The top three wedding expenses are usually the wedding location, the wedding dress, and the photographer. When so much time, effort, money and love have gone into this one special day, it's understandable that one would want it to be preserved beautifully on film. There are ways, however, to save significant money on a wedding photographer without sacrificing quality.
- College students- If your local college has an art program, it's highly likely that they have a photography program within it. By calling the college directory, you can get the names of photography professors or department heads. When you reach them, ask if they have senior level students who are excelling at action and portrait photography. More than likely, they will be able to give you the contact information for a few bright and talented students who have the training to take beautiful pictures without charging you an arm and a leg.
- Craig's List- Many fledgling photographers advertise on this site. These photographers often offer great deals if you allow them to use your photographs to help build up their professional portfolios.
- The Knot- This website is an incredible wedding resource, and includes listings for local photographers, both who have a studio and who are freelance. This will give you a great idea of who's out there in your area so that you can compare prices. If you're looking to save money, your best bet is to go with a freelance photographer who doesn't have a studio. This avoids raised rates due to high overhead.
- Ask around- More than likely, you have a friend, relative or co-worker who knows a good photographer. This could be someone they've used in the past, or know personally. A personal connection can often help to get you a great price reduction, or give you a lead to a photographer who might not advertise to the general public.
When dealing with an amateur photographer or student, there are a few things you can do to ensure you still get professional grade photos at a reasonable rate.
- Ask to see a portfolio- Most serious photographers will have a collection of photos they have done in the past. Ask to see their work, especially action shots, candid and portraits. This will give you a clear idea of the photographer's ability level and personal photography style.
- Request references- Even if the photographer hasn't done many professional jobs, he should still be able to furnish names of people who have worked with him on various projects, such as professors, or friends and family.
- Do a practice run- Ask the photographer if he'd be willing to do some practice photographs at the wedding site. This way the photographer can see if there will be any lighting challenges at the site, and will allow you to see him in action. Make sure to do this well in advance of the event, so if you're not satisfied with his performance, you can find another photographer you feel more confident about.
- Make sure you know what you're getting- Make sure you go over all of the details of what's included with the photographer's fee. Some photographers include the prints, some only provide proofs. Some charge extra for staying beyond a certain number of hours. Be sure you are clear in what you want, and what you expect out of the photographer, so he won't try to charge you additional fees once the job is complete.
While finding a photographer that charges less may take a little more work, it is well worth it if you can save thousands on the cost of your wedding. Just be careful, and make sure you are still getting quality while saving money.