As soon as the word "wedding" becomes part of photography packages, prices seem to skyrocket. Under these circumstances, photography can easily eat up a big portion of a wedding budget. Fortunately, by following some easy tips, brides and grooms can cut photography costs without having to sacrifice the photos of their special day.
Hire a Student Photographer
Student photographers tend to use photo shoots as a way to gain experience in photography, or even to fulfill class requirements. Some students even shoot photo sessions to add sample work to their portfolios. For brides and grooms, turning to student photographers to photograph their memories can save thousands of dollars on wedding photos.
Contact the art department of a local college or university. Student photographers can charge a small fee for their time, but it doesn't even touch the hundreds of dollars that a professional wedding photographer can charge.
Contact a local art school and ask for a list of student photographers that are willing to work freelance. If the college isn't willing to give you names, ask if they will post your information somewhere where the students are likely to see. Some students charge a nominal fee for their time. Others are willing to work for the experience or to earn class credit for shooting a wedding.
Seek Out an Amateur Wedding Photographer
Using a photographer that is just breaking into the wedding industry, or does not work as a full-time photographer, is another way to save on wedding photographs.
Post an Online Ad
Use an online site, such as Craigslist, to post a classified ad. Post the ad in the closest city and state to the wedding location. Include the wedding date and time in the ad, along with your requirements for a wedding photographer. Bids go directly to the bride and groom, so they can determine which photographer works best for the situation.
Review Online Classifieds
Amateur and freelance photographers also post their services on websites such as Craigslist, eLance and Guru. Review portfolios to narrow down potential photographers. Contact them with the details of your wedding to obtain a bid from them.
Recruit a Friend
Find a friend who is a talented photographer. Have them shoot the wedding photos instead of hiring a professional. Friends love to lend a helping hand to the couple, and it can even be the friend's wedding gift to serve as the wedding photographer for the day.
Negotiate with a Professional Photographer
Almost everything in life is negotiable. Wedding photography is no exception. Most wedding photographers would rather alter and personalize wedding photography packages than lose the business altogether. It doesn't hurt to ask for a photography package that meets individual needs and desires.
Time and Proofs
One way to save on wedding photography is to see if the photographer is willing to work for a specified amount for their time. In turn, they hand over the proofs from the wedding photos to the bride and groom. With a copyright release from the photographer, the bride and groom can then print the photos they choose, which saves the couple hundreds or thousands of dollars on purchasing a package.
Keep in mind, however, that proofs will not have any retouching or editing. They will only be the images straight from the camera.
Time and Edited CD
Another option is to pay for the time of the photographer and the edited photos on a CD or memory stick. The cost will be higher than a simple proof CD, as the images have been edited, making them higher quality. However, you will still save money by not paying the photographer for prints or albums. The edited CD or stick would also include a copyright release, just like the proofs.
Limit the Amount of Time
Save money on wedding photography by setting a limit on the number of hours the photographer works. Find out if the photographer can charge a per hour fee instead of a package fee. When you limit the number of hours the photographer shoots photographs, it can reduce the total amount you pay for their services, without having to sacrifice the coverage and recording of your wedding.
Limit the Number of Photos
Another option to save money is to find a photographer who agrees to charge you a fee for their time and the number of photographs they shoot, putting a limitation on the number of photos. At the end of the event, they simply turn over the digital photographs to you. You can choose to print photos at a photo lab of your choice.
Time and Online Access
Consider offering to pay for the photographer's time and enter an agreement where photos are available online, but not printed for the couple. With a username and password, the bride and groom, and anyone else they choose to give access, can view the photos, download the photos or print the photos at will.
Work Without an Assistant
Especially for larger weddings, a photographer often brings an assistant along to ensure they get shots from different angles or locations at the same time. Since the photographer has to pay this person for wedding coverage, it increases the fee the photographer has to charge. If the wedding is small, request that the photographer work without an assistant to help reduce the cost.
Book Really Early
Some photographers offer a discount for booking far in advance - such as one to two years before the wedding date. Photographers only get paid when they are working, so they like to book as many dates in advance as possible. If you can book that early, ask about a discount. Even if the photographer does not offer a discount upfront, booking early saves money because photographers can and do raise their rates from year to year. Booking a wedding date for next year during this year locks in the current rates.
Some months are more popular for weddings than others. Booking a photographer during the slow times can land a deep discount as well. In Florida, for example, the summer months are off season because it is hotter than normal. Photographers that do not have a lot of bookings during these months tend to be more amenable to working at a discounted rate because it is better than not having any business at all. Off season timeframes can vary depending on your location.
Opt for the Basic Package
Professional photographers offer different package options. Hire the best photographer you can afford, opting for their basic package. Opt for extras, such as albums, at a later date.
Save the Memories
Wedding photographs allow couples to record the memories of their special day. Couples do not have to blow their wedding budget, however, in the quest to get great photos. It is possible to walk away with wedding photographs at a price that is much less than the going rate.