consider when choosing a
Shopping for a wedding photographer is not like selecting
a gown or a bridal bouquet. You can see something tangible before
you make your decision, when you're shopping for specific items
like that. But in the selection of your photographer, you're often
at the mercy of a super-salesperson and/or your own intuition. It
seems as if PRICE is usually the main determining factor, even
though there's NEVER going to be a second chance. Nor has there
ever been anything written that gives you, the bride, a true
guideline as to how to select the one person who could supply you
with a heart full of memories to last a lifetime.
Undoubtedly the best way a bride has to prejudge the competency of
a wedding photographer is to have a recommendation from someone
whose opinion she trusts. If she has more than one recommendation,
that's even better - especially if the same photographer's name
comes from different sources.
Then, a phone call is appropriate.
The telephone conversation should begin with the availability of
the studio to cover the wedding on your specific date. You should
also learn the name of the photographer who would be doing the
actual pictures at your wedding, and at least a rough estimate of
the costs involved. You should find out on the telephone how the
photographer feels about posed and candid pictures and decide
whether or not you agree or are interested in the studio's
philosophy of how the wedding photography should be conducted. That
is - photojournalism, candids, portraits, groups, etc. Just one
concept? A combination of several? An appointment should be made to
meet with the photographer who will be assigned to your wedding,
see his/her work and discuss the details. Without doubt, this
meeting should include both the bride and groom as well as the
bride's parents...or however many of these people can be assembled
for the consultation.
At that meeting the first assessment you should make is whether or
not you feel comfortable in the presence of the photographer. If
you're going to spend a good part of the most important day of your
life with this person, it should be someone with whom you know
you'll enjoy sharing that time. Then you should see some of the
Another result of this meeting could be to
allow you and your photographer to begin a one-on-one relationship.
In that way, neither of you would be strangers to each other on the
day of the wedding and you'll be more relaxed in front of the
What questions should I ask?
Some important questions you may consider are:
1. How do you feel about the bride and groom not wanting to see
each other before the ceremony? ---What are the alternatives?
---How will the various plans affect us on the day of the
2. How long do you expect to be with us on the day of the
wedding? ---Beginning at what time? ---Until when? ---Is there an
extra charge if the wedding runs a little
3. Whom would you include in the photographs? ---Where
and when would they be taken?
4. What can I do to help you perform your duties to
the best of your ability?
Ask to see an entire wedding.
If you're still interested in the photographer's services
at this point, I'd ask to see a complete coverage of a single
wedding. That's a lot more important than seeing a selection of
beautiful highlights from many different weddings.
When looking through the album, evaluate the work by placing
yourself in the position that this could have been YOUR wedding
coverage. Ask yourself if the photographer has actually considered
the individual characteristics and personality of each of the
important persons in the photographs. Has the photographer caught
the individual's actual feelings of the moment, or are these just
pictures of people standing and looking self-consciously into the
lens. Do they look natural? Or even better than real? And, in fact,
is that what you and they really want?
Too often important details that you had
never before considered come back to haunt you later:
5. How will you be showing me the pictures for
6. Will you be helping me in the selection of the final
7. How can people who live out of town be accommodated
with ordering, paying and delivery?
8. What are the costs of the various styles of coverage? ---
Are there different degrees of coverage? --- What's included in
9. How much for the extras? --- Duplicates? ---
Ask to see the specific style of album you will be receiving. ---
Are alternate choices available? At an extra cost?
10. What kind of time frame are you looking at for preparing the
pictures for my selection? --- Are you providing me with proofs,
slides, video tape of the pictures, or what? --- How much time do I
have to make up my mind as to which pictures I want and how many?
--- Are the proofs for sale or are they included in the chosen
Consider future expenses
11. Can I purchase a basic package now and upgrade the package
should I choose to do so?
12.. How long have you been
in the business? --- How long do you plan on staying in the
business? --- In other words, what kind of guarantee comes with my
hiring you and/or your studio?
Wrap It Up Intelligently
Finally, let's consider a few topics of conversation that
could/should help you make your decision.
13.. Do you have any particular philosophy about your approach
to photographing weddings?
14. What would you plan to do at my wedding that would make my
wedding photographs unique and personal to me? --- Can I tell you
who I want in my pictures? --- How will you find them?
15. With whom will I be dealing after the wedding?
16. What's your payment policy? --- Do you give any guarantees on
your services and photographs?
Be Prepared To Make A Commitment!
By now you've probably spent a good deal of time with the
photographer. His/her time is money, the same as yours. Realize
that in the long run someone has to pay for the hours each
photographer spends as a consultant. Keep his/her (and your)
expenses to a minimum by going to the meeting with the photographer
prepared to leave a deposit to confirm the date. Before you do,
however, you may want to assure yourself of a few more last-minute
Find out the photographer's policy if the date of your wedding is
changed and he/she's not available on the alternate date. Find out,
too, what the policy is for an unforeseen cancellation of the date.
At this stage of the game, if you've really taken the time to get
into some of the above questions, you HAVE to know whether or not
this photographer is for you.
If the photographer IS for you, if the photographer IS available,
and if you're convinced that it's worth the price...then make the
commitment and rest assured that this is undoubtedly one of the
best and most intelligent decisions you've made in planning your
How Much Should Photographs Cost?
It's difficult to pay too much for something you really
like. Yet, price is usually the one obstacle that prevents many
wedding clients from selecting the photographer who undoubtedly
could give them the best value for the money.
Quite often the difference between the price of the photographer
you really like and one who you feel is "within the budget" is
Understandably, of course! When wedding plans come down to dollars
and cents, it's hard to keep spending "a little more here...and a
little more there. Somewhere along the line," you feel, "you have
to give a little! There's only so-much money available!" Yet,
within the framework of the entire wedding day, it makes good sense
to evaluate the money spent on photographs in relation to what's
being spent on flowers, food and music. Although everyone knows
that the pictures are the only thing you have after the moment has
passed, some people still feel that they have to put the money
"where it shows".
Later, In the privacy of their own hearts, many of these people are
often disappointed with photographic memories that give them
nothing but heartaches...and there's no remedy!
The reality is-
You're going to remember the wedding day through the eyes,
heart and talent of your photographer. When making the decision as
to who that photographer is going to be, realize that oftentimes
you're talking a relative difference of pennies! On the other hand,
if you're unhappy, regardless of the "good deal" you're getting,
you could lose everything!
What's the "going rate" among wedding photographers nowadays? The
price difference is as great as the time, talent and technique of
the studios being considered. Certainly, among competent
photographers in a highly competitive area, or photographers in
their formative years, a basic wedding coverage can be found around
the fifteen hundred dollar category. Spending less than that would
probably be a high-risk gamble.
Other photographers may begin somewhere around two thousand dollars
and go upwards from there. A true specialist, one who has a
reputation for consistently delivering the best, might begin at two
or three times that amount and go upwards to five thousand and
When considering the cost of a photographer, you may find that
studios sometimes approach this matter in one or two different
Whereas some photographers have basic "packages" of an agreed
number of photographs for a specified dollar amount, other studios
might have a predetermined charge for their services and allow you
to buy whatever amount of pictures you want.
Still some photographers allow you to have ALL the pictures that
are taken. There is a set fee that includes EVERYTHING! There are,
of course, benefits to all of these approaches. In the first
instance you have a good idea right from the start how much money
you're probably going to spend...and you're locked into that
minimum. That's a double guarantee, both for you and the
photographer. Studios that offer you what' known as their
a-la-carte system are taking a chance (along with you) as to how
much money you'll be spending.
The studio that offers you ALL the pictures may scare you at first
with the high price, but you may want to know that up front and
KNOW that you will not be spending more.
Realize that at the same time you're preparing your budget, you
will probably want/need to spend extra money for albums and
portraits for both families. In any case, you're probably going to
spend more than you originally planned, but you'll be doing it
because you like the pictures so much, you WANT to buy the extras.
The bottom line, as you know, is not necessarily how much you end
up spending on photographs. Instead, it's how much pleasure you get
from them over the years.
Wouldn't you agree, that at a time as important as your wedding
day, it's better to invest a little more money for photography than
you had planned...instead of a little less that you should?
Why risk your memories of a once-in-a-lifetime event on a
Besides, if you should spend $1000 for your wedding pictures that's
only an investment of five cents a day, if you make it to your 50th
Anniversary! Only twenty-seven cents a day on an investment of
You're going to be concerned with the price only one time...when
you buy. You're going to be concerned with quality, however, during
the lifetime of the product!