask to see full albums. Tread carefully if they won’t show you a full album when you ask them to send one over.

  4. What gear do they shoot with? – Do they have quality gear and the variety of lenses, lighting, etc.that are needed to perform well in all scenarios? Can they take great photos in shit lighting? Can they troubleshoot in harsh, mid-day lighting?

  5. How do they back up their images + equipment? – What happens if something happens to their camera on the day of your wedding? What happens if their computer crashes? As a professional wedding photographer, I have multiple backups of not only my gear (camera bodies, lenses, SD cards, etc.) but also of your images. If a memory card fails (God forbid) the day of your wedding, I’ve made sure to already invest in cameras that create automatic backups the moment I push the shutter. In addition to that, as soon as I get home, I make 3 additional copies on two external hard drives + a copy in cloud storage.

  6. How will you get your images back? – Will they be edited or will you get the RAWs? Can you download them or do you have to buy prints? How large can they be printed? How long do you have access to these images online?

  7. Do you like their shooting & editing style? And, MORE IMPORTANTLY, is this style consistent? – This is probably the number one complaint I get from couples who made the decision to ask a friend to do their wedding photos (and later regretted it). It goes a little something like this: “We saw some images they took at another wedding and we liked them enough, so we went for it. BUT then we got our own photos back and they looked totally different…”

    Professional wedding photographers spend YEARS developing a predictable shooting, editing, and storytelling style. We want you to know what you’re investing in before you decide to hire us. More established photographers can charge more for their wedding packages not only because they take great photos but also because they can deliver CONSISTENTLY on this style TIME AND TIME AGAIN in any and all circumstances that a wedding day might bring.


Scenario 2: Your friend is a “professional photographer” but NOT a “professional wedding photographer.”

Here’s what you should ask them:

  1. All the above questions! + THIS

  2. How is your coverage of weddings different from your professional landscape/travel/portrait work? – If they say it isn’t different (or not that different), trust me when I say you should go with someone else. Instead, if they can tell you a ton about how their wedding coverage will be different, then perhaps they might be a good choice if everything else checks out.


Scenario 3: Your friend is a professional wedding photographer + providing the service for free or a discount.

You are a very lucky person with a very kind friend.

If your friend is a professional wedding photographer and has offered to photograph your wedding for free or at cost, really dig in to understand why. Some wedding photographers (I’d say most, actually) do at least one free or discounted wedding a year for someone who is a close friend/ family member or for someone cannot afford the normal cost of the service. These reasons are totally legit and if this is the case, I’d say you have a really lovely and caring friend in your life to put the dedication and time into documenting your special day.

Out of consideration for their offer, verify again that they are truly comfortable focusing on providing photography services rather than enjoying your wedding OR have a super honest conversation about if they feel that they can do a combination of both.

Still not sure what’s right for you?

Reach out to me (or any other wedding photographer you’re considering)! I’m here to answer any questions you have! Good luck with planning!