Ok, I’m a photog, so my other photogs might not like what I’m about to say! Sorry, guys, but I need to help these brides on budgets!!!
When I was getting married, we wanted to save money and since I was taking a photography course, I just asked my prof if there were any students that were interested in taking my Wedding Pictures at cost to build their portfolio. My professor even had a list of jobs that local businesses requested. I loved looking at all the possible job offers.
In 2002, digital cameras had low resolution so the only real option was film. It cost us $200 for the film, her gas and developing the images. We basically got 4X6 proofs of our favorites images and 5X7 of the typical posed pics for my mother-in-law.
Now, cost is a lot less since you can take thousands of pictures with one memory card that is reusable. That means no cost right there. Then a CD costs only a couple bucks. Ok, now you are up to $3! If you want to give gas money just add another $25. Don’t forget to feed your photographer or at least give a tip.
Now, if you want prints, and who doesn’t, I do not recommend WalMart or even WalGreens because their printers are not calibrated to the computers that your photographer processes your images on. You may end up having a weird tint to them or off colors.
(One of my clients spent most of the day at WalMart, frustrated, because the clerk would not change the toner in the printer. The pictures were printing out pink! It was a major head ache for her. There is a reason we recommend professional prints!)
Ask if the photographer knows about any on-line pro printers that calibrate their printers to the same color on their computers. If they can, ask them to give you the price of the actual print and shipping and handling.
These prices may be around $2.50 for a 4X6 but only around $16 for 16X20! So if you just want to e-mail your friends, upload your pics to facebook and myspace and have the CD of images for archival purposes, definitely ask for it!
But make sure you can at least get huge prints to line your walls and beautiful pictures to fill an album so you can enjoy the beauty of the day for the rest of your lives. You may spend a $50 to $150 but that’s better than spending $20 at WalMart and getting "iffy" pics.
Here is where I definitely recommend caution.
First make sure you see many pictures of the photographers, even if they aren’t wedding related.
Make sure you like the photographer and
Make sure you have a contract out-lining everything including when you want the photographer to start and end shooting, how much they will get, what you will get, when you expect the images, etc.
I am happy with my pictures, but I got what I paid for. The images capture the beauty of the day, but they were not very artistic. I love that I could see tears in my eyes and joy on our faces. However, they didn’t have super vivid colors. (Maybe they would have if photo shop was commonly used then.) I liked my photographer. She really accommodated my desires and I still enjoy my images today. I even have the negatives the equivalent to the CD of images so I can always print a picture if I want. I’m glad that I got to help her build her portfolio too.
Another thing to think about is photographers just starting their business. Even though they may have a high price up front, they may be willing to slide a little or a lot just so they can get their name out there and build their business. It can be hard starting a business and almost anything is appreciated.
How do you know who is just starting his or her business? Check when the first blog was posted or ask them when they started their business. Don’t ask how long they have been shooting. They may have been shooting pro for years and have excellent skills, but they still need to start shooting for brides that will refer them to all their friends and family.
You can’t always tell how long someone has been running their business by price because someone may feel their talent deserves a high price even if they just started their business. Even if they deserve $10K they may still take $1K if they haven’t had any inquiries or bookings lately, since no one knows about them yet.
(Actually, to be honest, that’s were I fall. I hope Mr.Bee doesn’t flag this as inappropriate, but I just want to tell you how some photographers feel and think. I’ve been shooting pro since ’97 but just started my business last April! I’m just going on a year now! I will take almost any offer that can create more business and feed my family. However, I know that I deserve $6500 just for shooting. I put my higher price on my website because a bride who can afford and appreciate beautiful art will value me and hire me at that price. However, am I going to turn down $1500? No way! I need to build my business, I need to eat and I love shooting Weddings anyway!)
Please don’t try to to ask for a discount from a seasoned pro that has been in business for years though. They might feel offended that you don’t appreciate their skill, their art and their time. They can easily say no and get another bride, the next day, for your same Wedding Date.
Anyway, it might be worth it to see if a college student can do it. Please ask the prof about how well the student finishes assignments though. You may get a super exited student that doesn’t finish what he or she started, if you don’t check on his or her character. Make sure you are satisfied with their current work and that they want to shoot in the style that you want.