How To: DIY Wedding Photography

I love photography as an art form, and wedding photography was really high on my list of priorities. BUT! I do not think that professional wedding photography is for everyone, and I don’t think it needs to be. For some folks, DIY Wedding Photography is the way to go, and the question is just how to do it smartly. Here is a snippet of an email I got this week:


wedding polaroid holga


We’re getting married in 4 weeks, and yesterday I made the daft mistake of going for lunch with a lovely friend who is getting hitched in a few months. We’re having very different styles of wedding, but both really excited for each other. Here’s the problem: over a cup of green tea, she confided in me that she is really worried about our decision not to have a professional photographer. She has a couple of friends of friends who did the same and now regret it. She was dead serious, very concerned for me, and encouraged me to reconsider, and even though I was sure we’d made the right decision for us, I’m now fretting. We decided not to have a wedding photographer because:

  • We have loads of friends who are handy with a digital SLR. We’ve put together a list of important shots for the big day, and will divide them up, so nobody has to take more than 5 key shots (they have already agreed). Is this a mad idea?
  • The cost of the photos would add an extra 10% to the wedding budget, and we don’t want to get into debt. And frankly the average price of wedding photography makes me feel unwell.
  • We’re applying the infinite monkey theorem, whereby if we have enough people taking photos, we’re bound to get some album-worthy shots.
  • My parents’ photo album is really 70s, only has about 30 photos in it,* but is beautiful, and to be honest that would be good enough for me.

I think this bride’s reasoning is great. You don’t need tons of photos of your wedding, and you can absolutely ask friends to take each take some shots. I think that all of us (myself most definitely included) put way too much emphasis on chic wedding pictures. In the end, wedding pictures stand is small documentaries. We frame a few, we put the rest in an album. Our lives move on, and the album goes on the shelf where it will one day get pulled down by a tiny daughter, or niece, or granddaughter who will peer at the dusty pages admiringly. It won’t matter to her how much you spent on those pictures, just how happy you were, and how pretty you looked.

Now, if you can’t afford a wedding photographer (or don’t care to have one), but want a few chic pictures, some ideas:

  • Buy up some Polaroid film, and a cheap Polaroid camera (I know, it’s more expensive than it used to be, but you don’t need that much film). Ask a few of your friends to pass around the Polaroid camera during the wedding and take shots. You’ll have instant, stylish, and personal photos. We’re doing this (we were given a gift of Polaroid film) and we have a photographer.
  • In the same vein, if you want Polaroid style photos but don’t want to pay for film, do what this bride did and have friends and family take pictures, and then use this free software to turn them into fake Polaroids (I use this on the blog all the time, it is awesome).
  • Buy a Holga camera or two (you can’t get much cheaper than that) and have your friends pass it around. Enjoy the dreamy and surreal results.
  • Look into hiring a photographer who will do post production on your photos. Then shoot away and hand it over to a pro who will edit your shots to chicness.
  • Or, the most obvious answer: Let your friends and family take photos for you, and have faith. You’ll have simple, personal shots to remember your simple personal day. Done and done.

Other thoughts or suggestions? Supportive thoughts for the bride in question? Dish!

*Mine too! Remember, in the end you probably only really need one or two really great shots. That’s what the generations to come will latch on to.

First photo by Calin Peters. Thumbnail photo by One Love Photo (not DIY but indisputably great) from our wedding, of our fabulous friends’ Polaroids. Those Polaroids are some of the treasures of the day.
Post photo via Snippet and Ink

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