Budget Weddings Forum

Budget Photographer??

Before I start, some things you might need to know:

1. When I say our wedding is "budget" I mean very budget (trying to stay below $6,000, and so far we've actually been very successful doing that).

2. My fiancee and I are both very no-frills people. This is going to be a fairly casual wedding, and we are both very happy with that.

3. Please don't interpret what I'm about to say as a judgement of how other people choose to do their wedding. If your plans are totally different, that's ok. We're just doing what fits our personalities best.


We have had a very difficult time finding a photographer for our wedding. Everything in our area has so far been a huge package deal, but all we really want is pictures of our ceremony, and some pictures with our family immediately after. The ceremony is going to be super short (30 minutes max). We would really only need one photographer for one hour, two at most. I don't want to do a boudoir package, or pictures getting ready (my mother passed away, so this is touchy for me)... we don't even want professional pictures of the reception. I just want nice pictures of our ceremony with some pictures of our family together for the occasion. I don't need them to look like they came out of the pages of Vogue, but I would like them to look professional. We have yet to find a photographer who can accommodate this - the grand majority here have pre-set packages (most of which would cost over half our budget), and the simplest packages have way more things than we need or want.

Has anyone out there been in a similar predicament and was able to find a reasonably affordable photographer who was willing to work with your simple wedding? I don't want to just ask a friend or an amateur, and I'm willing to pay decent money -again, we'd love to have good, quality pictures of the ceremony - we just don't need two photographers for eight hours, and artsy pictures of my shoes, etc. for several thousand dollars. Has anyone found a good elopement deal, for instance?

Re: Budget Photographer??

  • Photography is one of those areas where it's harder to cut back if you want quality. While you may not need a Vogue quality photographer, any good professional photographer is going to be more expensive. If you cut back, you risk getting someone who has a sub-par camera and equipment, who doesn't really know photo editing, whose shots are slightly blurry and out of focus as often as not... the list goes on and on.

    While negotiating based on less need (2 hours of work with less photos during that time) helps, the day-of shooting is only a portion of what a good photographer does. They also spend a few hours getting ready before a shoot, and a lot of time in post production.

    I'm personally very picky with photography-- I worked as a journalist/photojournalist for several years, and my parents were wedding photographers, with my father being a trained photojournalist who worked in the field for a decade. We talked to a few photographers whose work we liked and were slightly out of budget to see what they'd be willing to offer us if we asked for less time, less post production work, etc, but I also knew they had the power to say no.

    Have you talked with the photographers you like over the phone? If not, that's going to be the biggest thing you can do-- that or in person. Tell them what you're looking and be prepared to negotiate. Ask what they'd be willing to do that amount of work for.

    Even for 2 hours of work, they may come out with a hundred photos. Sifting through them, editing them, etc., would still take quite a while. Make sure they know you're aware of that. It goes a long way.

  • Do you live anywhere near a college or university with an arts program? We are having a former student do our photography. She has professional equipment and even has experience doing weddings before, so we were able to look at her portfolio a bit to know what kind of quality we'd be getting, and it was perfectly sufficient for our needs. We also did do engagement photos with her, just to make sure she worked well with us (she did), which I recommend (could just be a simple photo session if you don't want an all-out engagement photo shoot). Since she's still a student and still trying to set up her own independent business on the side, she was willing to negotiate our price down from what other local photographers had quoted us, which has been awesome and a huge help to our budget. 

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  • What time/day/season is your wedding?  If it's during the "traditional" Saturday evening slot in the late spring through early fall, photographers might be less willing to negotiate their package rates.  If they think they could book a full package at the same time, then they'd lose money doing just your hour or two.  If it's at a different time/day/season, I think you'd have a better negotiating position.  

    For particular photographers/packages, I'd try your local board for advice.  
  • edited March 2016
    I am doing this same thing!  I talked to 4 photographers, and 3 were willing to cut the price in half for 4 hours instead of a full day.  We also split the 4 hours so my fiance and I are doing a 2 hour shoot in the woods the day after, and doing 2 hours the day of.  It was a huge help on our budget and we still get quality shots.

    *Our wedding is on a Sunday, which may have also helped.
  • A lot of wedding photographers schedule themselves for the whole day for a wedding, so taking half a day or even a few hours for you would exclude them from getting a full day of work from someone else.

    Have you tried to engage non-wedding photographers? I have a friend who's mainly a cosplay photographer. We're asking her to do our engagement photo shoot, and may engage her for the wedding itself (depending on what level of photography we eventually settle on - FI cares a lot more about this than I do).

    Especially depending on the season, if you expand your search, you may be able to find a professional or aspiring photographer who has some event experience but who doesn't mainly do weddings.
  • The wedding photographers who have established businesses are unlikely to be able to help you out. They have packages (as you've found) and are booked every weekend for weddings. They're not going to give up a day with a full package at another wedding to give you an hour of shooting time. 

    I don't think you need to go to a student/college, but I'd try to find some photographers who are just starting out. These people won't have established packages, and will not be booked every weekend for weddings. If you use Facebook or other social media, I'd start there and ask around if anyone knows any photographers who are interested in work. 

    Once you get connected with a photographer, I'd be clear that your expectations are 1-2 hours of photography with a single shooter, (and give them the time and location), with approx. 50 edited images provided digitally with full rights within a month of the event date. And then see what they have to say. 
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited April 2016

    Post to your local board asking for recommendations of photographers.  Pick up the phone book or search white pages for photographers.  Do some due diligence as even basic photographers have website portfolios.  Call up and say "I want 2-3 hours of pictures at our wedding (ceremony and family pictures), and to purchase prints individually or purchase the digital images to print ourselves" and negotiate from there.  There are photographers out there who do great work who don't advertise in the big magazines or bridal websites.  I have two friends who are professional photographers and actually prefer to do weddings/anniversary parties like you want by booking out for the hour and being paid per print rather than massive overpriced packages and they do equal or better as good of work!  We hired a photographer for my daughter's First Communion like this - and I'm so glad I have those professional images!  Just expand your search area!

    ETA: ARGH!  Caught by a "Zombie Thread"...

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