Pro Tip: Hire One :-)
When I first moved to Austin, I didn't know the market all too well. I needed to get my feet wet in the industry here and I didn't know where else to turn. I started looking into opportunities to assist other photographers, and I stumbled upon two volume-based contracting services that were looking for photographers. I applied, and got both roles, and began my immersion into the Austin Wedding Market.
Doing this really helped me get to know venues, vendors, and other photographers; many of which have provided me with guidance and advice over the course of the last 5 years. I couldn't be more appreciative of my experience with them, and the many pals I made during my time with them.
Last night, I shot my final wedding with one of these organizations. This super cool couple had and beautiful and super laid back ceremony at Riverbend Church (http://www.riverbend.com/weddings/) and a fun reception at Rock Rose Hall (https://rockrosehall.com).
The timing for the day set by Premier Events Austin (https://premiereeventsonline.com) gave me an opportunity to work a bit more intimately with the couple during their solo photo session.
The end result was Magical. I'm SO happy to have shot Sara and Hunter's wedding!
Listen, I get it. Weddings are costly. The average cost of a wedding in Austin is roughly $27,000...that's right....$27,000! It's just below the national average of $29,858. That's enough to make anyone want to run for the hills and elope....and honestly, who can blame you? Especially if it makes you happy.
Naturally, there is a great deal of resources out there giving you some (often) helpful tips on how to save a little cash on your wedding. Some of the more popular I've seen is hiring a volume-based company (a company that offers a variety of services for a discount bundled rate), using a friends or parents residence for a reception, having heavy hors d'oeuvres..... things like that. None of these are terrible routes to go down, in all honesty.
Volume based companies will still make every effort they can to ensure you get the unique, one-of-a-kind experience you'd expect as a bride and they do a great job at ensuring you're happy with your services. They provide great photographers, have a top-notch team of editors, and will be thrilled to give you a great experience.
The drawback is you may not get the intimate experience you're seeking with your photographer. Generally, these organizations don't have the photographer contact you until about 2 weeks before your first portrait session, or a month before your wedding. It gives you an extremely limited amount of time to plan and coordinate with your photographer your desires.
You're also locked into their editing style, and you may not get the end result you're wanting. Not to say they do not do beautiful work, but they can be a little inflexible with their editing.
But the one thing I can and will strongly advise against, the recommendation of using a family member or close family friend...a non pro, camera enthusiast....as your wedding day photographer.
Do yourself and your treasured memories a favor.......hire a professional to capture your wedding day.
Seriously, unless they're another pro, with a portfolio, training, and experience in wedding day photography, don't hire them.
Wedding photography can seem like something one can easily pick up. This is not the case. As a wedding photographer, you have to have the knowledge to handle a very wide variety of situations. From busy brides, to detail oriented planners, unruly wedding guests to dark event venues chapel rules...there really isn't a training course for this. It can only come from experience. Your photographer doesn't need to have a master's degree, but the knowledge experience and training can give them is priceless.
The other thing experience and training can give you is stress relief. You've got plenty of things to worry about on your wedding day. Weather, flowers, food, guests, your gown...you've got plenty to be concerned about. At the very least, your photographer should offer you peace of mind that your wedding day will be beautifully captured with images you'll treasure for life.
Speaking of the images, those gorgeous images from Pinterest and Knot that you see...those all came from pros. Those creative ideas didn't come spur of the moment, they took timing, planning, and lots of capability for a great result. They discussed thoroughly with the bride and groom, shared ideas and agreed upon a list. Why is this? Simply put, the pro has a commitment to the couple on their wedding day. The pro would be committed to your ideas, your timeline, your requests, whatever you need for your images on your wedding day.
One other thing....and this may or may not have crossed your mind...you will build a relationship with this photographer....when hiring a friend, the relationship does have the potential to strain. Don't think otherwise, it honestly does. Either they'll hold a grudge against you for making them work on a day where the rest of your friends are having fun....or you'll find some flaws with the photos and feel unable to tell them.
Lastly, wouldn't you prefer your friend or family member to enjoy your wedding?
This is why I turn down most of my friends and family members requests for a wedding photographer. It just wouldn't be fair to either of us. Plus, it's my friends or my cousins wedding, and I wanna paaarrrrtay!
Don't get me wrong, it's totally cool to hire a friend or family member if it's what you really want. It is your wedding day and you two get to make all the decisions. I would highly advise you to make an informed decision when friends offer to help out with your wedding day...and I would absolutely explore the option of a pro.
Thanks for taking the time today....stay tuned for more next week...and some FUN updates are coming to the site! yay!
-Caity C.: Owner/Lead Photographer