Being a new bride is fun and exciting until it comes to finding out what it costs to have the wedding of your dreams. As a coordinator I work with couples in all different budget ranges. From $5,000 to $50,000. But if I’m asked what I personally believe the majority of the budget should go to, its always the photographer. (That’s right, I said it, a photographer over myself).
I feel it should go without saying that the value you are actually getting from those photos is priceless. Your day will come and go and most will be a faded memory unless you have the images that will keep the memory as clear as your day was. Those pictures will last you forever. They will be your treasures.
With that being said, NO I don’t believe photographers should use this sentimentality to gouge their clients of money. I believe that they should be “reasonably” priced for their field, talent, and the time that goes into capturing and editing those images. Now here is my biggest pet peeve. When searching for a photographer, while using the words “Reasonably priced” please understand what that means.
A “Reasonably Priced” photographer for the midwest will run you anywhere from $2,500-$5,000. It is okay if this just is not in the cards for your financial situation, but please PLEASE do not attack them for not being in your budget, and respect them as professionals. Every now and again I’m lucky enough to find “diamond in the rough” professionals that are at the cusp of their careers to help out my tighter budget clients. But the pictures produced involve SO much more than just a click of a button.
It is very easy to think “I’m only paying them for one day! That’s like paying them $350/hr!” But that’s far from true. In that day, your photographer will take around 1,000-2,000 photos. They are constantly in motion, and rarely stop even to scarf down an energy bar. Then afterwards, painstakingly go through each photo to give you the best 800. Of those 800, they will personally touchup or edit 500 of them. So by this point they have put in 10 hours for the day of, plus approximately 60+ hours going through each of your photos with care.
Hiring an inexperienced photographer (like a family friend or student) means that you will likely not get the same results as an experienced photographer. Even if said friend has a fancy camera. Its SO important that your photographer has shot weddings previously or they will miss important moments. Experienced photographers typically start off as second shooters for the professionals before ever starting their own business. They have seen many weddings and have come to learn the best opportunities, angles, lighting, and places to be during key points of the day. They know the timeline well and are always prepared to catch every shot.
So is it worth it? YES! How do you make sure you get the best photographer for the job? The most bang for your buck? Part of it will be asking the right questions. The other part (and most important) is examining their portfolio.
Questions: How long have they been doing photography? Are weddings their primary focus? Do they have backup equipment? Will there be a second shooter?
Things to Observe: Does their portfolio show a wedding beginning to end and tell a story through the images? Are the images clear and crisp or out of focus? Do you like the color? (some photographers work with more bold color and dramatic lighting, while others will have softer looks with lighter colors. This is just personal preference). Are the pictures visually interesting to look at or bland and plain?
Do Your Research: Ask your other vendors and past brides if they know of the photographer or worked with them before. Get their opinions on how the felt they did, or how quickly they were to respond.
Basically it boils down to this: Once you have decided on a cost range you can for a photographer, look at the photographers within that range. Make your final decision based on the images you LOVE, not on which of them is offering the best deal or costs less. Because nothing is worse than a bride who tells me they loved "Photographer A" but hired "Photographer B". They usually say the photos were alright, and they like them. But they don't LOVE them. They realize too late that settling to save a few dollars on something as important as the physical images of the best moment of their life, seems foolish.
If you are ever in doubt when choosing a photographer that is right for you and within your budget, you can always contact me for my professional opinion. When it comes to finding the right fit for brides and vendors, I take my passion very seriously. Contact me for a list of photographers that I feel provide outstanding performance and will fit your style.