Should I Send An Associate To Photograph A Wedding So That I Can Take A Booking For A Better One? | Dear Devlin

Dear Devlin.

WWYD? I’ve recently taken a booking for a date later this year at a venue that’s OK but not my ideal. It’s such a weird year though, I just wanted to fill the date. Now another couple has come forward for the exact date and their wedding is very much more up my street.

Of course, I’m gutted so I’m wondering about maybe sending an associate to the first wedding, or maybe the second one as it would be a great portfolio one. I need your advice Lisa.

Tempted From Tottenham

Hello Tempted, ahhh yes this is a dilemma that I’m sure every wedding photographer will have at some point. It’s part and parcel of many freelancer’s working life, especially with us as the jobs are most often on summer Saturdays and there are only so many of those.

It feels that we are having an anomaly of a year, perhaps due to the Engagement Gap that I’ve written about recently. In the current climate, taking the jobs that become available to you might feel like a better strategy than holding out for the ones that could be better suited to you.

However, this means that if those better-sounding jobs do come along you might not be available.

What To Do If You’re A Wedding Photographer Who’s Double Booked

You have a few options –

1. Turn away the new enquiry. Yes, this is painful for you but you can pass it on as a referral to a fellow photographer who in turn should consider you when this also happens to them. I like to think of these as good pieces of business karma that will eventually pay me back.

2. Say that you are not able to photograph their wedding but you can offer a couple session on a different date – they can wear their wedding outfits for this and even do it at their venue. If your disappointment is because you would love to get this wedding in your portfolio then this is how to create that opportunity. If the couple are big fans of your work then this might work well for them. In other nations such as the US it is very common to do the main couple portraits on a different day so time can be devoted to them without taking the couple away from their guests.

3. Offer an associate photographer to the second couple. Whilst most of us are one-man bands, chances are that you have some industry besties that have a similar style. Could you outsource the new booking to one of them and still edit it in your own signature style? This way you do again still have that ‘portfolio’ opportunity.

4. Offer an associate photographer to the first wedding. This is my least preferred option. Although I do know some very established photographers that do this, I think that unless you are running your business as a group where the brand is booked rather than individual photographers, then each of your bookings has selected you and it is the moral option to fulfil that booking yourself. Even if something better comes along.

My advice is option 2. I would prepare a pitch for this idea that helps them to see its multiple benefits. It is potentially a win-win for both you and them. Employing associates might be tempting but it’s a big responsibility. What if they also get a better offer for the date? What if they don’t do a great job, it’s your reputation, not theirs that will suffer.