Wedding Planning

Choosing the Best Wedding Photographer for Your Budget

Finding a wedding photographer isn’t difficult – you can throw your engagement ring and hit twenty. Hiring one whose style you like and that you can afford, well, that’s a different style entirely.

Unfortunately, anyone with a half-decent camera thinks they’re a wedding photographer these days. Maybe they’re trying to get in on what they see as a lucrative industry, but maybe they’re genuinely interested in sharing your special day with you. You won’t know until you start to talk to a few. Here’s a few tips on how to find a wedding photographer on a small budget. First, figure out your budget for wedding photography, and then follow these steps:

Don’t just google ‘Best Local Wedding Photographer On A Budget’.
The first ten pages are results of people who are probably (not always, but probably) well out of your price range. You’ll have to be a little more creative. Put the word out amongst friends, family and co-workers that you’re looking for a photographer to talk to, one that preferably has wedding experience.  Many people will tell you that ‘you get what you pay for’ when it comes to cheaper photographers, but that doesn’t also mean that the most expensive option is the best.

Look on budget-oriented websites.
If you’re in the US, you’ve got a range of options. Thumbtack.com seems to be growing quite a lot. You post what you’re looking for and then photographers make bids for your business. Gigmasters.com is another place where you can compare vendors without the gloss and glitter of wedding-oriented websites.

Think of other options.
Think about tapping the local talent by checking on Craigslist and at local colleges. There are photography majors who want to build a portfolio who would likely cut you a great deal that a professional couldn’t.  Anyone you talk to should be able to provide a sample of photographs they’ve taken so that you can see their style.

Try them out.
Even if an ‘Engagement Session’ isn’t free, it should be a pretty nominal fee. Those pictures should be able to tell you if you like the way you interact with the photographer and how you feel about their style.  If your budget allows it, you can try several ‘engagement sessions’ – there’s nothing wrong with having lots of beautiful pictures of yourselves!

Ask for extras.
These non-traditional photographers may or may not be able to offer post-processing for your pictures, but you are far more likely to be able to retain the rights to your photos. Professional wedding photographers usually don’t allow you to keep the rights to your photographs, and charge you for digital copies or physical prints. By having all of your photos, you have the ability to retouch them later as you see fit and to print and use as you like.

Don’t tell them your budget too early.
By offering your budget amount at the start of the conversation, you lose a lot of negotiating power. You want to be able to talk to the photographer first and get an idea for their style and personality before telling them what you’re able to spend. If they can tell you a few budgets that they’ve worked with in the past and what those budgets have covered, you’ll have a better idea of what you are going to get for the amount you’re able to spend.

Stick to your budget, but make sacrifices if you have to.
It is always hard to walk away from what your heart is set on.  If you end up being faced with a photographer you totally love, a package that offers everything you need and want but is just out of your price range, maybe it’s time to reconsider your budget.  Don’t try to spend more than you can, but see what else can be juggled around or reallocated.  Can you shave off some costs on your wedding cake?  Maybe don’t spend money on expensive programs? Cut down some of your floral arrangements?  If you find the wedding photographer that’s perfect for your big day, try to make it work for both of you.  You’ll be glad you did, and they’ll do their best to make it perfect since you made it happen.

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