How do you get out of friends/family weddings?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by ricardovaste, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. A family member (that I see perhaps once a year) discovered that I started doing photography professionally, and have a son a little older than me who is getting married. Thing is, in my mind a personal family occation and the idea of working efficiently don't seem to play to well in my mind. Not something I've done before, but it doesn't seem to gel too well in my mind. He mentioned fairly casually about "family discount" (with a wink of course)... this was all in passing some weeks ago for their wedding next year. It is early days for me, but I've always liked to keep what I call "work" and social/family/friends seperate.
    The idea of charging family at all seems odd. Then the idea of doing all that work for free seems impossible. Then the idea of doing some sort of discount and taking work away from someone else doesn't feel nice either. Then they might see it as me letting them down with me being family. See the dilemma?
    Or am I fussing over nothing?
  2. Richard,
    If you don't want to do it tell them you are already busy, pretty booked up around then and wouldn't have the time to devote to it etc etc . I presume if its someone you only see once a year you are not too bothered about attending yourself ?
    However, if you feel confident enough in your abilities take it on as a job - charge them enough to make it worth your time and effort (you are in business after all) and enjoy the word of mouth publicity.
  3. After getting burned once years ago by a family member I have made it my policy to NEVER shoot family events professionally. If I attend a family wedding I may bring a camera and take a few snaps, but I will not work the wedding, or treat it like a job, or get in the way of the pro. I like to enjoy a wedding as a guest every once in awhile!
    I have made this my policy, and I do not waiver from it and all family members know this. Being treated like a door-mat by strangers for money is one thing, but being treated like a door-mat by family for nothing is a very bad feeling. When people get something for free, or highly discounted, they do not put the same value on it. Sad but true, and family are no exception.
    I would suggest that you politely decline, explaining that you don't mix work and family, and then offer up some excellent pros they should look into.
  4. As Alex indicated, it's all or none. He chose none. I, OTOH, have a wife with sisters and a mother (two of three whos weddings I've already shot), and while I could easily say no to her mother or sisters, when she asks, it's a different matter. (after all, I like to sleep in my bed ;-) ) Either way though, you are venturing into a grey area... don't expect it to be simple, the family relationships surrounding you are too complicated, and will affect how and what you can shoot on the day, regardless of your normal methods, techniques, and experience. And be prepared, if you refuse, for that NOT to be the end of it.
    If you are uncomfortable w/ your familial relationships, and can get out of it (as Marc's suggested), get out of it.
    If, OTOH, you are comfortable w/ the family who'll be present, and the bride & groom (not their parents!), and they like your work, and will allow you to work in as close to normal fashion as possible, then I say go for it! In a nutshell, it comes down to your comfort level.
  5. I've done weddings in the past for family members, present them the album as our wedding gift. Solves that problem. And I'd rather be taking photos than having to endure all of the ceremonies as a spectator - it keeps me busy!
  6. You already decided you want out of this so we can avoid the should you or shouldn't you topic.
    Just tell them that you don't mix business with family but that you will be glad to help with advice on what to look for in a photographer if they so desire. Don't be wishy washy or let yourself get in to discussion about the reasons. A polite friendly truthful but definite firm no. Offering reasons only invites continued efforts, counter proposals and awkward conversation. Its just easier to be direct and done. All it requires is a little bit of self respecting back bone.
  7. You remind them that they owe you money and you'll want to talk to them about it at the rehearsal dinner.
  8. Richard, I had this bite me in the butt before. The bride felt like she had to pick me from family pressure. They said if you
    at going to pay someone you might as well pay vail and she will give you a discount (without asking me if I really could
    give a discount). I felt so icky about being "paid" for it. I offered to do it for free but the bride felt icky about that. So i just
    had her reimburse me for travel expenses, but that was almost as much as if she had just gone with someone local.
    Instead just say that mixing business with family is never a good idea. Offer to help find them some good affordable pros
    that will give them the high res images on disc, and then give them the nice album as a wedding present. Bring your
    basic level of equipment with you that day on the off chance the pro flakes and doesn't show up at all, or if they can't
    afford coverage of the entire day, and the pro has to leave early. But don't take more shots than a regular guest if the pro
    is there. I made the mistake of not bringing my camera to my sister-in-law's wedding. I was in the bridal party. The brand new flip cam the bride gave me to record her father daughter dance wasn't charged, so i got about 2 seonds of that taped and then went running out to grab my cell phone for some poor quality video coverage. The pros
    left at 10, as they were contracted to do, and the party kept going till 11:30. There were plenty of great photo ops, and people kept saying to me where is
    your camera??? I was ready to lose my mind by the end of the night, having only my cell phone camera, and vowed I
    would never go to another wedding without a dslr in tow, probably just with the 50mm 1.4 to be inconspicuous.
  9. I would suggest that until you are an established pro that you avoid shooting for friends/family. Once you've become an established pro, you'll have the experience to shoot or don't shoot based on better knowledge and an understanding of the bussiness.... In the mean time, if you are invited as a guest, offer to take some happy snaps from the sideline.
  10. Response to How do you get out of friends/family weddings?

    I don't.
    I enjoy them.
    As a family we get along together. I give them a deal but they still pay me. They like the photos I make.
    They respect me.
    Shouldn't it be that way for everyone?
  11. and you'll want to talk to them about it at the rehearsal dinner.​
    Do you Americans really rehearse your weddings as if they were a stage show? (I'm assuming this is an American thing).
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I do not see any dilemma and yes you are fussing about, but it is not over nothing.
    I prefer to hit nails on heads and drive them home before I stub my toe – I agree with JH.
    How I read your questions is:
    that you only see this guy once a year and he, at that last occasional meeting, gave you the heads-up that he will (eventually) ask you more formally to shoot his son’s Wedding and you have already decided that you don’t want to shoot the wedding?
    Well that is all too wishy washy for my liking.
    I suggest get on the blower (the telephone) and politely clarify the understanding such that this guy knows exactly where you and he stand.
    Don’t wait for him (or someone else) to ask you more formally to shot the Wedding, as if that happens he has the ‘family bickering leverage’ to say: “well why didn’t you say something earlier”.
    And as JH advised – avoid providing reasons.
  13. "Do you Americans really rehearse your weddings as if they were a stage show? (I'm assuming this is an American thing).....-Steve Smith

    It's very common for the wedding party and close family to get together at the church with the officiant a day or two before the actual wedding and do a simple walk-through of the who, where, & hows..... The rehearsal dinner is often a convenient reason to have an informal party meal with the closest friends and family (many of which may have traveled a good distance and may not be back in town for several years or longer). No, it's not a side show and a church ceremony is often viewed as a "sacrament" which means that some people could easily be offended when it's suggested that it's a side show.
    However, the ceremony means different things to different people. I could think of a recent multi-million dollar affair involving an athlete and reality TV personality that was probably long on show/spectacle and very short on spiritual substance.
  14. I have photographed for friends and family before as a wedding gift, no money involved, and it worked out well, but they were very close (my wife's sister was one of them). If this is a relative you only see once a year and he's angling for a discount, that's a bit more problematic. I've had a few 'friends' I have cut loose for the same reason-I wouldn't hear from them for a year and they would suddenly pop up expecting a free photo shoot.
    If this is more of a casual acquaintance kind of family member, I would offer something like a 10-20% discount off your regular rates, and treat it like any other job, signed contract, deposit, and so on. I would also make sure you are dealing with the bride and groom, not the grooms father. Regardless of who is paying, I always consider the couple my primary clients, and I try to avoid having a third party intermediary. The biggest challenge with any wedding, and especially working with family is managing expectations. If you talk directly with the couple about their expectations, and set out everything very clearly in a contract, you should be able to avoid most problems.
  15. Great question...My responses are usually pretty simply.

    You are a great friend or you are a member of the family, I'd rather simply enjoy your special day. If they say funds are limited well pay for a photographer. I've done this twice now. Average price is $500.
  16. Have so far shot > 15 family weddings ( some included video ) all at a considerable personal economic cost ~~ time/film & travel..... once you shoot one > your expected, for ever, as a brother/uncle responsibility. :)
  17. I have been burned on this a few times, one was when I only charged $50. I now have a straight "friends and family discount" of 20 percent off my regular prices. Same rules, contracts, etc. I explain to the family member or friend, that although I give them a discount, I will be working just as hard if not harder to ensure they get the same kind of photos and service as if I didn't know them. For me this is work, and I will have to work to give them good photos. If they don't select me as their photographer (which has happened) I will still give them a gift card as a wedding present. (And, no, I will not bring my good camera's and take a few shots.)

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