7 Reasons why to Choose The Expensive Wedding Photographer


7 Reasons Why to Choose the Expensive Photographer

Why should you choose the photographer that charges more over the cheaper one that offers the exact same deal on paper?  Why choose the expensive wedding photographer that gives you 300 high res photos instead of the one that offers the whopping 600 for the fraction of the price?  These are some of the choices you as a prospective bride will face when choosing your wedding photographer.

1.  They have more Experience and make lesser mistakes. 

Fair enough, 12 years ago I also lowered my prices in order to get weddings that I could fill my portfolio with.  And that is exactly what most photographers with lower prices do.  The unfortunate thing is that even though they might have an awesome talent and a good eye, they will make plenty of mistakes, and you, the person that booked them, will be at the short end of it.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers”, a person has only mastered a vocation once they have accumulated 10 000 hours in doing that job – That roughly equates to 10 years or a bit less if you are a workaholic.  Quite interesting!  This explains why people in their mid thirties suddenly start climbing up the success ladder.

So I guess, you have to ask yourself the question:  “Am I willing to risk my precious wedding photos on a person that is still learning and building up experience?”

But instead of me trying to explain why some photographers are so expensive, lets rather look at why some are so cheap.


2.  They have better equipment that means better quality photos.

With the advent of the digital age and the low prices of an entry level Digital SLR Camera and lens kit, becoming a wedding photographer (or should I say part-time wedding photographer) has never been easier.   So instead of making a full-time career switch, you can now “test” what used to be a hobby,  for a while – and it won’t break the bank.

But there is a reason for the big price tag difference between the CANON 5D Flagship camera (R35 000+ without lenses), used by most “expensive wedding photographers” and the entry level CANON 1200D kit (R5000).  Apart from the huge difference in quality and ability to perform in low light conditions, it also has a multitude of custom and professional functions that are much needed to perform at high demanding jobs like weddings.

For as cheap as R2000, you can pick up an all-purpose kit lens – It’s a lens right…  And you can shoot the whole wedding with that!  But then why do the top photographers use about 4-5 different types of lenses during a wedding?  Lenses that in total cost R60 000?  It’s a difference in quality that words won’t explain – but when you compare photos of the same subject with cheap vs expensive lenses, you will see for yourself.

Oh and yes, I forgot to mention that the entry level 1200D also has an on-board flash – Yip that is probably what the cheap photographer will use for the evening shots!  A flash that can give illumination up to 4 meters, but after that…

Again, there is a reason why professionals use external flash units costing more than R7000 each.  Top photographers carry at least 3-5 of these to ensure good lighting when needed.

Another very scary reality is that the “cheap” photographer probably has no back-up camera!  So when his/her unit fails, that is the end of your wedding photos as well!!!

But the camera equipment is only half of what is needed to fulfill the job.  The editing is where a lot of the magic happens.  Most “cheaper” photographers won’t fork out the R15 000 on decent editing software or the R20 000+ for a good quality computer and true colour monitor to run it on.   Rather,  they’ll fool around in the free bundled software package that came with their home computer.  I can almost guarantee you that most of them do not make a backup of your wedding, so if his/her computer goes up in flames, so will your photos!


3.  Wedding Photography is their full-time job.

Doing photography full-time means you probably channel most of your time and energy to the development of your skill and product.  Did you know that the physical act of taking the photos only makes up 15% of our job? The editing of photos and producing albums account for another big chunk.  The rest of the time is spent on the things all businesses have to do, like admin, marketing and networking.

I recently had a prospective client ask me: “What do you mean by editing?”  At first I was offended that she did not know about the single thing that takes up most of my time – but then I realized that few people outside the photography fraternity know how much is done to the original RAW photo before the beautiful end result is achieved.   Apart from the 9 hours we spend covering the wedding, 3-4 more days are spent in editing the photos!

Also, in order to stay at the top of his/her game, the photographer has to continually read and stay adept with new equipment and the technicalities of the job – all to make your photos look better.

Photography might just be a hobby for the part-time photographer so the chances that they are able to put in extra hours to become experts are very slim. These photographers probably have to uphold a 9-5 day time job and only spend the extra hours in the day to live their photography-dream. This is by no means a reflection on their talent or capabilities, but it is what it is.

Experienced photographers will spend loads of their time to improve every aspect of photography. They will stay amidst the latest trends, technicalities, products and software within their industry. Professional photographers (those branded as expensive) will make use of their resources to further enhance their skills. These individuals will attend additional workshops and courses (some of which can cost up to R10 000 a go) to make sure that they deliver a product that is exceptional.

What would make a professional wedding photographer different is exactly that – he/she is a ‘wedding’ photographer. The know the inner and outer workings of the wedding photography process. They understand the social circumstances, the pressure of capturing all the important moments. If you work with a part-time photographer chances are that these individuals aren’t trained at capturing weddings. They might photograph a variety of events and follow the same strategy for each.

Expensive wedding photographers understand how crucial it is to capture the emotions instead of just the motions. Their entire approach towards the event is different. Believe it or not, but it’s not just about showing up and taking some shots. It’s about being in the right place at the right time to get an unaltered shot.

Experienced photographers will understand the sequence of events and know where to place themselves at any giving moment during the ceremony and reception.


4.  They know most Wedding Venues and can quickly solve problems.

There are certain skills that can only be acquired with experience.  But apart from being experienced within the field, it’s about being experienced within the industry as well. Experience within the industry refers to whether or not the photographer is knowledgeable about the setting where your wedding is taking place. Wouldn’t you much rather work with a photographer who knows the venue inside out or one that isn’t really sure where to capture that perfect shot. Don’t confuse this with being predictable – an experienced photographer will know how to combine your unique personality with what is available in the setting.

But it’s not only the problem solving skills that comes with experience, also the knowledge of the behaviour of light in different locations and the familiarity of working at top the top wedding venues.

On the day of your wedding you would want your photographer to put you at ease so that you could have the right energy and be natural in front of the camera. The last thing you would want is your photographer becoming stressed because it suddenly starts to rain or they lose all their natural light. Expensive photographers will handle these pressure situations like a walk in the park. Don’t feel special, they’ve probably faced these or similar challenges before and they will have everything under control.

Split second decision making when all does not go to plan – unexpected weather changes, equipment failure, accidents, delays – but for the seasoned photographer, these situations are easier dealt with, as they’ve probably experienced a similar problem before.


5. They frequently work with other top Service providers

The luxury of knowing other service providers within the industry (videographers) might affect your ability to capture the day, the anticipation of where to be to get the best shot, and so much more. When your photographer, videographer and make-up artists for example, know each other the process will run like a well-oiled machine.

The great thing about making use of a professional photographer is that their brand will add to their credibility. Apart from offering their photography service, they will be able to give you valuable advice regarding other service providers as well.

6.  Their packages are based on quality and not quantity

Be warned, comparing quotes and choosing the one that seems like the best deal on paper will come back and bite you more often than not!  Rule of thumb – the less high resolution photos your photographer give, the better quality you can expect – its actually a quite simple rule – If he gives less photos, then he has more time to spend perfecting the photos you get.

Most expensive photographers produce quality and durable luxury handmade albums; albums that would last a lifetime.  But albums like these come with a price tag and this is worked into the “expensive package”.  Make sure the “Album” included in the package is not just a cheap photo book printed at the local 1-hour lab for R400.

On paper the cost of exclusive wedding photography might sound mind-boggling. In some cases when compared to that of a cheaper photographer the content of the package might sound the same. But when you receive the end product, you will notice a difference.

Wedding at OakField Farm

7. They Have A Trademark Style

Even though they might pop up every now and again, with experienced wedding photographers there is nothing like a lucky shot. They’ve honed their skills and practiced their art in producing an collection or remarkable shots. When you are researching a possible wedding photographer you most likely want the product that they’ve displayed on their blog or portfolio. You are not just hiring an photographer but their personal photographic style as well.

Expensive wedding photographers will be able to deliver that little extra that would make your album exquisite. It’s not only the skills but also the style that is guaranteed. Many couples make the mistake in trying to force their photographer into a certain style – but in fact you should choose whose portfolio you want to emulate while customizing it to your personal needs. Although this might sound restrictive, it’s in fact a blessing – when you choose the style that you love you won’t have to direct and instruct your photographer, they will be able to produce the style that they advertised.

So to put it in a nutshell

Book the most expensive photographer because; He/she has invested thousands of rands in courses and workshops to hone his/her talent and stay up to date with trends. He/she has built up his experience skill and expertise over a number of years and 100′s of weddings; He/she uses professional and the latest equipment that will help achieve superior quality end results; he/she spends more time on your photos, to make sure it is of the highest standards; He/she knows what to do when faced with challenges;  He/she always has backup equipment and backs up your wedding photos in more than one place;  If he’s/she’s been around for 10 years, he/she will probably still be there when your computer gets stolen and you need a replacement disk or album.


To conclude, a few quotes on the topic…

There is hardly anything in the world that some man can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey – John Ruskin

Bargain: something you can’t use at a price you can’t resist – Franklin P. Jones

What costs nothing is worth nothing – Anonymous

When you buy, use your eyes and your mind, not your ears – Czechoslovakian proverb

People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons – Zig Ziglar

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort – John Ruskin

Also Read these articles on the Pink Book Website



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