This is one of the most important parts of the wedding planning process. This is where you’ll really need to do your research to ensure you will have wedding pictures you can be happy about. Many years from now, looking over your wedding pictures will bring back wonderful memories of your wedding day.
There are several options available to you when it comes to choosing your wedding photographer:
#1 Hire a professional wedding photographer
They likely have years of training and experience, and have probably developed their own style of photography. They own their own photography company and most likely have insurance in case something goes wrong. They will give you a contract so you’ll know exactly what you are getting into. They have a professional portfolio so you can see how they have photographed weddings in the past.
They typically take thousands of wedding pictures a week. They can adjust to different or difficult shooting situations in a flash (no pun intended).
They know their equipment inside and out and always have backup equipment available.
They are up to date on all the latest wedding photography styles and trends. They know how to pose you so in order to get the best shot.
They’ve seen it all and know the ins and outs of weddings, so you know they will capture all the important moments.
Afterwards, they’ll painstakingly review each picture and edit them to ensure they’re perfect. They have access to professional printing services and can also create professional albums.
They are expensive, costing around $2,000 up to several thousands of dollars depending on how long they have been in the business and how well-known they are.
If they are in high demand they may not even be available on your date (or you may have to book them well in advance).
#2 Use a wedding photography service
This is basically a company that has a staff of photographers with packages to choose from.
Using a company may be cheaper than hiring a solo wedding photographer. They may have packages that include other services such as videography, DJ services, etc.
They also have backup photographers in case the one you choose cannot make it on your wedding day.
The reviews on some of these companies are less than stellar (I read quite a few bad ones when researching for my wedding).
You may not be able to meet with the photographer and see their work in person – you may have to rely only on what you see on the website.
If the photographer that you chose is not able to make it on your wedding day another staff photographer that you’ve never even talked to may show up in their place.
#3 Hire a cheap wedding photographer
This is a wedding photographer who for some reason is cheaper than the rest of their competition. They fall somewhere between the seasoned professional wedding photographer and the beginner. You know the one; they claim they’ll take 10 hours worth of pictures, edit them, print them out and create an album for under $1,000.
They are cheap.
They are too cheap. Remember you get what you pay for. They are priced well below everyone else for a reason; you may not get all as promised.
#4 Hire a beginner photographer
This is someone who is fresh out of photography school and may not have much experience with wedding photography.
They are less expensive than a seasoned professional wedding photographer.
They have been taught the many photography styles.
They probably would be able to adjust to changing or difficult shooting situations quickly.
They may also have access to professional printing services and may be able create professional albums.
They may not have much if any wedding photography experience and may not know all the ins and outs of the wedding process.
They also may not be up to date with the latest wedding photography trends.
They probably don’t have state of the art camera equipment and may not have backups.
They may not have access to professional editing software/equipment.
#5 Enlist a relative or friend
You can ask someone who you think takes decent pictures. Preferably someone who knows your partner and yourself well enough that they know what type of pictures you would or wouldn’t like.
This will be very cheap or most likely free.
You’ll feel very comfortable with them since you know them well.
They have none or very little wedding experience. They will most likely not have state of the art equipment and backups.
They don’t really know their camera inside out and most likely cannot adjust quickly to changing shooting situations.
If they mess up your wedding pictures, this will strain your relationship.
#6 Have your guests be your wedding photographers
This can be done one of two ways. Place several disposable cameras on each table and ask your guests to click away, or ask guests if you can make copies of all the pictures they took with their own personal cameras during the wedding.
It’s free, or definitely cheaper than hiring a pro.
You’re leaving everything up to chance, you don’t know what quality you’re getting. You may get a whole lot of pictures of the guests and not many of you and the groom. Or horrible out of focus photos.
It may not be that cheap if you’re using disposable cameras – they can cost about $5 each (or more for digital). Depending on how many you place per table (and how many tables you have) it could add up to a few hundred dollars.
You have many options when choosing a wedding photographer, it may not be an easy task, and it can be expensive, but this is the one place where you shouldn’t skimp. The special moments at your wedding – saying I do, a loving glance, a candid smile – all take place within a few seconds. You need someone who can react quickly and capture each one.
You may save a lot of money by hiring a friend or relative but what happens if they can’t make it or are late? What if their pictures are less than stellar? This will undoubtedly create friction, and that’s something that’s not worth any amount of money. By hiring a beginner/cheap wedding photographer, or by having your guests use disposable / personal cameras, you are leaving it up to chance. You don’t know what you’re getting.
Bottom Line: I highly recommend that you hire a pro. Let me repeat it again…
I highly recommend that you hire a pro.
Photo credit: Photo by SP AL UK