A common conversation amongst everyone in the wedding industry who is not a wedding photographer is asking photographers for photos.

It’s great when you get them, it means your social media feeds have a professional feel over an iPhone photo feel, and it’s literally their job to make art out of events so their photos are always going to be better than yours.

Some ground rules:

  1. Start this process knowing that no photographer owes you photos. They simply don’t, so if you get a photo, they’re doing you a favour.
  2. Never screenshot photos, just don’t, when you screenshot images you take a large high resolution beautiful photo and then recapture it at the size of your phone. It’s like a taking a photo of a photo and it’s the first way to annoy your photographer friends.
  3. Do not edit, crop, change the colour of, or add a filter to any photographs you are given. This is art, and 99 times out of one hundred, you can’t make it better. And if you do edit the photo, then credit the photographer, your’e telling the world that the photographer had the final say on those colours, so maybe if you really like that filter, ask the photographer if they think it’s an improvement.
  4. Different photographers will have different rules for use, but unless they state otherwise, I would assume that these are only to be used in social media posts and blog posts that I own. So I’m not to send them to a wedding magazine or blog, submit them anywhere, or use them on billboards. If I was going to print photos for use in wedding fairs, billboards, or in marketing material, I would generally ask if it was ok.
  5. The easiest way to share photos and give honour to the photographer is to share their blog, Facebook, or Instagram post natively. Natively means not-screenshotting the images, but clicking share on Facebook, so the original post is shared. On Instagram this means sharing their post or story to your own story.

Now that we’ve discussed rules, let’s talk about how to get them.

How to ask

This is the easy part. Asking photographers for their photos is as simple as asking. I prefer email because they can reply in their own time, but if you’re already in conversation with the photographer, perhaps on Instagram DM or Facebook Messenger, then simply pose the question.

Try not to ask on the wedding day, don’t offer business cards or get them to write down your details. On the wedding day we are all-hands-on-deck and no-one cares about tomorrow’s Instagram post.

What to ask?

Can I share some photos from the wedding, I promise to play by your rules, always credit and not edit. You can use whichever words you want, but keep it simple, don’t waste their time, and be polite. (It sounds like a redundant thing to ask, but I’ve seen some of your emails)

Credit and not edit

When posting the photo/s, as early as your story allows credit the photographer. I like to try and make it a little bit cute and personal to, like how I’ve credited Michael Briggs in this Instagram post.

Be sure to @mention them, which means before you start constructing the post you’ve identified what their Instagram username is, if you’re on Facebook, you’ve done the same, and if it’s on a blog then you’re linking back to their website, or if you want to get tricky and they’ve blogged the same wedding, link to their blog post.

On Facebook @mentions work differently than on Instagram, you start with the @name but then choose their business page from the drop down list so it looks like Dan O’Days name on this post.

You’re welcome to word and caption to your heart’s content, just make sure it is clear that you didn’t take the photo and that if you’re interested in finding out who the photographer is, that you can click a link.

A quick note on @mentions on Facebook: Each Facebook page has a username and a “display name”. For example my own Facebook username is marriedbyjosh but my display name is Married By Josh.

If you visit a business’ Facebook page you’ll generally see the display name like mine in this screenshot “Married By Josh” and the username beneath.

When creating the post you can start typing @marriedbyjosh and my display name should come up for selection, or if you start typing @married by josh the same drop down box should appear.

When to ask

Sarah notes in the comments, and my friend James Day, both add good notes about when to ask. The average wedding photo contract promises delivery in under eight weeks, and the average delivery time is three to five weeks. So I’d be setting a timer/reminder/note to not ask the day after the wedding but to wait about six weeks.

Final note, what can you give?

This whole post has been about what you can get from a photographer, but consider what you could give as well. If you’re a marriage celebrant you know the couple’s story, and possibly even some vows. They’ve got the photos but you’ve got the captions. You need to be respectful of your couples’ privacy, and not share too much, but I’ll ask couples if they don’t mind some of their story being told in social media, plus those that book me see me doing it for others, and if they would like it to be private, they’ll let me know.

If you’re not a celebrant reading this guide, then maybe there’s other value you can bring to a photographer. Don’t feel like this whole experience requires give and take, but it’s the human way of operating, so at least offer a thanks and if someone’s looking for a photographer, don’t be afraid to refer them.