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Wedding Photography Q&A


Q. What are the advantages of hiring a professional for my wedding?

A. A professional photographer will be timely - arriving at your wedding promptly, and getting the results to you on time. A professional has just the right equipment for photographing your wedding. Having attended many weddings, an experienced wedding photographer will be at ease at your wedding. A professional uses a color laboratory that is in the business of meeting high professional standards of print quality. And, a professional is used to working with individuals, couples, and groups to make the formal photography go smoothly. When you think about the cost of photography, remember that the photographer's fee is only part of your investment: You, your parents, your extended family and your friends will be investing time with the photographer during your wedding. Don't waste time on your wedding day with a photographer who won't produce results you love!


Q. So, I want a professional to photograph my wedding. What do I do next?

A. Visit wedding photography web sites, then choose photographers to call. Emailing is not personal enough for wedding photography. If you like the photographer on the phone, go visit his/her studio. When looking through sample albums pay attention to your emotional response to the photography and to the communication skills of the photographer. Look for high technical quality too. Once you have decided on a photographer whose work has meaning to you, discuss prices, deposits, packages, and quantity of pictures and so on.


Q. What is the first question I should ask the photographer?

A. Once you have established that the photographer is available for your date and location, you will want to ask, "If we select your studio, will you be the photographer covering our wedding?" Some studios have several photographers and you may be speaking to a salesperson. Photographers who do not even work for the studio anymore may have done the sample albums. If this is the case, you should make arrangements to meet with and see the work of the particular photographer who will be doing your wedding. You should also ask for a commitment from the studio to that effect, in writing.


Q. Shouldn't I be asking "What do I get and how much does it cost?"

A. Even shopping for shoes or furniture you wouldn't ask that question until you find the style and quality you like. After you have looked through a photographer's portfolio - seeing candids, formals and illustrative pictures, you will know if this photographer has the technique, style and spirit to be the eyes through which you and your children will see your wedding day. Of course, you should determine if the photographer is within your budget, give or take a little, but what you really want from photography is memories and feeling. Look for an established and reliable photographer whose work moves you, whose technical quality is tops. If you find a photographer who makes you happy, you never will regret your investment, whatever the dollar cost. When we have invested in items that will be with us for the rest of our lives, our satisfaction has been highest when we have paid that extra bit for the best quality.


Q. So, how much does wedding photography cost?

A. Prices range from $950 to $10,000, and even more! Photographs (and maybe video) will be your only permanent record of the day. You want good photographs (or you would not have read so far), so be prepared to spend a minimum of $1,500 for a small wedding on a weekday or Sunday, and $2,500 and up for Saturdays. Also, for additional copies, an 8x10 reprint will cost $20 to $50 each. Expect better photographers to charge the higher rates. If you are looking for a bargain and shop via phone for pricing, you are following a recipe for poor to mediocre photography. Research indicates that photography runs between nine and fifteen percent of the total wedding budget.

When couples value photography highly and are on a limited budget, they will spend up to 30% of their wedding budget on photography. Most brides initially underestimate the cost of photography by 50% - in other words, you will probably spend at least twice as much as you budgeted, unless you have advice from a wedding coordinator who is familiar with prices in your area.


Q. We're having a small wedding, with thirty people, and only wanted to spend $1,500 on pictures. What can we do?

A. The first thing to do if you want a professional photographer under these circumstances is to be flexible. A true wedding professional only can only work so many weekends a year, and reasonably expects one or two large weddings per weekend from May through October, or year round in tropical climates. If he/she reserves a prime Saturday in October for you, then larger weddings will have to be turned away. If your budget is small, you will be choosing from the second and third tiers of wedding photographers. If you plan your wedding in the evening or especially early in the day, you might find a photographer who can fit you in after or before another event, and thus be able to work with your budget.

Unfortunately, when you are limiting yourself to a smaller photo budget you can expect lower quality photographs.


Q. How much time will the photographer spend at my wedding?

A. That is really up to you. You can have the photographer meet you where you are getting dressed, and keep taking pictures until you leave the reception. Or you may just want a few hours of photography, with a few formal photographs and some pictures of the ceremony. (If you choose a high quality professional, the price difference between short and full coverage will be small.) Typically, coverage starts two or three hours before the ceremony and ends after the bouquet, garter and cake.


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