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Should I hire a friend to photograph my wedding? | Los Angeles, Santa Clarita Wedding Photographers

Let’s face it, weddings are expensive.  There is no way around it.  When all of the costs add up, it is important for a bride to prioritize what is important to her at her wedding.  Photography seems like a silly thing to put at the bottom of your list right?  Well believe it or not, there are hundreds of amateur photographers in Los Angeles, and when one of them happens to be a friend with a really nice camera, why not ask them to shoot the wedding to save a few bucks?  It seems like a simple solution, however there is a lot that can go wrong when hiring a friend to photograph your wedding.  Here are a few quick things to consider before asking Uncle Joe to capture your big day.


When we started our business, I set out to provide our clients with the best possible photography that they can have.  Just like a hammer to a carpenter, or an oven to a chef, camera gear is a tool.  I decided from an early point that I did not want to be limited by my tools, so we invested heavily in our equipment.  We currently shoot with Canon professional camera bodies, as well as their “L” series lenses.

Truthfully however, there are many amateurs that invest in their photography equipment.  Photography equipment is mechanical, and just like all machines, they break down from time to time.  What would happen if your photographer photographed half of your ceremony, and then received a shutter error on their camera that cannot get resolved?  What if their memory cards fail (this does happen from time to time).  What if the wedding photographer is backing up to get that extremely crucial shot of you coming down the aisle, and then falls into a fountain, soaking his camera?

Angeles Golf Course Wedding Photos (45 of 76) Angeles Golf Course Wedding Photos (45 of 76)

These things happen, often, and it shouldn’t stop your photographer from capturing your day.  Our studio uses backup cameras, lenses, and lights that produces images that are EQUAL in quality to our primary equipment.  Our cameras also write to two memory cards at a time in order to ensure your photos are preserved, which brings me to my next point.


In today’s digital age, the way that photography works is that your photographer will take your pictures at your event, and then go back to his or her studio and download them to a hard drive.  We have already talked about hard drive failures, so most professionals will invest in their storage system, including off-site storage for your photos.  At our studio, your photographs are backed up to at least 4 separate hard drives in 2 locations, and your finalized images are backed up online as well.  Most amateurs only use a single storage solution to keep your photos.  Imagine losing all of the photos from your wedding day.  (It happens, click the link if you don’t believe me)

Hyatt Regency Valencia Wedding Photo copy Hyatt Regency Valencia Wedding Photo copy

Your photographer should have a seamless solution to ensure that your photographs are preserved forever.  If they don’t, run the other way.

Getting Technical

I will be honest with you.  In available natural light, even an amateur can slap a $7,000 DSLR into “P” mode, point the camera, and create a proper exposure.  20 years ago, you were paying your photographer to make sure that your photos just came out exposed properly.  Advances in technology have made it tempting for lots of people to get into the photographic industry.  I think this is a good thing because it has turned wedding photography from being cheesy, into art.  If you want to see some of the best wedding photography in the world, take a look HERE.  It didn’t look like that 20 years ago.

Truthfully, most amateur photographers know little about what makes a photo aesthetically appealing beyond a few of the basic photography rules.  At a wedding day, we rarely have the luxury to slow down and mess with our camera settings to make sure that everything goes perfectly.  I had 10 minutes to photograph this couple’s photos below because the wedding was running late, and it was getting dark, however I pre-visualized this photo before the ceremony began, which allowed me to capture it in an instant.

Kirtley Wedding0440-2 Kirtley Wedding0440-2

During wedding receptions, the lighting is rarely pretty.  In fact, it is usually balanced orange, and to dark to capture a sharp photo.  We use off camera lighting extensively in order to make sure that our photos are sharp, and to separate our subjects from the background.  I think that viewing how a photographer photographs a wedding reception (indoors at nighttime) is a good indicator of how well versed technically they are.  Here is an example of a reception that we just photographed where we used off camera lighting to compliment the orange backdrop:

A first dance shot using the fire warmers, as well as off camera lighting A first dance shot using the fire warmers, as well as off camera lighting

Lighting conditions change constantly, most amateurs will not be able to adjust in an instant, possibly causing them to miss important moments in a wedding day.

Experience Matters

When I started photographing weddings on my own, I had photographed at least 20 as a second shooter.  I can tell you that in my first few weddings, I definitely made obvious mistakes.  In a wedding, anticipating moments in CRITICAL to capturing emotion.  A typical moment may last only a half a second, not knowing how to see it beforehand can cause that moment to be lost forever.  Take a look at this photo that Jen captured between two best friends (and MAPhoto brides) Susie and Breanna on their wedding day.  Had she not anticipated this moment, she would have never captured it!

Best Los Angeles Wedding Photographers Best Los Angeles Wedding Photographers

I really do believe that hiring a professional who focuses on capturing moments an emotion will lead to wedding photos that will make you happy every time you see them!


Running a photography business requires us to pay special attention to our clients.  I truly care about every bride who trusts us to capture their day, and in doing so, I strive to provide them with products that they cannot get from a friend or family member.  In addition, I make sure that our clients receive their images in most cases 3 weeks or less, completely edited and posted online, regardless of the size of their wedding.  A professional also should carry insurance to make sure that in case anything happens on your wedding day, you are covered.  In addition, hiring a professional to capture your day ensures that you maintain a good relationship with your friend who would otherwise photograph your wedding.  There are a lot of sayings that have to do with not doing business with friends, and they all ring true.   Our studio typically does not photograph a friend or family member’s wedding because of this reason.

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Back to my original statement.  I know that wedding photography is not cheap.  A professional wedding photographer typically has over $30,000 invested in their equipment, computers, etc.  They have studio costs, insurance, taxes, marketing and advertising, web related costs, and vendors that they have to pay.  We typically spend 12-16 hours per wedding in editing, corresponding, and ordering products in addition to shooting.  This is why photography is expensive.  As a consumer, it is important that you consider how important your wedding photos are to you.  At the end of the day, you will have to prioritize what services are the most important to you, and adjust your budget accordingly.  There are plenty of ways to save money on a wedding day.  Take a look at thisGORGEOUS DIY estate wedding.  Just keep in mind that an amateur photographer can make the most gorgeous wedding bad, and a professional can make the most basic wedding look gorgeous.

I hope this helps a bit.  I have been trying to get around to writing this article for a while!  If you have a story to share that involves hiring an friend to photograph your wedding, please share it in the comments below!!

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Cinematic. Romantic. Timeless

Michael Anthony Photography has documented weddings all over the world since 2010.

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