Hi, my name is Lauren, and I hired a cheap wedding photographer… and I’m here to prevent you from doing the same!
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m always talking about the importance of quality photography. Well, one of the major reasons for this is because I made a big mistake that I regret- and one that I hope to prevent other brides from making.
I hired a cheap wedding photographer.
The fact is, when I was planning my wedding, I had no clue about anything. I didn’t know what to expect costs to be, what to look for, or how to even know figure out what I liked. The only resources I used were large, popular wedding sites because that’s all I knew about and quite frankly, all that I could find back then. When I used the budget recommendations of these sites and magazines, the recommended photography percentage was way below what I was realistically seeing for photographer pricing. I didn’t have anyone to tell me what the “normal” pricing was for a good photographer, or even how to know what would be considered “good”. I was counting on the resources I used to help me, and they sadly didn’t. To make a long story short, this is one of the reasons why I set out to provide realistic information to brides about weddings, and so here I am today! (Note: go here to find out what to expect wedding professionals to cost!)
I’m certainly in no way a photographer, but since I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I did, I thought it would be helpful to pass along some tidbits that I wish I had known when it came to wedding photographers…
One of the first things that would be crucial to know is the normal cost for decent photography, because I myself had no idea. According to my survey of wedding professionals, you can expect to see pricing around $3500 for a professional photographer. This of course will vary depending on location, as well as with the photographers and their experience.
Pay Attention To Quality
Oh my goodness- I definitely wish I had known more about what to look for when it came to quality! I met with 4 photographers, but I got so fixated on price that I forgot to also look at quality. It can be quite difficult to compare just based on price, because often times photographers’ pricing structures are different- not to mention that their experience and quality is going to be different too! So please, I beg of you- pay more attention to the quality than to the cost!
It’s Not Just A Day’s Work
Keep in mind that photographers are not just taking photos of you for 8 hours on your wedding day. They also have to edit the photos (which can take up to 30 hours), design the album, answer your emails and phone calls, and carry out all of the other administrative duties that owning a business entails. (There is so much more, but I’ll leave that to the photographers to explain!) Sure, it’s easy to say that a photographer is making $3500 for a day’s work, but all of the work done before and after the wedding ends up being way more than just one day.
[Note: Don't get me wrong when I say "cheap photographer". I paid more than what would normally be considered "cheap"- it kills me knowing what I paid, and now knowing what I could have had for that same amount. But when you consider what was included in the price (my 12 hour wedding day, engagement session, bridal session, album and prints), and then see the pretty much unedited images, then yes, it was indeed "cheap".]
Needless to say, I’m still pretty heartbroken about my lack of knowledge when it came to choosing my photographer. Now that I look at amazing work from photographers every day, I know that my photos could have been so much better. But you live and you learn, right?
Bottom line: you get what you pay for.
If you have any questions about choosing your photographer, please ask! I don’t want anyone else to experience this regret, and this is one of the many reasons why I write this blog and why I entered the wedding industry. I want to help everyone have the absolute best wedding possible, and I believe that knowledge is the key to that!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.