Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wedding Photography: Getting Your Guests' Photos

The other day I had an interview for a possible educational consulting gig, and we got to talking about my side projects, including 2000 Dollar Wedding. I mentioned the Wedding Industrial Complex and how Matt and I set an arbitrarily low budget in an attempt to steer clear of the WIC entirely (and to save money for a down payment on a house and to retain all of the decision-making control and to help us stay focused on the non-material aspects of a wedding, etc.).

He immediately recognized the idea of the Wedding Industrial Complex from his own stint as a groom. He said he and his wife originally tried to go their own way and enact their own vision, but in the end, the whole thing got taken over by forces bigger than themselves. He commented that the professional photography was the biggest waste of money in his mind because his friends and family captured pictures that were way better than the photographer's.

Even for people who are choosing professional photography, I think it's still helpful to put systems in place for capturing the photos taken by friends and family.

Matt and I set up a Pro Flickr account for $25 and asked our friends to upload their photos to a centralized account. We included the information on our wedding website to give them the heads-up before the wedding, and then we sent out an e-mail message after the wedding reminding them of the username and password. This system worked pretty well for us, and we ended up with more than 2,000 photos from our friends and family (which was plenty!).

Intimate Weddings has an article about setting up a photo downloading station, so guests upload their photos from their SD cards to a centralized computer before they leave. It's very helpful!

Friends of mine who are getting married in April purchased a Polaroid PoGo printer, so their guests can connect their cell phones or their digital cameras and immediately print a sticker picture. They are using this for their guest book.

Any other ideas out there?

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Bobbi said...

My gift to my cousin on her wedding was a scrapbook. It took almost two years to complete. Why? Because when I wanted to get it done (right after the wedding), none of the guests had sent the bride & groom their photos. Six months later, when they arrived, I was off doing other projects... and my own momentum had died down. The scrapbook turned out great, but coordinating photos from friends and family is a lot of work! If google's picasa had existed the year of the wedding, I would have had her set up a site where guests could immediately upload photos themselves. Then we wouldn't have had to rely on burning discs and sending them through the mail. Maybe?? Looking forward to what others have to say. :)

bibliophibian said...

i've purchased a universal card reader to grab people's photos before they leave. i'm not 100% sure of how that will work, since that depends on the weather (indoor or outdoor reception), but i'm hoping not too many pictures will get away.

Charlotte said...

I bought blank cds and padded envelopes. I self-addressed them and weighed them at the Post Office, affixing pre-paid postage.

I left the addressed and stamped CDs near the guest book at the reception with a note requesting that photographers take one and mail me their photos.

We got some really great images this way!

Anonymous said...

i have two choices. i have a pro connection i met through Flickr who is local, and said he would love to do my wedding (for FREE if he doesn't do one between now and then, just for the experience). also, friends of friends usually have someone who just LOVES photography in their lives. My friend's boyfriend said he will do the wedding and can't wait to do the engagement pics. TAP INTO RESOURCES! it's not begging, it's honoring someone's artistic talent since your wedding is such a big day.

Anonymous said...

We are putting our camera on a tripod in front of a photobooth so hopefully we will get a lot of photos from that of our guests in varying states of sobriety :) Professional photos were important to us though and we found a photographer that has just started to work on weddings and therefore doesn't charge the earth. She is mostly a children's portrait photographer so is into very bright, fun, vibrant shots. Exactly what we wanted for our own wedding. Dramatic, romantic shots aren't us so we weren't interested in a photographer that focused on those kinds of shots.

Anonymous said...

We used SeeYouThen.COM. We used it practically from the day after we were engaged. It was recommended by a friend of mine that had a destination wedding. It gave us a private website specifically for our wedding (website address, our own color theme, Everyone gets their own profile so you know who contributed, etc.) Hint: What we found out is that by asking people to take pictures early and and at every event, this gave them a convenient way to get the print quality photos to us and they had access to all of them as well. They already knew the program by the time the wedding rolled around. I think we got over 1100 just from the wedding and reception and we had over 50 people that contributed.


Laura said...

We are going with a professional photographer with very reasonable rates to get all the basic wedding shots, but we also love the kind of photos you get with lomography cameras. So we've decided to hunt down good deals on a few Holgas or Dianas with a flash and put them into the hands of guests who are known for taking great pics. We'll use one to take guest-book photos against a backdrop too. Since the pictures won't be digital, we won't be able to see them until after we have the film developed, which is just part of the fun!

Of course, we'll get to keep one camera for our own future use, and give the others as thank you gifts to the friends who used them.

Anonymous said...


Have you ever thought of using an Adesso Album Polaroid Instant Photo Guest Book?


I've used this at my wedding and it was a huge HIT! My guests never heard of a Polaroid Guest Book and were all impressed by its ease of use and elegance. I'm helping my girlfriend plan her wedding and would definitely recommend their albums to anyone who’s looking for a fun and creative guest book.

They also have albums that will fit Polaroid PoGo Printer prints:


Our Little Beehive said...

Hi Sara - thanks for another great idea! I think I'll print mini moo cards with upload instructions for our guests!

Anonymous said...

I love the PoGo printer idea but then I saw it only prints 15 photos on one charge of the battery. So unless I buy several, I don't see how it's going to work for my guest book, which is a bummer. Unless there's a way to plug it in for extended use ... will have to look into that.

PS, I have to laugh that my word verification is "lickl."

gwyneth colleen said...

so...i'm going to be the obnoxious vendor from WIC that chimes in here...for whatever it's worth.

i'm a wedding photographer, and i don't think i have ever heard anyone say that their guests' photos were better than the ones the professional took. without knowing any more, i'd guess one or both of the following happened:
1. the couple used a photographer whose website and samples didn't really reflect what they were looking for, but whose prices were right.
2. they hired a studio, and the studio misrepresented the work of the shooter who would actually cover their wedding.

obviously photography is important to me, but i totally understand that it's not important to everyone. ppl put their money where their values lie...and that's totally awesome.

someday, i plan on having a pretty low budget wedding, and it's safe to say that my photographer will probably cost 1/2-2/3 of the total budget. :-D

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ gwyneth: You are not an "obnoxious vendor"! And you're always welcome to comment around these parts. I truly value diverse perspectives. I've heard two people say their professional photography wasn't worth it. One was a friend who went with the photographer that her mom insisted on, so he wasn't aligned with her aesthetics or her preferences. The other was the man I mentioned in the post. I wonder if he and his wife disagree about the value of their professional photography. My guess is she probably thought it was worth it.

Claire from UK said...

Hi. I'm from the UK and we used myweddingsnaps.com to capture all out guests photos. We placed the code on everyones table and told them we didn't have a professional so snap away. We got some amazing pictures and we also selected to approve them before they went live for viewing. It was better and cheaper than disposable cameras.
We also had a friend do all the flower arrangements. We went to a local produce market the day before and made the rustic looking arrangements using glass bowls and gingham cheque pots. Looks great and above costs us no more than about £300 for the photo site and flowers. Saved us over £4,000. Claire x

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