Planning a wedding can be stressful even in the best conditions.

For me, the hardest part was finding a photographer. I had studied photography and so it was hard for me to justify paying someone that much for something I could do myself with a tripod and a timer. At the same time, I knew those were photos I wanted done right and it was not something I wanted to worry about.

In the end we found a family friend who was a photographer and was willing to do it for free — but something came up the morning of the wedding and she cancelled, and though we had wonderful friends who stepped in and helped out we ended up with photos that were not exactly what I had dreamed of.

So goes the game of wedding photography, I guess. Pay someone a ridiculous amount or end up with photos you’re probably going to look at once and then shove in a drawer somewhere.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Steven Donaldson is out to change that. He’s trying to make wedding photography more affordable, and for one deserving couple he’s even willing to do it for free.

Donaldson first got into photography as a pastime in 1990 when he was in the military. He kept practicing throughout the years and finally began to get serious about it in 2008. When people started asking him to take pictures more and more often he decided to make a career out of it. He knew his current career as a personal trainer couldn’t last forever, so why not make the transition now to something that could last a little longer?

Donaldson has photographed nine weddings so far and has found it to be something he enjoys. He says he charges about half of what normal photographers do because finding a photographer for his own wedding made him realize how expensive it can be. To him, it just doesn’t make sense to charge more.

He’s done plenty of different kinds of photography but loves shooting weddings because each one is different.

“I really enjoy the bride preparation,” Donaldson said. “There are a lot of shots that my friend took of my wife getting ready that I had never seen before. It was really nice to see those images of her with her hair in curlers, or enjoying some wine, or whatever. The groom and others would never get to see that.”

To build his portfolio, Donaldson is looking to shoot another wedding and he’s willing to do it for free. The only catch is that he wants the photos to tell a story.

“That’s what I love about photography,” Donaldson said. “I can tell a story without saying anything by lining up the pictures of what this means and catching that shot.”

Donaldson is looking to give away a complete wedding photo package, with videography by Harley Lery, for free to one couple in need. Those who have a story to tell about why they deserve free wedding photos should send him an email at

For more information on Unique Images and to take a look at some of Donaldson’s galleries, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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