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Alternatives to hiring a photographer


Jason of Dundalk, MD - courtesy of - not for use without permission

Hiring a photographer for your event or portrait needs is not always in the budget or an idea that comes to mind in the planning process.

Here are some alternatives to hiring a professional photographer.

Buy disposable cameras. This will run about $2-$3 a piece depending on the deal you find on places like  Leave them on tables with a sign or note inviting your guests to use them or hand out a camera to each guest.  Have a designated area where the cameras are to be returned.  Plan for additional cost to develop the film, prints, and digital images for use online.  

  • The downside:  low quality, not sure what kind of images you'll get, post processing cost
  • The upside:  low cost, fun for guests

Rent a photo booth.  Baltimore has a few companies that range from $800 - $1000 that rent photo booths.  According to Craig Weiman at, "Our booths are very easy, you just push the button, the booth goes through the sequence and about 15 sec. later your prints come out.
The booths currently start at $1000.00 for 4 hrs. There are additions like a custom designed skin for the booth, a live slide show projected, props, a custom printed photobook of all the strips, just to mention a few of them. "  
This is also a great opportunity to get in some self-portraits.

  • The downside:  no professional editing, moderate quality images, cost.  
  • The upside:  fun keepsake for your guests, creative idea that's hands-off.

Use your own camera or borrow a friends.  Digital cameras have made leaps and bounds in ease of use.  Make sure you have time to capture the moments or designate someone to walk around and shoot both candid and group photos.  Fun, casual photos sometimes make the best memories.  Jason of Dundalk, MD was just laying on the couch watching television when the above photo was captured by a friend.

  • The downside:  no professional editing, not sure what you'll get, not enjoying the event because you're taking photos
  • The upside:  free, moderate quality images

Barter with a photographer.  You may decide that you just can't do without the quality or hassle-free nature of hiring a pro.  If it's not in the budget, as a last resort, maybe you have something you can barter. Depending on your event, many photographers work for food, publicity, and/or a trade in professional services of equal value.


  • George Skepton Photography 5 years ago

    For special pictures of your wedding day, hire a professional photographer. It's the MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE. Most brides are really sorry when they scrimp on the photography and just have guests’ snapshots. If your budget is limited; cut back on the food, drinks, or hours and party later. The venue, caterer, food, drinks are gone after the wedding. Your photographer is still there after the wedding, working on your images to recreate special memories for you. Work out installment plans with the photographer if it's offered. Sometimes you can purchase professional prints later when your budget allows.

    Make sure that when you hire someone they have photographers' business liability insurance to cover their services should something go wrong. Check their experience and images to see if you like their style. Talk to them and make sure you’re comfortable with each other.

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, and the best of everything. You’re special and you deserve it.

  • Kevin Allen 5 years ago

    This column is disgraceful. Staff Professionals suggesting to buy disposable cameras. What! Some day real soon. Your going to be out of a job! Why? Paper covered an event, made an announcement. "Get your photos published, your name in lights, download your CF Cards here". How are you feeding your Family now?
    As a professional I consistantly have to put up with Uncle Joe's and their newly purchased Nikon from COSTCO. They are now a Professional.
    Oh...wait a minute, No I don't. I'm Tiger's photographer and NO CAMERAS ALLOWED, except credentialed media.

    Please respect the Professional as a Journalist!

  • Baltimore Photography Examiner 5 years ago

    George - Absolutely agree. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It's the perfect response to customers/clients who are looking to save and won't have to settle for an alternative.

    Kevin - Appreciate the feedback. I agree that there are "professionals" in the field that are not as they claim. It's our job as professionals to be consistent about quality and remain aware of the competition. i.e. personal cameras, alternative ways. It is also our job to be ready to counter the "money-saving" nature of today's consumer (just as George Skepton did in his comment). My hope in writing this article is that professionals would have a reminder of what they might be up against and the consumer would be given alternatives that reflect anything but the "real art" of a pro.

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