Like most expenses pertaining to your wedding day, you can expect to get what you pay for (at least for the most part). "Excellent photography is the result of years of training, experimentation, experience and, of course, a visionary eye," says Christian Oth, photographer and owner of Christian Oth Studio. "The process entails an establishment of rapport with the couple and the art of thoughtfully planning a photographic story of a couple's unique day." He also points out that, most of the time, it's more than just one photographer shooting your big day—there's an entire team working behind the scenes—including additional shooters, retouchers, and maybe even a production team—that ensures the perfect outcome. The bottom line is that wedding photography is not an area where you want to cut costs. That being said, it is absolutely possible to save money on a top-notch photographer. Here are some tricks-of-the-trade secrets from expert photographers themselves on how to save without sacrifice.
Start your search early.
Like many other important wedding vendors—such as your venue and your entertainment—photographers are often booked early. For this reason, Oth recommends booking as soon as possible, ideally immediately after you book your venue. "This helps by making sure you have time to thoughtfully consider different proposals from photographers and weigh any pros and cons," he says. "It also gives you time to be strategic with your financial planning to make sure that photography can be a priority in your overall wedding budget."
Use your photographer's time wisely.
You don't necessarily need your photographer to stay until the very end of your wedding day. "It's important that they're there as the dance party gets started, but by hour two or three of dancing, you really don't need those photos—it gets repetitive," says Abby Jiu, photographer and owner of Abby Jiu Photography. "Your photographer's time is best spent at the beginning of the day—while you're getting ready with your guys and gals, when your parents see you in your dress for the first time and when you walk down the aisle, so make sure to schedule your photographer with coverage on the earlier side."
Consider an emerging photographer.
If you're still struggling to make the budget work, consider hiring a newer wedding photographer. Once you start looking, you'll find that there's lots of new talent to choose from. While they might not have years of solo experience, so long as they have training and samples of their work, there's no reason why you shouldn't consider someone emerging onto the scene. If you go this route, however, it's best to meet with them in person to discuss your wedding-day wishes so he or she knows exactly what to expect.