'Good Morning America' Recommends Hiring a Student For Your Wedding Photography

'Good Morning America' Recommends Hiring a Student For Your Wedding Photography

UPDATE: Good Morning America has taken down the video and article.
Original Story: What are the best ways to save money on your wedding day? Good Morning America (GMA) ran a story recently in which their soon-to-be wed reporter Ginger Zee recommends contacting your local school to reach out to someone interested in photography. That by hiring a student you'll save $8000 on your wedding photos.

In her story Zee gets advice from her planner Francesco Bilotto. His advice on photography is this, "The best thing to do is contact your local school - find somebody that wants to build a career with their skills. Nine out of 10 you'll save $8,000 just paying for the cost of their camera, their developing and their time. You've made a college kid happy and you've got some great photos."

While I do believe that there are lots of options available for people who are looking to hire a photographer on a budget - I'd hope that brides were better informed about what actually goes into taking wedding photos. We could make a long list of reasons why you should pass on hiring someone untrained to photograph your wedding. Here are just a few reasons.

1. This person most likely has never shot a wedding and doesn't understand the timeline or flow of the day.
2. This person doesn't have backup equipment.
3. This person doesn't have experience using lighting - probably doesn't even own a flash.
4. This person has no experiencing posing couples.
5. This person is most likely too busy to edit your photos anytime soon. Can you wait 6 months till school finals are over?

Click here to read the article and watch the video going over the money saving tips.

Brides-to-be if you are out there and listening. Please don't take this advice from Zee and Bilotto. It is terrible. You will regret it every time you look at your photos, that is if you even get them back. Hire a professional, someone with experience and someone you can trust will take care of you. If you have absolutely no money to commit to wedding photography - well then yeah go find yourself a student that is interested in photography - but just know that your photos won't look like all those you love looking at on Facebook and Pinterest.

Log in or register to post comments


Graham Marley's picture

Call it the "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" wedding package.

Michele Anne's picture


Mike Last's picture

Why stop at the photographer? Hire a local culinary school student to serve three courses for 100+people. Just buy their pots and ingredients! While you're at it... student pastry chef, student makeup artist, student hairdresser, student florist (or someone who owns a garden behind their house). You could even hire a student driver for the limo!

Mr Blah's picture

You forgot the student tailor/designer for the tux and dress!

Student pastor???

Patrick Hall's picture

Hahah exactly, what could go wrong hiring a student (or amateur as we are actually talking about) for any of these things?

Mike's picture

Student wedding planner

Ben__Ghazi's picture

Well, sure, if I was within distance of the Culinary Institute of America I'd hire a senior in a heartbeat. Any one of them would blow away 99% of working pros.

Sam Merkel's picture

I understand where you're coming from, but you're basically assuming that no one in school can shoot a wedding. If one were to reach out to the right people you could probably find some good options. I understand that these people might not be full time, but if you go to the right place and talk to a professor that gives a shit, they will probably be able to recommend a student that is completely capable or may even shoot weddings part time. Either that or they'll tell you to hire a professional.
I can also see where this could go horribly, horribly wrong.

Mark Lauman's picture

Chances are if they are in school and shoot weddings part time they may be cheaper but they probably have the experience to be charging at least a couple thousand. $9000 seemed a bit high to say that's what a professional wedding photographer costs. Guess it depends on the city but I know more than a few who charge closer to $5000

Joshua Boldt's picture

Markets vary greatly. There are people in New York who charge $20,000 for wedding and some in little towns like mine who can't go over $2500 without scaring everyone away.

emil richter's picture

and still the rule for photographers is: shoot your first weddings free/for 500bucks or by assisting a photographer for free/200$.
for a new photographer:
out of all of these options the most lucrative is the 500$ for shooting first wedding.
second most lucrative but probably best in the long run, assisting a photographer.
worst is shooting for free, and still it is a very widely given advice to new photographers.

so yes its a good tip, getting a beginning photographer. if their lucky he is overqualified just need real life practice. if their unlucky, they might have to hope that actual guests got some good shots.

as long as you know that you get what you pay for.

pix555's picture

I have a better idea why don't the bride and groom attach of go Pro to their heads and film the whole event. This will keep it within their budget so everybody will be happy. It's just amazing how little money student photographers are actually charging without knowing that they are essentially destroying the industry that they will have to depend on if they turn professional.

Ben__Ghazi's picture

"Its very smart to get a very good photographer with no business sense, who sells full size digital files of all photos for 2000k"

I did. I got a full time pro to give me all of the RAW files just for a 2 hour shoot for $750 flat (and she came with a 2nd shooter/apprentice). She was very good and I was able to view about a dozen of her prior albums at an Expo. For me it was my 2nd marriage and I didn't want a full day package- I just needed 2 hours. Then again, I am a pro with over 35 years of experience and did all my own post. All depends on your situation.

She walked away clean at a rate of 375/hr. Not bad at all. My own day rate shooting commercial is $1500 plus expenses. I think many wedding shooters are far overpriced @ $5000 and I've worked with more than a few that didn't know jack about some basics - they'd shoot P with TTL direct and could tell you a Kelvin from an oven.

emil richter's picture

"probably doesn’t even own a flash" yes, because if your wedding photographer doesnt own a flash, pick a stone and smash it into his face. -_-

Juan Javier Cuadros's picture

why a student cant own a flash? why a student cant edit photos in a legit deadline? so a student cant work like a pro? if its about experience thats a good reason, but really, there are some offensive reasons...

AndrewZ17's picture

I don't really think ti's offensive at all...
These are potential risks that you can take on when hiring a student. I as a student am trying to build up my experience and portfolio but I have encountered all the things on the list as
1. the first time I shot a wedding, I didn't know the sequence of events and was rushed and whatnot but I still did get some nice pictures.
2. I definitely did not have backup equipment. I had what I had, and my assistant had what they had.
3. Lighting, wasn't a big issue for a wedding at least from my personal experience.
4. I definitely struggled with some poses for a couple to be married as I had no experience with that but I made do with what I had.
5. I definitely had other deadlines like school but I still made editing a priority considering it was a paid job and I met the set deadline which I told them I'd have the pictures by.

jesse's picture

I got an phone call from a pro photographer that recommended a student videographer because the Bride was on a $1,000 budget for a wedding videographer. She was wondering if I could fix the footage. The photographer is now being sued by the Bride because she recommended someone that royally screwed up her wedding film. Everything is okay with the Bride until she realizes she screwed up and now she sues. Happens all the time.

Gerbert Floor's picture

that I will never understand, why sue when you obviously made the wrong choice yourself. How hard is it to use your own brain, its not like she had to follow the advise of the photographer. I love america, but this is the one thing that I can't understand, its just so stupid.

Wodan Rheingold's picture

Of course a student can do a great job… but there is a reason why companies prefer employers with experience too. You have to admit that you really know what 'working' is about when you work at a company… school is actually playtime, without real responsibilities.

Jan Kubenka's picture

I know student photographer - he is waaaaay better than many 'pro' photographers in my area. Problem is that a lot of 'pro' photographers just don't learn new stuff - because they think they've made it. This is of course bad attitude. But in my area it is a common thing.

Wodan Rheingold's picture

Like I said, it's always possible there are exceptions. But it's all about taking chances. On the other hand, with wedding photography, I doubt that there will be 'new' stuff to learn, like new techniques or technology. Wedding photography is more about being social, knowing how to handle people and stress of the moment… and that's not something you learn at school, but through experience and getting older :-)

Jan Kubenka's picture

Well, some 'pros' don't know simple techniques like bounce flash or rim lighting... And this could be problem :D And yes, experience is really important, but you have to get it somewhere ;)

Rodrigo Bari's picture

Well, i advice the brides who want to contract his services to hire any one curious about how it is to plan a wedding. Just paying for the cost of their computers. They will make some curious very happy and save a fucking lot of money.

steve carrillo's picture

"developing", eh?

Megan Bolyard's picture

While I agree that brides should be informed about making a decision on their wedding photographer, I'm a little insulted that it is assumed that students are incapable of doing those five things listed. I know plenty of young people and students who are just as talented, or in some cases even more talented than their older counterparts. Brides should be concerned with talent; not age. Age and traditional education level don't determine talent and skill level.

Trevor Dayley's picture

Megan, the word student is basically referring to someone doing this for the first time. In other words an amateur. Hence the reason they are saying you can get the person for cheap. In fact they are basically saying they will be happy with the experience. I know a number of photographers that are amazing and shooting weddings often that are students. So it's not saying you can't be amazing and a student in school... but what I am cautioning against is that people take GMA's advice here and think that they will be happy with their wedding photos if they hire someone with no experience doing this in the past.

Megan Bolyard's picture

I do agree with you that brides shouldn't hire someone with no experience! I guess the way this is written just makes it seem like it's assumed that a student has no skill. I do understand now that you've clarified!

Peter Robertson's picture

This isn't a talented young people vs untalented old people here. Skill and talent have almost nothing to do with wedding photography. Talent is about potential. All the talent in the world doesn't make up for real world experience, and the understanding of how a wedding is shot or the gravity of the event. A talented "eye" doesn't make up for lack of understanding of different lighting situations, correct lens and ISO choice, not to mention wrangling groups of people and dealing with clients' demands. You're pretending that the professional photographers or "older counterparts" as you want to call them, were never also once supremely talented young students too. They were. Then they got better. Through experience.

Chris Pickrell's picture

I know students too. I had classes with them.

Of the 200 I took photo classes with, only a fraction of them were serious.

I have to chime in here on the "I was a bride on a budget" side of things. I understand a lot of photographers do this as their profession, and one day want to be a professional photographer myself, but fact of the matter is, most photography packages would have cost me more by themselves than my entire wedding (dress included) cost. I couldn't afford a professional photographer and still have a wedding. So, I used an amateur photographer. But, I did so with the understanding of the 5 points you made. Instead of telling women it's debt or nothing, we should be educating them on the challenges of using an amateur photographer, and how to do so in the safest way possible. Here's a few of those points for you.

1) Helping them understand the flow of the day is now your job as the bride. You research it, you write up charts and lists and find another friend to manage people. I had a friend whose entire job was to direct the photographer. He thought about photography, she thought about oh, we need a picture with mom and dad. It lowered pressure on both people. Also, have a detailed meeting with them before hand, and do some engagement photos. If the photographer can't do these two things, they probably won't be reliable for your wedding. Our photographer did both.

2) is it possible to have back up equipment available? The proliferation of DSLRs is very high, many people buy them and they sit on the shelf. I'm sure you could find a friend who would either shoot back up, or allow their camera to be available for back up. With the money you're saving, you can purchase back up batteries and memory cards yourself. Doubling up these things would be less than a couple of hundred dollars.

3) Flashes are more common these days, but again, maybe you can work something out with the photographer, or like I did, plan things where it's not necessary. Have a daytime wedding, a venue with a lot of natural light, and be smart about your light. I planned where our ceremony was and the important parts of our reception based on the available light. All of the important photos are well lit.

4) Again, they may not have experience, but you can find photos and websites to help. You could have a whole packet of take a picture of the bride and groom, use this pose with a picture next to it. Again, a lot of work for the bride, but it can be improved. Also, my posed pictures are fine, my favorites are the candid photos. If a bride likes lifestyle/photojournalistic photography, she might be okay using an amateur who has strengths in those areas.

5) There's multiple ways this can be handled. The photographer could be good enough to actually handle the deadline and get the photos to you. Or, maybe the photographer leaves you to edit the photos. Or, you could work out some other system. Again, can be overcome, but is a different challenge.

The point is, don't scare brides off, educate them. The ones who should be using professionals will be swayed by this, the ones (like me) who aren't in the position to use professionals, will be better able to handle amateurs/students.

More comments