Should I or Shouldn't I

by Diane - August 09, 2023

Throughout the years I have learned a lot by being part of this 365 community.  My skills have improved, and I’ve become more confident in my abilities as a photographer.  Photography is a hobby for me and only a hobby.  I retired from a stressful job and the last thing I wanted to do was to introduce more stress into my life by taking on paid photography shoots.  I worried that I would lose my passion if I did it as a part time job for money.  I have done a few shoots for family and friends but always for free and with no expectations or pressure.

Ana and Mat

I started doing a 365 project as a way to develop the habit of picking up my camera every day.  When I started taking a photo a day 6 years ago, I decided I would post my daily photos on my personal Facebook page.  I wasn’t sure my Facebook friends would want to follow along with my journey, but I thought I’d post and see how it was received.  I found that most of my friends enjoyed following along with my daily project.

A couple of months ago a friend of Brian’s daughter, whom I’ve come to know and love, approached me and asked if I would be interested in photographing her wedding.  Ana, the bride, has followed my daily journey for a couple of years.  She loves my photographs and seeing how I interpret the daily prompts.  She offered to pay me for my services if I agreed to be her photographer for the day.  I asked her if I could take a couple of days to think about it before giving her an answer.

I’m confident in my abilities as an amateur photographer but, this was a wedding.  Someone's big day.  Talk about pressure and stress!  Why would I ever want to take something like a wedding on?  It would be such an enormous adventure. On the other hand, being able to provide a bride with beautiful photos of her special day intrigued me.  Part of me wanted to see if I could successfully tackle something this big.  Could I cut it as a photographer if I really wanted to? 


Ana is a laid-back individual.  She planned her wedding to be a casual and fun affair.  She and her fiancé, Mat arranged to have a bouncy castle, a piñata, yard games and candy floss for the guests to enjoy after the ceremony.   My grandson Charlie was in the wedding as the flower boy so why wouldn’t I want to jump at a chance to photograph him all dressed up? Ana and Mat told me that they didn’t want formal wedding shots but wanted to capture fun and candid photos of the day as it unfolded.  Knowing Ana, the only pressure I would likely experience would be what I placed on myself.  After carefully weighing all the info, I agreed to take on the task of photographing her wedding day. Looking back, I’m glad I did.   

Bouncy castle

I think many of us in this community will be approached at some point to do a professional type of shoot, maybe even a wedding.  I thought I’d share with you how I prepared for this wedding and give you a few tips should you ever be interested in taking such a challenge on. 

My best advice would be to have fun. You want photography to continue to be a fun and positive experience for you. If an event will rob you of your enjoyment for photography, then you must question if it’s worth it. 


After agreeing to be the photographer for her wedding, I asked if I could meet with Ana and Mat in person.  I had never met Mat before. I wanted to get to know him a little beforehand and I wanted him to get to know me as well.  This initial meeting turned out to be one of the best things I could have done.  We were able to discuss expectations and it allowed me to get to know exactly what they were looking for.  I reminded her that I wasn’t a professional and if she was looking for professional wedding photos I suggested she look elsewhere.  There are lots of amazing wedding photographers in the Ottawa area that they could hire if that’s what they preferred.  I needed them to know that I was confident in my abilities to give them nice photos but I had never done a wedding nor was I a professional.  I needed them to know right from the start what I would be able to deliver.  They clearly understood what I felt my limitations were.  I told Ana and Mat  that I would do this as a wedding gift for them.  I figured if I did it for free as a gift, I could reduce the stress I put upon myself. 

At our initial meeting we discussed the details of the wedding such as when and where it would take place, what the timeline of the day would be and what parts of the day she wanted me to capture.  I had pulled a shot list template from Pinterest.  I gave this to her and asked her and Mat to go through it with their families and bring it back to me before the wedding.  I wanted a clear list from them of what photos were important to them.  I needed to know exactly what photos I shouldn’t miss.  Both their families would be present. As everyone would be dressed up, I told her it would be a great time to get any family photos they may want.  One of the best and most important questions I asked was if there were any family dynamics that I should be aware of.  I’m so glad I asked this question!  Parents on both sides were divorced and there was a lot of animosity between them.  Ana told me that there was no way they would agree to be in photos together.  Even their siblings were divided and were only speaking to one of their parents.  Yikes!  I asked Ana if she could identify someone who could coordinate the family shots to manage these tense family dynamics.  She gave this task to her sister, and I must say, she handled it brilliantly.  She had everyone lined up and ready to go when it was their time for photos. She managed to keep the families sorted and the whole process went smoothly.  I was so thankful for her ability to handle such a tense situation. 


Was I nervous? You bet I was!  I scoured Pinterest for weeks ahead of time for tips on shooting your first wedding.  I looked up poses for the couple and the bridal party.  I researched what to do and what not to do the day of the wedding.  I created a board in Pinterest specifically for their wedding.  I went to the venue the night before while they were there decorating it.  This allowed me to scout out locations for photos.  I got to meet the wedding party and each of their parents.  This also allowed the whole crew to get to know me a little better. The morning of the wedding, I checked and double checked all my equipment.  I made sure I had lots of SD cards and backup charged batteries for both my cameras and my flash.  I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way on the big day. 


Ana and Mat

It turned out to be a beautiful day.  Ana and Mat were true to their word as the wedding was casual and laid back.  I felt comfortable in their midst.  I moved around as best I could to get photos while managing to stay as unobtrusive as possible.  I was surprised at how comfortable I was giving direction to the bride and groom as we set up for photos.  We tried to keep photos of the wedding party to a minimum, but I reinforced that although it would take a small amount of their time, they would be happy after the fact of having these photos.  They were very compliant and actually made my job very easy.  They were fun and goofy allowing me to capture some great shots, but they also were able to be serious at other times so that we could get some serious photos. 

It was a long day.  I started when they were getting ready, and I stayed almost to the end.  I had Brian with me to help me stay calm and to act as my sherpa for the day.  He knows the couple as well, so he fit in nicely.  I was nervous to start but as the day went on my nerves settled and I actually ended up having a lot of fun. 


I took almost 1,000 photos and I spent the next 3 days editing them.  I was happy with how they turned out and I was hoping the couple would like them as well.  I delivered about 500 photos to the couple, and they were ecstatic with the results.  Whew!  I could now breathe again. 

Would I do it again?  I’m not sure.  It was a lot of stress, and it took a lot of my time.  So much could have gone wrong!  It was their big day, and I was afraid I could have ruined it for them.  All in all, I was happy that I was able to give them such a beautiful wedding gift.  I was proud of my work. I will have to consider any future situations as they arise and evaluate my interest at that time. It would have to be the right time and the right person for me to consider taking on this level of stress again.  


Ana and Mat

So, if you ever get approached to a shoot for friends or family, don’t immediately shy away.  They wouldn’t be asking if they didn’t like your photography.  They trust that you will deliver.  Trust your skills!  You can do it.  Set your expectations, let them know what you can and cannot provide.  Ask yourself if you have the time it requires for the shoot and the editing afterwards.  Are you willing to take on the associated stress?  If so, trust your skills and go ahead.  You’ll be thrilled and proud of what you are capable of producing.  As scared as I was, I am so happy to have taken on my first wedding. 

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