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Wedding Photos: Should You Hire a Pro or DIY? (page 2 of 4)

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

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Making Your Day Easy to Shoot

If the DIY option is right for you, design your wedding to make it as easy as possible for an amateur to get quality photos. "If you know you are on a tight budget, then you should seriously think about the type of wedding you are planning from the outset," Tanya says. "Some weddings are more photogenic than others, and the more photogenic you make your wedding, the more 'photographers' you will naturally have — many guests will bring cameras — and the better their shots will be."

Courtesy of Megan Marascalco

What tops her list for easier shooting? Great light, simple logistics and a naturally beautiful location. Sunset and evening events, weddings with black tie or other dark clothing, indoor or dimly lit locations, and locations with little character, such as hotel ballrooms, pose more of a challenge.

Equipment Basics

Although pros often bring tens of thousands of dollars' worth of equipment, an amateur has to work with limited tools. "Asking an amateur to shoot a wedding means they will have lower-quality equipment, and yet be required to perform with it at the highest level," Tanya says. At a minimum, she says, a photographer should use a camera that takes interchangeable lenses; Megan recommends a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. Lenses and other gear can easily be rented, but Tanya emphasizes her No. 1 rule: Never try out new equipment the day of an event. The potential for disaster is just too big. Rent it ahead of time to allow for experimenting.

Make sure you have plenty of digital memory, Megan adds. "The size of the card and the number of cards needed will vary depending on the camera you are using and how much space each image takes up," she says. If you have a program such as Photoshop that can process them, shoot RAW images, which are a bit like digital negatives. "Even the best photographers make mistakes, and shooting in RAW can save an image," she says.

Plus: "This should be obvious, but bring backup for everything," Tanya says. "My best mechanical camera failed at my very first wedding in 1991. Fortunately, I had backup and shot the entire wedding on a camera I almost didn't bring with me!"