soc.couples.wedding FAQ section 9
9) Photography and Video
This is a personal decision. There are, of course, pros and cons of
hiring a professional photographer:
- Cost -- It usually costs at least $300 to hire a professional
photographer to come take pictures at your wedding, and the longer
you need the photographer for, the more it will cost. On top of this,
you have the cost of getting prints of the pictures once the wedding
is over, which will probably cost more than hiring the photographer
to come take the pictures. Since the price of photography varies so
widely depending on where you live, it is impossible to give a
listing of what you might pay for different services; the amount of
photography you can get for $800 in a small town might cost $3000 in
a big city.
- Accessibility of negatives -- with a professional photographer, you will
usually need to go back to them every time you want additional prints
of your wedding pictures. Some photographers will release the
negatives to you, either for an additional fee or after a certain
time period. There are a very few professional photographers who
will shoot your wedding in 35mm film and let you have the negatives.
- Knowledge of people -- The professional photographer doesn't know your
family and friends, and so will have trouble identifying who is
important to you.
- Skill and Experience -- A professional photographer will know how to
take good pictures in various lighting conditions, have knowledge
of composition, be able to work with the limitations imposed by
a church, and know how to stay out of everyone's way. A professional
photographer will also know about appropriateness of different kinds
of film and may have access to better developing and printing
techniques than the amateur.
- Likelihood of getting good pictures -- This is related to skill
and experience. With a professional photographer, you hire
someone with a proven track record, whose style you can find out
about ahead of time by looking at albums from other weddings they
have done. Reputable professionals bring backup equipment in
case their primary equipment fails.
- Contract -- You have a contract with a professional that specifies
what will happen if the photographer can't come, how long the
photographer will stay, etc. (Be sure the contract specifies
exactly who is going to come and take pictures, otherwise the
photographer or studio might send someone other than who you
thought you were getting.)
- Not a guest -- A professional photographer is not a guest. Their
entire reason for being at your wedding is to take pictures.
- Lack of hassle -- You can hire a reputable professional, give them
direction, and pay them to take care of the rest. You don't
need to stress about the details, either before, during, or after
Disposable cameras can be a fun way for your guests to amuse
themselves, and you may get some memorable photos out of them. They
work better with brighter lighting. This is not a substitute for
hiring a professional photographer or having a friend or relative with
a good camera take pictures. An alternative to disposable cameras
is to buy regular 35mm film and cheap 35mm cameras for people to take
pictures with at the reception; this will provide better picture
quality. Some people ask their guests to bring their own cameras and
provide 35mm film for the guests to use. The problem with this idea
is that many guests prefer to take pictures for their own use, as well
as pictures for the couple to have, and asking them to use their own
cameras to take pictures for you will probably deprive them of the
ability to take pictures for themselves.
You should appoint someone, such as a friend or relative who has asked
if there's anything they can do to help, to collect the cameras at the
This is again a personal decision. Some people really enjoy having a
video of their wedding. Others find it sits on a shelf and collects
dust. Only you can decide which group you fall into.
People who like video often give the following arguments:
- It lets you see parts of the wedding you didn't get to see because
you were too busy with your responsibilities.
- It captures every nuance of the ceremony, which you may not remember
yourself because it was such an emotional time. Many people find
it very romantic to be able to see and hear themselves saying their
vows all over again.
- It gives people who weren't at the wedding a better feeling that
they've really experienced it.
- It can be a wonderful memory of the people who were there. You
may live far away from your friends and relatives, and enjoy the
chance to see them again, moving and talking, on your wedding
video. As the years go by, the children will grow up, and
members of your family may pass away, making the videotape
even more valuable to you.
People who don't like video often give these arguments:
- Showing people your wedding video forces them to proceed at the
pace of the video. Flipping through a photo album can be done at
the viewer's own pace, and is more interactive, as you can tell
stories about the pictures.
- Video forces every moment to be remembered as it actually happened,
rather than as you might like to remember it.
- Video is a high-technology product, requiring special equipment to
view. Some people also have philosophical objections to video.
Some people argue that wedding video is a waste because the videotape
will degrade over time. While this is true, there's no reason to
think that you won't be able to transfer it to a more stable medium
later. People also argue that 50 years from now, there won't be VCR's,
so you won't be able to watch it. Again, if it's important to you,
you can always have it transferred to the new medium when VCR's become
obsolete. So, while you will have to devote a little time to preserving
your video, you can expect that if it matters to you, you'll still have
the recording (though probably no longer on videotape) in 50 years.
The technology for creating printed pictures from video is improving
all the time, making this a possible way to augment the pictures from
Obviously, you will get much better results if you hire a competent
professional than if you have Aunt Susan bring her camcorder. However,
that doesn't mean you necessarily need to hire a professional. You
- How important the video is to you.
- Whether or not home video quality is acceptable to you. This may
depend partially on what the purpose of the video is. If it's
primarily to jog your own memory, amateur quality may be acceptable,
while if you intend to show it to other people, you may prefer
- What budgetary trade-offs you will have to make in order to have
One thing that may help you decide is to watch various wedding videos;
perhaps friends and family have amateur and professional videos you
could watch. The professional videographer you are considering should
be able to show you some of the videos s/he has done.
Some particular advantages of good professional video are greatly improved
sound and lighting, as well as better overall picture quality. Competent
professional videographers have better equipment than amateurs, know how
to take advantage of the available light, and have experience coming up
with creative solutions to eliminate intrusiveness.
When evaluating video, in addition to the picture quality, pay careful
attention to the sound, an aspect many people don't pay attention
to until they're disappointed in the sound of their own videos.
You should also know that there are big differences between the style,
philosophy, and ability of different videographers. If video is important
to you, it could be quite worthwhile to speak with several different
videographers and see their sample videos. If you have particular
concerns, you can probably find a videographer who has experience
working within the constraints you have.
The contents of this document are copyright 2004 Sonja Kueppers. Do not
use without permission.
Last Modified: May 15, 2004