It can be difficult to choose a wedding photographer. Pricing can vary considerably as can the quality of the results and service. Wedding Photographers have their own style and if you are uncertain what suits you, it can be difficult to know where to start. In a previous post I discussed five points to focus on when choosing a wedding photographer. In this article I consider the differences between cheap and cheerful, budget photography and the higher end of the wedding photography market.
Choose a Wedding Photographer
In some ways choosing a wedding photographer is similar to choosing a hotel. There are cheap and cheerful hotels, a wider range of mid priced hotels and then those that cater for the higher end of the market. If you have not stayed at a particular hotel before you don’t know what the quality of rooms is like or if it will suit your own personal taste.
Sometimes you can find a cheaper hotel that offers great value for money, but the majority will leave you with a “you get what you pay for” feeling. As a rule, if you pay more you will get better, more luxurious rooms and usually better service. Occasionally though you will feel let down and find it difficult to see any difference between a more expensive hotel and a cheaper one.
At the top end of the market you will usually find a great all round experience. The food tastes fantastic, the rooms are exceptional, service is top drawer and the general ambiance of the hotel makes the whole experience a delight. But there is always the chance the hotel will not measure up to your expectations and you will be left feeling it was not money well spent.
Cheap and Cheerful Photographers
Choosing a wedding photographer can be very similar to that. If your budget is low there are plenty of “cheap and cheerful” wedding photographers to choose from. Quality is definitely harder to find, although if you have the luxury of time to search you may find someone offering better quality than you might expect. You might also just strike it lucky.
The more you pay the greater the chance you have of finding true quality when you choose a wedding photographer. There are a great number of talented photographers around. But be prepared to take enough time to look around to find your ideal match. Wedding photography style can vary considerably. Personal taste plays a big part, so keep looking if you haven’t found the style or level of quality and creativity you are looking for.
Why Experience Matters
Experience matters. This is not just for photo quality, but handling the pressure that goes with the job. Weddings and portrait sittings usually all have some sort of time constraints. The last thing you want is an inexperienced, flustered photographer on your hands. Going cheap can cost you a whole lot more that you might expect. You want the photographer to make you feel comfortable that they can handle the pressure. Indeed a good wedding photographer is often the one doing the calming and creating the relaxed atmosphere.
Why Does Good Wedding Photography Cost So Much?
One of the many questions people ask when they choose a wedding photographer is “How come it costs so much? I only wanted him / her for a couple of hours”. The reason is that you are not really paying for those two hours. When you buy a CD or Blu-Ray disc you’re not really paying for the plastic disc itself but the hours of work that went into the content and then creativity and imagination which inspired it. Photography at its best is an art. You are paying for the skill and expertise the photographer has built up over a number of years.
Depending on your requirements there may be a surprising amount of time spent in preparation and after the photographs have been taken. For example the wedding photographer may well take time before the wedding to visit your locations. This gives them an opportunity to work out the best places to take photographs. Without doing this you are unlikely to get the best results and your photographer may also disrupt the wedding timetable by searching for the best spots on your big day. If your wedding is at a location the photographer has worked at before, you are paying part of the price for that experience.
What Happens After the Pictures Have Been Taken
Countless hours can be spent after the event perfecting your photographs with image enhancement software. Sharpening, colour correcting, artistic effects, geo-tagging and annotating. Even if you leave aside enhancing photographs there are plenty of other small tasks to be done. If the wedding photographer has taken, say 1000 images at a wedding, it can take a a few hours just to download them from memory cards and burn them to DVDs for storage.
Is There a Real Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Photographers?
This is a difficult question to answer, because wedding photography is such a subjective subject. You may not like what I like and vice versa. You may even find a friend recommends you a wedding photographer they think is brilliant, and you think their photographs are weak.
It is fair to say that in general you get what you pay for. But be warned that there are wedding photographers that charge a lot and offer very little. They have low levels of skill and limited experience. Do bear this in mind when you come to choosing your wedding photographer.
How Important is Photography to You?
In many ways the quality of wedding photography you choose will depend on how important the photographs are to you. Perhaps you want wedding photos that when you look at them recall vivid memories of a great day in a unique and creative way. If this is the case then you will pay more than someone who just wants a basic record of their day. In most instances paying more means better quality.
Meeting Your Wedding Photographer
When you choose a wedding photographer you have one big advantage over choosing a hotel. You can meet the photographer beforehand and also get to see as many samples of their work as you want to.
The best thing you can do when selecting a wedding photographer is to meet more than one. Check out websites first. Make your shortlist and then meet at least two or three photographers.
Personality Makes a Difference
When you meet a photographer it is not only about the quality of their work. It is also about getting to know them. You don’t want a photographer who is too timid to organise people in order to get the best shots. However, you don’t want to choose a wedding a photographer who is going to boss everyone around and make people feel uncomfortable.
Some Tips About Equipment
Check out the equipment they use too. The big question is do they have spares? Spare batteries, spare memory cards, spare flash units. A cheap photographer may not have invested in a back up camera, but without one you may not have any photos at all.
This lack of professionalism is unlikely to happen away from the cheaper end of the market, but ask the question anyway. If you are on a tight budget you should still ask the question. It is too big a gamble to choose a wedding photographer who only has one camera and there is simply no need to do it. If you’re still thinking about skimping on your photographer, read this article on findaweddingphotographer.co.uk. It is a cautionary tale indeed.
If you have enjoyed this article, please share it. There are many resources for you to use when choosing a wedding photographer. You and Your Wedding magazine has some decent tips. There’s more good advice at the Huffington Post website and finally we love the Rock My Wedding Website. So go on, go choose a wedding photographer. You might also be interested in reading our wedding checklist to help you plan your wedding and our list of essential questions to ask your wedding suppliers.