Investing In Your Wedding Photographer
Some tips and questions to pick the best photographer & style for you.
I called this post “Investing In Your Wedding Photographer” because that is exactly what you are doing. You are investing your finances in an artist to capture and create the most beautiful photographs to remember your most precious of memories.
It happens once and if you have the wrong photographer there is no going back.
I thought it would be helpful to write my thoughts into a post for you.
“HOW ON EARTH WILL I EVER PICK THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR ME!?????
I mean I just want someone to take pictures at my wedding or event? Right?”
I have discovered in my 15+ years within the art industry and 10+ in weddings, that “JUST pictures “is not all you want or need to be stress-free and have stunning images to remember this extremely important and special day by.
I have some advice and tips on this topic that I think can help you be knowledgeable in picking the best photographer for your budget and style.
1.) You want someone prepared, fully present, and organized to capture that incredibly magical day in your life.
A day set aside to signify & celebrating the start to rest of your different life! A life not alone but a life as a team! Marriage is something meant to last, meant to open yourself up to love & the opportunity to work through something with all the energy & hope you have to offer. Something to make the world a safer place, a refuge in the storm. Your wedding day is so important & you will have this ONE time to capture the events that unfold. I encourage you to invest in a photographer that WILL get that shot, that WILL be ready to go with the flow without freaking out, that WILL be able to produce beautiful images to help you remember. To cherish.
2.) You want to LOVE your photographers’ style & personality.
You are going to spend a great deal of time with this person during the most important moments of your life, so it would be ideal if you like them. lol. Set up a consult, read their bio, get to know them. If you can’t meet with them then set up a phone call or a skype call.
Ask to look through an entire gallery of images. This will give you an idea of what a full day of coverage will look like, not just the favorites. You want to be sure you like their style of images from getting-ready emotions, ceremonies of all styles, outdoor portraits, family set ups, and low light receptions. Every photographer has a different look on life and how they will capture it. Make sure you love all the ins and outs.
3.) Master Photographer or Hobbyist?
This is a sticky point I know! I have no intention of putting down new or uneducated photographers. BECAUSE WE ALL STARTED THERE!!!!! I have a degree in photography simply because I am lucky enough to have known I loved it before I pursued it as a business, but my first years as a wedding photographer were terrible! The quality and experience just weren’t there. Thankfully people that loved me took a chance on me, didn’t have a budget, and loved what I captured. I, however, took about 4 years and 50 weddings to feel solid and comfortable photographing weddings & charging full price. Now I am super comfortable, it’s second nature, and I am around 110 weddings! Until then I was very low budget and worked with clients who needed photos, loved me & my style, and simply didn’t have the budget for an experienced photographer.
Maybe that is where you are! I totally get that. This article is more about advice for getting the best possible photographer for you! I am now in year 12 and 120+ weddings in. I simply think it’s helpful to ask these questions & know fully what options you have before deciding.
This is a digital world and anyone with the funds and passion for digital photography can buy themselves some great gear but does not mean they are experienced enough to handle a wedding and get results. (me in the first few years!)
You might have the budget and desire for a professional photographer to capture your important and sentimental day- one who has training and experience, who has mastered his/her technique and style. Someone who is able to produce quality images in any lighting and fast-moving situation. You then would want a dedicated photographer and an artist -not a hobbyist to remember your incredibly non-repeatable day.
If you are on a super tight budget… then yes you might want to take a chance on a friend or a very passionate person who loves photography – and that is ok too but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask a professional for a discount if you are close to their asking price.
3.) Expect to invest at least 12-15% of your wedding budget and expect taxes to be collected, if you are hiring a professional.
There are many charts out there to help with investment strategies for budging your wedding, but in general, a large chunk is spent on photography. I also have a blog feature on exactly that! https://blog.fullyalivephotography.com/2018/04/creating-your-dream-wedding-by-budgeting-for-whats-most-important-to-you-an-intimate-and-sweet-sassi-wedding/
It’s the one thing you will have left after the day is over to remember it when the memories fade. So no matter how you look at this- it’s an investment. You are spending this money now for the future. Expect high costs for photographers with experience and business costs, also great photographers never stop learning so as you invest so do they. Photographers who have education and continued education are serious about growing their business and investing in it and their clients. Those with more experience are going to cost more as in any other industry. Expect higher pricing for photographers that offer services to make your wedding run smoothly, who have higher priced equipment and gear back ups.
These are all great questions to ask your photographer.
So you are super lucky to live in a day and age and a city that has access to film again! Phoenix is growing in film photographers! There are access to labs locally and film too!
I actually have my degree in FILM photography! There wasn’t access to digital cameras when I went to college (unless you were SUPER rich!) Film was the go to. I spend the whole first 4 years as a photographer in the lab with the chemicals, and darkrooms, and film scans. lol. I do miss the art of it all.
That being said as digital cameras became affordable and film became harder to get in my small town, many of us did not have access to labs ourselves and film also became super expensive, well it sort of disappeared a few years into my career. I ended up switching to the digital world.
I shoot with high end digital pro-canon gear. I am a platinum CPS member as well. I have three digital 5D MK series cameras, 6 lenses, and plenty of lighting equipment.
I like to freedom and flexibility of being able to change my film speed on the fly. It helped a lot with going from dark to light situations and also cut my costs meaning I offer coverage starting as low as $2500. If I still shot film primarily I would be starting closer to $5000 and most film weddings photographers start there.
I do offer film on rare occasions but the cost is significantly higher. I own three film cameras with lenses. Please just reach out if you are looking for film for your portraits.
The Ups of Film:
The most wonderful things about film photographers is that they are legit. They know what they are doing. There is no faking being an artist. They have to know how to master their camera, understand lighting, and speeds.
Film has such a beautiful nostalgic feel and look. It feels like a painting in some ways. It’s very artistic and I do love it. Different films also offer different styles/results. Talk to your photographer about to style & look you want to achieve.
Film is worth the extra cost if you love the look!
Other things to consider for Film:
Expect more time set aside for portraits you want to be shot in film. It simply can take a bit longer to shoot film. Make sure to provide your photographer plenty of time.
The cost of film is much higher. Expect $6k + for your wedding package.
I would also think that many film photographers would have a second shooter on digital especially for the reception. So not everything is shot on film (not always the case) simply talk to your photographer about when film is used.
Educate yourself on film styles & looks. Often there isn’t as much detail or dark tonal ranges for certain types of films. That’s part of what makes it so lovely. Make sure you LOVE the look and style that your photographer offers. It’s different than digital and while I think it’s beautiful and unique you might not.
There is more risk if the photographer isn’t educated or hasn’t mastered their skill. If the photographer messes a setting up you could potentially loose a whole roll. We simply cannot check the back of the screen to make sure we caught it right. However if you have researched and hired a skilled photographer you are in good hands!
Ultimately you have to decide what is important and wise for your situation. I say educate yourself and consider all these important aspects before you choose.
What Can Fully Alive Photography Offer You?
I really believe I have what it takes to ensure a stress-free, beautifully remembered, cherished and beloved day.
I have experience to capture that moment when things get busy, I have education and continued education to perfect my art and ensure proper photographic methods, I am constantly striving to master my skill.
I have the personality for high energy events- which means I know what to do even when you can’t remember what’s going on,.. and why should you? It’s your wedding day!
It should be fun and stress free.
I have photographed OVER 120 weddings and 700 other clients!
I have 10+ years of experience in weddings & small business.
I have a degree in film photography.
I have education in graphic design & event planning.
I have insurance, I have legal contracts, I pay state taxes, I have professional gear. I have a lot going on in my mind… haha.
My collection pricing reflects my education & experience, talent & eye for beauty, shooting time, planning times & help, organization, advice, vendor locater & insight, editing time, on-line presence & viewing, guest access, prints, canvases, wall mounts, guestbook, albums & much more!
However I understand in our current economy that money is ALWAYS something to be considered and to be wise and diligent with.
Sometimes it’s not wise to spend little and get little but sometimes it IS!
I offer al la carte build your own style collections, so you can afford a great photographer now and purchase extras later.
I start at $2500 and go up from there. But at least the foundation is there and the most important memories are recorded.
in 2019* 8 Hours of coverage + digital files would run $3200,
while a full package with 8 hours of coverage + digital files, an engagement session, and a lovely 10×10 leather album would run more.