Finding A Wedding Photographer
In looking for wedding photographers, I had no idea what kind of budget to set. A couple of my friends are professional photographers but not specific to weddings. I have no doubt any of them would have stepped in to shoot if we would have asked them. But I didn’t want them to work on my special day. I wanted them to enjoy themselves as guests. So I came up with a photographer budget number and began my search.
After many email exchanges with a number of vendors, I realized my round number–a thrifty $1500–was pretty much laughable. Most photographers in Los Angeles asked for a $5000 starting fee, which included eight hours of work on the wedding day and a two hour session of engagement photos. At first I was appalled by this number. I mean, $5000? That was nearly half of our budget for the entire wedding. Not to mention I had just purchased my wedding dress from J. Crew at the friendly price of $300. I was on a sales high and looking for a deal, but I soon found out I was out of luck. Either the photographers were inexperienced and cheap, and a huge gamble. Or expensive and professional, with promise.
Eventually I narrowed down my photographer shoot to three vendors. I had negotiated with each to come down in price since we were having our wedding on a weekday, something we originally did to give traveling guests the weekend to explore the city. Then when we found out Thursday weddings are nearly half the price of Friday weddings, all the way from location to flowers to coordinators, we rejoiced with excitement. Saving a few thousand dollars in those areas helped justified coughing up the cash for photos. After all, photos last beyond a lifetime.
I sent the three of the selected photographer’s portfolios to one of my photographer friends and asked she rank them in style. It was David Richards Photography that landed on top. Apparently, his editing was much more favorable to the trained eye. So I emailed him with news and immediately set up our first shoot, the engagement photos.
We didn’t really want or need engagement photos. It seemed like a waste considering the wedding was coming up so closely and I was sure the wedding photos would trump the engagement photos. Still, Dave suggested we do the engagement shoot anyways, not necessarily for the photos but so we could meet and get to know one another before the big day. Convinced by the logic of it all we obliged. I couldn’t have been happier when he walked in to our house wearing Vans shoes and covered in tattoos. He was our kind of person–relaxed, easy going and organized.
Dave was correct. The engagement shoot gave us a chance to become comfortable in front of the camera, and also helped understand the look Dave was going for when he said things like, “Go in for the kiss, but don’t kiss. Smile. And close your eyes.” It seemed like the more we hammed it up in real life, the better the photos turned out in print. Still, it felt very AWKWARD. With practice it became easier. And by the wedding day we could cheese it up without direction, which was laughable.
Dave became more like a friend than a photographer, yet he kept it professional. In the blistering Palm Springs sun, we all glided through the ACE Hotel snapping memories. The session was rather quick and effortless. Most importantly it was fun and lovely pre-ceremony bonding experience with my soon-to-be husband.
Most recently Dave sent me some of the wedding day first looks photos. I was so anxious to see what my small fortune bought me and Dave delivered as promised. In retrospect, I can understand why wedding photographers are so costly. There are no second chances in wedding day photos, which means having expensive back up equipment at the scene. There’s only one chance to capture those special moments that only the people present can experience. Our small collection of photos truly tell the story of our wedding day (there are still more family photos to come). Hopefully theses snap shots will continue to tell our love story even when we can no longer tell it ourselves.
Investing in your wedding photographer is a good idea. These people are brave. Not everyone is confident enough to capture one of the most important days of people’s lives while braving unforeseen circumstances. So thank you Dave Richards for spending the day and taking a risk on us. Now our love story can live eternally. xoxo
To see Dave’s blog and our wedding first looks, click here.