The Massive Cost of Dirt Cheap Photographers

A dirt cheap wedding photographer almost always equals heartache.

In the course of a week I receive about 100 quote requests and it turns out quite a few people allocate only $500 – $2000 for their wedding images. When most of these people find out I’m not a cheap photographer they move on. I would assume they then go off looking for someone who is. I’ve always accepted this and I’ve simply waited for the people who understand the importance of quality to contact me. However, I’ve just received my 10th email from a bride who didn’t book me, begging me to fix the images a cheap photographer captured and ruined. This wedding photographer was very cheap and was booked solely on the fact that it allowed the couple to put more money on the bar tab at the reception.

It’s Illegal

It’s so hard to read an email that expresses so much regret! I just want to reach through the computer and give these people a hug and make it all alright, but I can’t. The fact is that once a person books a cheap photographer (or an unaccredited friend), if their images turn out to be horrible, they’re stuck with them – for life! It is illegal for another photographer to repair those images. It’s a copyright issue and it also infringes the original photographer’s moral rights. Yep, no matter how awful the photography is, it’s still protected by law and cannot be altered without the author’s written consent.

As well as it being illegal to edit these photos, it’s usually impossible. No amount of photoshopping can repair bad photography, nor can it fix blurry or badly conceived photos due to a lack of talent and experience. Photoshop can’t retell the story of your wedding in a way you’ll love for life – only a professional can do that!

No Regulation

The thing that frustrates me as a professional wedding photographer is that the industry is rife with people who don’t have the skills to do a wedding collection justice, but still accept the responsibility anyway. The photographic industry is NOT regulated! This means that anyone can go and purchase a camera, start up a website and trade as a wedding photographer. What’s worse is that most of the general public have no idea of this! There are so many photographers out there who can’t produce the kind of images that people can treasure for life!

Not Specialising

There are also many photographers who work in other photographic genres who assume that because they know how to capture an image, they’ll do an OK job at a wedding. Unfortunately this is not the case. A wedding requires a specialist. Weddings require finesse, speed, a sixth sense, exceptional people skills, strong story telling abilities and style. A wedding photographer’s ability can only be developed after years of experience shooting weddings. There is a feel that is required – a feel that cannot be quantified, but can only be acquired through experience in that genre.

Too Many Cheap Photographers

So why are there so many cheap photographers? The answer is very simple: They don’t believe their work is worth it. As a result they charge small amounts to secure bookings. Honestly, if you had something you knew was worth real value – something priceless perhaps – would you sell it dirt cheap? Of course not!

This budget mindset leads photographers to either need a day job to subsidise their incomes OR shoot many more weddings each year to make enough for the business. Either way, the results suffer. The more weddings a photographer covers a year, the less time they have to post process each one properly. It’s a slippery slope and so many photographers end up sliding.

“You get what you pay for” is true. There’s a very good reason you’ve heard that saying time and time again.

When you’re making your decision as to who will photograph your wedding, please consider this: The money you spend today (even if you feel it’s a little expensive) will seem like less and less as the years pass. Eventually that initial outlay will be insignificant, but your wedding photos will forever increase in sentimental value – hence the reason professionals refer to your wedding images as an investment.

“My Friend Offered to Photograph Our Wedding”

In regards to the option of allowing a friend (or family friend) to photograph your wedding, if they’re an accredited AIPP professional and their work is outstanding, then great – go for it! However, if they’re not accredited, then please consider that if the images they produce are not what you hoped to receive it might not only cause heartache, but it could also put a strain on your relationship with that person. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard about couples letting “friends” photograph their weddings and the nightmares that have unraveled.

I can guarantee that every single person who’s had their wedding photos botched would go back in time in a heartbeat and reshuffle their budget so they could allocate more money to their wedding photos instead of adding an extra hour to the bar tab or putting Aunty Flo up in a better hotel. There’s no worse feeling than realising you’ve booked the wrong photographer and then realising after that there’s no way you can go back in time to change your decision.

I hope this blog has convinced you that getting it right the first time should be your only option. Wedding photos are such valued personal possessions. Most other things in life are either sold, wear out or break, but wedding photos are kept and treasured for life because they forever connect us to one of the most pivotal days in our lives! Their value is priceless. Please don’t book a cheap and nasty photographer (or an inexperienced friend who is doing it as a favour). I promise you’ll regret it, if not today, definitely in the future!


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