Budget Weddings Forum

Photography an okay place to trim the budget? aka good idea or bad idea

Hello!

I feel like I keep having these moments where I think about my wedding and then I think I'm having a really brilliant idea, but really I need brought back down to Earth to realize "no, this is a terrible idea."

So recently I've really been thinking about having a few amateur photographers at my wedding, instead of a professional photographer. (1. to save money and 2. to help people build their portfolio.)  So people who may have never shot a wedding, but they are really good photographers with nice cameras (not just some iPhone or a basic point and shoot)and have some photography experience just not a ton.

 I know this could save us possibly a grand or more, just by getting pricing from the couple people who said they would be interested. (I posted a FB status and asked if anyone would be interested and got a couple of responses from photographers. I let them know I'm not for sure doing this, just putting feelers out there and considering it)

My thought process is, maybe we have 2 or even 3, (though that may be a lot) amateur photographers. We put one in charge of getting the typical shots, and doing the posed shots and all that jazz, and then the other one or two would be there to get candid's and different angles of the main shots. I thought about having a professional photographer and an amateur, but was recently told that depending on my photographer's contract they may not allow that.

But my question is, would this be a terrible idea? I want to save money, I'm just trying to figure out if this is one of those places you don't do that. GAH! I just need an outside opinion. 


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Re: Photography an okay place to trim the budget? aka good idea or bad idea

  • CMGragain said:
    Unless your budget is really minimal, I would not suggest cutting professional photography,  After 39 years, this is what is left of my wedding.  I look at those photos every anniversary.  Most of the people in them are gone, now.  It is one of the things I would grab if the house were on fire.  JMHO.


    Ditto this at 12 years (or whatever it's been, I stopped counting after 10)...  If there was one area I'd recommend NOT trimming it's on the professional photography.  That doesn't mean you have to have a $3000 package, but the photographer should be a pro to cover at least the ceremony and some formal group pictures before or after the ceremony. 

    I've got plenty of horror stories from IRL friends who either a) "So'n'so is great with a camera and wants to build a portfolio" - and forgot to take a picture of JUST the Bride & Groom and b) this photographer is new so not charging as much as someone who has been in the industry a while" ..and couldn't take one good picture of a group of people nor remembered that pictures of the bride and groom only during key points of the day are kind of important.  One had zero good pictures because "a" thought you should take pictures without your glasses on to achieve focus...  and the "b" discovered after the fact the breach of contract lawsuits the photographer had when after six months they hadn't seen a single wedding picture, only to get the digitals and discover there was no picture of just the two of them and all the group pictures, the people looked wonky and weren't even looking in the direction of the camera...  Both have nothing they could even put up on the wall if they wanted!

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    InLoveInQueens
  • Have you seen their photos? I spent a decent amount on photography ($4000 for photo an video) and HATED my pictures.


  • Hello!

    I feel like I keep having these moments where I think about my wedding and then I think I'm having a really brilliant idea, but really I need brought back down to Earth to realize "no, this is a terrible idea."

    So recently I've really been thinking about having a few amateur photographers at my wedding, instead of a professional photographer. (1. to save money and 2. to help people build their portfolio.)  So people who may have never shot a wedding, but they are really good photographers with nice cameras (not just some iPhone or a basic point and shoot)and have some photography experience just not a ton.

     I know this could save us possibly a grand or more, just by getting pricing from the couple people who said they would be interested. (I posted a FB status and asked if anyone would be interested and got a couple of responses from photographers. I let them know I'm not for sure doing this, just putting feelers out there and considering it)

    My thought process is, maybe we have 2 or even 3, (though that may be a lot) amateur photographers. We put one in charge of getting the typical shots, and doing the posed shots and all that jazz, and then the other one or two would be there to get candid's and different angles of the main shots. I thought about having a professional photographer and an amateur, but was recently told that depending on my photographer's contract they may not allow that.

    But my question is, would this be a terrible idea? I want to save money, I'm just trying to figure out if this is one of those places you don't do that. GAH! I just need an outside opinion. 


    People who want to be photographers do not generally want to shoot weddings for free or cheap to 'build their portfolio.' Plus, if you're going to pay two or three (though the fact that you say amateur so many times implies to me that you do not want to pay them anything), you won't be saving much if anything.

    And in any case, you want someone who already has a portfolio so you can see if you like their style/skill at all. I have a number of friends that are photographers or models and all of them would be highly offended at being asked to do something with the bribe of "but you can add it to your portfolio!" That's a scam from people who don't want to pay what they're worth. Photographers want (and deserve!) to be taken seriously.
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  • Typically you get what you pay for with photography. Just because someone has a nice camera, doesn't mean they know how to use it properly when it comes to the settings and when to use flashes. There is also a difference from someone who can take nice landscape photos compared to portrait shots & being able to catch those special unposed moments and you didn't even realize that they got until you see the photos. A professional has the expensive software to tweak photos to take them to the next level if needed. They also have good turn around time in providing the photos back to you. I saw photos of a wedding where someone used a person who was "trying to build up their portfolio" and had a really nice camera. In half of the photos the girls dresses look a totally different color because she didn't use proper lighting and many of the others, I've seen photos that look just as good taken with a smart phone.

    I get wanting to save money on photographers. The way to do that is skip having them there while you are getting your hair and make up. If you really need to save money, skip having them there while you get dressed and just meet you at the ceremony. Then limit how long you keep them at the reception. But don't try to save money by getting someone with little or no experience. I know everyone has to start somewhere, but that's what jobs as second shooters are for.

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  • julieanne912julieanne912 member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited November 2015
    I wouldn't go the amateur route.  However, what I did, was took a chance on some two ladies who are both professionals, but mainly did stuff like baby and family photos.  They each had separate businesses but team up together to do weddings, and they were friends so they are used to working together.  I liked the posed type photos they do for their family photography, and I did see one wedding they did that looked nice.  I also liked their overall shooting style.  They were way cheaper than most wedding photographers ($1,650 for 8 hours), and did a beautiful job.  They also did 3 weddings between the time I hired them, and the time they did mine, so they got some practice in.  
    Married 9.12.15
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  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    In my opinion, no, I wouldn't cut costs there.  You can find some good photographers for decent prices.  I used the Knot's vendor page and sorted by price (two dollar signs maybe?).  My area had some great photographers, with wonderful reviews and samples with prices that did not break the bank.  I followed a few on facebook for awhile too - to get a grasp of their work/style and personality before hiring them.

  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder member
    Ninth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I wouldn't go the amateur route.  However, what I did, was took a chance on some two ladies who are both professionals, but mainly did stuff like baby and family photos.  They each had separate businesses but team up together to do weddings, and they were friends so they are used to working together.  I liked the posed type photos they do for their family photography, and I did see one wedding they did that looked nice.  I also liked their overall shooting style.  They were way cheaper than most wedding photographers ($1,650 for 8 hours), and did a beautiful job.  They also did 3 weddings between the time I hired them, and the time they did mine, so they got some practice in.  
    I did something similar. My primary shooter's day job is a news photographer, so has covered all types of events. Our second shooter was not primarily a wedding photographer either, but has a really good reputation as an event photographer (he actually got invited to shoot a pretty big sci-fi convention after our wedding). They had done some weddings together before, but it wasn't their main focus. That being said, I never would have hired them if I didn't like their portfolios. I'm all for giving people a chance (that's the only way to get experience, after all), but I don't know if I'd trust all of my photography to someone who wasn't a professional photographer in some way.
    ~*~*~*~*~

  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Get the best photographers you can afford. Don't skimp in this area for the sake of skimping. 

    I can absolutely tell when friends use "budget" photographers. The color is off, the lighting is off. Even if composition is nice, the photos don't look anything like what a true professional can achieve. Or, let's say they mastered color/light, then the composition is off. They need to know how to use not just a camera but also a photo editing software. People will say like, "I got my photos the next day!"... Yeah, they weren't edited. Ugh. 

    A good friend of mine skimped and she said years later she wished she hadn't. She hired a photography student. They were decent, but didn't have the polish that a professional would have. 
    ________________________________


  • Agree with PPs, photography is something where you get what you pay for. You also want someone who is familiar with your venue. We got a stunning shot of me coming down the stairs from the bridal suite that I've been told is really tricky because there isn't a lot of natural light. If someone hasn't shot there before that shot wouldn't have come out. Also it made things move so much quicker because there were literally acres of beautiful grounds to take pictures at during the cocktail hour and since my photographer knew the grounds we picked a few key spots ahead of time and were able to just drive there, get the shot, and go back to the reception. 

    Finally if you have anything unique about your ceremony/reception you want to make sure your photographer is aware and has experience with it. For example we had my In laws dog as our ring bearer so it was really important our photographer was good with getting photos of dogs. He was great and every picture of that puppy looks adorable!
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  • Get the best photographers you can afford. Don't skimp in this area for the sake of skimping. 

    I can absolutely tell when friends use "budget" photographers. The color is off, the lighting is off. Even if composition is nice, the photos don't look anything like what a true professional can achieve. Or, let's say they mastered color/light, then the composition is off. They need to know how to use not just a camera but also a photo editing software. People will say like, "I got my photos the next day!"... Yeah, they weren't edited. Ugh. 

    A good friend of mine skimped and she said years later she wished she hadn't. She hired a photography student. They were decent, but didn't have the polish that a professional would have. 
    Ditto the bolded.  We spent a considerable amount of our budget on photography and it was worth every penny.  We went simpler on other things (centerpieces and decor were pretty minimal, food was more casual than most weddings in our city).  We knew that our photographer would make whatever decor we did have look amazing, and he did.  We are so happy we made the decision we did.

    My very good friend who was married about 10 months before us used a family friend for the photos.  This friend is actually a professional wedding photographer, but definitely on the lower end of the spectrum as far as pricing and skill.  She felt obligated to use her and thought it would turn out fine.  She spent SO much money on the food and flowers and decor.  Her wedding was literally STUNNING.  The pictures don't come close to doing it justice.  The lighting/exposure is bad, she missed a lot of detail shots, and they really aren't edited well (AND they took forever).  She is so unhappy with them and is STILL talking about them almost a year later.  

    Bottom line - don't skimp.  And just because you are using someone who is a wedding photographer doesn't mean the photos will be great either.  Find a pro whose style you love that you can afford.  Fuck the centerpieces and the programs and the champagne toast.  The only thing you have after the wedding are the photos.


  • Thank you all for the advice!! I feel like I knew this but really just needed to have someone tell me NOT THE BEST IDEA. lol And who better to be honest than the knotties. :)

    Side note-I would definitely have paid the portfolio builders,  the quotes they were giving me were just too amazing NOT to think about it.

    But I agree with everything you all said. Good wedding photos are so worth the money, because of lighting, and an awesome camera plus editing, it just makes sense. So I'm going to be shelling it out!
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  • Our photographer was relatively new (she'd done probably fewer than a dozen weddings).  She charged us only $1000 for 6 hours and all our retouched digital prints.  Her pictures were great!  We talked to her, looked at extensive portfolios, and knew we had found a great deal!  

    Point being, if you find someone relatively new, you can get a good deal.  I don't know if I'd trust an amateur photographer who has never shot a wedding though.  

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  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2015
    Agreed- unless you have seen their portfolio and they HAVE shot a wedding before, I would be very wary.

    We chose someone who has shot several weddings, and we liked the photos in her portfolio, and she was one of the cheaper options (I was blown away by how many photographers started at $3k). We had some trouble getting our photos after the wedding- we didn't receive ours until 7 months after the wedding, and even then some were missing. The photos themselves turned out well- some I LOVE, others there are small lighting/editing issues (but I wonder more if that's because she didn't actually edit them).

    A previous co-worker of mine has a small photography business on the side. She mainly does family/baby portraits but does do some smaller weddings as well. We had her do our "dress" session with us (the one I got done months after the wedding in the dress I bought but didn't wear). Granted, these were posed and not "live action" photos, but they turned out AMAZING. The colour, lighting, angles, touch ups.... Granted the lighting conditions were also different, but I thought her photos were generally better than the photographer who shot our wedding. If she and our wedding were located in the same place, I would have asked her to photograph our wedding, easy. And I know she charges a lower rate than most photographers because she considers herself a small operation. 
  • I have been considering this same thing. I want to spend as little as possible on my wedding (basically almost all the budget on food and drink and make it a big family picnic where I happen to get married) and i want to eliminate photography. I think just buy 5 or 6 disposable cameras and develop them afterwards? I just don't want to pay someone for pictures when everyone knows how to take pictures already. I don't care if it's professional. I mean didn't people get married and live happily ever after before photography was invented? They just look back at the memories fondly in their heads right? I can do that. Or is this stupid? I just don't want to spend money on a professional photographer when it's too frivolous, I don't think I can afford something so extravagant.

    Btw, one of my cousins is a professional wedding photographer full-time and he is invited, but I want him to enjoy and relax, I don't want to hire him (or anyone else). Also my dad and at least one uncle have a very good amateur eye for photography, I have a degree and in graphic design and took photography classes while in art school, etc. so I don't think I'd be totally screwed by placing it in the hands of my guests and myself.
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  • @reiteralice That decision is totally up to you! I know I would totally miss not having (professional) pictures.

    I'm sure you are not alone in thinking that hiring a photographer is unnecessary, especially if you know your guests will be taking some shots anyways and that you will be satisfied with the final product.
    Pinksatin91016
  • To provide another perspective, I "skimped" on our photography. Just like yourself we were on a budget and I found this photographer on Kijiji who was willing to charge $400 because we were off season on a Friday. She needed to build her portfolio and she had done a few weddings before.

    To make a long story short, something happened with her camera and any pictures taken from middle of speeches to beginning of everyone dancing didn't process. I guess it had something to do with her memory and/or SD Card. So the cake cutting, bride/groom speech, pictures of guests are just a few things that she messed up on.  Fortunately, we had a secondary photographer which was also a family friend who did this as a wedding gift for us.

    In conclusion, while I have heard unfortunate stories from people who spent more than I and were unhappy with their pictures, in some instances you do get what you pay for. If you decide to take the cost efficient route instead of the expensive route, I would recommend a secondary photographer.
  • Definitely a bad idea. 

    Our photos are what we have left of the day. We paid so much for all the details of the wedding and let me tell you, getting married is a blur. The day goes by so fast you don't even have time to observe and savor all the details and hard work you put into your big day. That's why the photographer's there- to capture everything you don't have time to see. Even things like the cocktail hour (our second shooter captured that while we were taking group/couple photos with our main photographer). We had no idea what it looked like but we heard it was great. So now we're happy to have awesome photos of that and so much more. 

    A great professional photographer will have enough experience to know what to capture and communicate with you to ask what is most important to you as well. When I was an amateur photographer, charging $600 for a wedding, I didn't have the experience necessary to capture everything that should have been captured in a way that it should have been captured. And trust me I'm not telling you this as a photographer- I'm telling you this as a bride myself. The photos are what we have left- the memories we didn't even have time to make on our wedding day are all captured in those pictures. 
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