Tips from the Pros: Wedding Photographers

Highlighting a few Local Stars

There are so many killer photographers here in New Mexico, that it was difficult to figure out who to feature this month! I want to introduce you to these three lovely ladies. They all are super talented, beautiful, and love to travel. So no matter where in the world you’re getting married…. they are worth considering!

I wish everyone had a planner/coordinator because…..

Most venues come with a “coordinator.” Typically they are the food and beverage managers at the hotel and they are concentrating on making sure the dinner starts on time and the staff is pouring the champagne. They aren’t thinking about lining everyone up for the ceremony, or if your florist got lost on the way to your venue in the mountains, or if your flameless candles have working batteries. If a couple opts not to hire a coordinator, the schedule and timing for the day is left completely up to the photographer and DJ. Which is extremely stressful when they already have so many other things they are worrying about that pertain to why they were hired. I think a planner should be fit into every budget as they are there to make sure your day flows seamlessly and that you aren’t worrying about anything other than getting married to the one you love. When I hear Alena is working a wedding with me my photographer heart sings. I know that I won’t have to worry about the schedule for the day and I know that she will set aside lots of photo taking time for me with the couple. I always appreciate that she speaks with me about the couple’s timeline before the wedding so that I can have some input as to when the best picture taking time will be.

The day just goes smoother. For the couples, the guests, and the vendors. It takes the pressure of keeping things on schedule off of me, which gives me more time to be creative!

Why do photographers charge so much?

Not only are photographers there for the amount you hire us to be on your day, but we also spend hours e-mailing/communicating with our clients, after the wedding we spend hours narrowing down images and editing, we have spent time (years+) getting more education and experience and lastly the costs that go into running a business (equipment, taxes, programs, supplies, etc.). Great photography is expensive, but you will have your wedding images for years and years to come. There is so much more to photographing a wedding then I think people realize. When you hire a professional photographer, you’re not only paying for the beautiful photos that they produce, but you’re also paying for their time and expertise in creating the images.

I typically spend 35-40 hours on each wedding I book. From the initial consult and engagement session to the wedding day and all the editing and album design. A lot of people think that I only work on Saturdays, when this couldn’t be further from the fact. When you add up all these hours and what we have to pay our assistants, 2nd shooters and album binders it typically ends up being around $50 an hour. What are you paying your landscaper or house cleaner hourly? And this is your wedding day. 🙂

There’s so much involved in the job of a photographer, and the majority of it isn’t actually on the wedding day. We have all the expenses of time and money spent helping clients find us through advertising, marketing, social media, and our websites. And once we meet with and book a client, we spend quite a bit of time planning and prepping for their big day. The wedding day is incredibly intense both physically and mentally and takes an incredible amount of expertise. And once we get home, it’s time to backup all the files, cull through images, post sneak peeks, edit the gallery, and get the images to you. Our gear and software is expensive and is often in need of upkeep or upgrading. We also spend countless hours and dollars on education and keeping up with current wedding trends. Not to mention the less than fun business tasks we have to take care of like bookkeeping and taxes. So all in all there’s a lot of behind the scenes time and money spent on all the details that will help make your wedding day perfect!

What do you wish couples knew when they walked in the door? AND What things should a couple run by their photographer before moving forward/booking/deciding?

Our clients are so important to us and we love to get to know them on a personal level. We want them to know we are there to help, in all aspects, to make them not worry or stress about photography. Also to trust us to do our job as the professional. We would love it if we couples would talk to us before deciding on the ceremony start time (especially if the ceremony is outside). As professionals we know when the best time for lighting is and we want to help you make your photos as beautiful as possible!

It’s great to be on the same page as your photographer so that they know what to expect. If you have any photography restrictions like a ceremony where no flash is allowed, or a special tradition that’s not to be photographed, let them know from the get-go. Also, if you are planning to submit the photos to a wedding magazine or blog, give your photographer a heads up as soon as possible. If the wedding location or setup is unusual and requires special gear or skills, make sure the photographer is aware. Really anything you think might be out of the ordinary is best to talk to your potential photographer from the start. That way they can service you best from start to finish!

How can I know a photographer is a pro and not just a hobbyist?

I think it’s always a good idea to chat with a photographer either in person, on the phone, or on Skype before you book them. It’s during that chat that you’ll get a feel for if they are a wedding pro or just dabbling in the industry. Those of us who specialize in weddings are very knowledgeable about how your day should go, what concerns we may have to deal with, and how to plan a photo timeline, to name a few. A pro will ask you informed questions about your day and be able to make suggestions based on their experience.

 Is it better to hire someone local or a traveling/destination photographer?

As a destination wedding photographer, I think you should go with someone who’s work you love. I will do just as good a job on your destination Florida wedding as a local photographer. I arrive early and walk the entire venue so that I have a game plan, and I will also bring a new perspective to the day than someone who has been there a million times. There are also perks to hiring a local as they can give you advice on other vendors or things to be aware of at the venue. However if you are planning on getting married in a popular destination city, hiring a photographer from New Mexico tends to be less expensive than a photographer in San Diego, including the travel. So its worth doing some homework!


You have to find what’s right for you, but I definitely think either option is a good one. In fact, I actually wrote an article on why you should consider hiring a traveling photographer! In a nutshell, an out of area photographer can often times be less expensive and come to your wedding with extra creativity and fresh eyes. On the other hand, a local photographer probably knows the venue and what to expect. So there’s no right or wrong answer. Just make sure you find a photographer whose work you truly love and whose personality fits you well!