Student Photographer?

My fiance and I are college students -- I'll graduate with my B.S. in Education a few months before the wedding and he will graduate with his second degree in engineering at the same time.

Since we know what it's like to be a student and how hard it can be to put together a portfolio, we are considering hiring a student photogrpaher for the wedding. We thought this would be a nice chance for him/her to build their portfolio and get experience in the field. It is also a destination wedding in the mountains (we would pay for airfare, hotel stay, and rental car rather than give him/her the money. This will total about $600). My fiance is worried that we are increasing the chances of something horrible happening to our photos -- getting damaged, deleted, or accidently lost in-transit.

Wedding pictures are not the most important thing to us -- yes, we want them and would like them to turn out nice, but they're not a huge concern for us. We have other ways to remember the night.

So, is this a bad idea or is he just worrying too much? We could get a professional photographer for pretty close to what we are paying for the student, so it is not a matter of money so much as we want to provide a nice opportunity. What do you think?

Re: Student Photographer?

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    I would hate to say something negative simply because photos *are* the number one most important thing to me.  I would think very carefully about hiring a student for a few reasons.

    Shooting a wedding is very different from other types of photography (lighting, people, emotions, trademark events like cake-cutting, etc).

    If you were to have problems with the student, even if you signed a rough sort of contract with them, would you even have legal ground if something went wrong - you couldn't exactly go to the BBB.

    I would look more into finding someone who might be newer in wedding photography or into switching from a different type of photography (still looking to build a new portfolio) but that you might have more confidence entering into a contract with.

    Also, while photos might not be the number one for you - they could be for your family or his or may become more important to you down the road.  Some of my favorite photos of my grandparents and parents are from their wedding day. 

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    Okay, thanks for the advice! We will go with a pro for the wedding day.
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    I don't think you necessarily need a professional, as long as you pick a student with experience, and experience shooting weddings in particular.  We're hiring a friend, who is also a student, and I am extremely happy with his portfolio.  The pictures are the most important thing to me, but I kept finding people I liked that were way out of our budget, and my fiance recommended this guy after seeing his pictures, and I was thrilled.  Definitely don't 'settle' on crappy pictures, but you may be able to find someone good that will charge you less because they just aren't established yet.

    I don't think traveling really increases the chances that your photos will be damaged; the guy should know how to travel with his equipment, and most people are all-digital nowadays so the concerns you listed aren't so much an issue.

    I would say the main things, which are true for ANY photographer, are:
    1) Make sure they have experience shooting weddings
    2) Look at their portfolio and be sure you like their style
    3) Be sure to get a contract, just like it was a pro, and that it outlines contingency plans
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    Maybe you could offer a student to shoot your wedding as a 2nd photographer for free or a nominal fee to help them build up their portfolio? I would imagine (but don't know) that wedding photography is a tough business to get into so maybe a student out there would enjoy the opportunity to "break into" the market without all the responsibility???  just a thought!
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    Hello! I'm currently a student at BSU (in Indiana) and I have been trying to find possibilities for one of my friends to get more experience. His name is Dana Granholm and he is an awesome photographer! He has experience in outdoor/engagement type shoots and I think he may be doing a wedding this summer (don't hold me to that though).

    I'm not sure if he would be able to do pictures for you since he might not have transportation, but here is his information just in case:

    Hs website:
    phone: 812.746.2971
    and email: dgphoto at live dot com

    And you can always let him know your concerns about indoor shooting or his experience and he is an honest guy so I'm sure he would let you know if he feels confortable doing this or not.
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    I would ask the student to do your engagement photos and if you like them go with her/him for the wedding photos. 
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    Being a photographer and a student, I would say that it's a great idea, it just depends on who. I mean, a lot of us are very very professional and have done weddings before. I would look at their portfolio (obviously!) and a lot of Students would photograph at a cheaper rate than "professionals". I personally hate "professionals". They, in most cases, are rude and have a very generic vision. If you were to go down this route, I would get a student from a fine arts school and look at their art work as well as their previous wedding photography experience. Most of the time, your photos will turn out beautifully (they have really nice printers at art schools, and students take classes to learn how to print properly) I'm sure if you offer to buy paper, they would be more than happy to. Please don't count us out! We love vacations and weddings! Remember, from a student perspective, it's a priveledge to be involved in this situation (if you're paying!! Wow!!), whereas a "professional" it's just another job.
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