Post # 1
Hi everyone. I live in the Northern Virginia area and engaged to be married next year. I am looking for a photographer. My fiance and I are paying for our wedding ourselves, so we’re in a tight budget, no more than $10K.
I noticed in the websites of wedding photographers that their packages include so many things. Is it absolutely necessary that I avail of all the things in their package, such as prints and albums and online hosting? I haven’t seen a wedding package under $1,000 in this area. Frankly, I was hoping to just hire a photographer who will save our memories of the wedding day, and as long as he or she can give us a CD/DVD of the image files, we can print the pictures ourselves. As long as he or she can be there from start to finish to capture the memories, I’ll be happy. Is this too much of nickel-and-diming? What would you all suggest? Thanks In Advance
Post # 3
I thought the same thing when we were looking for a photographer! Our budget was about $5K, also paying for it ourselves.
Anyway, our photographer is a little over your numbers (starts at $1500), but she is as good as many more expensive photographers. She is very flexible, dependable, and friendly =) Her basic package is 6hrs and high res digital files. She’s in Middletown, MD, and came to Charlottesville without travel fees, so I’m sure NoVA won’t be a problem =) Check her out: http://houghphotography.com
A handful of our wedding pictures are in her blog, if you scroll down a bit (Peihan and Michael). Good luck!
Post # 4
Thanks peihan17. Believe me, before my fiance and I got engaged, I thought we could pull off a wedding for around $5K. I hate it that I had to relent and increase our budget (grrr!!!)
I’ll definitely check out this website!
Post # 5
I would just ask photographers if they’d be willing to do this. My photographer has packages, but we wanted some aspects (a second photographer and the images on a CD) and didn’t want others (the album), and he was more than willing to accommodate us.
Post # 6
I am not in your area, but our photographer is providing a full day of coverage, with an assistant for $1200. He will give us a DVD with the high resolution images to print ourselves later. He will also put our pictures on his website for our friends and family to order from him, if they want. He did have options that included albums, videography, engagement photos, etc, for a lot more money, but we were looking to save some money upfront, like you.
My experience (in Northern California) was that those who specialize in wedding photography charge way more than some other photographers, who do weddings as a side job. Ours is a filmmaker. He did my cousin’s wedding, so that is how I know he is good. Hopefully others in your area can recommend someone like this. Good luck!
Post # 7
Maybe try to call a photography school in the area and ask if students would be interested in taking pictures at a lower rate?
Post # 8
Keep poking around and ask photographers for pricing for exactly what you want — most packages are negotiable. I too was looking to spend about 1K and was shocked at the prices. I had to bump up my budget to 1550 to get all day coverage and a CD with printing rights from a somewhat inexperienced but talented young photographer. But we could have found all day coverage for less money had we chosen to go with someone else.
I too wanted to limit the budget to 10,000 total, but now am up to 16,000. Sigh. Good luck!
Post # 9
I ran into the same problem. I emailed every photographer whose work I liked asking if they did a la carte or were flexible with their packages. The photographers didn’t seem to mind being asked. I bet I contacted 10 photographers and only 1 was worked by the hour. Luckily we liked him!
We’re getting a very good photographer for 4 hours of coverage and a CD of touched up images for $1000. For reference, in our area average photographers charge ~$1500 for a basic package; execllent photographers easily charge $3-5K.
Post # 10
I suggest looking on Craigslist. I found a pretty great photographer who was experienced in Texas but new to my area. Here’s a link to the events page, I bet you’ll find a TON!
Post # 11
So I posted an advertisement on a classifieds website, and I received several responses. beans654321, your suggestion was right on. I received a response from a photography student and I’m really leaning on hiring her because (1) I’d rather pay her than a professional because I’m sure she could really use the money for school, and (2) she will provide a second photographer at no cost! Of course, I’d have to first see samples of her work, especially since she hasn’t done weddings before, but how bad could it be, especially since she’s going to school for it? I’m hoping things work out well…
Post # 12
How bad could it be? Is that a risk you really want to take? What if she totally F’s up your photos? It’s not like you can have your wedding over again. I understand that budgets are limited and every pro photog needs to start somewhere, but I would not be comfortable trusting my wedding to someone who has never shot one before. A wedding is not like a studio shoot, or a portrait session. There are a lot of rules and nuances, and if you are not experienced, a lot will be missed. Perhaps, if you want two photographers, use her as a second shooter – with the permission of your primary photographer.
That being said, just keep looking. Many photographers offer a la carte packages. Even if all you want is a CD, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it. Normally a wedding photographer makes a nice chunk of change by selling you albums and prints. Giving you a CD takes that out of the equation, so she has to make up some of that lost revenue somewhere.
There are really good, reasonably priced pro wedding photographers out there. After a lot of digging, I was able to find one in my area whose work rivals the other shooters I was looking at, for half the price and twice the amount of time – plus she is giving me a $200 photo credit and the CD. They are out there!
Post # 13
I’m a budget bride too… but this is one thing I wasn’t willing to take a chance on. I found the best photographer I could find and am semi-happily paying her very expensive fees. She is almost half of our original budget!
Still, I’m only getting married once and want to capture every nuance of the day in a style that suits me well.
Post # 14
I really agree with carolineg….you really shouldn’t use someone who has never shot a wedding before. I went to photography school myself – one of the best around. I actually realized that I did not even begin to compare with some of the other students there. Schools don’t really judge your work and accept you based on that, most students will get accepted. Weddings are really hard to shoot – there are a million things to think about and do, you should at least choose a student who has shot a wedding before, if you decide to go with a student. You aren’t there to help someone get through school – dont’ pick her because of that. Its your wedding, something that cannot be done over. All this being said, if you don’t care about the pics that much, do whatever. Like others mentioned, photographers make money off of the prints, they don’t love just giving you the rights to their work. You will most likely have to pay a lot for that. But, you may be able to tell them you aren’t interested in the album and other things, and have a more custom package to suit your needs.
Post # 15
Since my last post I have received several responses from experienced (i.e. has done wedding photography before) photographers who would be willing to work with our needs. Some have even "underbid" since I mentioned how much I was willing to pay for their work and the CD files.
I do appreciate the feedback y’all! 🙂
Post # 16
Just to give you an idea of what to look for, ask to see the photographer’s last three weddings. Expect to see at least 40 or so images from each. That is the ONLY way you can have confidence that your photographer is valuable. Recent, full weddings is the way to go. It’s easy to have beautiful wedding images. It’s difficult to provide consistently beautiful images for every wedding. Anything less and just be aware that you are gambling.