Brides Cannot Afford A $500.00 Wedding Photographer

by Dan Dugan

Brides Cannot Afford A $500.00 Wedding Photographer



I am writing a continuing series of articles to help brides and grooms choose vendors for their wedding day. I have been in the wedding business for over 30 years and I can help brides and grooms avoid disasters on their wedding day.

Why do some wedding photographers charge $500 and some charge $2,500 to $5,000? The difference is amateur vs professional.

I have recently heard four different devastating stories from people who hired a photographer for their wedding for $500 or less with terrible results. In one case, I was approached at the reception of a recent wedding by one of the groomsmen. My two assistants and I had been with the wedding party since 11 a.m. that day. This is what he said to me: “You and your crew did a great job today; we all had so much fun. I can tell that the photos are going to be great because you knew what you are doing and had lighting equipment. My wife and I were married a year ago and we hired a friend of hers from high school who is now doing photography for $500, and the photos are terrible. We wasted our money, we don’t like any of our photos, and we are still upset.”

 In a future wedding that I am working on, the groom’s sister was married a year ago. Her photographer charged $250 but lost half of the photos due to a computer failure. The photographer gave them a discount due to the lost photos, but it was a total waste of money for the bride and groom, and they are devastated.

It is very expensive to be a professional wedding photographer, whereas anyone can be an amateur photographer. Amateurs can buy a camera for $500, start taking pictures of kids, and then think that they can do weddings. They fail at the bride and groom’s expense.

Professional photographers understand how important your wedding day is to you. They have experience and backup equipment. Cameras do fail but a pro has backup equipment. Your wedding day will be very hectic, your best made plans will go astray. Your photographer will be the one who keeps your day moving forward.

Professional photographers have a complex file backup system so that none of your photos are ever lost, including cloud storage. Amateurs lose your photos.

Amateurs promote themselves as documentary or available light photographers. This means that they cannot afford, and do not know how to use, any type of lighting equipment. The top ten wedding photographers in the world all use off-camera lighting to produce artistic wedding photos, and as a pro photographer you must have great knowledge of both available light and off-camera lighting to produce great artistic wedding photos.

Amateurs take snapshots that anyone can do, including any relative you have with a digital camera. Pros know how to casually pose everyone to make them look their best. Subtle changes in body position, head tilt and arm placement mark the difference between the amateur and the professional.

So, how can you find a professional photographer instead of an amateur for your wedding? Here is a checklist for you:

·      Go to bridal shows. This is a very casual way to meet professional photographers and see their photos.

·      Ask your friends, family, coworkers, and hair stylist for referrals. Word of mouth is the best advertising for any wedding vendor, not just photographers.

·      Avoid wedding site referrals such as those from The Knot and Wedding Wire. Their business model is to make money from vendors. They let anyone advertise, both amateurs and professionals alike.

·      Watch for Facebook posts related to weddings and wedding photographers. You will hear of great photographers and also hear of terrible photographers.

The most important thing you need to do before you choose a photographer and sign a contract is to ask to see all (not just a few) of the photos from previous weddings that the bride received. This can be a wedding album or online gallery.

If your wedding photos are important to you, you cannot afford to pay $500.00. You will be wasting your money.

Dan Dugan.