Are All Wedding Photographers Created Equal?
The answer is NO. All photographers out there are absolutely NOT created equal. So often, we are tempted to go with the photographer offering the best price when looking for the right person to shoot a wedding or portrait session. But is price the only factor to consider? I say, no. I have had friends who have selected their photographer because the price couldn't be beat, but they waited over a YEAR to get their wedding pictures back. Or even worse, I know people who do not have a single picture from their wedding printed because they were not worth printing (how sad!!) Please, don't let this happen to you.
It's easy to look at price as a determining factor because it is hard to understand why wedding photographers are so expensive. Many people think they are getting the same product with a less expensive photographer, but that is not always true. Some less expensive photographers are incredibly talented but offer their services at a lower price because they are trying to get their start. Others are just people with a camera who think shooting weddings sounds like fun.
So, why are most wedding photographers so expensive?
1. Equipment. Do you have a camera that is so expensive you feel the need to take an insurance policy out on it? No? Me neither. The cameras and equipment professional photographers use are very expensive, and make a big difference in the quality of the pictures you will get back.
2. Experience. You can't really put a price tag on the years of experience a good photographer has. Education and training fall under experience too. That education comes with a price.
3. Style. There's a big difference between just any picture, and a picture taken with a style and personality that really captures the feel of your wedding. If a photographer has a style you love and is able to photograph your day the way you would want it remembered, priceless.
4. Raw talent/passion. Some people have it and you want it. Other people....just have a camera. When you talk to a photographer, if you can tell that they really love what they do and have a passion for the craft, you know you are on the right track.
5. You don't get any do overs. A higher price tag doe not guarantee that you are hiring a great photographer, but price most often does indicate the value of a photographer. As mentioned above, there are some excellent photographers out there that are just looking to get a start and know that they don't have the experience needed to give clients the confidence it takes to get jobs. Most often a higher price tag is backed by an extensive portfolio, great reviews and years of experience (We'll get into this more below).
So, what do you look for when hiring a photographer?
1. Website/portfolio. Many wedding photographers have a website where you can look at their work. If not, check Facebook. Maybe they have a Facebook account dedicated to their photography where you can look at their work. If you don't see a portfolio anywhere, ask the photographer. If they don't have any work to show you, absolutely don't hire them. A good photographer will have plenty of pictures to show (even if they aren't of weddings) because they enjoy taking pictures, it's their hobby. So, if a photographer is good, they will have something to show you.
2. Reviews. Check Yelp for reviews. If they don't have a page on Yelp, check their Facebook page again. If their Facebook page is set up as a small business page, there will likely be reviews there. If not, maybe they have tagged people on Facebook or Instagram when posting their work. If that is all you have to work with, ask the tagged clients. Send a message and ask the tagged people how they liked working with the photographer. Anyone who recently planned a wedding will be very sympathetic to you and your search for the right photographer and will likely respond to your message. They would have wanted the same favor!
3. What kind of feeling do you get from the photographer? When you are talking to someone, it's pretty easy to get an idea of how they feel about what they do. As mentioned above, someone who has the passion and excitement you hope to see will make it clear to you that they love what they do.
4. Tell the photographer what you can afford to pay. If a photographer is outside of your budget (but you really hope to work with them), be honest with them and let them know what you can pay. If the wedding is on a day they don't have anything booked, they may be willing to work with you budget. All you can do it ask. And you would be shocked at the deals you can get by asking.
Please don't let this post discourage you. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, it is still possible to find a good photographer at a great price. If anything, I hope this helps you know what to look for in the search for a photographer, regardless of the price. Best of luck!