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No matter the event, hiring a professional photographer can put a big dent in your bank account. But there are ways to save some serious money when scoping out an individual to photograph a wedding, graduation, milestone birthday, the birth of a new baby—or any other major life event.

Before committing to a photographer, keep the following tips in mind. While they may go against conventional thinking, they could go a long way toward keeping your finances intact.

Ask for a mini-session
Look for a photographer who offers mini-sessions, which are smaller versions of full shoots. Instead of a normal portrait session that lasts 60 to 90 minutes and results in 60 to 70 images, a shorter session lasts anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes for 20 to 30 photos. The cost should be at least half of a full session.

Smaller sessions may be easier to find during busier times of the year when photographers are looking to fill gaps in their schedule.

Search for a newbie
Professionals who are just getting started often have cheap rates, or offer discounts to new customers. Ask your friends and family, or even a photographer you may not be able to afford, for recommendations.

Novice photographers may not advertise much, so word-of-mouth may be the best way to find them. Ask those you’re connected to via social media for recommendations, as well, and search Facebook and Instagram for photographers who are just launching their business.

Consider a weekday
Scheduling a big event like a wedding on a weekday could get photographers bidding for your business. Instead of a Saturday wedding, get married on a Tuesday, and you’ll likely save money on other wedding costs, too.

When seeking out a photographer for a big event, ask if they’ll give you a cheaper price on a weekday, or for a morning shoot instead of an evening one. It can’t hurt to ask, as they may have some downtime they’re looking to fill.

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