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Too many wedding photographers spoil the picture?

The question

We can't afford to hire a professional photographer for our wedding (besides, my experience attending and being involved in several weddings and seeing the results of the pictures makes me always feel sceptical about most wedding photographers in my town), so we'll hire a trusted workmate of my future husband's (FH) and rent a professional photographer-camera for him to use. This person mostly takes pictures at NGO activities and my FH thinks he's good, so I can only hope for that as I never see his work samples.

Then I decided to have two other female friends of mine to become our wedding photographers as well. The first will use my 'ordinary' digital camera and the other will use hers.

The wedding ceremony takes place at a mosque next to my parents' house. My FH and his family will come to the mosque right from their quite distant place, so I was thinking that we'll need at least two photographers to each document the prep at the groom's place and at the bride's place on D-day. The male photographer will come to the ceremony site with the groom and the female photographers will be with me. I chose two friends as I wanted to have both my make-up and dressing preps and my family's prep at home to be captured.

Just recently, the groom's best friend gave us a professional photographer's services as a wedding present, so in total we'll have four photographers. I know we have to have a kind of system or something so that we won't have almost same exact photos from all four photographers, but I don't know how.

What would you suggest me in organizing the photographers? (I am also thinking about letting my two female friends only do their 'duties' until the ceremony is over and the rest of the day will be captured by the other two, just because I want my own good friends to relax at the reception; what do you think?)

Thank you and looking forward.

About Diar A.:
I live in Indonesia in an unknown city called Pontianak, located on Borneo Island. As we're Muslims, we'll be having an Islamic ceremony, but the reception is 'standard', except that we are obligated to sit still for 5-6 hours in a dais and are not allowed to mingle with guests.

The answer

Dear Diar,

Congratulations on your Wedding. I hope it’s a wonderful experience for you.

Firstly, I sympathise with your reservations about some professional photographers, as in all countries there are a wide range of standards. However, I do think the groom’s best friend has done you a big favour in hiring one.

I know from my own experience that I’m a far better Wedding Photographer now than when I first started and that is due to the experience and confidence I’ve gained over the years.

Wedding Photography is not just about the photography skills involved, although they are clearly important. It is also about:

  • the photographer's people and organisational skills
  • the quality of equipment (and appropriate spares of cameras, lenses, memory cards, batteries etc)
  • understanding of the ceremonies and when and where to be to get the best photos, with as little impact on the day as possible
  • gaining a clear understanding of the style and type of photos the bride and groom want

Your best option with the two “employed” photographers is probably to have them meet beforehand to discuss their roles, and to effectively have your FH’s workmate almost as an assistant to the professional (but not formally).

This way he can capture photos the Professional doesn’t have time to, and they shouldn’t get in each other's way.

You make it clear that you want your female friends to be guests as much as photographers, so my suggestion for them would be to just be working as photographers until the beginning of the ceremony. This will ensure you have the getting ready photos while still letting them enjoy most of your day as guests.

They can, however, keep taking photos throughout the day but without the pressure and responsibility of having to. This can also include candid photos of friends and family while you have to sit on the dais for all those hours.

The day will pass very quickly so do your best to relax and enjoy it. Have a wonderful day.

Answered by: Andrew Sansom

Question by:Diar