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How-To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II)


How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

Here’s the thing – I’m a huge fan of photography. I’m a fan of photography as art (guess where I head in museums first?), I’m a fan of photography as documentation (guess who has old family photos all over the house?), and I’m a fan of professional wedding photography (guess who has, in her own humble opinion, the best wedding photographs in the world?). So, I work really hard to make part of the mission of APW to get y’all access to amazing (affordable) wedding photography, with awesome sane photographers.

But. I am very aware of the fact that not everyone wants professional wedding photography, and beyond that, not everyone can afford it. And really, I want to make sure that no one feels like they NEED professional wedding photography. You should feel empowered to choose it, but like everything else in APW land, you should remember that wedding photography is a choice. So I’m thrilled to bring you Casey, who used the APW How-To DIY your wedding photography post and rocked it out. (PS, for more inspiration, check out all the wedding graduates who did Do-It-Together photography).

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

You know that How-To post on DIY/DIT Wedding Photography? Well, it was great, and, um, we did it. If anybody wants proof that a bunch of friends wielding a dozen cameras can produce absolutely incredible results, here it is.

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding
Matt and I were pretty certain from the start that professional wedding photography was not for us. You know how we each have a certain set of things that are “YES amazing and I am willing to shell out $X because THAT is what makes this wedding US” … and a certain other set of things where we look at the price tag and our eyes bulge and we hyperventilate and decide “There is No Way In Hell I could pay $X for this and still feel good about myself”?

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

Well, for us, good food, good beer, and looking rather classy were the former, and photography (among other things) was the latter. It’s not that we don’t appreciate pictures – in fact, we’re both pretty obsessed with photos and the power they have to transport us back to some really kick ass times. It’s just that the moment captured matters so much more to us than the style, the poses, the lighting, the edited-in-fake-angel-glow. Some of our favorite pictures of our life together are pretty poor quality, but damn do they memorialize some wonderful moments. After some hemming and hawing and heart-attack-inducing peeks at online pricing, we decided that as long as the day was documented by somebody reasonably skilled at clicking a shutter release, that would be good enough for us.

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

So we gathered all our family’s cameras, old and new – 35mm Minoltas, fine new digital cameras, a pair of vintage Polaroids – oh, and after drooling over beautiful Holga shots, we obviously had no choice but to snag a $19 Holga online. Amazon, EBay, and the deep dark corners of peoples’ refrigerators all turned out to be great sources of 35mm film and extra batteries. And finally, we asked our friends to have fun with the cameras for the day. They did – and the results were more beautiful than we imagined!

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

Pros:

  • Seeing what each photographer thought was worth documenting.
  • A lot of special moments were shot from many different angles – it’s like having a 360-degree view!
  • Our wedding paparazzi were all people we know and love.
  • No waiting three months for editing – we had all of our photos in our hands within a day or two.
  • After our Holga, film and battery purchases, film developing, and printing I think we spend under $150.

Cons:

  • The only tough part was sorting through all 2000+ photos, putting them in order, screaming when the computer un-ordered them, and finding a user-friendly site that would allow us to share our albums with our guests. But eventually we got it done!

Being notorious control freaks (along the same lines as Megan, the recent wedding graduate who would plan her own surprise birthday party if people would let her), this was a challenging venture. At first we had written out lengthy instruction sheets on how to use each camera, tried to make a chart detailing who would shoot during what parts of the day (what if our dear guest-photographers got sick of taking pictures and ended up having a terrible time?!), and so on.

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

But as the wedding crept nearer, something (wedding zen?) made us delete it all and trust that our friends were capable of clicking shutters, changing film, and sitting down for a beer break whenever they darn well felt like it. So we let it go. And it ended up looking like our handful of friends and family could start their own photography business. A few of these pictures were mildly touched up by Matt using tone-mapping in GIMP, but the majority are in their original form.

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

All in all, this DIY venture was SO worth it. We got exactly what we wanted – a beautiful little album proving that the day happened, something to show our children someday.

How To: DIY Your Wedding Photography (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

So don’t listen to the nay-sayers! Grab a camera (or six) and go get married!

{Note on comments: for some reason, last time we posted on DIY photography, the comments turned into a giant bashing of wedding photographers, which I didn’t love. Yes, there are a ton of wedding photographers who are less-than-cool, but there are also a ton that are super cool (hint, our own wedding elves). So lets keep the comments in the rock-on-empowering vein, yes? Because you can build the wedding (and life) you want, I swear it.}

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  • B

    Casey, those photos (and your wedding) look amazing! Congratulations on having the guts to trust your friends and family with it – it definitely seems like it was worth it!!

    We’re having a photographer but he won’t be there at the reception so we’ll be relying on friends and family then to capture the fun. Now I can’t wait to see how some of those pics turn out!

  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    I love this post. Photography is one of those things that, like Meg, I love as an art. So does my husband. Before the wedding, I would have told you, if I had an unlimited budget I would have spent a lot more on photography.

    Post wedding? I think I would do what this bride did. Because between my Father-in-law (and my BIL’s girlfriend, who snagged his camera) and my good friend, we had not one but two high quality SLRs with people who have a good handle on what they’re doing with them (at least, good enough to take some pretty shots), and then with everyone else there taking pics with their point-and-shoot cameras … well, let’s just say Facebook has a great wedding album. If we had planned this ahead of time, my husband probably would have thrown his camera in the mix as well.

    This is not to say our photographer wasn’t great, because she really was. We ended up hiring a student, whose portfolio I found online. Our venue was not far from a school with a ranked photography program, so I poked around the school’s website to see who might be a good fit. I got her for next to nil, and I don’t regret spending that money. I wanted to make sure I had someone there that was going to ensure they got key shots, and a couple of portraits of us as well. Our families also wanted those cheesy family shots, and we got those too. It was money well spent, and it gave me piece of mind … if I hadn’t had a photographer there, I would have been stressing out about making sure certain people got certain shots. (Type A much?)

    However, like I said, if I had known the outcome before the wedding, I might have made a different decision. On the other hand, it IS nice to have a personal, hi-res disc of all of the photos … :) (One of these days I’ll get around to building an album.)

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

      Oh, man. For whatever reason, the photographer got only a few portraits of my husband, and most of them STUNK. Bad angles, he looked (and probably felt) awkward, bleh. Not great.

      HOWEVER, we asked one of our guy friends, a fledgling photographer, to hang out with the guys while they got ready and put on their tuxes, and he captured the most amazing photographs of my husband. I’m so, so glad he was there to get those.

      • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

        I have to say, our photographer did a fantastic job, everything we wanted. I’m very happy with her work, and have recommended her to others (she’s graduating in May and not sure where she’s headed next, so that’s up-in-the-air … however, in the meantime anyone who needs a good, VERY inexpensive photographer in the Central/Southern Tier NY area that are getting married between now and May, get in touch w/ me and I’ll send you her way).

        But, the photographs that my friend took at our wedding, just for fun? OH MY GOD. Really amazing. He has a “day job” that he loves and does not intend to leave, but he certainly would be great at it, if he decided to take it up.

        • Theodora

          I’m one of those excellent amateur photographers with a day job! I’ve shot very good photos at several friends weddings – while also singing in the choir (no, I’m not kidding!). At one of these weddings, the photos turned out to be better than those of the pro photographer for one specific reason. I’m Eastern Orthodox and know how the ceremony goes (it’s very different from Catholic and Protestant ceremonies), so I knew when to get what shots and to be prepared.

          I shot a coworker’s Protestant wedding with my point-and-shoot $150 camera for a wedding gift (and I put the photos all online so they could be shared). I got better pics than the more experienced friend with the fancy camera who was actually *paid*. The photos came out so good that another (Catholic) coworker asked me to shoot her wedding next year, which I’m probably not going to do. I’m so good at the Orthodox weddings (which is a little niche) that what I’ll stick with. It’s also what I’m more comfortable with.

          But this fall I was asked to be the sole photographer at a friend’s wedding at my church – and that meant *not* singing in the choir, which was weird. Anyway, she had me use her digital SLR, which was such a cool experience! My first time hands on was an hour before the wedding, so I went into the church and shot cool light effects pics. It was so neat to be able to “roam” the church during the ceremony and get tons of cool pics, not being tied to the choir corner. The noise of the DSLR was unnerving, as I’m used to using a point-and-shoot with every sound turned *off* so I don’t distrupt anything in church while shooting.

          I can’t tell you how delighted I was when a friend at the wedding told me I was very quiet and unobtrusive. At one point I was clicking away no more than two feet from her (and the bride) and they didn’t know I was there.

          But this was such a welcome post for me. I’ve been seeing a super guy for about six weeks who is such a keeper that I can easily see marrying him. I have a dear friend who is a photographer for part of his job duties, who would be wonderful to have shoot *my* wedding!

  • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com jehara

    Photography is one of the art forms I love and admire. There are some amazing wedding photogs out there judging from all the shots posted on APW alone. However, when our wedding rolled around I knew that I really wanted to hire a good friend who is an amazing up-and-coming photographer. She has done headshots for me in the past and always did press photography for my theatre company’s shows. (Note: I always paid her for her work.)

    She moved to New York a few months before our wedding, which I knew going in. We budgeted for that and paid for her travel expenses in addition to the photos. I felt really blessed to have a good friend there, whose work I was already familiar with and loved. It felt just like hanging out with a friend when she was snapping shots because that is exactly what it was.

    The pictures were important really important to me and a wedding photographer just wasn’t in our budget. Hiring a trusted friend who I’d worked with before? It made sense and took a huge weight off. Supporting said friend in her creative field? Icing.

  • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

    I’m going to be the family that shoots the reception for my cousin’s wedding this spring, so this is a great confidence-boosting post! The photographer they have for the ceremony looks amazing and all his work is really photojournalistic, so I’ll also be lurking around him for last-minute tips.

    • http://! Jennifer

      I think this option, having a pro for just a portion of the event and then family/friends taking pictures for the rest, can be a really great option for people to consider who are on the fence about whether to get pro photography or not. My sister had a pro for the ceremony and then a few portraits; I think all told she was there for about an hour. It cost more than 1/6 of hiring the same photographer for her standard 6 hour wedding package, but that makes sense since travel time, administrative overhead, etc. wouldn’t be any less, and overall it saved them a *ton* and they still ended up with a great album. (And this was nearly ten years ago, i.e. before internet photo sharing sites etc. were the norm — some people just mailed them prints.) I think if you’re getting married at a peak time it can be hard to find a photographer for just a couple of hours since it’s so easy for them to get full-day bookings, but I’d definitely encourage anyone who is discouraged by pro wedding photography costs but worries they might regret not hiring a photographer to at least look into doing it that way — it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

      • Mallory

        Definitely. I’m considering something along these lines as well. Especially since a few family members are avid photographers who will probably take tons of pictures of the ceremony and reception anyway.

        However, I’ve definitely thought about the issue of that photographer being able to book a whole evening event instead of my few hours. One option I have considered is doing creative portraits early in the late morning/afternoon with the bridal party and my fiance so that the photographer could still book an event that evening. I mainly just want a photographer to get some artsy creative shots and then I feel confident some friends and family could handle the rest of the photos for the day. We’ll see how it works out though.

        • http://fionalynne.wordpress.com fiona lynne

          Or you could get all dressed up another day for the portrait photos?!
          My husband and I actually had two events because we come from different countries so for the second event which only began in the evening, we stil got dressed in the morning and a photographer followed us round the city for the afternoon taking photos. It was great fun! It’s a great excuse to wear your dress again :)

  • http://arduousblog.blogspot.com ruchi

    I love that this post reminds me that we all have to prioritize, and that when it comes down to it, we will all have different priorities and that’s okay. While for a lot of people (even in the indie and APW crowd) photos are a huge priority, they DON’T HAVE TO BE. Honestly? I have so many friends whose beautiful, artsy wedding photos are still sitting in a box three years later. In fact, I’ve found that the wedding photos everyone actually SEES are the non-pro pictures friends and family take because those are the ones that get posted to Facebook the day after the event, whereas the official wedding photos often don’t get turned around for several months and are often located at a separate password protected site that not all guests know about/have access to. From that perspective, it’s the friends and family photos, not the pro photos, that represent the public face of your wedding, the one that old high school friend or former co-worker is going to see.

    All this to say that your pics look great! And while I think we still want to have a pro photographer, this post definitely made me think about it, and realize that a pro photographer is by no means a wedding “necessity” whatever that means.

    • Other Katelyn

      Yes! The Facebook factor! Those day-after online snapshots are the photos I remember from most of my friends’ weddings, though I’ve also pored over their albums.

      • meg

        Maybe. The only wedding photos of ours that you can see on Facebook are our pro ones though. We asked firmly and repeatedly for people to not take photos during our religious ceremony, that we had paid people to do that, and they mostly didn’t (and I’m grateful for that).

        • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

          Yay, we did that too! It also had the big plus of people were actually looking at US during the ceremony, rather than the back of their cameras, trying to figure out why they cant get a good photo in the challenging lighting of our church.
          We then also asked friends not to put them on Facebook without passing them by us first, and most people just didnt bother taking photos. (our wonderful pros let us put up whatever we want, so long as the album referenced them)
          Yes, we missed some things.
          but our guests connected, which was important. And we still have rocking photos!

        • emma

          We also asked guests to not take photos during the ceremony. And we had asked the photographers to be more conservative, not right up front or too far up the aisles. Unfortunately this lead to 5 (yes 5!!!) total pictures from our ceremony in the most beautiful chapel (and it wasn’t a super fast ceremony!)

          What Casey hit on in her post, and apparently we did not do well enough with our photographers was COMMUNICATION! Make sure people know their role and expectations, no matter if you are paying them or they are doing a favor. Photos cannot be recreated, although you’ll always have some visual memories in your head.

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      In regards to the Facebook factor… this is definitely changing among pros, I think. As a pro, I want the first photos everyone sees from the wedding to be MY photos, so I work my butt off to get a sneak preview on FB and on my blog within 24 hours of the event. I know some photographers can be prickly about FB, but I really think that’s in the process of changing.

      • Alyssa

        I had a not so great after-wedding experience due to hotel issues and rental car issues and whatnot; so it was SUCH a awesome surprise to my sneak peeks on Facebook like 3 hours after my wedding ended. I love when photographers do this (with the couple’s permission of course.) It shows that they know how excited most of us are about our photos and how we want to see them RIGHT NOW. :-)

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

    this is pretty taboo stuff. even the most practical of wedding bloggers finds it unthinkable to NOT shell out a billion dollars for “blog worthy” photos. refreshing to hear (and see!) how well it can be done DIY.

    and re: sorting 2000+ photos- even those of us who hired pros have to do that. ;)

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

      Now that the holidays are over (and our excuses are up), my husband and I are facing down the barrel of sorting through 700+ photos to pick 48 favorites for our official album. GULP.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

        i planned on doing wedding albums for both sets of parents for christmas. i’m STILL SORTING PHOTOS. so much for that idea. maybe next year?

        • meg

          Not always. Part of what you are theoretically paying for with a really good photographer is for them to do the sorting for you. One Love (we love you guys!) sorted ours down to 900 photos, with 150 in our “album edit.” Now that’s we’re finally getting around to the official album (we’re lazy and we’re doing it in trade) we’re using a handful that were not in their album edit, but really not too many.

          So long story short, we paid them for their artistic eye, and part of what we paid for was for THEM to do the sorting. SO WORTH IT.

          (And photographers, if you’re not already doing this for your clients, I recommend).

          • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

            ah, see, it must be a difference of priority. our photographers made a selection of the “best” photos. i would just rather sort the 2000+ that i paid for, to find the ones where my boobs look perkiest and nose looks smallest- not necessarily things the photogs would look for. ;)

          • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

            I was going to say something of this sort, but I was worried about stirring the pot too much. Yes, great photographers have a great eye, and therefore can edit out the bad, mediocre, and repetitive leaving you with the best to choice from.

          • meg

            Liz-
            Ours didn’t even offer us all of our images (which I was glad for). We were given 900. End of story.

          • abby_wan_kenobi

            In the end, the only way we could curate our giant collection was to get them off the computer screen. We waited until there was a good discount on a photo printing site and then spent like $11 printing out about 300 pictures. We eliminated a lot of shots online (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of each pose, eyes closed shots, etc.).

            We spread the prints out in our new living room (still sans furniture at that point) and shuffled and shuffled until we had a 6×7 grid of photos for the album. Then we framed as many as we had frames for (thanks for all the wedding gifted frames, friends!) and gave away the rest. Every time someone shuffled through the stack we encouraged them to keep a few and eventually they were gone. Eleven dollars well spent.

        • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

          We still don’t have an album either…

        • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com jehara

          Liz, this was so my idea to do for Christmas this year too.
          B and I procrastinated getting pictures uploaded to a digital album site and then were completely overwhelmed by the process of laying them out.
          So, um, we didn’t get them even close to done.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        Yeah, we had access (and ownership) of our digital prints right away and we had to cull 2000+ photos down to 40 “album-worthy” photos. We did it (begrudgingly) but ended up immediately getting onto Shutterfly to make our own album with 4x as many pics and a mix of pro photos and snapshots taken by our guests. The Shutterfly album doesn’t look as classy, but it certainly gets more circulation and has a lot more of the faces we love in it.

        • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

          Yeah, we’ll see what we come up with for the album, and might do another one. The biggest thing for us was getting digital photos up to share, so one of the first things we did was upload 75+ photos to Facebook. Once we started sharing the real gems with our family and friends, we can get back to figuring out which ones we want in the fancy-shmancy album.

      • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

        Ditto. I think we’re putting it off because . . . well . . . we’re just entirely unmotivated to do the work!

  • http://fionalynne.wordpress.com fiona lynne

    Such beautiful photos! I love that you pulled this off and were able to relinquish control of it enough to relax and enjoy on the day.

    My husband and I intially tried going down this route as we had the similar eye-popping, jaw-dropping reaction to some of the prices we saw. But we approached a few of our more talented friends/family about holding a camera up during the day and actually got a surprisingly damp reaction. Most of them said they’d prefer not to have that role because they wanted to enjoy being fully part of the wedding and felt like being an assigned photographer would make it feel a bit too much like work… well, that was their choice and we didn’t want anyone doing an role that didn’t feel totally enjoyable at the same time.

    So in the end we hired a photographer friend of mine and paid him his “friends” rate to cover our wedding. He did a great job, particularly on our wee photoshot around town, but you can tell by the number of reception shots compared with the rest that he was enjoying the reception and all the free Belgian beer :)

    • A-L

      I only very briefly considered not getting a professional photographer, as we have family members with nice DSLRs who take some very nice shots. But just for peace of mind and not to make anyone feel as though they had a “job” to do, we hired a professional off of Craigslist who had reasonable prices because she had just relocated. And we’re glad we did because she took some beautiful photos, but also, because our friends and family took virtually no photographs (I think there might have been 5 photos taken…total).

  • Anna

    Thank you for this post. My fiance and I weren’t planning on using a photographer ($$ reasons of course) and seeing these beautiful photos makes me trust in my friends and family to capture the event beautifully.

  • Joanna

    These photos are diverse and unique! Nothing here looks artificially set-up, and that makes it feel so honest and real. I personally don’t care if my photos are ‘blog-worthy’, and I don’t want my wedding to be a photoshoot in itself. Photos from wedding photographers who approach it like that don’t seem sincere to me… But, one reason why I’d hire a photographer is because I don’t think my silly/drunk friends will be able to handle any type of equipment when we get into the fun hours of the reception. I want trusted documentation ;) and Casey, kudos on having your friends + family pitch in and pull off an awesome job of that.

    • http://Averyhappyaccident.blogspot.com Alice

      I totally agree that it is refreshing to see a non- photo shoot wedding!!! I think more candid photos capture the emotion much more… (And I know that a lot of professional shoot in this style too so I’m not bashing pros… )

    • meg

      DUDE. A good photographer should not handle your wedding as a photo-shoot (and I don’t think any of the APW photags would). Other than group shots, and some photos of the two of us on the way to the wedding site, we didn’t do posed photos. And in the end, the stuff I value is the live shots. But that’s why we hired really talented people (because I really really cared). It’s easy to get good photo-shoot pictures. It’s hard to get brillant candids. I hired accordingly.

  • clampers

    What website did you use?

  • http://Averyhappyaccident.blogspot.com Alice

    Thanks for the post… We’re having a student photographer but we are definitely going to have some Fuji Instax and Holga cameras around for our guests to play with. Your photos turned out great!! Also… I read through the original post about DIT Photography and I really don’t agree that it turned into a pro photography bashing session. I thought basically all the posters had valid points…. on both sides of the debate. Professional photography is expensive because it’s a lot of work but it’s also unfair to expect everyone to be able to afford such an expensive service at their weddings.

    • meg

      There were previous discussions that I chose NOT to link to that did turn into photag bashing sessions. I didn’t link to them directly because I’d like to not see that repeated.

  • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com/ ddayporter

    awesome photos!! the polaroids and holga are my favorites, I just die for those kinds of pictures. stilllllllllllllllllll crying (not really) over how I left my holga and polaroid cameras in a bag in a coat room for the entire wedding by accident. SIGH. anyway.

    this is such a great and much-needed post. pro photogs can make such amazingly beautiful art from a wedding, it’s hard not to get sucked into the idea that you MUST have that kind of photography for your wedding. Meg’s wedding pics almost make me cry they’re so good. but my semi-pro pics are really not bad, especially after several hours of my own time in picasa working on them, fixing color problems and whatnot. We didn’t really have very many friends or family members that are so into photography they would have felt comfortable documenting our wedding in any official capacity, so I think we went the right route for us. But Casey’s wedding really proves that you don’t even need a semi-pro if you’ve got a few cameras and willing and able friends/family.

    For photo sharing online, I haven’t found anything better than Picasa. For one thing it’s just great for organizing your own photos on your computer, but then sharing them online is really easy with it also. The amount of storage you can get for free should be plenty for any wedding, but if you run out it’s only $5/year to add more. /google plug.

  • Emily

    Like Meg, I’m a huge fan of photography as art and I love beautiful, professional wedding photography. That said, looking at these photos and reading the post, I think this is a great argument for not worrying so much about your wedding photographs. I think it’s easy to get caught up in this fear that if you don’t plan out your wedding photography perfectly, you won’t be able to document the day, and all the money and effort you put into the wedding will be a lost memory. It’s actually a reasonable fear, when you think about it. But I don’t think the end result of that fear should be spending more money than you want (or can) on a photographer, or spending your wedding day fretting that every moment that passes is being lost to the wind, undocumented.

    These photos are wonderful, and do the job of creating an emotional, historical record of the wedding very well. Sure, a professional photographer might be doing something different with the composition and technical aspects of these photos. But these aren’t photos that are meant to be hanging in a museum or showing up in textbooks as examples of technically perfect photos. They are mementos, and therefore their imperfections are as endearing as their beauty (and they are beautiful!). They reminded me instantly of photos of my parents from the 60s and 70s, back when taking photos was a little more of a hassle and thus it was harder to take a perfect photo. Those pictures are imperfect, often grainy, sometimes out of focus and frequently poorly framed (not to say these photos are all or any of those things — just that evoke a similar feeling of photos taken on the fly and by a myriad of photographers of different skill). And they are effortlessly gorgeous.

    Also, my favorite recent photo is a New Year’s Eve photo of my BF and me taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. We’re all yellow and the color is all blown out and it’s overexposed, which (1) hides our myriad physical imperfections so that I don’t wind up scrutinizing every inch of my face and deleting it out vanity, and (2) makes the photo look kind of like it was taken through a glass of bubbling champagne, which is pretty awesomely apropos. So cheers to amateur photography!

    • Other Katelyn

      I know a fashionable couple who had a poolside SoCal destination wedding (from Seattle) and ROCKED the crowd-sourced hipstamatic iPhone app thing for almost all of their wedding photography. The wedding looks so glamorous, happy guests and couple aside. No shame, though my cadre of pro photograther buddies would rip into me big time for saying that.

      • Emily

        I think it just depends on what you want. Some people would shudder at the thought of a wedding album filled with amateur Hipsta photos taken on cell phones. For me, the bigger point is that it’s your wedding and you have to make choices based on your personal preferences, your situation, and your budget. No one has a responsibility to hire a professional photographer or caterer or wedding planner or whatever in order to support that industry (though I personally want to hire a photographer specifically to support the industry and a photographer I love, because that’s important to my BF and me). The big lie of the WIC is that you have to do certain things, and the big truth of APW is that you don’t have to do anything. So while your photog friends might be bummed that they missed out on a gig because someone didn’t hire a pro for her wedding, there’s really nothing wrong with someone going with amateur photography if that’s what they want.

  • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

    1. OHMYGODAMAZING. I love the photos. Casey, the last Polaroid of the two of you is amazing. So fabulous. I love your wedding zen, too; just TRUSTING your family/friends. Badass. Your wedding looked awesome, you looked gorgeous and classy, and the photos look awesome.

    2. My parents essentially did DIY photography; my uncle was a budding photographer, so he did their photos. Unfortunately, he was an Artsy Fartsy Photographer (and this was 1969), so my parents don’t have a ton of photos or traditional portraits. But the ones they do have are WONDERFUL. And that one portrait of them on the church steps really captures the two of them on that amazing day.

    In sum: awesome. Capture the love. <3

  • http://dormaingeyer.blogspot.com GreenBalloon

    We totally crowdsourced our photos since everyone already takes pictures at weddings. I set up a Flickr Pro account ($25/year) and emailed the login details (yes, with a dummy email) to all the guests the day after the wedding and then we just watched as photos rolled in… nearly 1200 of them…
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/our-wedding-photos/sets/72157625068960975/

    Yes, some folks weren’t sure how to use Flickr, and in some of those cases, we uploaded for them from a burned CD. But generally, it was super easy.

    Like Casey, we love seeing the 360 views of different moments, but it is some work to adjust the timestamp on every photo so Flickr will sort in order!

    Even if you’re having a professional wedding photographer, I would even recommend setting up a Flickr pro site (or some equivalent) just for all your guests to have a place to share their photos. Cause they will be taking photos anyway and you’re probably going to be chasing folks down for their pictures (I’ve had brides ask me for my photos after their wedding, which is totally cool) to add to your collection of memories.

    • http://! Jennifer

      Emailing the day after the wedding was a smart idea, it sounds like. We had a photosharing site set up and listed the info on the back of our programs, and I made the programs mini-sized figuring it would be easy for people to stash it in a purse or pocket, but the only people who uploaded anything to the photoshare site were my father and brother-in-law. Everyone else just put them up on Facebook (our generation) or burned them to disc and mailed them (the older generation).

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      We did something similar with a different photosharing site. We put the login info on the tags of our wedding favors (along with our new mailing address and contact info as a married couple). Quite a few people emailed me their “best” photos directly or put their faves up on facebook, but my MoH and I diligently asked each of those to post all of their photos on our site. I’d say we ended up with 70% of the people who posted anything anywhere on the web putting some or all of their photos on our site.

      We got some weird feedback like a family friend saying she would put up only pictures of the wedding party because she didn’t think anyone else was interested in all the shots of her family. Obviously *we* wanted to see tons of pictures of her kids and husband, we love them! A few friends also put up pictures from the rest of their trip. A lot of out-of-towners spent a day exploring Chicago so our wedding photos have some touristy, vacation shots in them too. We totally love that since we didn’t have a chance to show them around the city ourselves.

    • A-L

      We set up a Shutterfly Share account (free) to share our photographer’s photos (we bought the rights). And people are allowed to upload their own pictures to that site, but nobody’s done so yet. :( But I think that’s pretty much par for the course considering that almost nobody took any photos.

  • http://modernspartan.wordpress.com Nadine

    This is a great post. I’ve been thinking a lot about whether we should invest in pro photography. My sister has a friend who may be interested in starting up a photography business, so we have prospects for cheap/free pictures, along with several good, amateur photographers in our family and friends.
    Honestly, the prices scare me. I’m sure they are worth it, but at this point in our lives I don’t know if I can shell out that kind of cash! I think we may go with having some pro engagement photos (I’d like to do some photo save the dates, since I haven’t met all of my fiance’s extended family, and I have family in Europe who would probably love to get an updated photo), and getting out friends and family to help out with more candid wedding photos.

    • meg

      I might argue to do the other way around if you can afford it. If you’re on the fence about wedding photography I tend to nudge people towards doing it. I think people that know in their bones they don’t want pro photos are the ones who will never ever second guess themselves. BUT. Find someone you feel like you can afford.

      Here is the thing – we never even look at our engagement pictures, let alone have them printed out somewhere. It wasn’t an emotional moment, we don’t need more pictures of ourselves. But our wedding pictures? Those are pictures of a life changing moment, and all of our loved ones. For us, having it documented in a way where the pictures feel like the day felt… that’s a few thousand dollars that I would never take back. Hell, I would have charged it. But we had really talented photographers and I might be singing a different tune if we didn’t.

      So you know APW is all about being a devil’s advocate, so I’m devil’s advocating in the comments. If you were not on the fence, I’d be telling you, ‘ROCK OUT your DIY photography.” But you are on the fence, so I’d push you towards photos that will emotionally sum up your day. I wouldn’t give ours back for the world.

      • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

        Ditto to what Meg said. For anyone else on the fence who’s concerned with budgets, let me wholeheartedly recommend Meg’s earlier recommendation of 100 Layer Cakes new “vendor request” feature. I posted a request on there with my [relatively] meager budget and the bids just rolled in. There are a lot of super-talented photographers on there who willing to work with lower budgets for a myriad of reasons.

        • meg

          And, you know, because I would like APW to stay in existence,.. PLEASE look at our wonderful photogs. They have a really wide range of starting prices, and some of them are still getting started and are pretty dang low.

          You guys booking vendors through APW is how we exist. If that stops happening, the website will be no more. How is that for motivation?

          • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

            Ok, now I have to second this one as well—because I happen to be meeting with an APW photographer very soon! Yay! (Yes, we are very clearly in the midst of the “choosing a photographer” stage of our planning.)

      • http://arduousblog.blogspot.com ruchi

        This is exactly why my fiance doesn’t want to do engagement pictures. He’s like: We already have pics of the two of us. Why do I want random pics of the two of us gazing into each other’s eyes in front of a fire hydrant?

        For him, photos are about capturing a moment in time. The wedding is a special event, hence he wants to capture it.

        Of course, nearly all the photographers we’ve looked at include the engagement shot in their packages and they generally don’t seem tradable for something else, so it looks like we’ll probably have one anyway. I’ve toyed with the notion of making it “capturing our daily lives” and asking the photographer to, like, come over to our apartment and take pictures of us pre-shower reading the NY Times on our computers, or making lunch, or some such. But I’m a little afraid that that’s just TOO weird.

        I guess we could always not have an engagement session even if it is included, but I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how it’s an important opportunity to vibe with your photographer and get to know them more… So, we’ll see.

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

          I think photos of you guys in your apartment doing everyday stuff would be ideal. I saw some photo shoot online somewhere, and it was a shoot where the couple was at their home doing normal stuff. It was one of the coolest photo shoots I have seen…

        • http://modernspartan.wordpress.com Nadine

          Daily life photos sounds like a great engagement shoot. We actually *don’t* have a lot of good pictures of us…of course there are a ton on facebook, but maybe one or two that we both actually like.
          I agree that the standard engagement session sounds uber-cheesy. For ours, I would like to plan some places to go where we can do things. Otherwise I’ll be like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights: “I’m not sure what to do with my hands.”

          • Colleen

            Yeah, this is exactly the reason I brought some props (e.g. Flock of balloons, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, gnome) to our engagement shoot. Otherwise when we didn’t know what to do, we kissed. Which honestly (as far as pictures went) was excessive.

        • http://www.jwileyphotography.com Jen Wiley

          That’s not too weird at all! As a pro, I always want my couples to customize their e-sessions. If your potential photog sneers at the idea of doing a chill, intimate shoot of the two of you hanging around your house doing typical Saturday morning stuff, then keep looking for one who thinks that’s a great idea. I love the way couples naturally interact with each other, and if being at home, or going for a walk to the library, or getting slurpees at 7-11 (yes, I shot a couple in a 7-11 getting a slurpee because it was meaningful to them) then it’s worth capturing! :) Great photogs LOVE couples who think outside the box. Keep it up!!

      • http://modernspartan.wordpress.com Nadine

        Thanks, Meg! I love hearing both sides of this, for sure. My initial instinct was “yes, pro photos,” so I should probably stick with that. A few commenters suggested having a pro around for a shorter period, rather than the five or six-hour package – something I hadn’t considered. It’s all brand new to me, so I love coming here and reading everyone’s experiences.

        • meg

          That can be done (and do it if you need it)… but it’s tricky. I’ve edited a number of wedding grads where I emailed them and was like, “Dude, send me the PARTY pictures of everyone having an amazing time, what are you doing sending me just ceremony stuff?” and they emailed back “Yeah, we, um, didn’t hire the photographer for the party. It seemed like a great way to save money, but it retrospect, what were we THINKING?” Which is NOT me trying to sell you regret, that’s me trying to make sure you think it out. If your gut instinct is that you won’t regret it, you won’t.

          The thing about a really amazing party is everyone puts their cameras down. We only have a handful of Polaroid’s from our friends from the true heart of the party, and it’s all event stuff – the hora, me leading the electric slide, David and I slow dancing alone, the farewell. The normal moments were not caught because, well, people were having a great time. So think about if that’s cool with you. And if it is, go for it.

          • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

            This is a good point, Meg. My nieces and my one friend (who I mentioned, does it as a hobby) took a bunch of party photos, but the former photos were hit or miss, and the latter, well, he put his cam down eventually too.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      If you’re worried about cost, the first thing I’d suggest is cutting back the time with your photographer. We spent an hour and a half before the wedding doing posed shots and the photographer stayed through dinner and 90minutes of dancing. Honestly – we only needed a quarter of the posed shots we got and the first half hour of dancing. That would’ve gotten us a handful of pictures with our bridal party and parents and our crucial (beautiful) first dance pics, plus all the shots of the ceremony.

      We asked guests not to take photos during the ceremony, but encouraged it during the party. The snapshots from the party are better than the pro photos because our photographer couldn’t be everywhere at once. 6 photographers couldn’t be everywhere at once.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    We had a little of a mix. My brother-in-law is a professional photographer, but we really didn’t want him missing the party. So we asked him to shoot the ceremony and a few family shots after (with him in them too) and then do what he wanted from there on.

    We were lucky to have a bunch of talented friends and family keep taking pictures (we didn’t plan on this ahead at all, they did it on their own and sent us the files after).

    And Casey, those pictures are amazing.

  • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

    I left a comment yay-ing the entire concept of DIY-photography because I think it’s awesome, and because these photos are beautiful.

    But:
    And really, I want to make sure that no one feels like they NEED professional wedding photography. You should feel empowered to choose it, but like everything else in APW land, you should remember that wedding photography is a choice.

    This hits such a nerve. Not in a bad way; in a self-reflective, hard way. I chose a wedding photographer who has taken amazing portraits, who is a family friend, who loves his work. And I’m glad. We have great photos, he was great to work with, and I was supporting someone I know and care about.

    BUT. I have the hugest inferiority complex about our photos, and about the choice I made. We spent a LOT of money (uh, more than we should have) on our photos, and while I like them, they aren’t my dream photos. We contracted our photographer early on in the process, before I really did a lot of research about photography, and before I stumbled into APW, and saw the magic some photographers can produce. And I wanted that. I wanted the “blog-worthy”, lens-flare, wide-open laugh, big field photos. But we didn’t get that kind of photographer. And I beat myself up about it.

    But Meg– this comment, these sentences. It cracks open a part of me that is strong and empowered. We made the choice we made for a REASON. Sure, it may not have ended up exactly how we wanted it (lots of $$$ for not exactly what I love), but it’s what happened. We have great pictures, we have great memories, and above all– IT’S OKAY. One day we’ll do a portrait session with the funky, lens-flare photographers I’ve come to love. And I don’t need to beat myself up over a choice that is over, done, finito. I like our pictures. I like our photographer. I like our life. Regret? Fuggadaboudit.

    Sorry for the random therapeutic venting, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your random talk of empowered choices.

    • Emily

      Sarah, I think one of the most important things about your comment is this:

      “One day we’ll do a portrait session with the funky, lens-flare photographers I’ve come to love. And I don’t need to beat myself up over a choice that is over, done, finito.”

      Because it’s a recognition of the fact that you don’t have to make your wedding day the final culmination of everything. A wedding should be about a beginning. If you’re wedding photos aren’t everything you want them to be, there’s always the photos you’ll take on your honeymoon, your anniversary, next Tuesday. Your aesthetic tastes will evolve and 20 years from now, you mind half-cringe about some of the choices you made for your wedding. But it’s okay. Like a snapshot, weddings capture that one moment in time. And then we move on and grow older and collect a lifetime of snapshots of other times. Why waste time regretting the modest imperfections of one photo when you could be filling your life with a million other photographable things?

      • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

        F*CK, YEAH. And that attitude is what I’m coming around to. During the wedding planning, and the hype of reading all these (awesome) blogs, and worrying about every last imperfections (either naturally ingrained or imperfect choices), the PRESSURE just intensifies everything. It makes something like this into Such a Big Deal, when, really? Meh. My parents have fuzzy black and white photos, and my aunt has NO photos (friend took the photos and LOST THE FILM). We have great photos (hello, he’s a professional photographer, and my portraits were AMAZING), I have a great husband, and we have the rest of our lives to get great photos.

        Thanks, Emily. Here’s to decades upon decades of great and crappy photos of an awesome life. :D

        • abby_wan_kenobi

          Yeah! All that crazy PRESSURE of ‘it’s the happiest day of your life’ and ‘you only get one wedding day’ (probably) is like you’ll never have another opportunity to take a photo of you two all dressed up and happy. In the 12 months on either side of our wedding we attended something like 8 weddings and we got dolled up and had a good time at every one of them. And we took pictures.

          Even if your photos are all ruined in a freak accident, you’re still married so you Win!! Right? I’m pretty sure you’re still married if the photos come out terribly.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      I love you.

      You are so, so, so, so right. Our wedding photos are lovely. There are a few really stellar, want to look at them every day shots. There are a ton of nice shots. There are a very few, omg I hate that, let’s burn it shots. There are 2000 pictures, there’s a variety.

      When we first got them all I could think about was how they were lacking. Which super-specific artsy shot we didn’t get. Which moments felt so big, but don’t look quite that way on film.

      6 months later I’m more at peace with our pictures. As I’ve read on ESB, you only need one perfect shot of you looking beautiful and happy. We were blessed enough to get several (although Husband and I disagree strongly which ones are really the best). I think that’s the right perspective. For all 60 pictures that I really love, in 20 years I bet there’s only one framed on the mantle.

      • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

        Abby, I keep commenting on your comments or “Exactly”-ing them. Clearly we are a match made in APW-heaven. :)

        It was hard, going into the wedding and knowing that we weren’t going to have those kinds of photos. And then afterward, seeing them, and letting go of that expectation. But each month that passes, I realize how little it matters. I love our wedding and our photos, just the way they were.

        And your mantle comment, OH MY GOD YES, THIS. My parents have one fuzzy black-and-white photo from their wedding, and it’s all they need. They have an album (yellowed, old pages) that they look at now and again, but that one photo is all they need. It’s this picture of the two of them, coming out of the church, half-smiles on their faces because they’re so overwhelmed.

        I think we’ll probably pick out the ones for the album, then a few to get printed and framed, and eventually, twenty years from now, the album will collect dust, and that one picture will be our favorite, and we’ll laugh with our friends about the memories, not the snapshots.

        • abby_wan_kenobi

          Email me, we’ll be friends in real life :) marlasinger84 [at] yahoo [dot] com

          My parents have one dusty formal photo of their wedding party on display- mom looks terrified, dad’s grinning maniacally in a maroon tux, and apparently the color of the bridesmaids dresses has “evolved” over time. It’s a totally classic photo taken by my aunt who was working as a photographer’s assistant at that time to pay for college. I’ve seen their album and it’s got dozens of shots more artistic and prettier than that one, but that is their Official Wedding Picture.

          • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

            Oh, man, priceless. My mom had just graduated from fashion design school, and she MADE her own dress. It had long sleeves and a high neck, and had a floral pattern (in orange and yellow) with an organza overlay. She wore a HAT. My dad, to match the colors, wore an avocado green tuxedo. For that reason alone, we are ALL grateful that the only photos are in black and white. Urgh.

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      Sarah, thank you so much for talking about this! Photography is one of the most important things to me, we’re thisclose to settling on one of those “blog-worthy” photographers, and yesterday I had a mini-freak-out along the lines of “is this a trend?!” “what if I won’t like this style of photography in 20 years?!” It hadn’t occurred to me that the regret could go both ways—but only if you let it. Going to try to remember that what we choose when we choose it, is just that, what we chose when we chose it, not the be all and end all of everything…

      And I love that ESB wisdom! Here’s hoping for that one lovely photo…

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        I don’t think there’s such a thing as a timeless wedding. They’re inevitably the product of an era. It’s why photos of all weddings before 1998 look ridiculously dated.

        But it’s part of the charm. Whatever we do at our weddings is kind of an indication of what we hope we’ll love forever and I think that creates the nostalgia. You just have to embrace it :)

  • http://! Jennifer

    I love the pic with the two of you and your mugs of beer so much I now kind of wish we had had beer mugs at our wedding and will now at least make sure we have mugs of beer at our next party.

  • Morgan

    I just want to suggest one warning for people considering DIY photography – if you’re getting married at night, or your reception hall is dim, you may want to consider having a professional, or at least renting a professional camera. I had seriously debated not hiring a photographer, but in the end did, and I’m glad, because of all the many pictures taken by family and friends that night? There’s only about 3 worth printing. (Most involve a blurry white shape doing something blurry in the distance…) Point and shoots generally don’t have a good enough flash to get a good picture after dark in a large room.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Very true. Low light indoor venues are difficult, even if the (non-professional photographer) friend has a good eye for composition and normally takes really good pictures in regular situations. Added challenges come in these low-light situations when the person taking the photos is shooting from a distance and/or there is movement. So the lighting in your venue(s) and what equipment people have are important factors to consider if you are thinking about a DIT approach and are highly invested in the result. (But remember, it is possible to rent high-quality equipment, too!)

      Our wedding was this type of night-time, indoor wedding with very low-light environments. We thought about doing the DIT approach, but I was nervous about it, knowing that our lighting would be far from ideal for any photographer– professional or not. We couldn’t do the big-$$$$-photographer-and-several-assistants-package-thing, despite my deep love for art photography because we were working with a small wedding budget. Instead, we hired a photographer (the husband of APW reader Marie-Eve from Montréal) who was just getting into wedding photography at the time. We also had a friend and a family member who are also photographers take some pictures. Those two did not want to have the pressure of being in the official photographer role (they don’t do it full-time as a career and find shooting weddings to be particularly stressful), so we just asked them to take any pictures they felt like. We ended up with great and beautiful and funny photos from all three of photographers. Having our main photographer, Martin, was wonderful because I knew he would be there the whole time, focused on capturing the experiences during the day (and also those formal family photos), and he was the one responsible for the full photo coverage. Trusting him allowed me to relax and not worry about if certain moments were getting captured by various people, which was such a relief since I am a worrier and I didn’t want to be distracted that day. Both Martin and Marie-Eve (who did our flowers, which I LOVED) fit in wonderfully with our group of friends and family and did a fabulous job. And even better…in the time since the wedding, they have become our friends. :)

      And, like someone else pointed out above, we loved seeing the different perspectives we have from our multiple photographers (and also the non-professional friend and family photos too) and how each person looked at the same event and saw different things. That is probably the thing I love most about the DIT photography concept: the photos can be particularly revealing of an individual’s personality and sense of humor. And then you have those random photos that are awesome and hilarious. Like, during our wedding, one person took an artistically cool photo of the venue security guard intently watching us get married. It’s great to see those little moments we had no clue were happening, and someone just sees it and thinks to capture it. Love the spontaneity of that…

      All that to say, if photography is something you value deeply and you are considering a DIT approach where you will not be using anyone with professional photography experience,.some venues (and times of day) are much more friendly towards this than others.

  • http://whyareweallsostupid.com sarahdipity

    I also love photography as art. But I also know that you can get amazing wedding photographs even if you don’t hire someone to do them. However, I’m not sure all brides understand the pressure and stress that it puts on a friend when they ask someone to do their wedding photos. My husband has done a large amount wedding photos for many of my friends and in two cases was the only photographer at the wedding. The difference in his stress is noticeable between being the *only* photographer and him just giving bonus pictures. So if you do ask a friend to do you pictures please just be aware and be appreciative.

    • Alyssa

      On a related note, I’d like to offer up that if you do go with a photographer and have friends and family to supplement, please be specific on the boundaries between your pro and friends & family.
      I have a relative who does photography as a side business and she offered to do my photos. I preferred to have her just there at my wedding, having fun and not working, but I definitely told her to bring her camera and snap away if she wanted to because she does that at every family event anyway!

      The problem came in when, despite my request, she was off on the sidelines capturing the exact same things that my pro was doing. We shooed her away on the portraits (so we wouldn’t have people looking at two different cameras) but in the end, she got a lot of the same shots that my pro did, just at a different angle. Which was disappointing, because I’d asked her to get shots of the guests and all the goings-on that we weren’t a part of. (And table shots! No one does old fashioned pictures of people as they sit at the tables anymore…)

      I think pro pics are amazing and I think DIY weddings are just as amazing! But if you’re combining on a little bit of both, and are hoping for a wide range of pics like you’d get if you DIY’ed, you’ll want to be specific on what you’d like your extra photographer to shoot.

      • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

        I cannot “exactly” this comment enough – convey clear expectations for your guest photographers if you have pro’s. When I entered the church for the ceremony, so many guests had crowded *into* the center aisle to take pictures that I couldn’t see my husband at the front and our pro photographer didn’t get a single good picture of me walking down the aisle. Really relieved we did that first look beforehand? You bet. Also, my uncle, who is of the “I own a high-end DSLR thus I am the Greatest Photographer Ever” elbowed his way *between* my bridesmaids and stood 3 feet from husband and myself, clicking away the entire ceremony and blinding us with his flash (even though we’d written a request into the program asking that people not use flash photography during the ceremony).

        • meg

          Also, have your officiant say, “Ok people, you can step forward and take a picture now, and then you MAY NOT take any more pictures for the rest of the service.” If they are say, southern and baptist and have Jesus on their side of the argument, this will be even smoother. If they are not… it can still work.

          • Hannah NJ

            A wedding I was at recently in England had an officiant who was incredibly clear about that – when people could come out of their seats and take photos, when they were to stay in their seats, when the pro photographer was taking photos, etc – and it was SUCH a relief as a guest (and one who was concerned about cultural norms) to have it all spelled out. I felt really taken care of by those boundaries.

    • http://www.karaschultz.com Kara

      I’m a pro and shooting friend’s or family’s weddings scares me! This is their wedding and what if I don’t get what they thought or what they wanted or what if they hate them?! I know wedding photography might not be in everyone’s budgets but have to agree with the “just be grateful for what you get” sentiment if you’re asking them to do this gratis. It’s incredibly stressful and I’ve seen it ruin relationships whether family or friend (not to me, but you get the idea!). They’re not pros. They’re not going to anticipate, they may not know light as well, they may not have the right equipment for the job, they may lose all your photos or they may be great. It’s a risk. But know the risk you’re taking. My first wedding that booked me got me for what I now pay an assistant, she knew she was taking a risk. It paid off for her but she was just hoping for something that would work in her budget.

      I would suggest rather than letting your guests or a friend or family member (if they’re not pros) do your photography, hire a student or someone just beginning, you may not get the great art photos or you may! But you take the pressure and stress off your loved ones and guests, and then you may get something even better from them :)

  • Sara

    I wanted to second the one “con” listed – since at almost 5 months out (whoa), I think my family has almost given up on me ever getting a comprehensive bunch of photos posted from the literally thousands that friends and family took at our wedding. Perhaps, being a bit type A for organization (and loving photos so much it makes whittling down to a reasonable number really hard!) and being very busy in life in general, I might have overestimated my ability to do this all on my own…

    But, I have (mostly) enjoyed the process, and, heck, I have thousands of photos from a whole weekend of fun that surrounded our wedding! I also would add that DIT photos were essentially one of our compromise areas because my now-husband was REALLY uninterested in hiring someone we didn’t know who would be hanging around and snapping photos (I know, I know… there are so many professionals – I’m sure like all the APW elves – who are great people and would just seem like another guest and get some great artistic shots, but it was clear that it just wasn’t something he would have been comfortable with – and it made zero sense to have insisted on something that would have made him uncomfortable when there are other ways to get some mementos of the day!). So much of the whole wedding for us was give and take for both of us together (um, like life!), so I knew that wedding photos were something I’d have to come at from another angle, and of course it all worked just fine.

    Plus, we actually did have a friend who is an amazing photographer and who we would have happily paid if some little scheduling conflict like her own wedding hadn’t kept her from ours! (hi, SGS! :)

  • http://www.ohdeerio.com smallwonder

    Photography was one of my top priorities and I was super enthusiastic about hiring a pro photog. However, I have a DSLR that my sister will be shooting with on the big day, and we both have Instax that I want to incorporate somehow. I think there’s room for all kinds of photography and you get a wider range of pictures if you DIY.

    • meg

      Yes. We adore our pro-pictures, but it’s the polaroids that our friends took that I would take with me in a fire, I think (erm, obviously, they don’t have digital proofs). So there is always room for a mix.

  • Stephasaurus

    Because I’ve been a photographer (not of weddings) for years, photography is very high up on my list of wedding must-haves. Like you, I LOVE photos of all kinds, from all cameras, from all angles. But I think the fact that I myself am a photographer is what made me refuse to accept that I had to spend thousands of $$ on my wedding photos. So, I’m glad for this post – even though pro wedding photographers work their butts off and put a LOT of time into editing, people shouldn’t be expected to spend a majority of their wedding budget on pictures. Great photos can still come at great, affordable prices.

    And, by the way, I absolutely adore your photos. Kudos to your talented friends!

    • meg

      I am going to make an argument for wedding photographer prices (APW ones, at the very least). A lot of them work for less than minimum wage, when you factor in how much work it is to take all your pictures, and then edit them all, and get them in a gallery, and make an album (or whatever you’re paying for). For me, paying artists to make a living, and paying them less than minimum wage was WAY on the top of my wedding priorities. I know it isn’t (and can’t be) for everyone. But. When we take out the photographers who charge $10K just to show up, etc, you have a lot of people making really low wages to make art for you.

      • Stephasaurus

        Totally agree. I’m friends with a couple handfuls of people who shoot weddings, so I 100% understand how much time goes into it. The actual wedding is the easy part – editing everything takes hours, and I know people who work full-time jobs during the week and then spend their entire weekends on two hours of sleep shooting a wedding and then uploading/beginning the editing process. Those are the people I’d be glad to pay to shoot my wedding – not the people whose attitude is “I work in the wedding industry so I can automatically charge a gazillion dollars and people will fork it over!” But a lot of people just can’t afford to pay professional wedding photographers when they know in the back of their mind that some will gladly shoot for cheaper (if it isn’t their full-time job), and I get that too. Which is why, when I caved and agreed to shoot my one and only wedding (a friend’s mom’s wedding), I charged them a dirt-cheap, can’t-even-get-a-hooker-for-this-cheap, price. For me it was just fun, not work, so I had no business charging a lot!

      • Emily

        Totally agree, but folks who simply can’t afford to pay an experienced professional photographer thousands of dollars can still support artists! As has been mentioned on APW before, there are lots of people just starting out in a field who can use your wedding to build a portfolio. I know you used a just-starting-out photographer for either your engagement photos or your rehearsal dinner, Meg, and that she subsequently used a first-timer for her own wedding. We are looking into hiring a student photographer for our wedding, since we’re lucky enough to have a close friend who is a professional photog and teaches photography at a local college. We’re hoping we can agree on a fair price that doesn’t also blow up our very, very small budget — we’re not trying to take advantage of anyone here.

        • meg

          This is a good way to go about it.

          Our story is a little more complicated. We were not going to do engagement pictures at all, but you know, I write a wedding website. So Emily Takes Photos (who was a sponsor, but by no means just starting out by then) offered to take some for us, and we said sure. And they are really cute. For the photos we were paying for, we paid One Love Photo their full price. One Love was cheaper then than they are now, and so we didn’t pay them what they were worth, but I don’t think anyone can pay them what they are worth, because they are that good (which is a feeling you should look for when hiring people).

          I’m ALL for y’all hiring people that are just starting out. I just don’t want people to start thinking that photographers charging more than say, $1000 are over-charging, because boy are they not :)

          • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

            There are photographers around my way that charge around $10K to start. They’re totally worth every penny. I like to go look on their blog every once in a while because really, the images are amazing. But $10K was 2/3 of my budget. I don’t begrudge them charging that – they’re worth it – but I couldn’t afford it. When I hear about a couple splurging on photography just because they can and they want to, I think, “awesome,” because supporting independent artists IS awesome. :)

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    This is how I live my life, with camera in hand. My husband claims he didn’t really exist for ten years before he met me because there are no pictures of him during that time. He exists now. I wish more people carried around cameras and shared their photos with everyone so I’d have a 360 degree view of my life. I love what you created at your wedding.

    • http://www.ohdeerio.com smallwonder

      Me too! I have hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of the husband-elect because I love taking pictures and he’s so darn cute. But since I always take the pictures, I have none of me and very few of us together. I can easily say that the pictures are one of the things I’m most excited about. Not just our pro pics, but the pics that everyone will take, because I can just relax and be in them. I hope that at least a few will be of me in my wedding dress with my own camera taking pictures too though…

      • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

        Ahhh, I love the term “husband-elect.” So cute.

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        I’ve gotten real good at taking arms-length photos of the two of us wherever we go. They’ve actually turned out to be some of our favorite photos from our first year of marriage and we now have to take at least one whenever we do something. He’s getting better about suggesting I hand the camera over to him every now and then too. Some people just aren’t used to thinking of the every-day as being picture worthy, but with digital it’s so easy.

      • Theodora

        Yes! I can *so* totally see myself doing this!

        I recently shot some pics of a (non-wedding) church event while singing in the choir. It was a complete surprise when someone told me the host church had pics on their site, and one of the pics was of me shooting the person who told me about the host church pics. It’s *so* me! ;)

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      Confession time . . . waaay before any of the wedding speak started, I really really wanted someone to follow me around for a day and just take photos. YES it’s vain. But I really do believe that some of the most mundane and ignored things can be beautiful if caught in the right context. Anyhoo. I should start carrying around our camera more often!

      • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

        Haha, awesome! Speaking of everyday-things-can-make-for-incredible-art, has everyone heard this story? : http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/new-street-photography-60-years-old/ It blew my photography-loving mind!

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        I loved the opening sequence to the show “Mad About You” because it was just wonderfully simple black-and-white photos of the two of them going around New York doing every-day-normal-life-people things.

  • Vmed

    “Seeing what each photographer thought was worth documenting.”

    So, So true. One of my favorite pictures of my parents (ever) was taken by a guest during my sister’s wedding ceremony. They’re looking at each other with such tenderness it makes me tear up just thinking about it. I’m not sure how he got the shot, but it is pretty amazing. Especially because my sister’s main disappointment with her professional photos was that their parents weren’t the focus of any but the formal portraits (and I think that happens a lot).

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      Definitely (no matter if you have a professional photographer or a friend or a group of cousins) you need to talk to the person with a camera about who and what you *must* have photos of.

      We told our photog we wanted lots of pics of the wedding party (our siblings) and our parents and the kids at the party. We were so happy with the dozens of pictures of giggling, dancing children. Based on all the other stuff that we have no pictures of (um, my two best friends? It’s like they weren’t even there!) I’m really glad we gave him some direction. I suspect we’d otherwise have pictures only of ourselves.

      Not that I’m complaining, he did a fantastic job. But photographers aren’t mind readers, they don’t know what you want photos of. Or they are friends who only know what they would want photos of.

      • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

        We went the professional route, but I always say that there is something just different and special about having your picture taken by someone who loves you. They notice different moments because they really know *you* and not just a list of “must-have” shots.

  • http://twentyfivetowife.blogspot.com Amanda

    Thank you, thank you for this post! I’m doing a combination of these things, and am still not entirely sure on all of the details. We have a friend who’s a semi-pro(?) photographer–he has work that he’s sold, but he also brings his camera to anything and everything he goes to that’s even remotely interesting and posts the results on his website. We’ve asked him to bring his camera and take pictures (as he probably would have anyway), and he insisted on sending the hi-res original files as his wedding gift. Score! But… this is only if he can make it at all, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

    Beyond that, I haven’t thought about it much. I’ll ask everyone to send in their photos to a shared Picasa album or something. But I like these ideas about finding some designated people to hand cameras to, too.

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    Like everything else… it’s all about what’s important to you. Sometimes it’s really hard for me, as a photographer, to understand why someone wouldn’t want to hire a pro. To be totally honest, my knee jerk reaction to this post is… “nooooo!” But then I put on my bride hat, and I totally get it. We were more than willing to pay our photographers whatever they wanted, because that’s what was important to my husband and I. But when it came to things like centerpieces and flowers… I could not have cared less. I didn’t think anyone would remember the flowers or centerpieces, and I just wasn’t willing to pay a florist thousands of dollars. There are amazing florists out there who do unbelievable work, but it just wasn’t something that was important to us. A lot of people were flabbergasted when I said I didn’t need a pro to help with the flowers and details. So when I think back on that experience… I totally get the whole not wanting to hire a photographer thing. I can see how someone would feel the same way about pro photography, as I did about our flowers.

    There will always be that pressure to do everything a certain way when it comes to your wedding, but you have to do what’s right for you and your partner. If that means having a friend take the pictures and using your budget on food or flowers or a dress or whatever… do it. And don’t let anyone make you second guess your decision. (Because people really tried to make me second guess that decision when it came to our flowers, for whatever reason, and I totally resented it.)

    (And even though I worship the ground our photographers walk on… one of my absolute favorite pictures of the day was taken by a friend on her little point and shoot. It’s the photo I keep coming back to, because maybe more than any photo it makes remember exactly how I felt that day. So there ya go.)

  • http://www.verhext.com verhext

    I am the opposite! In fact, when helpful wedding gnomes sent me some DIY wedding photo blogs to help me decide, it made me 100% go in the other direction and want a pro photographer. There was no way I wanted friends to have cameras in front of their faces all day, or responsible for certain shots I wanted, or to have to deal with me grumpy at them because I had 500 photos of my double chin. I went with a friend, but a highly experienced wedding photog friend, who I could direct and give shot ideas to and who could document because it’s his job!

    In fact, I even tried to get my SIL, who IS a pro wedding photographer, to stop taking photos (it didn’t work) so she could actually be present at the wedding.

    • meg

      Me too. We pretty much tried to ban people from bringing cameras, because I wanted them THERE, sans lens (and I didn’t want our wedding all over Facebook). So hopefully this post can help people figure out what’s right for them, even if that’s running back into the arms of a pro ;)

      • Vmed

        …. please share the secrets of successfully banning cameras, because this is exactly how fh and I feel about it (presence and privacy especially re: the ceremony)?

        • abby_wan_kenobi

          I’m not sure how to effectively shut that down, but I did spend a lot of time untagging myself and requesting (then ordering, threatening and begging) people to take photos down from facebook. I’m not big into facebook and I felt super uncomfortable having our photos splashed all over the internet.

          Apparently my aversion to letting strangers in on our wedding is weird. It would have definitely been easier to stop it at the wedding than to undo it later.

          • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

            Your aversion is not weird—I’m pretty notorious among my friends for having only creative shots of the back of my head as profile pics! I can’t believe it, but it never even occurred to me that I could actually politely request ppl to not post or not tag pics wedding pics until this thread. I really thought it was like a “bride tax”—I’m getting married so it must go on Facebook—just because everybody else had and wanted 50 gillion pics posted… Silly.

          • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

            Not weird at all. There are many others who share your feelings. I do feel like I share a lot with the internets, but there is also a lot that is definitely not for world-wide consumption.

        • meg

          We put a note on the website, and in the program, and spread the word through parents. Also, as I noted above in the comments, you can have your officant tell people, “step forward and take a photo of the couple now, and then put your camera away. This is a religious/ sacred/ transformational moment for the couple, and they need you totally present, and do not want pictures.” A firm officant will pull it off. Hell, a firm officiant will stop the ceremony and tell someone to put their camera away ;)

          Also, I un-tagged myself from Facebook photos. I would have asked people to take them down if I’d needed to, but it didn’t come to that. I’d say it’s worth putting a note in your program if you don’t want pictures uploaded to Facebook.

        • http://amusinglist.wordpress.com Christina

          I have this one professional photo where, literally, every single guest is taking a picture of me walking down the aisle with my Dad. It’s kind of freaky paparazzi like.

          • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

            I’ve got one of those too. I’m not sure people realize how absolutely *terrifying* it can be to walk into a room and have a hundred flashes go off in your face…

        • Kat

          I think if you ask people not to take photos then they wont. I was thinking about this part of the discussion about stopping people from taking photos (and that crazy moment with all the guests taking pictures of the bride coming down the aisle) and it made me a little sad that people didn’t want their guests to take photos. Then I realised that it wasn’t that I wanted to be able to take my own photos during the wedding (or ceremony) but that for most weddings I go to the photos I take are the ONLY photos I have of the event (facebook ones generally don’t count as they’re so low res you caon’t use them for an album or whatever). Usually couples share their professional photos with their bridal party, family and people who live in the same town etc. Several weddings we’ve been one of 120+ guests, we live at the other end of the country and even through I’ve be in touch with the bride and groom and said we’d love to see their photos it doesn’t happen (we ceratinly didn’t send our professional images to all of our guests, just our family and bridal party).
          I guess what this long ramble is about is if you don’t want your guests to take pictures during your wedding, please, please make sure you share your professional pictures with all your guests.

          • A-L

            On a related note, there have been times when the couple didn’t want photos (or gasp, I forgot my camera) and I did get access to the professional’s images. But I wasn’t in the mood to pay $10-35 bucks for one 4×6 print (if there had been one stellar photo of my friends and I then maybe so, but there weren’t). It’s one of the reasons why we purchased all rights to our photos and put them on Shutterfly (they’ll be on there forever) and on Adoramapix (which our photog recommended for better photo quality…but which is only up for about 3 months). That way our guests only pay 19 cents or so for a picture, so they could incorporate the wedding weekend into their own photo albums without breaking the bank.

      • http://www.verhext.com verhext

        Uh, yes. I even got nasty anonymous comments on my blog (love those guys) when I asked friends to take down Flickr sets of the wedding – WHILE I WAS ON HONEYMOON & HADNT EVEN SEEN THEM YET. And found out about it because STRANGERS were tweeting and retweeting links. I had a small meltdown.

        So yes. If you care at all about your wedding being shared with 238493758937843 people, and the photos being ones you love and want in the world, be careful about this.

    • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

      This is exactly how we feel. My brother is a fantastic photographer. My dad takes great photos of scenery and details (not so much with the people). But I adamantly do not want my family to be responsible for photography. I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures they take — yes — but they’re guests, not staff, and I feel strongly that they should feel like guests.

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        I felt that way about everything at the wedding. My family and friends helped out a whole bunch leading up to the event, but other than one or two things (like our music czar), I wanted everyone to be guests.

        That said, the photos a few guests did get were a lot of fun. And I loved taking the photos at my sister’s wedding. It was special for me to be able to do that with and for her and I felt honored that she asked me to do that.

      • http://www.verhext.com verhext

        & I am actually really bummed that I don’t have a single photo of my sister in law just being a guest. Camera in front of face, the whole time.

  • http://letthemeatlentils.wordpress.com LC

    Hey Casey, what venue did you have your wedding at? Looks gorg.

    • Casey

      Hi LC! We got married at my parents’ house/farm in upstate NY, in the town Matt and I called home for a lot of years. Rather than do a big backyard reception, though, we let the pros take over and went a half mile down the road to a golf club the hubs used to work at. Turned out to be a good plan, as a beautiful raging thunderstorm broke out right after dinner :)

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  • Nicole

    One of the best pieces of advice I read (I think from east side bride?) was that you only really need one or two great pictures from your wedding day. This may not apply to everyone, but it definitely applies to us: we want one or two gorgeous pictures of us that we can frame and put up, but otherwise I know that a wedding album would just languish in storage somehow. So we found a young, relatively new-to-the-scene photographer who has a great eye and is VERY affordable. We know she’ll be able to capture a few great moments, even if she hasn’t worked that many weddings. The ambient, feels-like-the-day pictures will hopefully come from friends and family, since we have many shutterbugs who are very good about sharing. Those we’ll keep on a hard drive and look back on when we’re feeling sentimental.
    At least that’s the plan. Hope it works!

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      I took photos for a professor of mine. In our agreement, she agreed to purchase a set number of rolls of film (I think 10 — 5 each of b/w and color). She asked for a specific, short list of photos. After that, she said whatever I could get was gravy. She paid me $100 for my services . . . and I drove 6 hours round trip to be at the wedding. It worked out well for all of us. I am not amazing, but I got the good, posed photos she wanted. Other friends of hers got good pictures of the ceremony. And she also didn’t break the bank having a bunch of photos she didn’t need. She got married at home, and had a dessert reception, so it wasn’t a big affair.

      That said, I never again have the desire to be a primary photography. Wedding photographers are tough people! I like taking “back-up” photos and catching some good ones of the empty ceremony site, the ambiance, etc and maybe a few unobtrusive ceremony ones if I can get away with not using flash. But I’ll leave the true “documenting the day” to the professionals.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    I really appreciate all of these thoughts! This one post made me semi-hopeful that we could do it ourselves. We’re doing a wedding weekend and I want pictures from then, but C does NOT feel comfortable paying almost our entire wedding budget on a photographer (and that’s for the awesome APW rates!). I’m concerned about what was mentioned above regarding the present-ness of guests, but maybe if we are able to pass the cameras around it should work?

    I’ll keep thinking, but seriously, these pictures are gorgeous and gave me a teeny glimmer of hope that if we do decide against pros it’ll still turn out ok! :)

  • april

    Casey – I just love all the candid photos you shared – such talent amongst your friends and family! The pic of you clinking beer glasses with your hubs is rad-tastic. And the last polaroid of you two walking down the tree-line road *le sigh*… just beautiful.

  • http://amusinglist.wordpress.com Christina

    I’m sure this has already been said, but ~

    The pics that friends took are some of my favorites from the day. They are real looking, in a way that professional photos just aren’t. I love professional photos, but there is something to be said for looking into a camera lens on a day like a wedding day and someone you love is on the other side of it. I’m just beeming in the friends’ photos, and so is hubby. I’m all for DIY photos for sure.

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

    Casey, these photos are terrific—what an awesome example for anyone on the fence about DIY-ing—it can totally be done! And I really, really love that you were able to use such an awesome mix of formats!

  • DALIA

    The pictures are beautiful!
    The issue at my wedding is that some relatives had turned into paparazzi! They really went overboard taking pictures and almost freaked me out. Here I was, getting a nice unobtrusive photographer completely forgetting the craziness of our families. It ended up being okay though most of their pics were a mess because it was really dark.

    However, along with our professional photographer we also had a friend who took lovely, well-lit black and whites of the reception. We also ended up with another friend with an amazing camera and ended up blending all three styles for our album for great resutls. But yeah, we’re still not done with our album over a year and a half later.

  • Cassandra

    I`ve been saying to the boy for months now that I really want great photos at our (eventual) wedding and that it ranked fairly high on my list of things I think are important – but I`ve always struggled with the high cost of hiring anyone, especially as we`re both graduate students and have a young child and plan to have another (possibly before we bother with the wedding…). I think in the end, I might hire a student photographer to get shots I know I`ll want but otherwise do this – with so many photographer family and friends, people are bound to get some beautiful and interesting shots. Just need to find a friend with a Polaroid ;) That first shot of you two is gorgeous and dreamy and lovely :)

    On a related note, I was my brother`s wedding photographer as he and his wife didn`t want to pay a lot of money but wanted someone with moderate camera skills. I used my father`s high-end digital cam and snapped away all night long, and they`ve always been thrilled with the results. I don`t know why I never considered it as a serious option for us… The only downside was that as the only `official` photographer there was a lot more pressure to follow everything closely and there were a few times where I would have rather watched the events with my own eyes and not through a lense. This is such a better balance – having all sorts of cameras and photographers all over so no one feels pressured to keep clicking.

  • Cass

    For as much as I love (love, love!) photography, it was one thing I could do without on my wedding day. I hate the staged photos of everyone together. Why not do it impromptu during the reception? Or while we’re all up by the altar? I just don’t get it.
    But it was one thing my fiancee really was passionate about including. I ended up finding a local photography student for $40/hr. (Really!)
    For those who want to find a student photographer either call your local community college and ask the art department for references, or hit up craigslist. Make sure you ask to see their portfolio. If they don’t have one, or you don’t like their posed work – move on! And make sure to ask what kind of photo processing they do. Is it all digital? Do they make prints? How much do they charge for prints? Will they put it into an album for you?

  • http://leahandmark.com Mark

    I think aside from the ‘quality’ factor of hiring a professional photographer – a good photographer provides a different Experience – and it’s up to the couple to decide if they’re going to want that experience, along with the obvious end product of ‘professional’ photos.

    When people hire us they may or may not realize it, but they’re hiring us to be with them almost every moment of their entire wedding day. Arguably no one else is with the bride and groom as much as we are – especially with the bride.

    Any good wedding photographer will also act as a day-of coordinator if things start to slightly go off track, or if things just need to happen. We take care of many things ‘not photography’ just because we must MAKE SURE that your wedding goes smoothly to ensure that we get great photos. I know that may sound self serving – but we just lump it in with ‘doing whatever it takes’ (of course without being rude or controlling which would create a bad experience.) We offer help and guidance when it looks like it might be welcome.

    We’ve helped less organized couples with their wedding vows, their reception layout, their ceremony run through, simply moving the day along – and making sure that the bride eats SOMETHING during the day so that she doesn’t pass out. When it’s done well – you’re not just hiring a photographer – you really are hiring a professional friend. There’s probably a better title – but the fact is that your photographer’s job includes making everyone comfortable with them and the CAMERA.

    THAT is their job – as important as ‘getting THE SHOTS’. If they don’t know how to work the crowd, interact properly with your wedding party, your family, and all of your guests – then they’re not better than their photos. And THAT is what you want – a photographer who is MORE than just good photos. That’s what you should also keep in mind when you’re looking for a professional photographer if that’s the route you’re going to take. Especially since there are honestly SO MANY great photographers out there – but do you want THEM to spend such an important day with you?

    Like everything else about your wedding – hiring a professional wedding photographer is on par with self catering, an ipod dj, or a backyard venue. Nothing to bash, just a choice to make :-)

    • http://www.jwileyphotography.com Jen Wiley

      EXACTLY. Thank you for saying all that, Mark. I completely understand and support *informed* DIY wedding photography, really! I also support informed professional photography. As a pro photog, I help plan the entire schedule of the day at my first meeting with my couples. I give suggestions on other vendors to work with because I’ve seen them in action. I get clearance from venues in advance about where the best places will be for photos, and can get special access because venues typically trust pros not to damage their property. I know where to be and when. I’ve bustled dresses and pinned boutonnieres and taped bras in place because I’ve done it 100 times before, and it needed to be done, and I’m not some “arteest” who’s above that. I get formals over with in 20 minutes or less, because I know how to streamline that process. And I try to always make sure the bride & groom are having FUN. All of this is to say, with a pro, you get someone who has done ALL of this before, and stays on their toes ALL day, so you don’t have to. With a good photog, you really should be getting more than awesome photos alone, because that’s a huge part of what you’re paying for.

      • http://www.karaschultz.com Kara

        I couldn’t have said either of these better! I’ve done some crazy things for my brides and many are friends after the wedding!

  • SB

    A lot has been said here. A lot. It’s all been swirling in my head for a couple of days while I was switching back and forth between my “former professional (news) photographer” and “person who got married three months ago” hats. The thing I keep coming back to that I don’t think has been said here is this:

    Lots of people can take perfectly good pictures. Beautiful pictures, even. But if you want someone who will be focused on creating memorable images, get a professional photographer.

    Beautiful pictures happen when someone sees something, points a camera (flashy DSLR or point-and-shoot or iPhone or Holga or whatever) at it and pushes the shutter. It is highly likley, especially in this modern, automated age that the pictures will be properly white-balanced, well-metered and in focus. And if that is what you want, GO FOR IT! Snag those snapshots, DIY to your heart’s content, set up crowdsourcing with your friends and family, save a bundle, be happy and don’t give it another thought! But that’s just it: they happen. Memorable images that evoke emotion from the viewer, moments captured not by luck or chance but because someone had a vision, knew what to look for, how to wait patiently for it, how to convey emotion, has a plan — that is different. And if it’s important to you, it is worth paying a professional (or budding professional!).

    We had a professional photographer at our wedding — somone I knew and liked and respected as a former colleague (now a National Geographic shooter, actually) who would have probably been otherwise cut from the guest list because we were not that close. We also had friends with fancy cameras and reasonable skills who gave us or posted a ton of photos. We would not have been without pictures of our wedding without our pro shooter. We would have had good pictures, suitable for framing, that were very nice and from a variety of angles, and that we like very much. But we would have gone without the truly evocative, emotional, thought-out images we adore. Those, we paid for, and we are so so so happy we did. And we are glad that the friends and family who missed a lot of shots did so because they were having an awesome time partying with us.

    Please don’t be talked out of or into something you don’t want/care about/feel; that’s what I truly hate about the WIC (or any industrial complex, there are more every day, ones for babies and pets and any other nook or cranny of your life). But please do remember when discussing matters of photography that there is a difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.

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  • MeganKozi

    Lauren, can I hire your friends to do my photography? LOL. Can I also hire your family for the day? They look like a riot.

    We found a good one, but she’s $1100 for three hours, and with that we’re going to be squeaking out the last of the (tiny) budget. We want to have ceremony photos, mostly to appease his mother (I love her, but she’s a shrew), but I get sick when I think of the cost of doing it, especially when my little sis/maid of honor and her boyfriend are camera nerds and will gladly do it for nothing. We also have a friend that does photography as a hobby, but he’s a flake (not likely to show up on time, worsened now that he has a baby), so I made the fiance pick a photographer.

    I really don’t even need reception photos. We’re having a luncheon in a small restaurant with no room for a dance floor, so we’ll be having a party/get-together at our house that night or the day after, we haven’t decided which just yet. That should make for some good photos!

    • MeganKozi

      My bad, I meant Casey. SO sorry.

  • Danielle

    When we got an unexpected $4000 tax bill the same week we were shopping for wedding photographers, suddenly the “hire or not to hire” dilemma became very easy! We had 3 friends/family members take our wedding pictures and we basically got 3 semi professional albums for free which is kind of fun. Each has very different perspectives and strengths, which is really interesting too. It also allowed me to set exactly how much time I was willing to stand around and be photographed which was really important to my sanity for the day. The only problem was we didn’t get many pictures from my husband’s side of the family (and none from his mom’s side), because we didn’t take posed pictures of everyone, and because each of our three photographers tended to take pictures of the people they knew best (consciously or not…and I think it was not). No one took responsibility for getting a shot of everyone there, which I think is easier if you don’t know anyone, you just snap pictures of everyone. I did email everyone a few instructions, but I wasn’t clear enough about who all I wanted pictures of and didn’t realize there would be a gap until after the fact.

  • http://www.peterboroughphotography.com Peterborough photography

    If you want to same money on the best way of recording your day take that risk.

    Otherwise hire a good wedding photographer, and get photos you will look back on in 30 years and still love. Show your children your friends.

    The cost of photography is tiny, compare it to drinks, food, cars, dress, honeymoon, hotels.

    All over as quickly as it started photographs will last a life time, if when your memory doesnt.

    I love wedding photography its the best job in the world.

  • Sarahkay

    Photography is a tricky subject for me. I get the conflict between trusting your friends and family and hiring someone.
    My first marriage was to a pro photographer, and we photographed dozens of people’s weddings. For our own, we asked our amazing, talented photographer buddies gifted the photography and then gave us the digital files. But we were always too busy with shooting and editing other people’s weddings and events to do our own, and we never made a single print of our own wedding, let alone a physical album we could look through.

    This time around our photos with be largely DIY/DIT because of our choice of a cruise wedding. As long as I have pictures to remember our wedding by and show our children, I’ll be happy. Honestly, knowing we’ll have a bunch of different images coming from iphones and digital cameras and dodgy ship photographers is really comforting, because the expectations are low and pressure(and my money) isn’t on just one one person to capture a spectacular portfolio of images of ‘my day.’

    I guess the truth of it is, as much as I love photography, I don’t want my wedding to be a photo shoot. I want to be present instead of worrying about styling my images or modeling. I’m glad to have my hand forced.

  • http://www.igorphotos.com Igor Photography

    It’s nice to see some great DIY Wedding Photography, you can get great snapshots from friends or the “uncle with a camera”, but it’s not a real substitute for professional wedding photography, remember that you can get an affordable wedding photographer for 2-3 hrs that will not cost you an arm and a leg if you do your research. After all, you only get one chants to get stunning photographs!

    Igor Wedding Photography
    Fort Worth, Texas

  • http://laststitch.wordpress.com SORAYA

    First off, this is really hitting home right now as we are right in the middle of researching wedding photographers. And even looking on the low end of the scale I am amazed that people can ask so much money for something (kind of) intangible.
    Photography is one of those things that like this post says, I appreciate greatly as an art form. But I just can’t see spending thousands of dollars on it! On the flip side my fiance completely thinks its worth thousands of dollars for our wedding pictures. We’re having trouble finding a middle ground on this, as we often do since we’re both stubborn only children (but I digress), since I love the idea of DIY but he hates it.
    I really like the idea of having a pro shoot the ceremony and some getting ready stuff, but leaving it up to our friends for the reception and after party, so thank you to everyone who mentioned that cause I really hadn’t thought of it:)
    We are also having our wedding in a somewhat out of the way place, San Luis Obispo, so it’s hard to find photographers in that area not charging Santa Barbara prices (and by that I mean A LOT). And affordable photographers not in the area charge for travel… did someone say catch 22.
    Anywho, Thanks for the post and all the great ideas, I really need and appreciate it right now!

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