6 Tips for DIY Wedding Photographers

It's terrifying.

Some people won't think twice about making their own invitations, programs, decorations or escort cards. But photos? No way. That's the record of the event. More than the license itself, the pictures are what makes a wedding real.

But photographers know this. It's why they're willing and able to charge exorbitant prices. I've worked with a few wedding shooters in my time, and they know how to package themselves.

Most professional-grade cameras run in the thousands, as do pro software and peripherals, but a single good season will cover all that cost for a top shutterbug. Our wedding was had a stripped-down, B-grade pro and cost us $1,000. Others will think nothing of charging five figures.

So why not do it yourself? The professional equipment is costly, but, if you aren't planning on doing fancy, you could easily do it on the cheap and cut out one of the costliest vendors on your list.

How do you do it?

1. Safety in Numbers

Don't just invite one person to take shots. Get several friends and family to bring their digital cameras. Digital cameras are better becaue they're cheaper and easier to work with, but film cameras work in a pinch.

2. Disposable Wedding Cameras Should be Disposed of

While it's cute as a favor, and might be fun for your guests to play with, never confuse disposable cameras with usable wedding photography. In most cases, they'll sit there unused. If they are used, the shots that come out are of dubious usefulness. Lastly, even if you buy the cameras in bulk, the processing charges to get the film developed is often even more expensive.

3. Touches with Re-touch

The standard for pros is Adobe® Photoshop®. The full version retails anywhere from $620 to $699, but you can pick up the "lite" version, Adobe® Photoshop® Elements, for $80 to $100. If you're as cheap as I am, and don't want to pay anything (or hardly anything), an open source imaging program called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is also available and has many of the same functions as Elements.

4. Light the Way

Making choices on venue and time of day are always important when it comes to weddings, but, when your main photogs are not professionals, it becomes doubly so. Make sure there is plenty of light for them to sculpt.

5. Make it Easy

Be sure to make it easy for your photographers to get the images to you. Set up an account at an online photo hosting site like Photobucket to upload, or give them a flash drive to transfer all the pics. Or, in extreme cases, hound them to the ends of the earth until you get those pictures out of them.

6. Video=Lots of Still Photos

With modern digital video cameras, it's easy to capture still images. Some pro videographers now even offer still shots as part of the package. While this is a great way to easily cover all your bases, be careful before you trust it. This will only work with high-grade video cameras, and, even then, you'll need editing software to capture them.

Our friends' shots were beautiful.

(Cover Photo by Hyunwon Jang on Unsplash)