Very good question!
I often find (or rather, they find me!) many, many brides who would love to use me and absolutely adore my work, but cannot afford my services. To that, I say, be honest with your photographer. If you love their work and express this, they may be willing to work with you and within your budget. I have been known to help couples out. The worst the photographer can say is “no”. It’s not the end of the world. Ask about just having a bridal or engagement session done with the photographer of your dreams! Every couple deserves the best wedding photography, not the best that they cannot afford.
I have done a ton, and I mean TON of reading and research on the subject of wedding photography pricing. I have gathered that 10% of your total budget should be spent on the photography. Easy math? If your budget is $5,000, you should be setting aside about $500 for photography. If your budget is $10,000, you should be setting aside about $1,000 for your photography services. If you’re looking for a high-end photographer, you may want to set aside 15-20% of your total wedding budget.
When figuring out what you want from your photographer, you need to first look at their portfolio. Do you like their work? Are you moved by it? Does it speak to you? If you answered “no” to any of these questions about the photographer you are thinking of hiring, keep moving. You haven’t found the one yet.
Once you have found the photographer that you feel is a perfect match, you need to figure out what you want to walk away with. Are you wanting prints? Does your photographer offer canvas prints? Do you want a flush-mount album? Are you wanting a DVD with a copyright release to do all your own printing? Will you be wanting a bridal or engagement session included? Do you require a second shooter?
If you are looking to save some money, a flush-mount album may not be in your future. The price to have these printed is very high and many photographers cannot waiver on the prices set for these. A la carte prints can also become very costly, and pretty quick. If you plan on printing a bunch of photographs, purchasing a DVD from your photographer is possibly the cheaper route to go. Many photographers include bridal or engagement sessions in their packages. These add a considerable amount to the end price of your wedding photography. If this is something you can live without, you will save hundreds of dollars. A second shooter captures all the moments the bride & groom and main photographer miss. If you cannot live without these moments, I recommend spending the extra money.
In 30 years, you won’t remember the flavor of your cake, you won’t remember every one who attended, you won’t recall the exact details in your gown, and you won’t have those flowers anymore, but you will have photographs to refer to and reminisce over. Whether or not they will be quality photographs is up to you.
Save yourself the heartache and tell that family-friend who offered to shoot your wedding a very polite “no, thank you”. You want quality photographs. You want lasting memories. You want proper composition and lighting. Leave it to the professionals.
If you have any questions about your wedding’s photography, whether you want to hire me or not, feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer your questions and help you on your journey to finding the right photographer for you.
I do a lot of retouching work and I am often contacted to work on couples’ wedding photographs. If you want your photographs to be edited after your wedding, you MUST purchase a copyright release for your images. Without that, no photographer will touch them.
I recently found this image on Facebook and I felt compelled to share it. I hope you can find the humor in it after reading this article.
On a side note, I have recently discovered a new website for brides! This website is a wedding registry for your wedding VENDORS. You log in to Ciderr.com and create an account, select the vendors you want to work at your wedding, and then share the link with your guests. They can then contribute to the total cost of your wedding, instead of ending up with 2 bread makers, 3 blenders, and nothing you asked for. I suggest checking them out, it seems like a very cool concept.