December 20, 2018

Finding the Right Wedding Photographer

Posted in: Uncategorized

Finding the right vendors who match your wedding vision and priorities can be a daunting task. I’m going to share with you some tips for knowing how to allocate your wedding budget to ensure your wedding photography priorities are met while staying within your set budget, however extravagant or modest it may be.

Where to start

When you begin to plan your wedding, an important step is coming up with an overall wedding budget. I recommend using a wedding budget calculator to help you come up with an overall cost. If you visit The Knot’s website at https://www.theknot.com/wedding-budget/start you will find a good and user friendly calculator to help guide you in creating your wedding budget. You will then want to prioritize which vendors of your wedding are most important to you and create a rank list of importance.

Next, place a star by the top three vendors that are most important for your overall wedding day vision. Finally, research each vendor and start looking how you could massage your budget so you can fit these vendors into your overall budget. We will discuss how to massage your budget a little later. 

How Much will a Wedding Photographer Cost

If photography is your top priority, you will want to budget at least $3000 on your wedding photographer.  A photographer at this price point is typically a full-time professional photographer with immense experience in the wedding industry.  You will find that their portfolio is full of high quality images. These photographers are often award winning and well respected among their peer group. They typically have quick response times. They will spend extra time making sure the important details to capture your big day are laid out ahead of time, ensuring a smooth photography experience.

Most of these wedding photographers are going to be full service photographers. A full service wedding photographer is someone who’s main focus is providing you printed products, such as albums, canvases, or metal prints. You will find a stronger emphasis on providing you tangible wall art that can be passed along as a family heirloom, as opposed to simply providing digital files. A wedding photographer at this level is someone you can count on to be one of your trusted advisors for your wedding day.

If you want to prioritize your dress, flowers, or maybe your reception venue higher on the list than wedding photography, but you still want to keep wedding photography up towards the top, you will be looking to spend approximately $1500-$2500 dollars on a photographer.  Typically a wedding photographer at this price point is an up and coming wedding photographer, who has some wedding photography experience but is still working to grow their portfolio. Many wedding photographers at this price have other jobs besides photography. As a result, response time may be slower than a full-time wedding photographer. There will be a stronger emphasis on providing solely digital files, with few wedding photographers at this price point offering printed, tangible works of art. The concern with having only digital files is potential for losing them or damage to the files. In addition, many people are not aware of the difference in the quality of prints at chain labs such as Walgreens, Target, or Shutterfly compared to the professional labs photographers have access too. Keep in mind, that you will want your images to last through the years. Extra care in printing your images should be taken to ensure the colors and details in the image you see now are still present when your family members generations later are admiring them.

If wedding photography is not high on your list of priorities or you have a low wedding budget to work with, expect to spend approximately $700 to $1500 dollars on a wedding photographer. Wedding photographers at this level are typically beginners or photography students.  They will may have average looking images in their portfolio and will have slower than normal response time as they typically have other full time employment.  They also will focus on the digital files as opposed to prints.

Five Tips for Finding the Best Wedding Photographer for You

My first tip is learning how to massage your wedding budget. If you have found that wedding photography is really high on your list of priorities but you are struggling to make it work financially, look to massage your budget a little. Identify other vendors that are not as important to you and pull money from these areas, such as going with a less expensive place setting or less expensive wedding invitations. Even small cuts in several areas can add up and help get you to where you need to be finically to afford the photographer that you desire.

The second tip is to look at the wedding photographers portfolio for their overall image quality and style. In a wedding photographers portfolio you are only able to see the best images they have produced, so I encourage you to ask the wedding photographer to see a full wedding day worth of images. This will allow you to see the quality of images for the entirety of a wedding day, not just the best images captured. I welcome couples to see examples of full wedding days and have actually placed two albums as a part of my portfolio. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions that concern you the most. You should feel comfortable in the whole process, from understanding how the photographer gets organized to ensure a smooth wedding photography experience to knowing they have a sound method to back up their images.

My third tip is to make sure you find a wedding photographer who’s personality fits with yours. The wedding photographer is one of the only vendors that you will spend the whole day with. Most wedding photographers will offer an in person consultation. Before you decide to book, ask the wedding photographers you are most interested in to meet up and chat with them about your day. This will give you a good opportunity to discuss your vision and hear how they can best serve you. Being confident and comfortable with your wedding photographer can help the overall image quality as well. 

The fourth tip is to make sure that your wedding photographer responds to you in a timely manor. Remember, you want to find people in the wedding industry you can trust and lean on when you have questions. A wedding photographer that responds quickly to your requests and questions has your best interest at heart.

My fifth tip is to look at the wedding photographer’s list of services offered. A wedding photographer that is only giving you the digital files is really only giving you files in space. What happens if the wedding photographer goes out of business or does not store your files properly and something happens to your flash drive or the computer you stored the files on? A wedding photographer who offers printed products is giving your first family heirloom. You will have the ability to purchase gorgeous wall art for your home that has been meticulously processed before the image goes to print. Try to keep in mind that wedding prints or albums are items that are typically passed down from generation to generation.

Final Thoughts

A wedding photographer is one of the most important vendors you can chose when planning your wedding. The wedding photographer is the one who is going to be capturing and freezing these precious memories in time for you to look back on. The wedding photographer only has one chance to capture these moments and you want to make sure you have trusted the right wedding photographer to take out this incredibly important task. If you would like to learn more, check out my video at https://www.andrewjosephportraits.com/five-tips#five-tips, If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to help you plan the wedding of your dreams.

  1. Sam Li

    May 15th, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    I like what you said about finding a photographer that stays within your budget of $3000. When hiring a photographer for any reason, it’s best to find one that already has a solid portfolio. My wife wants to get professional pictures taken, so I’ll make sure to find a photographer that is well within our budget.

  2. Andrew Klosterman

    May 15th, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Sam,

    Thank you for your comment. Budget is just a small part of the choice when choosing the right photographer. Image quality is also a big deal. You want to make sure you look at the photographers portfolio as consistency is a big deal. You want to make sure that you find a photographer with a consistent portfolio that shows consistent high quality work. Where and when is your wedding. I would love to see if I could shoot your wedding with in your budget. Shoot me an email at andyk@ajphotographystl.com

  3. Ellie Davis

    July 22nd, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    It’s interesting to know that you need to adapt your budget to find the perfect photographer. My sister is getting married in a couple of months, and she is starting to plan everything for that day. Since the photographer is one of the most important things for her, I will suggest to adapt her budget and give priority to find the perfect wedding photographer.

  4. Andrew Klosterman

    July 23rd, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Ellie,

    Thank you very much for your comment. Your budget it everything. If you sit down and list out the priorities it is easier to see where you can pull money from to get the vendors you want. I would love to have a virtual meeting with you and your sister to discuss wedding photography. Let me know if I can be further assistance.

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St. Louis and Chicago Wedding Photographer

andyk@ajphotographystl.com