Photos that won't break the bank?
April 3, 2011 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest a wedding photographer in Los Angeles who charges less than $2k?

I've quickly discovered how much wedding photographers cost in LA... a LOT. While I appreciate how much work they're doing, I can't afford a minimum of $2k to hire any of them. I've done a few searches through the Knot, google, recommendations from my venue, etc, but literally everyone has been at minimum $2k. I'd really LIKE to have nice photos, but I'm not prepared to spend thousands of dollars on it... help? Or am I just way off base thinking I can spend less than this?
posted by annie o to Shopping (18 answers total)
Maybe there are some college kids interested in earning a few hundred bucks? Contact UCLA and USC and ask if there are any student photography clubs. I'm sure there are.
posted by dfriedman at 9:23 AM on April 3, 2011

My girlfriend got a student photographer from the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. The young woman had a portfolio to show and was quite talented. The pix turned out great. It wasn't very expensive -- the fee was for the shoot and the files only, and then they had to deal w/getting prints on their own.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:33 AM on April 3, 2011

Check with a couple of photographer nexus areas in Los Angeles---Samy's Camera, The Icon and Colortek all of them are very respected photography businesses in Los Angeles, and you should be able to find someone in your price range. As an artist, I plead with you: don't expect a good artist to work for nothing. Don't expect a student to work for nothing and produce good quality work. It's your wedding.
posted by effluvia at 9:39 AM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: To clarify, I'm not expecting anyone to work for nothing. I'm happy to pay up to $1k, but 2 is pushing it for me, and that's the bare minimum that I've found on my own. I also don't need all the post-production stuff many studios offer - In addition to you know, taking the photos, I just would like the digital files, maybe light retouching on selected shots.
posted by annie o at 9:51 AM on April 3, 2011

Miguel Vasconcellos shot our wedding. It was a few years ago and I don't recall how much he charged, but I'm pretty sure it was less than $2k.

Also, you can bargain with them. They're businesspeople too, and even though they suggest the Cadillac, you can point to the Kia.
posted by incessant at 9:53 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

2K and up is pretty typical here in NYC as well so you might be kind of stuck if you want quality work.
I don't know what Justine's rates are, but her work is excellent so it might be worth investigating!
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:55 AM on April 3, 2011

I also suggest NOT going with hiring a random photo student to do this. Wedding photography requires a specialist if you want it done right (that's why I don't shoot weddings). In theory, its a once in a lifetime event, so you want to make sure the person you hire is capable, confident and experienced... not a student who might be figuring things out as the go (at your expense).
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:58 AM on April 3, 2011

I have a friend in LA that does wedding photography. I'm not sure whether she'll be in the cost range you're looking for, but you could drop her a line through her website and state your price preference.
posted by sektah at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2011

If you're willing to pay up to $1k, you could probably get at least two student photographers to shoot for the day, which helps cover a variety of viewpoints, without having someone running around like mad during your ceremony (and possibly causing a minor distraction from the events). For our wedding, we had a professional who had two or three assistants, and they covered my wife and I well, as well as the wedding party and other guests. Add in the single-use cameras distributed to guests for the day, and you'll have the wedding well covered.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:38 AM on April 3, 2011

Our wedding photographer is going to cost around $600. She's brilliant - a talented photojournalist who does weddings as well as more "serious" work - but she is only there for a couple of hours, taking pictures of people getting ready, the ceremony itself, and the group and couple portrait shots.

We've got enough camera-happy friends that we feel the reception will document itself. So, if you think you can get away without needing someone for the entire day, this might work for you, concentrating the really high quality pics where you need them most, and relying on talented friends for the other stuff.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:35 AM on April 3, 2011

I put an ad up on the bulletin board of my local (highly-regarded) art college and got a very good student photographer who did my wedding.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:41 AM on April 3, 2011

A possible way to lower the cost: you could see if the photographer would be willing to be there for half the usual time -- say, 3 hours, just the ceremony, family pics and the beginning of the reception -- for 2/3 of the fee. This would work especially well if your wedding is at an "off" time -- in the morning, for example, or a Sunday or Friday night -- so the photographer could still shoot a full-price event on Saturday night.

If you go with a student, you need to be more aware of details yourself. Draw up a list of the posed photos you want (Bride+Mom+Dad, Bride+Groom+Siblings, whatever). Make sure you know where exactly you want the posed photos taken, on the site. Keep track of what's been taken on the day of. You're basically going to have to do more work yourself, both before and during the wedding, if the person behind the camera is less experienced.
posted by palliser at 12:52 PM on April 3, 2011

I recommend Bella Photography. Bella is a national photography shop. If you decide to engage them, they'll have you go on their website to rate about 100 pictures. Based on that, they put you in touch with someone in your area who shoots in the style you like. You can change the photographer if you don't click after speaking on the phone.

We used them for our wedding three years ago (in Philadelphia) and they were terrific. As I recall, we spent just under $3k to have two photographers for eight hours each, and it included the album, two mini albums and the rights to all of our pictures, which came to us on DVD. You could certainly do it less expensively, and I think they have a sale going on now.
posted by Wet Hen at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2011

Years from now, you won't care about the formal shots. Seriously. They are boring, even framed. Boring to friends, boring even to you. Lots of what passes for gorgeous wedding photography is set up, anyway.

Candids are what you want. Do you have friends with good cameras, who might be willing to shoot a bunch of pics at the wedding? Catch the kids, the dancing, the kiss? Get a couple decent shots of the wedding party?

This is not to say you should ask them to do it for free. Give them a case of wine. They'll enjoy photographing the party, and you'll never worry about what you don't have.
posted by torticat at 7:59 PM on April 3, 2011

$2k is pretty West-Coast standard for an engagement shoot, wedding portraits and snapshots, editing, a password-protected photo website, and a dvd. The people I know who have paid in the $1000-$1500 range wound up with unreliable photographers (people who canceled just before signing the contract or didn't show up to the wedding day) and bad pictures (one friend asked the photographer for two specific shots from moments during the ceremony and he didn't get them). In the end, photos are probably not something you want to skimp on. This is the only part of your wedding day (besides the marriage itself, hopefully) that will last, and you want to make sure you're getting something quality. Get cheaper place settings or favors or something. Don't cut corners with photos.
posted by easy_being_green at 11:25 PM on April 3, 2011

MeMail sent!
posted by inviolable at 2:34 AM on April 4, 2011

Try some photography forums,FB groups
posted by WizKid at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2011

Try He just moved to LA recently from a southern state; did the photos for many weddings that I attended. He's awesome. And very reasonable. He's got a vibe that you won't get from the regular kind of wedding photographer - he's a painter, sculptor, and photographer who does weddings on the side. Really, check him out.
posted by Mimzy at 4:54 PM on April 7, 2011

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