For many couples trying to plan their dream wedding on a budget, hiring an amateur photographer or videographer to save money is tempting. Photography is expensive, in fact many photographers charge upwards of $5000 for their wedding packages. On the other hand, your wedding day happens only once, so you want to do things right as you’ll only have one “shot” at it. Most couples agree that hiring a pro is the only way to go, but some couples simply can’t afford it. We’ll discuss what to do, and what not to do when trying to save money on wedding photography. First lets look at some not-so-good options.
DO NOT have a relative with a nice camera take the pictures
Unless you have a relative who is an experienced amateur photographer and feels like running around and working instead of enjoying your wedding, don’t even think about it. Asking someone to shoot your wedding for free is asking a huge favor. Shooting a wedding involves a lot of preparation and a lot of work on the wedding day. This is no job for a family member. You want your family to enjoy your wedding day.
DO NOT leave disposable cameras on the tables during the reception
Unless you want blurry, poorly taken photos of your drunk cousin’s wild dance moves, this is a no-no. You’ll almost always receive photos that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
MAYBE hire a photography student from the local college, but be careful!
Ok, this sounds good in theory. A photo student will probably take pretty good photos that are at least in focus, and they probably would work for very little money. But, here are some things to consider. Have they ever shot a wedding? Will they be able to organize portraits, corral guests and make sure you get the shots you wanted? Probably not. If you decide to go this route, make sure the person seems reliable. Check their references and their previous work.
DO hire an Amateur Hobbyist or a semi-pro.
There are a lot of amateur photographers who would love the opportunity to make some extra cash practicing their hobby. They usually have great gear, and are experienced. They won’t charge as much as a professional wedding photographer because they don’t do it full time. They usually take pride in their work and will make sure they get the right shots. You might pay a semi-pro $500 instead of $1000, and you’ll end up with great quality photos for a fraction of the price. Don’t get me wrong, if you can afford a pro, it is definitely worth it and highly recommended. But if your budget is small, consider an amateur.
How to tell if your photographer is up to the task:
- Ask to see examples of their previous work, especially any weddings they have photographed.
- Ask what kind of equipment they use. Do they have multiple lenses, flashes, etc.? Can they shoot in low light conditions like a reception hall?
- Are they available to meet before the wedding to discuss the different family portraits you will want? Make a list and give it to them so they can refer to it when shooting.
- Do they have reliable transportation?
- Do they have someone who could cover for them if they get sick or can’t work?
- Do they shoot digital or film? How will the photos be provided to you after the wedding? –CD, memory card, etc.
- Will you retain the rights to all of the photos?
- Do they offer post–production services like Photoshopping images, album design etc.?