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

DIY wedding photography

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).

DIY wedding photography

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.

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”?

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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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