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Choosing Your Wedding Photographer: Quality vs Cost

Hello everyone and welcome to Amanda Swanson Photography’s first blog post. The reason I am starting this blog is I have 10 years of wedding industry knowledge in my head, and nothing I can really to do with it. That knowledge just sits up in my brain collecting dust. Because of that I have decided to share my insight with all of you.

It would only seem appropriate, since this is from a photographer website, to make my first post about choosing your wedding photographer. It seems to me that the average person seems to think that photographers are a dime a dozen, and for the most part the average person is not wrong. With every Ma and Pa trying their hand at the entrepreneur business, the photography market is saturated with “professionals.” However, this does not mean that every photographer will be best suited for your needs.

“What do you mean Amanda? Can’t anyone take a picture?” Well, yes and no. Anyone can take a picture. Turn on your phone, point it at someone, click, you have a portrait. However, how does that picture look? Does the lighting flatter the subject? Do you know how to control the lighting to better flatter the subject? Is the pose good? Is the expression real or feels forced? These questions are what separate the amateurs from the pros.

Like most of you I actively look for a good deal. It’s just part of our culture. We live in a competitive market, and if we can save a few dollars because of that competition, great! However something you will see a lot of in this industry is people price checking out the “cheapest” photographer, and still expecting top quality portraits. Now there is nothing wrong with shopping for a low-budget photographer. Every wedding has a budget and sometimes you just cannot afford the $5,000+ wedding photographer. I myself was one of those brides. But what you need to remember is that often in this industry you get what you pay for. If a photographer is charging a low rate, it’s usually for a reason, and that reason is not to save you money. Most photographers that are charging only a couple hundred dollars are new to the industry and do not feel comfortable charging large sums of money. They are usually still learning their camera, how to pose people, how to control light, how to work a room at a reception, how to stay on schedule, and/ or how to process images. Makes sense, we all start somewhere. My first wedding I charged $100.00 for 8 hours of work, not including processing. This doesn’t mean the photographer is bad at their job. It just means they are either new, or just are not ready to really compete in the industry. Because of this know that if you are booking a low-cost photographer, you may not get those stunning pictures your saw on pinterest.

Now the pros to hiring a young buck that’s new to the industry. You are supporting your local market. You are helping a budding artist learn the ropes of the wedding industry. You can help them develop their portfolio. You are giving them the opportunity to make connections with other vendors in the industry. You are giving them life experience. You will still get images that document your special day. So if you are interested in supporting local blossoming talent, then hire that photographer.

Now for the other side of the coin. Why to choose a photographer that charges more. I want you to imagine that your wedding is done and you are sitting at home looking through your wedding photos. Imagine how they actually look. Imagine the poses, imagine the lighting, imagine the mood, imagine seeing all those special moments you wanted photographed. I bet most of you imagined these images as perfectly lit, you look the most stunning you have in your whole life, each moment was captured at the perfect second, and every image is a masterpiece. Well, in order to get your album to look like that, you need to hire someone who has lots of experience. I would even go as far as to say you need to hire a “specialist.”

This specialist’s job is to know all the ins and outs of not only takings photos, but knowing weddings in general. They know how to anticipate those special moments and capture them perfectly. They know how to cope with changes and random problems that occur during the day and make those moment appear perfect and planned. They know how to herd the group of kittens that is your family into the perfect group shot, while getting them all to look at the camera at the same time. They will make something magical happen in those photos no matter what. Not only can they handle all these issues that would stress even the sanest of brides out, they will do it with a smile, all while convincing everyone else that everything is alright and that there is nothing to worry about.

Brides, another way to look at your photographer is the following. They’re that person that is going to be by your side all day. I cannot begin to count how many brides I have been standing next to, moments before they walk down the aisle, that start freaking out, and there is no one else there to help calm them down. It’s now my job to comfort her and tell her that she is gorgeous, her fiance loves her, her family loves her, and there is no reason to freak out, because she already knows the answer to the only thing that matters that day is “I do.” Ladies and gentleman, a professional that knows what you are feeling at every moment of the day, and knows how to best help or use that energy is an invaluable asset to have at your wedding. Every penny is worth it for that service alone.

There is also the technical side of things. That professional photographer knows their camera and equipment inside and out. It means they don’t need to take time to focus on settings, because that should just be second nature. It means that the photographer can now focus all their attention on the bridal party, and posing, and helping them to have fun and feel comfortable. Our job is to keep things moving smoothly, and professionally. That comes with experience.

All these reasons and so many more are why you go with the expensive photographer. Their knowledge is simply invaluable. You may remember that when I listed the pros to hiring a low-budget photographer, the word “you” popped up a lot. That’s because you will be more involved in helping the photographer on your wedding day. When hiring a more expensive photographer you are removing that additional stress from your wedding day, which allows you to focus more on your wedding as a whole, rather than just one aspect of the day.

At the end of the day the biggest thing to take from this is when your wedding is said and done, there really isn’t much you keep from your wedding day. You get the rings, the dress, your spouse, and your photos. So when you are debating your budget and deciding where to put your money, remember that your photos are the one thing you take from that day, that actually documents your memories. It’s the thing that you can look at and share with your friends and family. It’s up to you how much value you put into that, but in my opinion it’s the second most valuable thing you take away from your wedding (the first being your spouse,) and it is worth every cent.

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