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Wedding Photos: Should You Hire a Pro or DIY? (page 1 of 4)

Thinking about going the DIY route for wedding photography? These tips can increase the odds of success.

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Courtesy of Megan Marascalco

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Professional photography can take a bite out of your wedding budget, so many couples are tempted to go the DIY route. While it can help with the bottom line, it opens up a whole new avenue of special considerations and potential pitfalls. Here’s what to know before you decide to hire an amateur to capture your big day on camera.

Hiring the Right Person

"It's important for the bride and groom to have an open (dialogue) with the photographer about what they are hoping for," says Megan Marascalco of Megan Marascalco Photography in Oxford, Miss. You only have one chance to get it right, so strong communication is key to avoiding headaches and disappointments.

Above all, the person you hire needs to be prepared, yet think on the fly. "As a wedding photographer I not only capture the day as it unfolds, but I try to help in any way possible," Megan says. "Coordinating with the officiant, wedding planner, bride, etc., is an important part of the job. You have to be flexible and go with the flow of the day."

It's tempting to choose a family member or friend to shoot your special day. But think twice, says New York City photographer Tanya Malott, of Tanya Arianne Malott Photography. "Your pro is hired to observe, not participate," she says, adding that a friend or family member may get sidetracked by visiting with other guests. "If your guest or family friend isn't taking the job 100 percent seriously, then they will miss a lot of great stuff." Plus, the person taking the photos likely won't be in any of them. And if the photographer chooses to drink alcohol, their judgment — and the results — might slide.

Is a Pro Within Reach?

"Photographing a wedding is a huge commitment and responsibility for anyone, professional photographer or not," says Tanya. What's more, many well-established pros have big overhead costs built into their fee structure. But before you decide to use an amateur, she says, investigate your options. "A 'cheap' independent photographer has a lot less reputation to lose at a wedding, but they also have a lot of incentive to do a great job," she points out.

Look for photographers in a lower-priced market nearby, or consider flying in a less expensive pro. Art school students are another possibility, as is bartering your own talents. "Also, why not think of your photographer as a potential wedding gift?" Tanya says. "Tell the photographer you want to hire that you love what they do, but you can't afford it and want to split their fee into bite-sized certificates that family and friends could buy."

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