10 Things Your “Cheap” Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You

The $600 wedding photographer is EXPENSIVE, right?

You only need them for a “couple of hours” to give you a “few pictures” to remember your wedding day. So that $150 an hour is a lot of money for those four hours and honestly, you wish you could make that kind of dough. They are only “snapping a few pictures” and you only want a “disc of images”, right?

So you are opting for one of two things for your wedding photographs:

1. You’re going to get one of your cousins who owns one of those “expensive” cameras that takes wonderful pictures to photograph your wedding or…

2. Your going to find the cheapest person you can because, well, ANYONE can “snap a few pictures” and if they have a good camera,  it should be just fine!

If you really want to risk that you’re going to really HATE your wedding photos later, then by all means, you should “take a chance” and see what happens.

What Your  Cheap Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You…If they are NOT a Professional

1. They’re cheap because they have no experience photographing weddings.

I see this all the time. Brides scouring Craigslist or wedding vendor sites looking for the “cheap” photographer. The cheapest they can find. Most “newbie” photographers will offer to do your wedding at rock bottom prices. “Well, they ARE advertized in “The Knot”, so I bet they have been vetted by them!”.

Think again. Anyone with a few dollars can get listed there. And have a “professional looking” page.

You are going to want to see a body of their work and a complete wedding they have photographed. So many getting started are just satisfied with “something in focus” and have little else to offer. The real skill comes from other things like lighting, composition, and proper exposure. Automatic won’t cut it and few have learned how to use a camera professionally. The camera doesn’t take the photograph, the person behind it does.

2. $600 is making a LOT of money for a couple of hours of work.

The actual “taking of your photos” for $600 would be a lot of money- if that was all there was to it.

Often times that “cheap” photographer discovers that they are going to spend another 60-80 hours just editing those images they captured on your wedding day. That part they didn’t expect. Nor did they expect the expense of the proper editing hardware and software to get the results you are paying them to deliver.

So what happens? They usually do sloppy editing and hopefully it’s “good enough” for you to have a few decent ones out of all they took.  So what you think is a “lot of money” turns out to be $2.68 an hour, which is something you probably wouldn’t work for at your job. Real professional photographers won’t either.

3. Newbie (aka Cheap) Photographers usually aren’t “legal”.

A legal business must be properly licensed, insured, and collect and pay sales taxes to the State they work in. There are WAY too many that call themselves “professional photographers” who aren’t. If something should go badly wrong, then you have little or no recourse for what you just paid them. Hiring one of these means you are taking more than a little chance, but you are taking a very big one. Make sure your photographer is fully legal to do business in the State you live.

4. You’ll get a “disc of images” and can print all you want!

Sounds like a GREAT deal, right?

Think again. Usually these are what is referred to as “Shoot and Burn” photographers. Sounds more like you are getting “shot” at and then “burned” to hide the evidence. Well, that’s a pretty good description of what is happening.

Those cheap photographers who find out that 40-60 hours of editing time is necessary and the cost of the equipment and software to do edits properly is expensive, are they going to take as many shortcuts as possible. So they take your photos, do little or no editing to them, and “burn” you a disc.

Not to mention, printing an image from that disc will not give you any prints you will want to show to others! Preparing a digital image for print requires more than just taking your disc down to Walgreen’s and having them print your photos. If a photographer tells you otherwise, begin to suspect right away, they are NOT a genuine professional (I have written extensively on why this is so!). Those amazing prints from your friends wedding that were done by professionals didn’t happen accidentally, but took a lot of work and knowledge to produce. That’s why they cost so much. Your not paying for “paper and ink” but for a lot more.

5. Wedding Photographers in this area a SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE!

Yes they are. For a reason.

When a professional photographer shows up for your wedding, they usually carry somewhere between $15-20,000 worth of equipment- from cameras to lighting and light modifiers and another camera and double or triple everything they have to photograph your wedding. Why? Things break and a true professional knows this and will not be left without a camera or anything else they might need to properly photograph your wedding day.

They pay taxes, they carry insurance, they go to workshops and seminars and pay for those too, they have computer and software expenses and the knowledge to use them. They pay for their websites and have samples for you to see, office expenses, cleaning and repairs to their gear, new gear expenses to replace broken gear, salary of a second photographer, rent, utilities, and a gazillion other expenses to run a wedding photography business.

For most true wedding photography professionals, that $600 you WANT to pay them won’t even cover their overhead, much less get you any photographs worth seeing. You’re not going to drive a Mercedes for the price of a Kia. You’re not going to get a professional photographer at dirt cheap prices either.

6. Where is your Pinterest Board. I’ll make this happen for $600!

One piece of advise I can give you- delete your Pinterest board. What you don’t know is that most of those photographs you see are of models in highly stylized sessions, completely controlled and NOT of a real wedding day.

Every professional photographer has 2 distinct “styles” that makes their real photographs define their work- their shooting style and their editing style. Those creamy matte images you love so much with those beautiful backgrounds and wonderful muted colors- well, those are NOT real brides in most cases and done in locations no weddings ever have happened! Can you achieve that look in your wedding photos? Perhaps, but don’t expect that $600 photographer to know HOW!

Lighting, and composition and the photographer’s shooting style is what makes that happen and you will find that it takes years to develop that. They also have their own editing style to achieve the final look that makes up their entire portfolio. Going though 800-1000 photographs they took to deliver you 400 or so that you have what you want takes a ton of time- and that’s something that $600 photographer won’t spend to achieve- either because they don’t know how or they learn very fast the time factor needed to do so can’t happen for $600.

7. We HAVE to Cut back somewhere! I am ONE BROKE ASS BRIDE and “photography” isn’t that important so CHEAP is all we can afford.

I do a number of 2nd marriage weddings. There are 2 things I find to be true-

1. Those who went “cheap” the first time KNOW that those “bad photos” from the first wedding didn’t turn out so good because they cut back on their photography. They want a professional this time.

2. They had good photos from their first wedding and realize how important a professional photographer is.

There is really no “middle ground” here. I get that you are paying for it yourselves, but if you have to “cut costs” someplace, consider paper instead of linen napkins. And if you have done that already, then ask a family member to help. Ask your friends to help out instead of giving you that $100 turkey roaster they had in mind you’ll only use once a year.

More importantly, ask someone who has hired one of those “cheap” photographers if they would have done it differently and hired the professional and paid their prices. Most will tell you they wish they had. Scrimp where you can, just not on the important things you want to have to remember your wedding day in 10, 20, 30 years from now. You won’t realize how important it is until you discover you don’t have it.

8. But I ONLY want a disc! Your album is too expensive anyway and I can design one myself!

Fear not dear bride!

But then again, maybe you should. Because that “disc” you want and can only afford is probably going to come back to bite you in a few years.

Discs are only good for a few short years- 5-7 to be exact! They get scratched, heat affects them, cold affects them and the technology will make them obsolete! “I can put them on the Cloud” you say! There have been MANY a business that went out of business because of “the Cloud” failing, Cloud companies going out of business or data getting corrupt. Bits and bytes aren’t forever as you might think they are. Hard drives crash and even newer computers today don’t come with CD/DVD players- they are becoming obsolete FAST.

So you go with a USB drive! Same issues, only perhaps worse. I have seen way too many USB drives fail inside of 3 years and if all your wedding photos are on that and that’s all you have, your done. AND if you have one of those “cheap photographers” who figured it out that your $600 wedding wasn’t making him a “lot of money” or that he or she hated it after all, there is no guarantee they archive your photos or even have them if this happens to you.

And if you think “designing your own album” is easy, 95 out of 100 brides who go that route never do it. They find that it’s more work than expected, they get shoddy products that don’t last, and images that aren’t properly prepped for making an album, so even that isn’t good. A professionally designed and produced album is something you will cherish and preserves your wedding day memories better than anything you get. Ask someone who had a “disc only” that lost theirs, or found it corrupt after a few years and their “photographer” has moved out of town or “quit taking pictures”.

It’s a pretty sucky situation if that happens to be you.

9. I’m sending out 20 emails to photographers and whoever gives me the best price, I am hiring!

All photographers are the same, right? Some just charge more than the others, right?

Far too many brides approach their wedding photography that way. And far more get hurt in the process.

If you think that is all there is to it, then by all means go that route.

But if you are really concerned that you get the right photographer for you, go another route. Sure, send inquiries to as many as you want. DON’T ask for prices please, but find photographers by looking at several of their websites and looking through compete weddings they have online. Many will only show you their “best photos”. If that’s the case, ask to see a complete wedding they have photographed.

Once you have found 3 or 4 you really like, then PLEASE don’t think you can “text it in” or hire them by an email. GO SEE THEM. Sit down across the table and have a conversation about your wedding plans, your style, your ideas! You might discover they have the personality of “Gorgon the Ugly” and is someone you would rather not even BE at your wedding.  You will be better off asking them “when can we sit down together and discuss my wedding photography” and THEN if you really like them, get pricing and go from there. Trust me, if everything clicks, paying their price is going to result in photos you LOVE rather than risking getting those you absolutely are ashamed to show anyone.

10. We just don’t care that much about Wedding Photographs. Beside, all our friends will have their phones and we can get all the photos we need!

Sounds good, right?

There is one thing I can promise you- you will never know the value of what you don’t have until the time comes when you don’t have it and wish you did- especially with your photographic wedding memories. Think I am wrong?

Just ask someone who thought that this was a “good idea” and it didn’t turn out so good. Special days like this usually only happen once a lifetime and preserving that day with photographic memories are always preserved for generations, not just “for the day”. Any mother who is asked by her daughter to see her “wedding album” and doesn’t have one to show, usually has a lot of regrets when that day comes.

And your friends phone pictures? Well, if you want 43 pictures of your first kiss and 34 of your first dance together, all poorly composed and poorly lit, then I guess you can go that route. Rarely do your friends with their phones have the capability or skill to give you those photos you will always cherish. A good professional photographer can and will.

Bonus! We have no choice but to “go cheap” as we can. Do you have any advise?

I wish I had some great words of encouragement.

Good wedding photographers are always very experienced and have done a LOT of weddings. Their images are spectacular because of education, training, and experience. “Cheap” photographers usually don’t have that same level of necessary requirements to properly assure you success. Many aren’t “legal” and are just starting out. Some are doing them “on the weekends” just to make a little extra money!

They don’t have access to professional labs for prints, aren’t well skilled in editing, and don’t have backup equipment should something happen. They aren’t prepared to handle things like rain, poor light, or any of the other challenges weddings always present.

At the very lease, if this is the route you are determined to go, then please, DO NOT hire them by phone or email!

Go see them. Speak in person, face to face, and at least find out all you can about how many weddings they have actually photographed and see a complete one- start to finish. If you can’t get that, them move on to someone else that might be “cheap” but can. Then, if you do hire them, just don’t expect those marvelous photos you see in the Bridal Magazines. At least you have curbed your disappointment and who knows, maybe you get lucky!


 

I hope you find this helpful in finding that perfect photographer just for you! If you want to find out more about me, and how I can help you plan and photograph your wedding day, please fill out the form below and send it to me. I’ll be in touch right away and give you the opportunity to discover if I am the right one to give you that great experience you desire and deserve!

I will even send you a Wedding Planning Guide to help you along the way so you don’t miss the important things of your wedding day- a $25 value absolutely free!

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One thought on “10 Things Your “Cheap” Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You

  1. Very true. I wish I could say what you’re saying with as much tact as you’ve mustered here. So many people have lame wedding photos from a guy with a nice camera. Sloppy edits, no styling to the set. You need a nice collection to design a good album.

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