Should I hire an amateur for my engagement photos?

Yes, it’s probably the worst advice you will get, to hire an amateur for your photos. But let’s be real. Not everyone has a budget for a few thousand dollars for photos. So the first place people usually cut the budget would be the food (nobody remembers it anyway) and then the engagement photos. It’s not the real day, and you can re-do it if it bums out right?

There are even wedding sites that tell you how to hire an amateur (shock!) for your big day, and well let’s say they’re giving you false confidence. I mean, if spending $200 hiring gear for your entry-level photographer is going to make them good, there would be no entry-level photographers (except ones who don’t have $200 – which you’d make in your 1st wedding). Giving them gear they’re not familiar with and asking them to shoot in RAW when they don’t know how to or what to do with RAW files is, well, pretty stupid. I’m sure an entry-level photographer would respond to the ever changing conditions on a wedding day better using the gear they are familiar with, than with high(er) level gear they don’t know how to use (pro gear doesn’t have an auto-mode). And for the record, to hire a single proper professional level setup for a day would cost closer to $500 (ignoring spares you’d need).

Anyway we’re not talking about wedding days here, for engagement photos there are times when you can get away with using an amateur. Just make sure you take care of the following:

  • It must be re-doable. Things will go wrong. Expect to need a re-take
  • Don’t expect to print. Printing is a whole new level of training. Not all photographers know how to print. Hell, some photographers don’t even know WHY they don’t know how to print. Don’t expect to make that big 30×40″ canvas from your shoot. It may work, it may not.
  • Insurance, licenses, permits, you’ll have to deal with all those.

On the plus side they’ll probably be willing to spend a full day with you to get all the photos they need, and it will cost a bit less than a pro. So in reality you may end up saving say $500-1000 on engagement photos, but it may be easier just to cut the per-head cost by $15 or limiting the free booze you give out.