I know what you’re thinking—there’s gotta be a catch here. A professional wedding photographer endorsing NOT hiring a professional photographer for your wedding?! What’s the deal?
Here’s the deal. I’m 110% for hiring a professional wedding photographer if you have the budget for it (and please do hire one if you can), but I realize that some couples’ whole wedding is going to cost them less than hiring a pro would. (Which is very impressive by the way.) Hiring a pro is simply not feasible for some, so I’ve come up with a few ways you can get around hiring a pro and still get awesome wedding photos for you, your children, and your grandchildren to look back on and relive for years and years.
You can use as many or as few of these ideas as you want, but to give you an idea of cost vs. hiring a professional, I’ve roughly estimated how much each idea would cost and did the math on some different options for you to make it real easy to see exactly what would fit into that budget of yours. And if you don’t already have a wedding budget, I encourage you to come up with one after you’ve read through this post so you know exactly what you’re able to get and what you’re not.
1. Ask a friend or family member who has some photography experience to take photos at your wedding.
This is the key to making all of these suggestions work. Definitely make sure your friend –or your “Uncle Bob” as I call them– knows your expectations aren’t to have professional quality photos, that’s part of the compromise when not hiring a professional, and that your friendship with them is worth way more to them than your wedding photos (and obviously make sure that’s true). The budget I set for this has a large range because it totally depends on the level of experience your Uncle Bob has and what you guys settle on. Just make sure you talk about it, okay?
2. Invest in some education for them.
This is to prepare them for the responsibility of shooting a wedding, teach them how to use flash well, how to work with all types of lighting you see on a wedding day, and exactly how to photograph a wedding. (If I peeked your interest with this idea, my bonus at the end of this blog post is for you.)
3. Plan your day to optimize lighting situations and candid photos.
I’ve made this one real easy. I have a whole guide teaching you the 10 things you can do to ensure beautiful candid wedding photos, and you can grab that by clicking the photo below. Even if you wind up hiring a pro, this guide will come in SO handy while you’re planning.
4. Outsource the post-processing of your wedding photos.
This will save your friend the time and headache and will ensure top-notch editing quality. It will be easiest to do this through a photographer who already has an account with these service providers, so take some time to find a photographer who’s editing style you like and check if they’d offer this service to you. It’s not a widely offered service (I’m the only photographer I know of who offers it), so be prepared for this step to take some research time.
5. Crowd-source your photos.
To capture your getting ready and reception portions of the day, bring in disposable cameras to the locations you’re getting ready and a photo booth to the reception. The photos you, your wedding party, and guests take will show how the day rolled out from their point of view, getting you a real documentary-style approach. You’ll get to download the photo booth pictures after the wedding to keep and when you develop your film rolls, you can get them scanned to have a digital copy of those as well. If you want to save money, you can create your own reception photo booth for just $200 if you have an iPad. Buy the booth supplies on Amazon (ring light, props, and backdrop) and use the app My Photobooth (or any of the other hundred out there). Voila!
Another way you can crowdsource is something you’re likely already planning to do. Create a social media wedding hashtag and have your officiant, emcee, and signs remind your guests throughout the day. You can even create a Snapchat filter for your geographic location for the day and Snapchat will save all the photos that use your filter for you to keep!
6. Have your wedding in off-season or on a weekday.
Most vendors will offer you a discount for your wedding if you do this, making that pro photographer you’ve been stalking on Instagram a little more realistic for your budget. Boom. Easy. My husband and I (gosh that makes us sound old) got married on a Friday, and my only regret with that is that I didn’t stick around to hang out with long distance family on Saturday. It’s the perfect way to get more time with everyone if that’s what you’re hoping for.
7. Hire a pro, but only for a small part of the day.
We’re cheating the system a little bit here, because I’m going to suggest hiring a pro, but I recommend doing it in a way that saves you money. Because, y’know, that’s what this is all about. Have a pro shoot for 3 hours to cover your ceremony and formal photos, then have Uncle Bob cover the rest. This is when investing in your friend’s photography education comes in real handy, since they’ll be shooting most of the photos after the sun goes down and dealing with some of the worst lighting of the day. Note that some photographers will have a minimum number of hours they work, especially on Saturday/Sunday weddings, but check with them about their Fridays and they’re likely to be more flexible.
So about that wedding budget.
Where is photography in there? Typically it’s your second or third largest expense! Right up there with venue, food, and florals. We’ve all heard it said (and probably said it ourselves), “you get what you pay for,” SO I’m going to show you how to get the most out of that amount you’ve got in the photography line in your budget.
As a thank you for being here and because you’ve made it to the end, I’m offering your “uncle Bob” wedding photographer access to my online course Wedding Photography for Uncle Bob for FREE (value $297). There’s a limited number of spots, so sign up now and then if your friend decides they don’t want to take the course, no problem!
This is so that I can refine my material all while helping your photographer get beautiful wedding photos for you and your next generations to enjoy. Put your email in here and I’ll contact with some more details!