For every Pro Wedding Photographer – the situation will come up sooner or later. A close family member will asks you to shoot their wedding.
They might offer to actually hire you – or they might ask you to do it for free.
Here is why this is a bad idea regardless if there is money exchanged or not. And this is from BOTH perspectives. This is from both the Photographer’s Perspective AND the Bride’s Perspective.
From the Pro Photographer’s Perspective:
Why You Should Not SHOOT your Family Member’s Wedding as a Pro Photographer
1) Doing formal photos with family members is very hard. At issue – your distant relatives won’t respect you. They won’t think of you as the awesome “professional wedding photographer” you are. In fact – they could care less of your reputation. They will think of you as the kid they grew up with and not a professional. On top of that? It’s hard to “order around” your aunts and uncles during formals. So when they hear you say – “If everyone can just stick around for some family photos…” – they will be less apt to cooperate. You are NOT a professional doing your job – you are a nephew, niece or cousin. We all know as professional wedding photographers that a successful wedding day requires us to keep things on schedule – the formals have to be fast and efficient. Hard to do with family members.
2) You are virtually obligated to do that celebratory shot of vodka. Regardless of how other photographers do it? My studio has a very strict “no drinking policy” when we shoot our weddings. We don’t drink at weddings – ever. But when you work a family member’s wedding – they will want you to drink with them. Sometimes they will say… “Hey – do all the formals… do a little bit of the reception. And then put your camera away.” This is still NOT a good idea. We all know as pro photographers that there’s still plenty of work to be done even AFTER the wedding. You are a pro. Your obligation is to make sure you successfully download and protect your data after the wedding. If you’re drinking at a wedding – it makes it all the more hard to do that.
3) Your family member’s BETTER HALF will be afraid to ask you for requested photos. Let’s say you’re doing your male cousin’s wedding. His bride will be afraid to ask you for requested photos or share her ideas with you. That’s because she WILL respect you – but she’ll be afraid to stir the pot. She won’t want to “meddle” with family and she’ll be reserved in asking you for ideas that will make the wedding pictures better. And pleasing the bride is our job.
From the Bride’s Perspective:
Why You Should Not Hire Your Family Member to Photograph Your Wedding
1) Your future in-laws need to be able to “boss around” the photographer. OK… No one really wants to get bossed around. But your future mother-in-law will want to make some suggestions. They might want a certain group picture. She needs to freedom to ask the “paid photographer” to do that picture. She might be hesitant to do that if the photographer is the bride’s brother.
2) You will want your “photographer/relative” to have fun. Yes – we as pro wedding photographers really love what we do. But know there is still a lot of stress for us to get it right. Even if you just want us to do the ceremony and not the reception – know that there is a lot of work to be done even after we put away our cameras.
3) If your “photographer/relative” is a female? Trust me – she will want to look HOT on your wedding day. Remember… yes. She IS a pro photographer. But she is also there to look good in front of family and friends that know her! A lot of female photographers still look fantastic on wedding day – but comfortable shoes and an outfit you can “bend in” is required as a professional wedding photographer. And we get sticky and sweat! Consider that your “photographer/relative” wants to look good that day!
Ultimately – it’s much easier to to hire someone else if you’re a bride or pass on the job if you’re a pro photographer.