Saving a buck on your wedding photography – Is it worth it?

Cape Town wedding photographer, Greg Lumley has a way with words. I find his photos inspiring and his blog educative. I asked his permission to post this article from his blog since I feel every couple getting married should take note of these points when considering which way to go with choosing a wedding photographer. Thank you Greg.

Just about everyone with a camera has a few images that any professional photographer will  swoon over BUT the professional will have hundreds of these images, what’s more is that he/she will be able to produce those high quality images on demand every time!
When there is no choice due to financial constraints , who can be expected to do any differently, but if there is even the slightest budget, ponder the following:
    * The average photo on Facebook is a snapshot which is acceptable considering it was just another occasion but what if your wedding photos were the same quality?
    * Is your wedding really that incredibly important day to you?
  •  No not really? Excellent then you won’t be disappointed – Exit here
  •  Yes?… Read on ->
But my friend is a fashion photographer” I love this one but lets continue regardless, are they also experienced at weddings? Nope? Okay excellent, that means:
  • You are going to have a few studio lights dotted around for lighting.
  • Your makeup artist will be there when you click your fingers (that’s pretty cool)
  • You are going to do multiple retakes of the same photo to get the perfect one, “Okay everyone standby this is ring going on take # 10”.
  • Don’t forget that creative director who is going to brief you and your photographer as to exactly what he needs out of the shoot… errr wedding…
  • It’s also great that you don’t want more than 10-20 finished photos at the end of it all
  • You had better practice your posing because most of the fashion guys expect you to know that right off the bat!
  • yes quality over quantity is good even if the emphasis is in totally the wrong place!
The point to the ridiculous scenario above, is that in order to get the most from your fashion photographer you need to provide an environment that they are used to, they are specialists in what they do.
The wedding photographer is a specialist too and guess what, their specialty is ??…  Weddings! Did you answer correctly?!? Excellent, you win a half used bus ticket to the Deep Southern Swamplands, leave your razor and toothbrush at home but take your sister! 
Still determined to go ahead with the friend/student or other type of photographer, okay then let’s at least give you the criteria to choose wisely:
  • Do they have some kind of portfolio that meets all of  the standards below:
  • Consistent quality over a period of time: Multiple quality images from different events, we are trying to establish that the good photos have nothing to do with luck.
  •  Attention to detail: Are there photos that show this, there are lots of little things that make up the day, will they notice?
  •  Crime-scene photos: Are the images simply a recording of what the camera is pointed at or do they have a creative eye… this might not count if you want your wedding to look like a series of photos taken by the same guy who does passport photos at the traffic department.
  • People, people, people… if you are looking at pretty landscape photos then what are you thinking? Can this person work with people, for this he/she will need the ability work with perfect strangers as well as direct them, unless you want a totally photojournalistic wedding.
  •  All about us – how are they going to work with you and your partner, do they have “couple” photos? Next to the event’s moments this is important, these are the photos that are most likely to be featured in your home.
  • Lighting – if you like harsh shadows that make people’s eyes look sunken in and eerie, then great, but what you really need is someone who understands how to take what’s given and work with it by finding great spots in awful light, using the right camera angles and working with flash only when needed or for effect.
  • Quality equipment: Do they have quality equipment and is there some kind of backup option in case something goes wrong?
  • Reliability: Are they going to be there on time on the day as promised?
  • Personality!!! This is a biggie!!! How do you and your partner get on with them, they are going to spend one heck of a lot of time with you and let’s face it, we all just need to get along 😉
Still want to go ahead with the friend? Okay now I’m impressed because you really are brave or not particularly bothered. My advice… lower your expectations, that way if you get a great job which is possible you will be thrilled!
I’m not saying that other photographers are not capable, it’s whether they have the experience or not, there are quite a few photographers who are excellent in many areas so they don’t count but they will definitely have passed the checklist above with ease except for the personality, that’s your call… some photographers are grumpy people!
If you have any doubts above then you could try option two, a professional wedding photographer.
Consistency, Creativity, Quality and Reliability on Demand – peace of mind…pheeeeew!

  1. Toni Jade says:

    Hi I love your article. Well said.