Wedding photography has changed drastically over the last few years and not just with the introduction of digital SLR cameras over film. It is far more common now than it used to be for a couple to expect a photographer, or multiple photographers, to cover their whole day, from the bridal party getting ready, arrival at the venue, the service through to the evening reception. It is common for every detail to be recorded with a mix of 'formal' shots, 'fun' shots, and candid or documentary shots. It is also common for a couple to expect 'every' image shot from the day in digital format, perhaps with an edited video of the day as well. Although the choice of fabulous wedding albums has increased, with 'print on demand' photo books further expanding the range available, it seems that fewer people these days actually take a 'full' wedding photography package including a bespoke album, preferring instead a 'digital' only package where they might get all the images supplied digitally on a memory stick. Many photographers tend to charge 'less' for this, often much less, than for buying a number of prints and albums.
There has perhaps been a change in the perception of the value of photography since the introduction of 'digital' - 'digital' photographs are generally seen as having lower value than 'prints' and the increase in photographers offering wedding photography and in particular the increase in numbers of photographers who charge what are historically low rates for their services have lowered the expectation of many in terms of what they are happy paying for their wedding photography. A quick google in your area will likely show many wedding photographers offering a full day of photography with images supplied digitally for a few hundred pounds, prices perhaps ranging from £250 to £450 are common. Though there are of course still many, more traditional wedding photographers offering a completely bespoke service with individually designed, high quality wedding albums provided in a range of exciting formats whose prices may instead range into the several thousand pounds.
The increased range of choice available to people is, of course, generally a good thing, though care has to be taken in terms of the expected quality of the images you are after. It's easy to set up a professional looking website with apparently wonderful images, but make sure you check out real references where you are able to before booking a wedding photographer online.
Here's the thing though, if you are only wanting digital images and video from your day, why book a wedding photographer at all? Controversial maybe, and any wedding photographer should be able to come up with numerous reasons as to why you should book them, but hear me out. Almost everyone today carries around with them all the time a high quality digital camera that shoots both still images and video, todays mobile phones often have both decent quality optics and the processing power to enable various 'tricks' to be applied to further improve the quality of the images taken, such as 'intelligent' automatic modes and image stabilisation. This means that many people at your wedding will be taking numerous photos and video throughout the day anyway. Indeed it is the bane of many 'modern' wedding photographer to cope with the huge volume of people that 'pop up' with their phones and tablets and getting in the way whilst the photographer is trying to do the job for which they have been paid. Those images are also likely to be good quality, with the automatic modes and image processing ensuring good quality images even in what have traditionally been considered 'tricky' lighting conditions. So instead of paying a photographer you could rely on family and friends, set up a shared online area on something like dropbox where people can upload the images and video they have taken on the day and you have a very good selection of images, of course some will be poor, but there are likely to be plenty of good ones as well.
It is true to say though, that it is unlikely that such images will match the quality of those taken by a good professional wedding photographer with the time and space to set up 'formal' shots of the type you would want in a good quality wedding album, but if all you are after is a record of your day, then it might be something worth considering.
There is another option though, that I doubt many people have even thought about, let alone considered. Why not book a 'wedding' shoot in a photography studio, not on the day you get married but after the event, but before you have put your dress into storage. A relaxed session in a warm and dry studio with high quality professional lighting will ensure you get high quality shots, then instead of an album, why not get a gallery quality canvas or large framed print. You could combine this idea with the idea of friends and family recording your day 'digitally' to ensure you have lasting memories, but whether you use friends and family or pay for a photographer, if you only get digital images from your day, print at least some of them out so you can view them in an album, rather than leaving a memory stick gathering dust in a draw.
A standard portrait session at the Harpur Studio for up to 6 people costs just £25 for up to an hour shooting time. You can check our availability and book here and see our range of print and framing options here
The studio is also just across the road from the Bedford Register Office so if getting married there, you could book a session at the studio for your 'formal' images and get great images whatever the weather.