Here’s my offer; I’ll show up at your wedding and take pictures with an iPhone for $150. Email me your wedding date & ceremony time and I’ll let you know if I’m available.
Don’t think it can be done. Well check out these images taken at the Olympics by from fellow photojournalist Dan Chung , or the portraits of the New York Yankees shot using the Instagram app that are licensed by Getty Images. The iPhone is being used in amazing ways and I know several professional wedding photographers, including myself, who take a handful of cell phone photos at weddings. It’s really more of an experiment, or a chance to be arty, but it could be and I’m sure it has been done already a way to shoot an entire wedding. So why not your wedding?
Ok, I’m not really expecting to have any takers on this offer and if there are please know I don’t have an iPhone and that isn’t a real offer. The reason I made that offer is to show an extreme of what a lot of people are thinking these days. That just having a good camera is what you really need from a photographer.
The reason those iPhone photos are so amazing is because the photographers using them are not just professionals, but craftsman at what they do and they could make great wedding photos with a disposable camera from Walgreens.
The best advice I can give for finding a photographer who truly is great at their craft is:
- Ask to see at least 100 images from a single wedding.
- look at their non-wedding work
- go for someone with at least 5 years of professional experience
- look for a background with formal training, basically more than just “self taught”
- Ask if they shoot film and if you can see samples
An Amazing Wedding Speech
[Angela, please correct me if I've gotten any part of this story wrong]
It’s no secret, weddings are extremely joyous & emotional events. Especially for the friends and family that are involved with the couple.
You’ve got a quivering bottom lip from the father of the bride as he walks his darling little girl down the aisle, a stuttering groom as he recites his vows and of course what wedding is complete with out tears from the mother of the groom and crying bridesmaids.
Seeing over a dozen or more weddings a year I don’t often get choked up, so I tend to remember the one, or two times it does happen. I find it a little funny, as earlier in the day I had mentioned this fact to Angela (the bride), and thinking about it now, I can picture her saying in the back of her mind “Oh. I’ve got something for you later”. That is assuming she knew how emotional the room would be.
Angela was the last to give a speech that night and the story she would tell would be set up perfectly by her father, whom had mentioned in his speech about Angela’s issue of not being noticed by, or being able to find the right kind of man.
Angela, continued on with this story as she took the mic. Explaining that she was depressed about not finding that one true love. So one night she sat down and started writing love letters/poems to this yet unknown man who she was sure was out there, in hopes of one day being able to give them to him.
Admitting that the whole idea sounded like something a crazy person would do, she then produced one of the poems and read it aloud in front of everybody and to Ben, for the first time.
As Angela, read her poem, she cried and sniffled through quite a bit of it, but finished strong in a giant embrace with her new soul mate.
To say there were very few dry eyes in the house would be an understatement. My own eyes were filled partially with tears and I had that dry feeling in the back of my throat. It was a wonderful moment and I was glad they allowed me to be the person to photograph it all.
In this case the groom owned the Mini.
When most of us think of the bride & groom driving away from a wedding, it’s either in a limo, or in their own car (cans on strings from the bumper are optional).
I don’t have anything against limos, or your car, but let’s face it, limos make up for style with size and personal cars in most cases are something most have been hanging onto through college, not really great for photos.
So why not add a little charm and go with a vintage ride?
If you would prefer for the least amount of leg work, go professional. There are companies who rent out vintage cars with drivers, for everything from filming movies to driving around brides & grooms and they usually have several car options to choose from. If you’re in a rural or small urban area, as opposed to a New York or Chicago, you may need to go with this next idea.
If a car rental agency isn’t an option, or you’re on a budget, be sure to check out local car clubs. You might not have a choice of a 1937 Rolls Royce in 3 different colors, but finding classic cars from the 1950’s & 60’s shouldn’t be a problem.
Because this isn’t a full time business, some car owners may not have an exact idea of what to charge, or what will be required of them & their car.
Not that I want you low balling people, but a good dollar amount to start at is between around$100 for an hour or two. Owners who maybe have done this once or twice before may already have a price in mind.
Make sure you specify when & where you’d like the car to be used and who will be in it. Since the purpose of this post is about making better pictures, I’d suggest making sure the owner knows you’d like to be using it as a prop after the ceremony. Make sure you mention everything you have planned. Nothing will sour your mood more than finding out you can’t sit on the top of the rear seat of a convertible as you’re leaving the ceremony.
A few last tips:
- Ask for the car to be at least washed and maybe waxed the day of or before the wedding
- Ask the driver to dress accordingly and in a solid color (preferably black)
Want to see how cool a vintage car can make your wedding photos? Just Google for photos from the recent Royal Wedding where Prince William & Kate Middleton left in an Aston Martin convertible.
I don’t read a lot of Wedding or Bridal Magazines. Ok, I don’t read any, but I do know that there are articles on the topic of “Budget Weddings” & “Fantastic Weddings on a Shoe String Budget” and so on. With the current economic outlook, I’m sure their will be more of these popping up in magazines and web sites like theKnot.com.
In regards to photography though, somewhere the recent myth of the student photographer shooting a wedding took off, but unlike Unicorns, there are actually college students who take good weddings photos. But there is a huge difference from finding some one to shoot your wedding for cheap and finding someone to shoot it cheap and good. If you are one of those people looking for that, read this before making you post on Craig’s List.
As a couple, the 3 most important things you will choose for your wedding in order are; The Dress, The location & The photographer. (see my previous blog post The 3 most Imporant Things). Those stories you’ve heard about someone having a student or a friend shoot their wedding and they got the most amazing pictures back… well they are real, but are few and far between.
If you want a great way to save a few bucks, start by not spending $15 each on a handful of magazines. Now before I get to far off topic, the reason of this post is about my arch enemy… The student photographer.
Well not really, I like student photographers and think any chance they can get for real world experience they should take it. I think a student photographer isn’t something that every bride wants, as much as I think that paying a lot for a bad photographer is something every bride wants to avoid.
All to often people look at photography as something they themselves can do and in turn are astounded by the cost of hiring a professional. While most people under stand that taking 1 great photo out of 100 does not make them Ansel Adams, thinking someone who has a little bit of schooling will definitely be better at it than you is a sound thought, but thinking they may someday be the next Ansel Adams isn’t exactly on the mark considering only 7% of people with a degree in the arts go on to make it a career.
First; Most people who’ve had luck with a student usually knew the photographer and were already impressed with their work before hand. If your cousin isn’t studying photography at an art school, or you don’t have a friend who’s roommate freelances for the local paper, chances are you aren’t one of the lucky few who can save money while still getting great results.
You should probably then be looking at getting a profession who’s work you like and who’s price you can afford.
Try getting someone who doesn’t require an album to be purchased, or if you want to buy the digital copies of the photos, see if you have an option to buy them after the wedding. Try putting off as much as you can till after the wedding.
While most vendors will want some type of payment (be careful when vendors want full payment up front), deposits that aren’t due at signing help in making a budget spread out.
But if you’re still hell bent on going this route here are a few suggestions.
So you’re still hell bent on going this route here are a few suggestions. (continued from part 1)
1. Know where to find your student photographers. Realize that the world is a big place and photo students aren’t as numerous as accountants. Colleges and universities that have photography programs are few and far between, or are concentrated in one area. While the wedding might be 50 miles from a city like San Francisco, or New York, with a lot of photo students. Students don’t always have transportation, or at the vary least reliable transportation. Living in Memphis might yield few photo schools, but the small towns of Columbia, Missouri, Missoula, Montana, or Bowling Green, Kentucky are home to some of the countries better photojournalism programs.
2. Also, not all photography students want to shoot weddings. My senior year I turned down $800 from a relative to shoot their friend’s wedding (this was in 1997).
3. Have patients. When you use non-traditional avenues for wedding vendors, you have to remember you will no longer be dealing with professionals. Hobbyist/students most likely will not know half of what a full time vendor does on the business side of things. So set time aside for portraits sessions to be longer and don’t expect full-on pre & post ceremony consulting. Also, while couples with graphic design knowledge will cry “not fair”, third party vendors like album publishers will not sell to clients not already in the industry. This means the hi-end magazine style album you wanted probably won’t be available through the student, or amateur photographer.
4. Ask to see a portfolio. Realizing you know nothing about what makes a good non-wedding portfolio, look for photos that capture people. Great photos of trees, lake views and sunset do not translate into great photos of people. Look for somebody with a knack for documenting events like a photojournalist. Believe it our not, great photos from a party or night club on their flickr page, may say more about their talent than that amazing sunset.
1. Buy somebody a good camera. Find a relative or close friend who is into photography. Take the $400 or $500 (or more) and use it to help them buy a new camera like the Canon Rebel, or Nikon D70 with a kit zoom lens package, or if they have a nice digital already, upgrade with a better off camera flash or fast glass lens. Or if they have good equipment now, pay for an advanced photo class with a pro. I actually know a dentist who has always had more expensive equipment than me, but I still get better pictures. Make sure your wedding is at least 3 or 4 months away so they have time to use and get used to shooting with it. You’ve just strengthen a bond with someone and found a photographer.
2. (This should be done in conjunction with suggestion #1)
Ask guests to bring their point and shoot digital cameras and up load the photos to a photo sharing web site like flickr or photobucket. Or better yet, ask them if they’d mail you a CD of the images. Two of my favorite wedding photos came from my father and a friend’s husband. While they took some good photos the rest of the wedding our hired photographer beat everything else they had hands down. But you can’t go wrong with 10 cameras vs. 1. (Do this even if you hire a professional).
3. Do a destination wedding. I know three different people who just took themselves, their best man/maid of honor and went for broke on a beach in Mexico or Hawaii. Most resorts have a photographer who will take a few handful of photos for a hundred or two hundred dollars, but basically by eliminating the pomp and circumstance with your wedding you’ll eliminate the need for serious photography. Oh and flowers & dinner for 300 people & a limo & so on and so on. Plus you already on your honeymoon.
4. Move the date back. If all these ideas don’t seem like such a good idea now that I’ve spelled them out, move the date back. There’s nothing that can be more catastrophic to a wedding than squeezing it into an unrealistic time frame. While you might find a few deals, weddings are expensive and if you are doing it solo (like my wife & I did) you either need to scale your plans down (150 guests in stead of 400) or save some more money. Unless you need to be married at home plat in Yankee Stadium before it’s torn down, the best thing you can do is wait a little longer & save.