Should You Let A Friend or Family Member Photograph Your Wedding?

A BIG topic of discussion across the wedding world and certainly one that can cause a lot of tension. So today I want to address the elephant in the room. Should guests be allowed to take photos at a wedding?

I’m not talking about having a friend or family member shoot your wedding instead of a professional. I’m talking about when they want to shoot ALONGSIDE the professional.

So many people these days have access to good quality video and photographic equipment, and with a few hours on YouTube you can learn a lot. Hell, even the iPhone can take excellent pictures. Perhaps some of you may even already have a professional photographer in the family. So when a close friend or a family members offers to be a second photographer at your wedding, you can’t lose right? Extra photos without having to pay a professional second shooter.

Well I’d like to talk about some of my experiences, and the experiences of other friends and colleagues both as photographers and as the bride and groom when it comes to guests taking photos during a wedding.

If They Are Taking Pictures, They Won’t Be In Them

Most of us invite people to our weddings because we love them and we want to celebrate with them. We want them to be present during the ceremony to witness our vows to one another and we want to see their smiling faces during the celebrations. If they are taking pictures or filming the whole time, you’ll probably not have many pictures of them at all.

They May Get In The Way Of The Professional

Weddings, unlike so many other genres of photography, are pretty fast-paced events, and can be rather stressful at times. Most people only plan on getting married once, and capturing these important moments on a wedding day is a great responsibility that no professional takes lightly.

Wedding photographers use their experience to try to place themselves in the best possible spots to catch these important moments. Too many times, in excitement of wanting to also get a great shot, someone will stand right in to the shot of the professional photographer, without even realizing that they are doing it. And it is heartbreaking for us as professionals to see a picture of the bride walking down the aisle to the love of her life, who is trying to fight back tears, and there is someone standing right behind them with a camera. Of course the picture is still useable but it does lose the emotional impact that it could have had.

Even worse is when someone steps out right in front of the camera. I’ve had this before when the bride and groom left the ceremony. As their guests formed a corridor outside ready to throw confetti and I got into place, someone decided to stand right in front of me and completely blocked my view and there was nothing I could do to get the shot that I know the bride and groom wanted.

They May Render The Professional Images Unusable

There’s nothing more distracting during a wedding ceremony than camera flashes going off. Most wedding photographers will avoid using flash photography unless it absolutely necessary. Instead we’ll have our gear set up to work using the natural light available. Many cameras have an pop-up flash that will automatically fire and a lot of people don’t know how to turn it off. And if their flash happens to flash at the same time as the professional is taking a picture, it can make the professional picture too bright.

During group pictures it’s also problematic if someone else is taking pictures. Group pictures can take up a lot of time on a wedding day, especially if there are a number of different combinations to get through. As soon as there’s more than one photographer, nobody knows where to look any more, even when the hired photographer is telling everyone to look at their camera, which results in pictures where everyone is looking in a slightly different direction.

While some photographers have it in their contract that nobody else may photograph at the event, I actually don’t have this clause in my contract at the time of writing this blog. Whilst I will advise any couple against letting friends and family photograph their wedding (mainly their ceremony), I really do believe that as the couple’s decision to make. I’m also not for naming and shaming any of the wedding guests from weddings I’ve attended, but if you’d like to see some of the unfortunate results of having guests photograph your wedding, you can read this post by Corey Ann¬†or this post by Shireen Louw.

I’d love to know if you’re married how you approached this at the wedding?


If you’d like to arrange a no strings attached Skype call with me to chat about wedding photography, just click here to contact me so we can ararnge a time to chat.



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