As a portrait photographer, I follow a lot of fellow photographers on social media as a source of inspiration. And although I don’t shoot couples (weddings nor engagements), I do love following elopement photographers and sites like Dirty Boots and Messy Hair  – I mean, photography is photography, right? Nestled in a folder titled “portrait inspiration” on my IPhone lies hundreds of portrait poses and ideas that I’ve been wanting to test out. And with the Jefferson Memorial being my favorite spot in Washington D.C. to photograph people, I figured I might as well do a session.

And, as it just so happens, Alex (my boyfriend of 3 and-a-half years) and I are having a small backyard wedding in 3 weeks, so I figured….why not get some spring engagement photos of us during our time living in D.C.?

Below are my favorite images of our session as well as my thoughts on having a friend photograph your portraits as opposed to a professional!

Friend or Pro?

A few weeks ago, I texted my friend Denique if she would be willing to take photos of Alex and I for our wedding decor in exchange for portraits of her! I was thrilled when she said yes, as money is tight at the current moment with Alex and I saving for our honeymoon and diving trips in Egypt this summer and hiring a photographer isn’t in our budget presently.

And although I will always hire professional photographers, as the experience is very different both ways, I have to say – giving my camera to our friend and having her shoot snaps for us was so much fun! And the photos came out beautifully! Since I am a photographer myself, I am super peculiar about what I love in portraits (poses, editing style, reactions, light, composition, all the things!) and I can become a bit of a control freak. With a professional, I would always let the photographer lead the way while I just sit back and enjoy the experience. But with a friend, I could kinda dip my creative fingers in and have a say in what I wanted.

And I had a definite vision. 

Creative Control

I led Alex and Deni to the specific locations I wanted to shoot at, set up the camera settings, and showed them all of the poses I was inspired by and what I was going after with this shoot. And because Deni and Alex are both so laid back, they were more than willing and generous with their time to help me with my project.


Because we are so comfortable with Denique, we were able to be completely ourselves and let loose. We could run around and be silly, and as Alex can sometimes become shy and quiet with strangers, he allowed his natural goofy personality to shine through. We would run along the pillars of the Jefferson Memorial and he would jump and heel kick spontaneously, allowing us to have candid and honest captures.

Fast Turnaround

One of the best reasons why having a friend photograph us was so great, was that I got to take my camera and images home and begin work on them right away! The worst part about having another photographer is the wait! Even if it’s just a week, it feels like such a long time before you get to see your gallery. And it is truly an exciting time when you get to see those images for the first time. When you have a friend use your camera, you can see them right then and there and begin work!

Brand Style

Lastly, and this is an important one, since I have my own photography business and blog, it’s so important that my photo editing stays consistent with my brand. The colors, the workflow, the editing, the style…all of it stays on brand when I, myself, am able to edit them. On brand = on point!


Take Away?

My experience having my friend photograph our portraits was so wonderful that I encourage you to ask around and see if your creative friends would mind helping you out with a shoot, if you ever need images of yourself for your blog, business or just for you personally! Especially if they have already dabbled in photography or the arts in the past. (Don’t forget to offer an exchange like dinner or a portrait session for themselves!) While I encourage that, I also believe the overall experience of  paying a professional is also relaxing and you can kinda let go and allow the pro to take control and do what they need to do. There’s nothing quite like having professional portraits taken, and I encourage you to book a session with a pro annually if photographs are important to you and your family! And if you’re friends with a pro – even better! 🙂

Your turn!

Have you ever had your friend photograph your portraits? Was the experience similar or different?


I Asked a Friend to Photograph Our Engagement Pictures. Here’s What Happened.

May 13, 2018


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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.