Should we use a pro photographer for our wedding, and why? How could we cut costs?
June 9, 2012 1:05 PM Subscribe
Should we use a professional photographer for our wedding? Is it worth it, and why? If so, how could we cut costs?
posted by EmilyClimbs to Shopping (73 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
We're getting married this fall and are hesitant to spend thousands of dollars on a photographer, as seems to be the standard. We could afford it, but we're both pretty thrifty people, and we're just thinking of all the other things we could do with that much money instead.
We would like to have a couple nice pictures we could put up on the wall, but we don't feel like we need a whole album full of high-quality photos... we'll ask family and friends to take pictures and share them with us, and it doesn't really matter if those are imperfect. And we don't really want a stranger around taking pictures while we're getting ready anyway. The main reason we're leaning towards a photographer is that we want to have photos of the ceremony but we don't want to ask any of our guests to take on the pressure and distraction of being on point to take pictures during the ceremony. But even there, we could go with a student or someone else inexperienced willing to build their portfolio for cheap or free. Another reason I'm hesitant about spending so much is that I really dislike the way I look in most photos-- a combination of me being really squinty and blinky, disliking the way I look when I fake-smile, and just being pretty picky and critical of my appearance in photos (although not across-the-board; there are a handful of photos of me that I really love, they're just few and far between.) So since I dislike such a large proportion of photos of myself it seems crazy to pay thousands of dollars on the hopes that these will magically be different (although on the flip side maybe that means we really need a great pro if I want to have any confidence at all in getting even a few photos of myself at my wedding that I like?)
So how much difference does it actually make to have a pro photographer? So many people say it's really important, but what exactly are the advantages? (The ceremony will be outdoors in full daylight, by the way.) How much does having a great and very experienced pro matter versus a middling, cheaper pro, versus a student with little or no practice, versus just friends and family? Did you or someone you know have no photographer or an inexperienced photographer and regret it, and why?
I know that part of why wedding photos are so expensive is that there's typically a ton of time spent on post-processing/touch-ups/etc. And I get it and totally believe in people being paid a living wage for their time and work. But I'm curious, how much of an impact does all that post-processing actually have on how good the final product looks? And if we don't actually want hundreds of nicely polished and touched-up photos, can we ask them to only do the editing on a few photos we pick? Will they do that and will it bring down the prices significantly? I haven't really seen that mentioned on the photographers' websites I've browsed.
If we do go with a pro, how else would it make sense to save money? How much difference is there between the best of the pros and the mediocre ones? If we let them keep the photo rights and purchase only a few prints, would that probably save us much? We're thinking about things like having them there a shorter period (like 2 hours), although that doesn't seem to make as much of a difference in prices as you'd think, and not having a second shooter. We've thought about going with someone inexperienced who's charging less. But then part of me thinks if we're going to spend $500-$1000 on this anyway then it doesn't make sense to cheap out and stop there, that it's kind of the worst of both worlds. What are the smartest ways to get the best value here? (Also, the wedding's less than 4 months away and many of the best photographers and those with the best value are probably already booked... so at this point is it smarter to just wait and try to find a good photographer last minute who might be looking to fill in for a cancellation and give us a bargain?)
Tldr: Should we have a pro photographer for our wedding, and if so, why? And what are the best ways to save money if we do?
(Any suggestions for specific photographers in the DC area who are affordable and/or flexible are very welcome, too!)