Investing in a Cheap Wedding Photographer Is the Worst Idea Ever

Wedding Photography is all fun and games until the bad photographs arrive. This is proof that you almost always get what you pay for.

As first reported on the Insider, a couple paid $800 to a photographer to capture their big day. Full of hope and promise, Hayley and Nick Kelble were looking forward to seeing the photographic memories of their wedding. However, once they received the final images, they were disappointed. Dark, grainy, poorly composed wedding photography is what their money got them. While we would love to sympathize, lousy planning and weak investment got them exactly what they deserved.

Wedding Photography Is an Investment

Okay, maybe we were a little harsh in the closing of the first paragraph. But honestly, finding a good wedding photographer isn’t difficult. Seriously, did the photographer they used have award-winning (or even quality) work online, only to go on and make photos like a drunk uncle who recently bought an entry-level DSLR? No chance! It’s clear from the images that the couple did not properly plan and find a photographer who would do the job correctly. We can see it now: “Well, he has a professional-looking camera. It’s better than an iPhone, what could go wrong?” $800 down the toilet, that’s what can go wrong. And in some way, by not investing properly – both time and money – it’s a complete disrespect to the craft. Wedding photography is difficult. Not anyone can rock up and do it – as is evident in this case. You want to be lazy and cheap? Expect lazy and cheap returns.

“Anything below $1500 should be a red flag. If a photographer is going lower than that, then they cannot be confident in their abilities.”

A couple’s wedding day happens once. There’s no ‘take two.’ So you have to see wedding photography as a worthwhile investment. Something that will last you a lifetime and continue to invoke the same emotions every time you look at the memories from your wedding day. Is all that worth only $800? Of course not.

Wedding Photography Research

Finding a good wedding photographer isn’t a puzzle. But, some people struggle to do it. If you’re getting married here are some things to consider.

  • Always see a portfolio before committing. Even if a friend says, “I know a photographer, trust me, they could totally do it,” always respond with, “Sounds great, show me their work first.”
  • Read reviews. Good wedding photographers will have client feedback on their site. Read the reviews carefully, study what they say. Do they comment on quality, how the photographer conducted themselves, timekeeping, etc? These are important factors when it the difference between good and bad wedding photography.
  • Price Benchmark. Anything below $1,500 should be a red flag. If a photographer is going lower than that, then they cannot be confident in their abilities. Anything between $2,000 – $5,000 is a good indicator that the photographer believes in their product. And if you feel it’s too high of an amount, speak to them. Many professional wedding photographers offer payment plans.

Photographers’ Duty of Care

The couple hired another photographer in an attempt to recreate their big day.

If you’re a photographer – which, if you’re reading The Phoblographer you probably are – this part is for you.

Having a good camera, or a first-level college certificate, does not automatically make you a good wedding photographer. You have to be honest with yourself and ask, “Am I good enough?” Even if someone is prepared to throw $800 your way, it’s more than the money. For these people, it’s their big day. It’s a celebration of their love and unity – they deserve the best. If you cannot deliver, don’t just take the gig just because it’s a gig. It’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s your duty of care to these people to ensure you don’t spoil their happy moment.

“Photography as a whole has taken a bashing in the digital era. Its value is going down, as the ignorance of people is on the rise.”

Also, don’t damage yourself. This is not a good look for the photographer who shot Hayley and Nick’s wedding. Practice at a friend or family member’s wedding – but only as a guest photographer, not the official. And when you’re ready, start taking the work.

As a whole, photography has taken a bashing in the digital era. Its value is going down as the ignorance of people is on the rise. That’s why stories like this happen, and they’ll continue to happen if people don’t start respecting our art. And that goes for both the public and the photographers.

All images in this piece are screenshots.

Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host professional photographers within the industry.