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sam and dave: the photographer

To hire, or not to hire a photographer?
That’s the question. My dear friends Erin and Anna are both photographers (a sampling of Erin's pictures above). A family friend (whose son I happened to go to prom with) is a film maker/videographer. Problem solved? The only dilemma is that I don’t want them all to be working the whole wedding. I want them to break it down to the Cuban music. I want them to have plenty of time to stuff themselves with cupcakes.

I'm thinking about asking every guest who considers themselves visually savvy or a budding auteur to bring along their digital camera and then send us their favorite candid or posed shots. I’ve asked Erin and Anna to each work an hour, one at the ceremony and just after and one in the tent in the yard. So I think all of our bases will be covered and the photos will feel expressive and free. With my Photoshop skills, we are bound to end up with a wonderful collection of photos documenting a lovely (god willing rain-free) wedding. Right? I'm right, right? Seriously, what do you think? Can we cut this corner?


Crystal on 11:13 AM

I know that you're going to hear over and over, "Photography is the most important part of the day. If you splurge anywhere, splurge on the photos," etc. But what it really comes down to is this: if your friends are professional and organized with good quality equiptment, and you know that they will have no problem getting some great during ceremony and after-ceremony shots, and won't have one too many at the reception, then you're going to end up with photos that are personal (becuase won't you feel more comfortable around friends than a random photographer that you don't know?) and right in the center of the action (if they're your friends, they'll be able to easily blend in with the crowd). From the sound (and look) of it, Erin and Anna seem to be perfectly capable of capturing your wedding day and giving you a gift that you'll always treasure. Go for it!

Christina on 11:53 AM

I agree with Crystal. I think you'll get amazing photographs (and video!).

The one thing that would make me hesitant is if you want a super-glossy professional-type album made. From what our photographers told us, it seems like they put almost as much work into creating the albums as they do into shooting and post-processing. I'd rather pay for that, but if you're more DIY it should be fine. Or maybe Erin and Anna can help out there too?

claire on 12:36 PM

Here is a a bit of additional advice.

We had a family member/para-professional photographer take the formal family shots at our outdoor wedding. To help, we asked a leader-type family member from the groom's side and one from my side to be in charge of bringing the groups together. That went well.

That said, I suggest you prepare a list of guests for whom you definitely want at least a casual photo and give that to one friend. Our friends took marvelous shots at our wedding but, in the end, we didn't have photos of several important friends. Remember, friends and family have a tendency to take shot after shot of people they know or of a particularly beautiful guest or child.

We received a priceless video taken by a friend. She videotaped the photographer setting up the formal shots. This video turned out to be the most fun. She scanned over and caught the rest of the guests as they watched. We would like to edit the video to add in the still shot of each grouping.

melanie on 2:42 PM

it is so much work photographing a wedding, so it might be more fun for you friends to enjoy the wedding. if at all possible try to find a photographer that is willing to help or give time to your friend to get some great shots. my best friend's mother in law is a fantastic professional photographer, but at their wedding, being the mother of the groom, they didn't want inundate her with work, but obviously wanted her to be able to take photos at her leisure. What they did was hire a fabulous photographer and worked it into their schedule so the wedding party had two photo with the mother-in-law, and one with the hired photographer. During the ceremony it was all the photographer, and at the reception they both took some fantastic photos. In the end my friend asked all of her guests to mail cds/dvds or email copies of their photos. She then pooled together & edited the ones she liked, combined them with that of her mother in laws photos and created a professional album in addition to the one her photographer had put together for her. She has some of the most beautiful wedding photographs I have personally ever seen.

MCRBride on 4:47 PM

I purposely didn't hire any of my friends for my wedding.
I really just wanted them to enjoy themselves.
Plus I figure they'll take photos on their own, and share with me later, but with no pressure involved.

Plus a wedding photographer is used to the goings on of a wedding, so I know they’ll be more apt to capture those special moments.
While a lot of my friends are great at taking photos—they don’t necessarily have that much experience.

To me the most important thing was photography, since you can always look back on your day this way. So a good portion of our budget went towards this.
Most important to us was:
1. Venue 2. Food. 3. Photography

We finally chose Eva Dahl.

Best of luck!

MCRBride on 4:49 PM

Oh also thought I'd add the latin connection.
I'm Puerto Rican, so our wedding is going to be all Latin food, Salsa and Meringue and 70's disco.
Plus our officiant Hilda Geico is Puerto Rican.
We're having cupcakes too :)

kelly on 6:43 PM

I read this and could only think 'ekkkk!!!'
My mom asked her friend who is a famous photographer for her wedding to take a few photos....he got drunk. He forgot the lens cap was on. So they got a few photos, but my mom was devestated. And so am I(since I wish I could see my moms wedding pics).
If they are not paid, people dont take it as seriously.
And photographing weddings is a whole other ballgame from just taking your friends might miss things you expected them to capture. And having 50 people who are 'sorta' good, with flashes, amounts to bad bad bad photos.

So I guess I'm saying, if you want medium quality photos and aren't picky about what they capture go for it. Lots of people do! An you cant do a albumn quality book....most of those companies only work with wedding photographers(so they can charge you more).'s only for the bride who is super laid back.

cassie on 10:08 PM

my best friend came from a family of photographers who, of course, had many friends who were photographers. she didn't hire an official photographer and relied on friends and family instead. consequently, she has great ceremony photos and some good ones from the beginning of the reception. Then everyone was more interested in having a good time (read drinking) than taking quality photos. I'm not saying your friends will or won't be this way, but I thought I'd share my experience with you!

carey on 11:48 PM

I am a wedding photographer who is currently in the process of building my business, and a few months ago i shot a wedding for a friend of mine and i found something similar to the above comment. before the wedding, during the ceremony, and during the portrait session, I was all business, but by the time it got to the reception I just wanted to have fun and the pictures reflect that and I was a little disappointed in myself, but like you, the bride covered her bases and had requested several other people bring their cameras and she was very pleased with her photos and not at all disappointed in me.

So, I definitely don't think you need a professional if you are confident in your friends skills, but I would be very clear with each of your friends what their responsibilities are. It was very helpful that at my friend's wedding that I was designated as the 'official' photographer because it meant no one got in my way and they let me work. I work in a documentary/photjournalistic style and I still always shoot a formal portrait session because it ensures that all of the important members of the wedding are documented, so I would try to assign someone to that task. Feel free to contact me. Your friends could probably learn from my mistakes.

Emily on 5:35 PM

I wouldn't cut corners with the photography. It's the one thing (along with the marriage of course!) that lasts longer than the few hours of the wedding. And a good photographer can really capture the spirit of your event.

I'd also advise against using more than one photographer for the wedding. My boyfriend shoots a few weddings a year. He's done weddings in the past where he and other photographers (amateur and pro) had to "compete" for the shots and events where he was only brought in to work for an hour. Those definitely didn't produce his best work.

In fact, he now only takes on weddings where he'll be the only photographer. And he doesn't specify hours at all. He promises to be there from getting dressed through driving off with his medium format camera, capturing it all. That way, he gets to really know everyone and finds these amazing shots.

jen on 4:47 PM

Using your friends (even for a couple of hours) will stress them out. I recently made the cake for my friend's wedding and I didn't fully relax until it was cut. I was worried the whole time about two things: that it would not be what she expected and dreamed about since she was 5 and that it would fall over. Well, your photographer friends don't have to worry about the falling over part but they will be nervous that you won't be happy with the final product. Having an unhappy customer is one thing, having an unhappy friend is another.

One more thing. A friend had those disposable cameras at each table when she got married and it was a disaster. She got a TON of not good pictures. Many of them were stupid - people taking pics of their food, up their noses, etc (and these were people in their 20's or older). Just beware that you may not get as many good ones as you think you will. People can get caught up in everyday life too. They might have great pictures but forget to give them to you. If you aren't concerned with any of these things go ahead, it is a great way to save money!

Anonymous on 11:26 PM

*good* wedding photography is a couple's first family heirloom. don't skimp.