Yup, I Photographed My Own Wedding

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Sometimes it’s easy for photographers to take for granted our skill set. It becomes natural to forget, from time to time, all of the elements rattling around in the synapses of our visual cortexes in the few tenths of a second it takes to put in motion the mechanics that make a picture. Like any professional of a trade, eventually you get to that point where you can begin to make it ‘look easy’, like anyone can do this. And with digital cameras and software readily available everyone sure is trying. The major problem comes when they start charging for their self-perceived craft and simply can’t perform… or don’t care to for that matter.

This is how I ended up photographing my own wedding.

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Now, to be clear, we never hired a photographer, we were perfectly content to just collect the snapshots taken by our friends. Of course I would have my camera with me to do my obligatory, ongoing documenting of our life together as well. We were more concerned with simply getting married and spending as little money as possible on the ordeal.

The wrench in the works came when we arrived at the chapel and posted was a sign that read, something to the effect of, ‘No Cameras or Video Taping Allowed in the Chapel’. Naturally an enterprising business tactic to keep money coming in for the proprietors and not that outrageous of a notion. The frustration came in what one got for their money.

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As we pretty much eloped, my wife Cassie really wanted photos of the ceremony for her family who couldn’t make it to our fabulous Vegas wedding… complete with Elvis, mind you. So we relented and agreed to use the house photographer. 20 minutes or so after the ceremony the images were downloaded into the house Macbook and we flipped through them on iPhoto.

Thoughtless framing, inconsistent exposures, backfocused or simply out of focus pictures… once in awhile he got lucky.

Whatever… like I said, we would have been happy with snapshots anyhow and the images had a kitchsy quality that was reminiscent of the atmosphere of the day. Here’s the catch, if you wanted a CD of the images burned it would run you a cool $500. We relented for one of the cheapest options, 3 images for $195, presented as two 8x10s of one image and two 5x7s of each of the other two.

Basically if you didn’t want to pay you were s**t out of luck for wedding pictures.

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So that’s the rub. The only photos of the actual ceremony we have are the couple I stole on my cell phone, and I would’ve been perfectly happy to have those only. But what about those people out there who were really counting on having a quality record of what could be one of the most special events in their life. Left with nothing but crappy snapshots that cost a small fortune.

The unprofessionalism of some can make us all look bad, but luckily that’s competition that takes care of itself, I suppose. I once ended up photographing a wedding that my wife was babysitting for, simply because their photographer decided just not to show up!

But here’s a situation where people are trapped into using a photographer that doesn’t even care to learn the most basic aspects of his trade. For us it was just another part in the narrative of a ridiculous and fun day — a story for the grandkids. The only real inconvenience was that I ended up feeling a lot of pressure to document the rest of the day more completely to offset the void of material from the main event itself.

I’m sure for some, that void has turned out to be a disaster and they just came away feeling ripped off and cheated. I think extreme instances like this should be motivation to always strive to be at the top of our game as photographers, no? Anyway, below are some more pics from our wedding night out in Vegas.

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About the author: Alex Federowicz is a photojournalist based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit his website here. This post was originally published here.

  • elmio

    Eres un fenomeno! (Ironic on)

  • slvrscoobie

    you get what you pay for?

  • Dave Reynolds

    I don’t feel sorry for these people. They wanted an ad-hoc wedding and bumped into the downsides of such an approach. If they wanted better quality pictures or more control over them, they should have taken the time to find out the requirements before they arrived at the chapel.

    Or they could have simply said, “No thanks” and left to get married in a park.

  • Tommy Sar

    I was at a friend’s wedding in December and even though they had a professional photographer, I wanted to practice wedding photography, so I brought my own gear. The thing was that this wedding was also a reunion of me and my childhood buddies, so I can’t exactly pull myself out of the scene and take pictures. I nearly missed so many shots because my attention was directed elsewhere or I’m in the scene. As the night wore on, I got more drunk and dragged to the dance floor. But that didn’t stop me from taking pictures from within the dance floor! Looking at my photos, they turned out pretty well. There’s a sort of feel of not only being there but also being a part of it. Because I was!

    So, this article makes sense to me. Often, photographers are invisible witnesses that have some sort of Prime Directive of not interfering with the scene. Sometimes, being in the scene has its’ merits.

  • Mansgame

    This is why you network with other photographers at the same stage of life as you and make a pact. I don’t think dentists pay other dentists to get their teeth worked on so it’s all about networking.

  • Ms. Jen

    I love these photos and bravo to Alex Federowicz for shooting his own wedding. What I love best about these photos is that they have a ‘voice’ and are not the standard wedding photos.

  • Melka

    Those pictures are ulgy to our eyes.
    That’s a fact.
    But if they like them… why bother ?

  • Burnin Biomass

    The last thing I would want to do is take pictures at my own wedding. It’s working on your wedding day.

    Like when friends ask if I will take pictures at their wedding… would I ask them to come and do their job at my wedding? No.

  • Trekkie

    I love the Star Trek reference.

  • gabe sturdevant

    Yup, you can tell you photographed your own wedding.

  • David Portass

    Just so much fail right there.

    I can understand people wanting to elope but why Vegas in a place where mostly drunks get married then try to get it annulled Find somewhere nice and get someone else to photograph your special day, not do it yourself and for Christ sake research the venue and its photo policy first.

    I went to a wedding last year where the groom, a professional wedding photographer tried to take photos even though he hired a pro, his bride to be wasn’t best pleased and nearly caused a scene.

    Seriously, you’d think as a “photographer” yourself you would understand the importance of documenting such a special day as a wedding properly and not trying to cheap out like many couples attempt to do.

  • brandon

    am i supposed to feel sorry for someone here?

  • Eyeballs Burning

    Glad he could save the cash to help pay for his wife’s desperately needed plastic surgery. Don’t forget to post the “Afters”, Alex.

  • Bob

    For my wedding, I was fortunate enough to meet a talented young photographer.

    He showed me his portfolio, quoted me a reasonable price and I think we were both very happy. If you’re going to save money on a photographer, why not support an ambitious, young photographer as well. It’s a gamble but you might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Andrii Taran

    Well, those photos are…ok…but for such a special day, I’d pay someone to do that for me and enjoy the day in full. In the end I would have good photos AND memories.

  • Todd Gardiner

    The photographer lives in Las Vegas. Which explains the “why there”.
    But, yeah, one supposes that would make the research easier.

  • Jr Miller

    Most people who elope don’t expect to get quality images…if any.

  • Samcornwell

    I totally understand where Alex is coming from and really want to sympathise with him. My wife and I (both photographers) photographed our own wedding last year with a large selection of film cameras. Turned out perfect and there wasn’t a single cliche, softened, Photoshopped, posed photo in the lot! Hell, I totally dig poor, vernacular snapshots over the real thing. Even the story about the Vegas chapel infuriated me on your behalf and I would have totally done the same thing.

    I feel awful for saying this, but dude, seriously, the selection of six at the bottom is pretty damn poor. I’m sorry.

  • Baker Dancer

    That last photo really shows how much you love your wife. Bravo. :)

  • Jeffrey Lee

    I fail to see the point. He didn’t want to pay a professional to do the job then complains about the lack of professionalism in the chapel’s product. This from a professional photographer! No wonder the industry is having such trouble. It sounds like he buys into the idea that all wedding photographers are rip off artists, gouging and extorting couples while not turning around a good product. If he chose the aesthetic of DIY then he should accept that he chose that actively and be done with it.

  • herzco

    She photographed her own wedding, and, surprise surprise, her photos aren’t much good.

    And regarding the chapel photographer she refers to, when she writes “Basically if you didn’t want to pay you were s**t out of luck for wedding pictures”

    ummm what exactly did she EXPECT for $500 or less??

    If you are only willing to pay s**t, you will only get s**t.

    Way to go, bragging about taking yet another job away from a deserving professionsl.


  • Albi Kl

    A quick glance through the comments and the ‘blame the victim’ mentality rears it’s ugly head again.

  • john curley

    what an annoying person. I love how refers to his own wedding as an “ordeal.” And the six photos were shot by someone who calls himself a photojournalist? Weak.

  • herzco

    Might have been less of an “ordeal” had they thought to actually HIRE someone good who does this for a living, instead of having the utter hubris to do it themselves.

  • Andres Trujillo

    how is he the victim here?

  • ED

    The wedding sounds like a mess! Poor planning, bitching about prices, and they were expecting what?

  • Antonio Carrasco

    Oh god… Weddings are one of the last few remaining areas where photographers can earn a living and even that is starting to fall apart.

    Last week I saw an ad on Craigslist of a lady asking for a photographer to work at her wedding for free, to “build your portfolio” and for exposure. She said that she had already “spent the whole budget on everything else in the wedding and didn’t have money to pay a photographer”.

    Yes, I sent her hate mail.

  • William Swaney

    This is common knowledge for any of us that live in Las Vegas, and you CAN take photos if you pay a fee.

  • Billy_Shooter

    My only “experience” with wedding photography was at my oldest niece’s event last summer. I am NOT a pro and my niece knew it. I offered to shoot it but before I flew there (I was invited regardless) I had an open discussion with her that I was worried of letting her down due to some health problems plus lack of pro experience. She told me to not worry, that she and her spouse-to-be had hired a pro friend. At the event I asked if I could shoot from “not-in-the-way” perspectives. He was very accomodating and I really learned a lot by watching as well as doing. I also did not feel performance pressure, nor did I feel left out as a family member due to taking photos all the time. In the final analysis, I got to see his, I sent him mine, plus I sent her and brother and Mom (who was unable to fly there) sets of mine. He even complimented mine!

  • April Adamson

    I can guarantee that this person probably didn’t learn his lesson…And will continually be a “fauxtographer” even if he’s a photojournalist for a living.

  • Bo

    The point is that you don’t have any picture of you.. i hope for you to have a good memory. (after the look of your pics is another – less important – point)

  • Albi Kl

    Most frown upon businesses that promise to deliver a product or service to their customers only to demand exorbitant prices for final delivery. The quality of service and prices quoted here (and timing of when these prices where quoted) place this business in such a category.

    Is this how you would like to run your business? For many the answer is of course ‘no’. You would not like to risk being perceived as having deceived your customers. After just one of these incidences you would endeavour to make available restrictions on photography (or any other activity) and pricing at the earliest possible opportunity to your customers.

    It’s a wedding, a once in a lifetime event for the couple. What type of person would intentionally want to place a couple at risk of having no photos of that one special day? Every couple who walks through there are thus victims of these unscrupulous business practices. I would never consider doing this to someone and am appalled so many here find it acceptable.

  • WTF?

    WTF? And you call yourself a photographer? Dude…

  • Jenn

    This is written by a “he” not a “she”


  • Maria

    Luckily the photographer was the groom. Otherwise, if the bride was the photographer, you wouldn’t have guessed that you are looking at wedding photos; just some photos of a dude in a fancy suit.
    Plus – I don’t see why the cake had to sit next to the sink; another background, other than the sink, could have easily been chosen.

  • Julie

    I think photographers also give themselves too much credit. It’s the easiest art form there is. With digital camera quality and things like Photoshop, a great photo is easy to get. Now come with your film cameras and you’ll get some props from me.

  • Julie

    Lets be honest- pretty much every photographer is a rip off. My 7th grade niece takes phenomenal photos with her Canon Rebel. Why? Because photography is the easiest damn job there is with digital technology.

  • Lu

    Wow….Obviously you don’t understand photography as anyone who really understands the art form would know that even digital has its challenges. There is a clear difference between a photographer and someone who owns a digital camera. As someone who uses both film and should really give props to those who master digital as it is hard to achieve the same quality as film. Also, Photoshop itself can be a completely different art form. Are you a master at understanding and recreating how light should naturally fall? Can you recreate the texture of skin in order to hide a brides burn? Are you able to fix stray hairs to get that perfect image? I would love to see your work on retouching…since it’s so easy! By the way..there is no “easiest” art form, there is just different types as anything can be easy if you don’t do it properly. I once sold a painting that I dumped a bunch of paint on a planter…that was a lot easier than photographing someones wedding…but still took a creative eye. Educate yourself before posting such disrespectful comments.

  • Kat

    Are you a professional wedding photographer? Have you shot a wedding? Do you understand the work that goes into marketing, photographing a wedding, editing, corresponding with clients and other vendors?