Affordable Wedding Photography

Let’s talk about the following phrases:

“Im looking for an affordable wedding photographer.”

“I’m looking for a reasonably priced wedding photographer.”

What. Does. That. Mean?

Cheap and expensive are subjective terms. We need to start putting numbers to them. If what you mean is that you are looking for an average priced wedding photographer for your geographical area, do you know what that price is? And are you talking about professional photographers, or amateur photographers? Full time or part time photographers? Photographers who are just starting out, or photographers have been in the business for a while?

affordable kalamazoo wedding photographer

See? It’s not that simple.

So, what is the best way to find a photographer that fits into your budget? Well, you have to have a budget first. A wedding planner can help you create one, or there are a ton of online resources (google that sh!t). The benefits of having a wedding planner are that they will know specific vendors in your area and around what they charge. It just makes life easier because you don’t have to be doing all of the research.

You don’t have to be extravagant with your spending in order to have a beautiful wedding day, and it’s up to you how to prioritize your money. Some people prioritize food or the venue or a one of a kind wedding dress. Some people prioritize photography. That is a decision that has to be made by the couple. I read somewhere that wedding photography should be at least 25% of the wedding budget, but nothing about wedding planning is one-size-fits all because every couple is unique.

I’ve said it before, and I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but there are three things that last from your wedding day:

  1. The memories.

  2. The rings.

  3. The photos.

So, when you were budgeting, if you are looking at the numbers and feeling overwhelmed, what can go? What if you did two statement floral arrangements instead of 20 tiny ones? What if you had food trucks instead of a plated meal? What if you had an outdoor ceremony instead of renting a giant ballroom? If you invited 10 less guests, would the photographer of your dreams be affordable?

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I shoot most of my weddings within 150 miles of Kalamazoo, Michigan. In my geographic area, the median price out of ALL of the amateurs and professionals is somewhere around $1500. BUT that number is skewed low by all of the people who use amateur gear, aren’t running legitimate businesses, and don’t know how to get a decent picture on a not so sunny day. You would not believe the horror stories I have heard. Just join the “Michigan Displeased Brides” group on Facebook. Literally. Go now. It’s pretty entertaining if it isn’t happening to you. Sad, but definitely entertaining.

The best way to find out how much you should be paying for wedding photography is to ask a wedding planner or do the research yourself. Find 3-5 wedding photographers who you LOVE and then ask them for pricing. Make sure to look at full wedding galleries (indoor and outdoor) and reviews. If there are no reviews… RUN. Compare the prices, and then you’ll know about what is average for your taste.

I understand that wedding photography is a luxury. But so is catering. So is a $1000 wedding dress. “Affordable,” is a relative term just like everything else.

Consider the cost of NOT having a professional and then let’s define “reasonably priced.”

My name is Rachel Whitehurst, thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

 
affordable kalamazoo wedding photography
 

5 Questions You NEED to Ask Before Hiring a Wedding Photographer

sundance-studios-wedding-photography

Finding the right photographer for you isn’t all about style. Of course you should like the pictures of the person you hire, but that is just the starting point. At the end of any conversation with a couple who might hire me, I always ask if they have any additional questions. Most of the time, they say that they can’t think of any. I would like to think that is because I did such a good job telling them about me and how I work, but I also think that people can’t ask about what they don’t know. So, here are five questions you absolutely should be asking a wedding photographer before you hire them.

1. Are you insured and do you have back up equipment?

Legitimate photography businesses have insurance. You might be wondering why. Let’s say a guest spills their drink in your photographers wedding bag. Who is liable? Let’s say that your photographers camera is stolen the night before the wedding. How will they afford a new one? What if their gear malfunctions in the middle of your wedding ceremony? Do they have a back up camera? These things should be obvious to a professional, however, there are many photographers out there who take the risk because it’s easier and cheaper. You do not want to be around those people. They value themselves over you.

2. How long have you been shooting weddings, and how did you get started?

Everybody has to start somewhere, but experience is important. There is a lot more that goes into a wedding day other than just taking pictures. The photographer has to know where to be and when to be there. You should work together with them to plan a general schedule for the day, but I’m talking about the split second decision between photographing the bride coming down the aisle or the groom’s expression when he sees her. An experienced wedding photographer will notice things that someone just starting out would not.

3. How many weddings are you hoping to photograph this year?

Some photographers are volume photographers. They (usually) charge less, but they fill up every weekend with work. Depending on how many couples they have, you could be just a number to them. I know a wedding photographer who kept calling the bride by the wrong name on her wedding day, and I was horrified. Ummmmm… couples are paying me their hard earned money and trusting me with one of the most important events of their lives. The least I can do is know who they are. I personally cap the number of in-state weddings I do each year to 15. I do not book more than one wedding in a weekend unless there are special circumstances. It’s a big deal for someone to trust me to be by there side nearly every second of their wedding day, and it is my absolute privilege for which I am super grateful. I need to do my best for them, and that is why I do not overbook myself.

4. How will you be delivering images? Digitals? Prints? Are those included in the package price?

It is very common in 2019 for wedding photographers to deliver images digitally. Sometimes that is on a USB, sometimes that is via online gallery. However, In Person Sales (IPS) are making a comeback. That is when a photographer has you come into a studio and purchase physical products. Often times, those are not included in your package price. Just know exactly what you are paying for so that you can plan accordingly.

5. Is this your full-time job?

There are a ton of wedding photography hobbyists. More power to them! Just know that unless your photographer is working weddings full-time, they will have to prioritize other things before you. It might take you longer to get your images, and you may not receive as much personal attention.

Bonus: Have you ever had an unhappy client? If so, could you describe why they were unhappy and if the issue was resolved?

Oh BOY. I have never had someone ask me this question, but if I were getting married, it would definitely be on my list. You can tell a lot about a person‘s character by the way they respond. It might be uncomfortable, and it might take them a moment to consider, but damn! If you feel good about their answer, you will know that you can fully trust this person.

 
What questions to ask when looking for and before hiring a wedding photographer
 

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

Building a wedding photography photography business takes time. If you’re looking for a shortcut or some quick cash, this is not the business to do that in. Weddings are high pressure and require every kind of photography there is. Macro. Editorial. Event. Portraiture. Natural light. OCF (Off Camera Flash). Candid. Posed. I could go on. Wedding photography also requires an insane amount of gear. Multiple camera bodies. Flashes. Wide lenses. Long lenses. Macro lenses. Back ups. These things are not cheap.

Flatlays and My Wedding Details Styling Kit

Flatlays and My Wedding Details Styling Kit

Flatlays have become a huge trend in wedding photography over the past couple of years. They are a great way to document all of the little personal details that often get overlooked on a wedding day. They also set the tone for a wedding album or gallery. Almost like the exposition or introduction to a novel- you can learn about the couple’s personal style and color story for the whole day in a single image.

How to Edit a Wedding in 8 Hours or Less

How to Edit a Wedding in 8 Hours or Less

When I hear other photographers talking about how long it takes them to edit a wedding, I honestly feel bad for them. It doesn’t have to be that way! At this point in my career, editing a wedding as like performing a well choreographed a dance that I have practiced hundreds of times. It comes naturally, flows well, and so long as I follow each of the steps, turns out perfectly. With that said, I am always learning and open to suggestions. I understand that what works for me, might not work for everyone. But I figure, it might be helpful to someone, and community is key.