You hear about “associate photographer” when the photographer you want to book for your wedding is unavailable, or maybe his/her package is out of your budget. He/she referred you to his/her associate photographers. So what are exactly “associate photographers”?
Although associate photographers have been around for a long time, we know it is a new concept to you. This can cause a lot of confusions and fears. You are afraid they are inexperienced, not as good as the main photographer. Their prices are usually lower than the main photographer, which you believe even more that they are not as good as the main photographer, don’t you?
If my best friends ask me if they should hire an associate photographer for their wedding, without knowing who they were referring to, I’ll ask them two questions: “Do you like his/her works?” and “Is his/her price within your budget?”. If they say YES to both questions, I will tell them to book that photographer. That’s it!
But I wish everything would be that easy for you. The fact is, when it is your wedding, there are more for you to think about and consider than just those two questions. You need more reasons why hiring an associate photographer is a good choice, which I think it is.
Although personalities are varied, associates and main photographer have the same style. This is, btw, the first condition for them to work together. In some businesses, like ours, the associates only focus on shooting, while editing is done by the same editing team. This ensures the consistency between associates and the main photographer. Basically, you get the similar service when you hire associates, before and after the wedding. The only difference is the person who takes your photos on the wedding day.
As I mentioned earlier, associates’ packages are usually lower than the main photographer. This is not because they aren’t as good as many people are afraid. It is because they don’t have to bear the cost of running a business themselves, which can be a lot in term of money (advertising, marketing, image storage, etc.) and time (blogging, bookkeeping, social media, etc.). They just need to do what they do best (taking photos) and leave the rest for other experts. Thus, this will be more cost-effective for them to work as a team. This is why their prices tend to be lower.
However, it’s worth mentioning that within the same team, different associates might have different prices. The difference can be because how much each of them wants to charge. Or some of them want to book and shoot more weddings. It completely depends on each individual’s preference. But again, don’t forget the two questions above.
Contrary to what most people think, they are not inexperienced, at least for our associate photographers. They can be either trained by us or someone we’ve worked with for many times. They have the experience and abilities to shoot any type of wedding. However, each of them might prefer some specific weddings: outdoor vs indoor, Asian vs American, location types, etc. That’s why we always ask for many details before we assign/suggest a certain associate to our couples, to make sure that person will perform at his/her best.
These photographer-related words might confuse you: associate, second, partner.
Simply said, if I refer you to my partner, my partner will plan the wedding with you, take the photos, edit and deliver them. If I refer you to my associate, my associate will take the photos, but I will plan the wedding with you, edit and deliver the photos. A second photographer is only the photographer who shoots with the main photographer on the wedding day.
Why would someone want to be an associate?
Being a photographer and running a photography business are two different things. Some might prefer the artistic aspect of photography to the management aspect of a business. Some might want to keep their full-time job with all the benefits they have, rather than to run a business and lose all benefits. Some might want to work in a team with the support of the whole team, rather than to work alone.
Something you haven’t thought of:
If they work as a team with several associates, you won’t have to worry what if something happens and the assigned photographer cannot make it to your wedding. They always have backup to use before they have to find someone outside of their team.