We saw an ad from an "affordable wedding photographer" boasting low-cost packages. While there are a lot of affordable wedding photographers in Toronto, we wondered... How can one charge under $2,000 for two "professional photographers" shooting a full day, a wedding album, a web gallery and digital images? This article looks at the cost cutting methods employed by photographers and the impact on you, the bride.
Cheap and Outdated Photography Equipment
One of the easiest ways of cutting corners is to save on camera equipment. The low-cost photographer buys cheap second hand equipment to keep his costs under control. Sadly, the old equipment often stops working on your wedding day. Even more, when it starts raining, the photographer will run for cover. It might not sound like a big deal now, but when you're missing images of your first kiss, you won't be happy. Also, he shoots with no backup camera which to me, spells disaster.
To be able to reach that price point of $2,000, the budget photographer uses old computers. Because storage costs extra, he will not backup your wedding pictures on a cloud or an external hard drive. Sadly, if his computer dies, your pictures are gone. Often computers are so old that they can not run Photoshop or Lightroom. As such, your special day pictures will look like snapshots from the 80s. Even worse, his monitors are not calibrated so people look orange or green, not my ideal colours when it comes to skin tones.
How do I know that? At the beginning of my career, I worked for a budget photographer. I was shocked he was not able to process the pictures I took because his software did not to recognize my new camera. As such, the poor guy delivered unedited images to the bride and groom.
I have to admit he is a great guy but he just did not run his business well. He wanted to provide affordable photography services but everything screamed "cheap" from his website, to the equipment. His website was so outdated that he couldn't even create an online gallery for his couples. His wedding packages looked like an all you can eat menu and included everything: an engagement photo session, unlimited coverage and a photo booth. Also, he would throw in a wedding album, prints of family portraits in addition to high resolution digital images. You would think with such an unbeatable offer he would be prosperous. Wrong!
On the wedding day, I would often see him stressed out as he always had a technical problem. I remember once we were shooting in a dark City Hall. Suddenly, his flash stopped working and with no backup, he kept shooting, but unfortunately, all his images were blurry. Because he was dealing with the low end of the market, his profit margins were so minuscule that he had to do every genre of photography to keep his business afloat. From destination weddings, christenings, family portraits to wedding videos, he did it all. As aa bride, you want someone specialized in weddings, not a Jack of all trades and master of none.
Hire a professional photographer! On the big day, you will have booked a beautiful venue, have professional makeup and hair, cake, gown, shoes, etc. If you hire a cheap photographer, chances are that in the end you will only like his prices, not your images.
Our photographer jumps into this industry without any training. I see many "professional photographers" who never invest money or the energy in proper training. They use old poses and their pictures look dated. They run the same old and outdated formula with no intention to innovate.
Shoddy Image Quality
Because the budget friendly portraitist spent no money or time in developing his craft, the results are poor. Poses look awkward, people's faces look like they are in pain and the images are cheesy. Even more, because of the high volume of events, our photographer never has the time to process the images, delivering poor quality products. Often, that is also a result of a lack of experience. His low price point is an indication he doesn't know what it takes to create and deliver great imagery. That lack of experience is apparent when it comes to posing, lighting and post processing leading to poor quality imagery.
Customer Service is Subpar
Because the low cost photographer uses inferior technology, it takes forever to process the images. It is not uncommon for such vendors to deliver the photos 6 to 12 months after the big day. I even heard stories when the bride and groom received the pictures after the second child was born.
Often couples complain about the fact their photographers take days to answer to emails. The truth is, those artists have full-time jobs so they can pay their bills. Combine that with the need of servicing tens of couples and you get a clear picture. Even more, if unfortunately, his main job requires the photographer to go to work on your big day, he will cancel last minute.
Albums Look Cheap
To maintain low prices, the cheap photographer outsources photo editing, album design and printing to India and China. He does not retouch his photos or applies old techniques that will make your face will look like plastic. The inferior quality paper of his albums will fade in a few years leaving you with a "vintage book."
No Legal Presence
Let's make this clear: do not expect the cheap photographer to hire a lawyer to draft his contracts or an accountant to balance his books. As you can suspect, he doesn't pay taxes, has no insurance and his deals are always cash. Even more, with no contract, if you paid a deposit and he didn't show up, chances are you will lose the money. Just check the news or google horror stories about such situations.
We are humans and it is normal to be attracted by good deals. However, please make sure you don't end up with bad photos because you saved on photography.