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A collection of stories. We are all about photography for those who are crazy in love and education for photographers who love capturing the madly in love.

The nicole sarah blog

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Hiring a Cheap Wedding Photographer


If you are a friend or client of mine you probably notice that I am always an advocate of quality and sustainability. This is because I often hear of complaints from couples regarding their final photographs when they hired an amateur wedding photographer or simply, didn’t budget for a quality professional.

But I’m on a Budget

Everyone has a different budget range, and I am not saying that people who cannot afford a professional or higher priced wedding photographer are doing something wrong. Far from that! I completely understand having been a bride myself, what it is like to have a limited budget for photography and a wedding in itself. I also understand that all photographers start somewhere, however there are cons that go along with that. I will stress that the majority of the time you get what you pay for. I believe it is important to save over time and allocate an appropriate amount for a professional, so that you can relive your day happily, for many years to come! You can spend a little or a lot (into the tens of thousands) on your wedding day, but your photographs will be the only tangible memory of your day.

There are many things to consider when hiring a wedding photographer when on a budget, but here are some of the most important.

Cost Expectations

Most people do not know the average cost of wedding photography in their city. In most major metropolitan areas, you can expect to see the minimum price of a professional, seasoned wedding photographer start at around $3500. This absolutely varies among locations and photographers. Shocked at the cost? Read on to find out why.

 Quality, Quality, Quality

Again, most couples do have a budget for photography. However, it is is easy to look at too many photographers, with many varying styles and become overwhelmed. Perception of art is very subjective, but some people mix up style with quality. What is the lighting like? What do other, past clients have to say? What is this photographers reputation? Is their website polished and professional?  It can be difficult to compare solely on price, since every photographer offers something different. Try to think about what goes into that cost. Look at two portfolios side by side and compare all of the things mentioned above including the work itself.

Not Just One Day’s Work

A Pablo Picasso story from the Village Voice:
There’s a great story about Pablo Picasso. Some guy told Picasso he’d pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, and said, “One million dollars, please.”

“A million dollars?” the guy exclaimed. “That only took you thirty seconds!”

“Yes,” said Picasso. “But it took me fifty years to learn how to draw that in thirty seconds.”

Your wedding photography experience doesn’t start and end with a photographer running around like mad taking photos on your wedding day. First is our years of experience and training. We have to communicate with you beforehand. Typically we have a consultation, phone calls, meetings, on site meetings, planning sessions, paperwork and many other things that take time before your wedding day. After the wedding of course, the bulk of our work is in editing which consists of culling images, choosing the best ones, editing which includes skin retouching. Some weddings depending on the size can take 2-4 weeks of full time editing work.  Afterwards we have album design work, packaging and delivery costs. There’s also all of the other costs including equipment depreciation, insurance and other administrative tasks that go along with owning a small business. There’s a lot more, but I’ll save that for another post.


You Get What you Pay For – The Cost of Hiring an Amateur or “Cheap” Photographer

Here are some stories *names have all been changed* of people who hired cheap wedding photographers.

” Nothing was edited, I have 0 FAMILY pictures, I have NO photos with my parents, grandparents and sibling on my wedding day I really do not know what we were thinking. I tell my story to every couple that I marry who are not hiring a pro photographer . . . Hoping that they will re-consider!”

“We absolutely had the worst experience!! I would never want anyone to go through what we did..”

“We decided to ‘save’ on our budget by having a couple family members who take ‘really good’ pictures to capture our wedding . . . needless to say, I am still in therapy for that stupid decision . . . biggest mistake that I have ever made!!! No special photographs with the ones that I love . . .”

Megan: “I got a couple hundred pictures, none with my sisters, or my sick grandmother, only 2 with my mom. I got none with just both sides of parents either. And the photo booth costed $400 and it wasn’t working!! We got 33 pictures from it. All night my guests were asking why it wasn’t working.”

That is just a sampling.

However, it is crucial to compare and do homework instead of just shopping for a price tag. After all, you want to relive your wedding day through your photographs with a smile for many years to come.

If you have any questions about planning your wedding photography experience, please comment below or send me an email at [email protected]. I would be happy to speak with you.

Happy Planning!

Need more inspiration? Check out our latest post on why you don’t need a second shooter!

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  1. Jeffrey Manabat says:

    I think this could apply to any wedding vendors… like our photobooth. I spend lots of time researching and studying software/program to use. buying and testing equipment. building our custom photobooth unit. There are so many factors….how we price our service. We value ourself base on what we are providing.

  2. Matthew Schonewille says:

    Well done Nicole,
    There is probably no surprise that I am commenting on this great blog and very delicate topic. I do agree and if I can go one step further that along with any wedding comes a set of expectations. In our experience those expectations are in many cases the cause of many problems. Ie. if a couple has a very modest budget, they can;t expected the quality or same service as with a huge budget. As you mentioned before wedding photography is one service/experience where you are 100% relying on that person to best document, present, visualize and provide you with how you are going to remember your very special wedding for ever. BIG RESPONSIBILITY! 🙂

    Keep those blogs coming!! 🙂

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