The Difference Between A “Budget Friendly” Photographer and A “High End” Photographer

Why are photographers priced so dramatically different?

You’ve got the date set, the venue booked, catering secured, and now you need a photographer to capture the magic of the day. It seems like  everyone knows someone who is a photographer, and when you get engaged there are a lot of; “hey, my cousin is a photographer and can shoot your wedding” offers.  Whether it’s a relative, family friend, or even a coworker who does photography on the side but not as a full time job. When wedding costs are adding up people are always looking for that “budget friendly” option.

BUT, Did you know the second biggest regret couples have after their wedding, (First is not hiring a wedding planner, which we know a great planner 😉 ), is not hiring a quality wedding photographer. Sadly, most don’t realize until long after their wedding, when they get their photos back (if they actually do). By then, it’s far too late to do anything about capturing those forever moments.

Because after it is all said and done, the only thing you have left from the wedding day outside of your marriage is the memories captured in photos. So who you trust and hire to capture these moments is paramount.

Photo by Kelley Williams Photography

While it may seem appealing to cut prices where you can, it is so important to NOT cut costs on your photographer and here’s why..

  1. It’s the one thing you keep from your big day

You will spend a lot of money overall on your day, but your photographs are the one thing you actually get to keep forever. Imagine cutting costs on your photographer and then hating your images or worse, not getting images. (Sadly, we have heard stories about this and it’s heartbreaking.)  Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, so make sure you spend the money to capture it.

  1. Knowledge

Most professional vendors invest a lot of time and money into their business and the knowledge that goes with running one, professional photographers are no different. Professional photographers have done many weddings and know all the things that could go wrong and usually have backup equipment in case it does. They also know how to use light to their advantage to get that perfect golden hour shot. 

  1. Experience

As mentioned before, experience is huge when it comes to photographing one of the most important days in your life. Professionals will know how to pose you to get the best shots and use lighting to their advantage because they’ve done this many times before. Additionally, they know what is happening and when and how to capture it like a fly on the wall. Great photographers balance capturing your day naturally, and creating the moments.  While hiring someone who is just starting out sounds better for the pocket book, they may not have the experience and know how to capture all the important moments. 

Another big experience area is your experience before and after the wedding day. A knowledgeable and experienced photographer makes their couple’s experience seamless, clear, concise and engaging throughout their time before the wedding, then they cleary communicate expectations and progress after the wedding. Little things like this take a lot of time and years to hone. 

Photo by Nikki Ryan Photography

  1. Quality images and editing 

Just because someone you know has a fancy camera, doesn’t mean they know how to use all the bells and whistles that come with it. You may get your images back and find that the lighting was terrible or they’re over exposed. You may be saving a couple hundred (or more) by hiring someone who is starting out, or “budget friendly”, but that doesn’t mean you will get images you love. What’s the saying? “ You get what you pay for.”

Photo by Jenny Chapman Photography

  1. They’re reputable

I can’t even begin to tell you the horror stories I’ve heard of a couple who has hired a cheaper option and then been ghosted when it comes to getting their images! Going with a cheaper option may seem appealing until you are spending more money to go after the person who hasn’t released all the precious images of your wedding day. While that is a more extreme circumstance, it has happened. Also another reason to go with someone from a preferred vendor list! 

  1. They can help with your timeline

In the event you decide not to hire a wedding planner, a photographer can help you with your day of timeline. For instance, if you are getting married at 4pm and plan on a first look, a photographer can tell you when you need to have your first look done and when you should have your hair and makeup done in order to do so. Someone with less experience may not provide that same insight.

Before deciding on a photographer, here are some things to keep in mind and questions to ask..

  1. Will they be shooting with another person that day?
  2. Do they have a contract (very important!!)
  3. What is included in their package? Do you get the rights to the photos?
  4. What happens in an emergency? Is there a backup plan?
  5. How long after the event will your photos be ready? (This is important!)
  6. What happens if they have to cancel? Do you get your money back?

Another thing we really recommend is booking this person as your engagement photographer so you can get a sense of what it will be like to work with them before actually photographing your big day.

Let’s face it, long after the food has been consumed, the last song danced to and the guests have gone home, you are left with your photos to look back on the day and even look at moments you didn’t experience the day of. Don’t regret not having the best photos to remember your day. If your budget is tight, I suggest skimping somewhere else to ensure you capture those priceless, once in a lifetime, moments.

Photo by Shannon Cronin Photography

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