I am by no means an authority on photography. I'm actually very much an amateur still, but I currently edit for high-in-demand wedding photographer as well as second shoot for a bunch of up and coming wedding photographers.... and I've been to a lot of weddings. :) So as someone engrossed in wedding photography, here are my unsolicited thoughts on wedding photography if I was a bride.
- Find a focus for your wedding and splurge on that. My girlfriend spent a ton of money on her flowers and skimped on everything else because flowers were most important to her. As for me, photography would obviously be my highest priority. I would spend whatever it took to get the photographer I wanted; I would rent a gown, slash my guest list in half, make all the invitations and decorations myself, use fake flowers just to get the photographer. That's just me. Thankfully, the photographer I want is still under $10,000, and evidently, my sister tells me I could ask for an industry discount! woot!
- I would only hire a photographer with a second shooter. I would require to see portfolios of both the first and second shooter. I've seen so many weddings with moments missed because there was only one shooter or the second shooter was mediocre. If you're paying for a second shooter, make sure the shooter is good, or else you're just wasting a second shooter
- Make sure you know what you're getting. Some photographers, even though they give you all the files from your wedding, you may only be getting the 4x6 size files; make sure you know what kind of files you're getting... i.e. high resolution files. Also, some photographers may be cheap to hire, but when you go to buy prints from them, the 4x6 ends up being $20. Make sure you see the pricelist. Also, make sure you know if your photographer is shooting in film or digital.
- Decide what kind of "look" you want. For myself, I want wedding pictures that look fresh out of the camera like Jasmine Star or GH Kim. Even though I LOVE Amelia Lyon or Max Wanger, I don't want to look back at my pictures and decide that I actually don't like that look anymore. Fresh out of the camera style is timeless. Besides, I could always apply that "look" later on.
- Magazine style albums are expensive. To just merely print one for a client, it usually is at least $500-800. So with the cost of designing the pages/layouts and actually making a profit, the photographer will charge you anywhere between $1500-3000. So don't fool yourself and think you can get a magazine style book for $200 (trust me, brides think it's possible, but they're just being unrealistic)
- With photography, 75% of the time you get what you paid for. If you're paying $1,000 for your photographer, you better not expect to get a top of the line photographer with high resolution photos and a photo album. It's possible....anything is possible, but it's highly unrealistic. For a decent photographer and a decent package, expect to pay $3,000-5,000. Also, make sure you get references from the photographer. If they take great pictures, but the brides thought they were a jerk, why hire them?
- It's better to get the kind, patient photographer with mediocre pictures than the jerk photographer with the amazing pictures. On your wedding day, you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. You're not going to want that photographer who gets in the way or yells at your guest. The photographers I work with are the kind, patient photographers, and although I hear the criticisms that they're pictures are over processed or over posed or boring or plain or whatever, you get your money's worth in their personality. They genuinely care about you and do what they can to help you through the day. That's why I appreciate these men that I work with so much. Even though their photography style is not exactly what I would personally want for my own wedding, I would highly recommend them for how well they work with their clients. (also... most of their clients have been referred. so that's another thing to take note of)
- Take engagement pictures with the photographer who's shooting your wedding. Think of it as an interview process. How they are in your engagement session is how they'll be at your wedding. This is your opportunity to get used to having a camera in your face and getting to know your photographer. This way on your wedding, you know what to expect.
- Take your bridal party pictures before the wedding. Why? Because dresses aren't wrinkled, make up is fresh, hair is still pretty, and you still have energy. I've been at too many weddings where the bride and groom try to squeeze these pictures in between the ceremony and reception and they're so exhausted they end up cutting out a lot of the picture time. If it were me, I would regret not having good pictures. Also, taking pictures before the wedding allows for the bride and groom to have a "first look" before the ceremony. This is the first time the bride and groom get to see each other; it will probably the only private moment the bride and groom can share that day. I think it's good to see each other before the ceremony because then you get rid of your nerves by seeing each other.
That's all I have for now!