Wedding Advice: Help for those not hiring a professional photographer / by Camera & Kit

So, you don't want to hire a professional wedding photographer?!

I'll put my hands over my ears, close my eyes and pretend you did not say that. Haha! Noooo!  In all seriousness, I get it. I do. I completely understand why a professional photographer or two may not be for you.  While I will always advocate for the hiring of a wedding photographer, there are a few things that you can do to help your wedding day run smoothly sans a pro wedding photographer.

You may be asking why as a photographer that I am blogging about what to do if you don't want to hire a photographer. My blog is not a sales pitch of pick me and actually, this post comes from a place of wanting to share the love of all things wedding photographic and to be honest, off the back of a conversation I had with aguest who lamented about her daughter's choice not to have a wedding photographer.  It was not a happy talk.

The are two ways of going about not having a wedding photographer. Firstly by giving guests cameras and collecting the photos at the end of the day (or even asking guests to upload their digital images onto a website or create a hashtag on Instagram ). Secondly, having a friend or relative act in the capacity of being a wedding photographer.

Pointing and shooting *bang bang*

Disposable cameras may be an option for you; I am talking the old fashioned 35 mm disposable film cameras. The original point and shoot.  It will be a novelty for guests (anymore born after 1990 that is) to take a photograph without being able to see the photo just taken, and it's always entertaining to watch people take selfies that they can not delete and retake.  You can buy these cameras for about £5 but be mindful of the film processing costs and get the cameras back at the end of the wedding.

Have a hankering for the deep blue tints and blown out yellows and oranges of the Polaroid’s film? Loving that social cache of the original Polaroid and its connotation of self-conscious cool and artsy-ness?  Well my friends, then Polaroids may be for you.  So many options!  From your perspective I imagine it to be overwhelming.  From Fuji Instax cameras, to original polaroid film to ImpossibleHQ and their ever so popular film and cameras.  Instant prints, what more could you want?  

I suspect that this may be sacrilege as a photographer to say but if you are happy to do without the depth of field, a different perspective, focal lengths and points of focus then iPhone photography may be for you.  I really cannot believe that I just wrote that.  iPhone photography has massively improved over the years, so this may not be such a bad idea. You just have to make sure you have a way of collating all these images at the end of your event, whether its one person assigned to take photos or everyone is.  Digital images have a way of being forgotten about, deleted and lost.  Make sure that you somehow make your guests aware of how to share the digital images. Hashtags are brill,  dropbox works a treat as does email but you way want a website where they can upload the images for you.

Of course, all of the above come with a multitude of caveats.  If you're going to ditch the wedding photographer for a free-spirited instant camera approach then great, make sure you collect the photos and do something with the prints, but if you are going to have someone act as a photographer stand-in of sorts, then I have a few words of wisdom.  Shooting a wedding is not as simple as it sounds, trust me when I sat that.

A photographer when you are not having a photographer.

Have someone help them on the day to help identify key people to photograph and assist them with any group shots that you want. This way you'll avoid the problem of people missing from the photos after the event.  Wedding guest can be a challenge at times, help is always appreciated. Know who to ask for help.

I'm usually anti the photo shot list but give them one to help them out and understand what you want; I also suggest giving them an itinerary of the day to help them manage their time.

They need to make sure they have the right type of camera and kit to shoot a wedding, and I am not suggesting a more expensive camera helps but I am suggesting be prepared and come with the right kit, lens and equipment.   You do not need an FX camera to shoot a wedding, but it helps, you can shoot DX, but you need to understand your limitations, that of your camera and what light you are shooting in.

Take them to the venue/s and talk about what it is you want, it is not enough just to say that you want photos.  Spend time at the venue/s; I suggest having a practise shoot, so they get to know the limitations of their camera and their capabilities as a photographer. 

Think about the timing of your wedding, it's best not to have an ameture photograph your wedding if it's in winter or the evening.  Lighting, dark walls and use of flash requires a shift in photographic approach that can be overwhelming for someone not used to shooting weddings.

Work out a backup plan in case of inclement weather, have extra batteries and memory cards as a precaution.   Please do not shoot without a backup camera.  You don't have to use both at the same time, but you do need to have one just in case.

Shoot in RAW as this allows room for fixing photos after the fact that a fine JPEG will not allow, having said that, check the camera is set for the right settings. You don't have to shoot manual, aperture or shutter priority may help you out. 

Expect that things don't aways go to plan.