Why You Should Hire a Professional Wedding Photographer
Over my 20+ years of being in photography I’ve NEVER heard of a bride and groom actually liking the photos their friend or relative took, really, NEVER! I’ve heard soo many horror stories about how their wedding photos were soo horrible that they just can’t use or enjoy them. Can you imagine…one of the most special days of your lives…badly preserved? How awful and disappointing!
With the plethora of photographers these days, there really should be someone for every budget.
A professional has the experience and equipment needed to capture the mood and keep the day on task, your Uncle Bob has a camera. A professional knows how to: light, set the scene, crop, zoom, anticipate, pose, handle large groups, attention to detail; …Bob is likely taking snapshots in-between talking to the other guests or eating.
It’s not fair to ask a friend or relative to shoot your wedding; they are there to enjoy you day with you and socialize with all the guests, just like you want to. You’ll want a dedicated professional to capture your day.
Furthermore, he’s probably never heard of “S”-Curves, Rule of Thirds, Flow Posing, or knows the basics about composition. A professional does!
Candid Thoughts On Wedding Photography From A Former Professional Wedding Photographer
Without pontificating I’d like to share some candid thoughts as a professional photographer, since I’m no longer photographing weddings. I photographed wedding for 10+ years and 100+ weddings. I am grateful and thankful for each of the weddings I had the privilege to photograph. Hopefully some of my experience, from being behind the camera as well as in front, may help other brides deciphering about their own wedding photography.
Wedding photography took on a different meaning for me personally because I recently got married and had to hire my own wedding photographer. It was a bit of a challenge, us being in Seattle and we were off to elope in Bali, Indonesia. I did a lot of on-line research, a LOT of research, and finally decided on an amazing photographer, which I’ll sprinkle some of his phenomenal work in this post.
Why Is Wedding Photography So Important?
Your photos are the only visual memory you’ll have from one of the most important and momentous days of your entire life!
When I started my initial research of wedding photographers in Bali I got many search results. Over the next month or so I carefully looked at each and every photograph on each website, trying to get a feel for each photographer’s work and style. I printed out several of the front pages of their websites to continually look back and compare the photos. (Looking back, I think I was a little obsessed, but I think we can all agree I got the best photographer in Bali!)
This was a huge decision and I had to have the very BEST wedding photographer in Bali! I wanted to make certain our special day was captured in a way that would never be forgotten and we would look back at these photos with fond memories. We look at our wedding photos all the time. They’re not just ‘wedding photos’, there much more than that, as you can imagine.
What Should I Budget For Wedding Photography?
Setting a budget for your wedding photos is such a personal decision and there are so many variables that factor into it. When setting your budget, keep in mind that wedding photographs can never be re-done and should have more weight as a budget item.
The Seattle area ranges from $1,000 (for a beginner) up to $10,000, or more, but you should be able to find what you’re looking for in the $3-5K range, for a professional photographer and an album.
How To Cut Costs For Wedding Photography
If budget is a concern there are many ways to cut costs for your big day. Consider limiting alcohol, selecting a cheaper venue, renting your venue during the daytime (rather than the evening), have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday when venue rates tend to be cheaper, simplify your food menu, rent or borrow a dress (you’ll only be wearing it for a half day, and don’t think you’ll be saving it for your daughter to wear someday; are you wearing your mother’s dress??), invite fewer guests, do a small cake (for photos) and supplement with sheet cake that gets cut in the kitchen, buy fresh flowers at Pike Place Market, borrow as much stuff from former brides or friends. Keep the decorations simple; people are there to see you, not a decked out room. Also to note, not having the photographer cover the reception may save you some money. Most of the albums I put together had just a few photos of the reception. You could have the photographer photograph the cake cutting, toast, then the first dance and have them leave at that point.
Keep in mind that after the food is eaten, the flowers are dead and thrown out, all the fancy props and displays are stored in bins you’ll likely never use again, the hangovers are gone, the only thing that’s permanent are the photos of your day. In the long run you’ll probably wish you had spent that extra little bit to get the photographer you really wanted.
Do I Want The Digitals?
Yes and No. The reason why soo many people think they want the digitals is to save money #1, or to do their album themselves. Ask any professional photographer that had a colleague photograph their wedding and they’re likely to tell you they still don’t have their own wedding album (even after a time span of 10+ years) because the photographer just burned them a disc. People have good intentions of DIY, but the disc will end up in a drawer, forgotten, lost or scratched up.
Professional photographers have an eye for putting together a professional looking album and have access to the highest quality products that regular consumers just can’t get. You’ll want a high-quality wedding album that will represent this most amazing day, something you’ll undoubtedly look at often, share with friends and pass along to future generations (your kids).
Should I Do An Engagement Session?
Yes! By all means, if at all possible, do an engagement photo session at a place that’s special for the two of you (the beach, your fav park, with your dog, etc). This allows you and the photographer to get comfortable working together. It also allows you, the engaged couple, to get more comfortable in front of the camera. Trust me, it’s money and time well spent!
Another advantage of doing an engagement session is you’ll have a beautiful portrait of the two of you to display as the guests walk into the church or reception site.
How Do I Hire A Wedding Photographer?
Do your initial on-line research and narrow it down to your top five photographers. Then, go back and look carefully at each of those websites and all the photos. (At this point you may want to look at on-line reviews as well). From there select your top two, or three, and request interviews with each of them. By meeting in person you can see if your personalities and style match and you can get a sense if you want to hire that person for your big day. Make it a casual meeting, at their studio where you can see their displays (wall portraits and albums) or at a coffee shop or bar over a drink. If they don’t have a studio, don’t fret, it’s not that big of a deal. Just make sure you like their work and they can bring samples for you to touch and view. You’ll be spending a lot of time together (before, during and after the wedding) so choose wisely.
How We Hired A Wedding Photographer In Bali
After a LOT of on-line research, we narrowed it down to our top few. We ended up Skyping with our photographer in Bali and made an instant connection-SCORE!! It was critical that our personalities gelled because we spent two full days with them and they captured the beginning of our married lives together, in spectacular settings all over Bali. The team of photographers and make-up artist added soo much to our special day–it totally made a huge difference and we were so happy to have them there.
What Questions Should I Ask Before I Hire A Wedding Photographer?
After you have narrowed down your choices to two or three photographers, the #1 question would be if they have your date available. And just a side-note on that: if you find a photographer where you absolutely LOVE their work, you may want to book them first and then the venue next.
Again, if budget is an issue, I would call the photographer and ask them a range of their pricing. Let’s face it, if your budget is $3,000 and they start at $10,000, you’ll need to move onto the next.
Questions to Ask:
- What packages they offer
- If à la carte, try and establish what the end product will cost
- Are they available for additional hours if needed
- Does the couple have any say in the album design/image selection
- Does the couple get and revisions on the album
- Does the photographer host an on-line gallery, for family and guest to order
- Does the photographer offer payment plans
- Are the images on their website shot by them, or an assistant
- Are they the photographer that will photograph their wedding
- Does the photographer have a backup photographer in case they get sick or have an emergency
- Does the photographer have backup equipment
- Does the photographer have a contract
After your conversation you’ll have a gut feeling if they’re the right one for you, or not. Go with that! We did and were overjoyed and blown away with the results!
Our wedding was such a beautiful celebration and I think you can see from our photos that we indeed hired the right photographer(s)! We are soo thrilled to be able to highly recommend Padi Photography in Bali! They were an amazing team of three photographers who took extremely great care of us for our two day photo session. We consider them dear friends now and keep up with each other on Facebook and Instagram.
If you are considering getting married in Bali, or just visiting, I would highly recommend Padi Photography to capture your special time there! As you can see, they did an outstanding job of capturing us and making us feel at ease!