1. I can’t afford a professional wedding photographer If you have a wedding budget, then you can afford it. Plan to designate 10% towards your photographer for a basic service. If you require more options, such as all-day coverage or an expensive album, consider increasing that percentage to 20% or more. Many photographers, including yours truly, offer a gift registry option to help cover a wedding package or even funds for extras beyond the big day, such as that album that seems a bit beyond financial reach at the moment. Anything is possible. If your ideal photographer seems beyond your budget, let them know. They might be able to tailor their services to meet a lower price, particularly if the date is either coming soon or in the “off-season.”
2. Digital photography makes the job easier In some respects, yes. No more clumsy film changes. Easier to spot errant camera settings, check results of lighting setups on the spot, etc. Digital photography still requires a significant amount of post-wedding work to achieve professional results, however. In the days of film, this would be performed by a lab (with the costs passed on to the client), and the photographer could go about shooting more weddings or spend week days shooting in the studio or working in their “day job.” Most digital photographers handle their own post-production work, however, and need to include allowance for this time in their package prices.
The busiest photographers can afford to outsource the post-production work or hire staff to perform it instead. In this case, however, you’ll likely still be paying a premium for the busy photographer’s valuable time. Realise your photographer also needs to account for time spent before the wedding in consultation, visiting clients and venues, doing any pre-wedding shoots and associated processing and printing, readying themselves for the day, etc. Finally, the apparent “ease” of digital photography means most photographers shoot significantly more images and spend considerably more time at weddings than during the film days. This reality actually increases the time and therefore the costs in post-production. One day of wedding photography can occupy a decent professional photographer for a full working week.
3. Digital photography is cheaper than film photography Digital storage is cheaper than film, archiving is easier, and nothing is wasted if you just delete a frame. It’s free, right? That’s only a portion of the equation.Digital technology also means that a camera’s lifespan is much shorter than film cameras of only a few years ago. Technology becomes outdated quickly, and the disposable mentality of modern manufacturing ensures that a photographer will simply purchase a new model rather than replace a worn-out shutter after 150,000+ frames.
The same can be said for high-end computer equipment required for professional digital imaging. Acquiring proper gear to do professional work requires more financial outlay than it did a few years ago. Keep in mind that for a professional, time is money, and the post-production work referenced above in number 2 requires more time of the photographer than was required in the days of film. Finally, the other costs associated with running a business don’t discriminate between digital and film: overhead, staff, insurance, pension, paid vacation. A freelancer must factor in all of these costs when charging for their services.
4. Our snaps can just be fixed in Photoshop to make them look “professional” Photoshop can indeed cover many sins. Clean up the rubbish and balance the lighting in formal portraits? Clone out the busy and distracting background elements? Open the groom’s eyes? No problem.Unfortunately, it becomes a problem when one has to apply this practice to 500 photographs (or considerably more in some cases).
Creating professional results from problematic images takes a large investment of time, when it can be accomplished at all. Hiring a professional retoucher to “fix” amateur photos can end up costing as much as hiring a professional photographer in the first place. The right professional photographer will be able to control a scene with selective framing, composition, and lighting. Professional lenses will ensure sharp, detailed images without resorting to drastic digital sharpening to create an artificially sharp look. Your images will enlarge beautifully without requiring a digital artist’s skills.
5. Competition in the photo market is fierce, so I can shop on price and expect similar results Make sure you ask lots of questions and look at actual prints and albums before you even begin to decide. A weekend snapper shooting with entry-level kit might be able to produce reasonable looking images on your backlit computer monitor, but large prints will suffer in comparison to similar images taken with professional-level gear. The cheaper photographer might not have the proper insurance to cover themselves and any staff working with them should something happen.
The cheaper photographer might not have back-up equipment to cover them in case their primary camera fails or a lens breaks. The cheaper photographer might not have an appropriate colour-calibrated monitor to ensure colour fidelity, plus proper contrast and detail in your images. The cheaper photographer might not be able to deliver your product within the time specified, if indeed they can stay in business long enough to deliver at all.Most bargain photographers underestimate the cost required to do business and stay in business. Be certain of your choice before you hand your budgeted funds over.
6. An album doesn’t really matter to me. I’ll be happy with the photos on a disc. How many of your own digital photos make it beyond the memory card? Or see any light outside of the “Photos” folder on your hard drive? Think very carefully about what your wedding photographs and the associated memories will mean to you after the day has passed. Will 4×6-inch prints from Jessops suffice? A mass-market digital book?Of course albums decisions don’t necessarily need to be made before the wedding. A professional photographer will generally store and archive your image files so they may be accessed later for enlargements and albums.
Check with your photographer, however, as some will only keep files for a specified time frame. Also, make a duplicate copy of your disc and store it in a safety deposit box, just in case. If the bargain photographer you hired can’t afford to stay in business, or the photographer suffers from some sort of catastrophic data failure or theft, you might find yourself a year from the wedding without his or her support to fall back on.
7. I don’t need an expensive wedding album. I’ll just use Jessops or Blurb. The digital album industry exploded just a short while ago, and now consumers have a dizzying array of choices for their snaps and professional photos. If you’re happy to have your wedding book match your vacation snaps in terms of build quality, design, and longevity, then take your pick. Most services have an online design application to make it easy to design and order your book.A basic wedding album doesn’t have to break the bank, however, and your photographer will know some cheaper options, even if they don’t advertise them in their own materials. Don’t forget the gift registry idea mentioned above. Ask your photographer if this is a feature they can add, and you just might be able to afford that luxury 12×18-inch 40-side leather-bound book.
Still confused on some points? Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your photographer or any other wedding professional. We are in business to provide great service, so it’s in our interest to make sure our clients are well-educated. Best of luck out there.