Asian photographers bringing couples to New Zealand for their wedding pictures are being warned by immigration officials that they are breaking the law by working without a work permit.

Following a growing trend in Asian cities like Singapore and Taipei, couples are coming here with their professional photographers to have their wedding photographs shot in New Zealand ahead of their wedding so they can show the pictures off at their ceremonies back home.

However, some photographers say they have been stopped by immigration officials at the Auckland International Airport and accused of breaching New Zealand laws.

One photographer, who did not want to be identified for fear of being "marked", said he was warned by the officials that he could be blacklisted and barred from returning to New Zealand.

"They say I am taking work away from Kiwi photographers, but the reality is, our clients would not consider engaging New Zealand photographers because of language and cultural barriers," he said in Mandarin.

"I think the amount of money they spend here must be good for the tourism industry, and if New Zealand doesn't welcome us, then we will just have to take our jobs elsewhere."

The fees for photographers and their stylist range between $3000 and $7000, but the couples also spend locally on accommodation, bridal gown hire, meals and vehicle rental for their shoot, estimated to be upwards of $5000 each. IT consultant Jeffrey Ong, who screened his New Zealand photographs at his wedding dinner in Singapore on Sunday night, said friends and relatives who had seen the pictures said they made them "feel like visiting" New Zealand.

Singaporean photographer John Lim said New Zealand was "missing the big picture" by attempting to curb the growth of wedding photography tourism.

"Taking wedding photos abroad is a growing trend in Asia and is promoted by many bridal agencies there. I cannot understand what is the problem with doing the shoot in New Zealand when photographers are also able to do it quite easily in France, Switzerland and Australia."

Despite the verbal warning at the border, both photographers were eventually permitted to carry on with the shoots.

Lesley Haines, acting head of Immigration New Zealand, said the agency could not discuss individual cases, but it appeared these people were intending to work in New Zealand without the appropriate visa.

Ms Haines said: "The objective of the work policy is to facilitate the access of New Zealand employers and industry to global skills and knowledge while also ensuring that New Zealanders are offered employment opportunities before non-New Zealand citizens or residents."

However, she said photographers could apply for work visas for specific purposes to do their work here.