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What Should You Be Paying for Wedding Photography?
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The Wedding Photography is arguably the most important element of the entire wedding, especially after the fact. That being the case, how much should you spend and what is the relationship between price and quality?
So, you’ve been to a bunch of Wedding Photography websites and wow is it ever confusing. Sometimes it seems like every Tom, Dick & Harry has bought a digital camera, set-up a website and is offering to photograph one of the most important days of your life. Often the pictures look pretty good as does the website (even though it’s probably a $100 template site). And pricing is extremely reasonable, going as low as $1000 for full day coverage.
Firstly, don’t be enamored with a photographer solely based on seeing the pictures in the Wedding Gallery on their site. Needless to say, these galleries will showcase their best work, which means the best pix from each wedding. The reality is that anyone, including guests, can take a few good pictures at a wedding, even with a point and shoot. Therefore, to get a proper idea of a photographer’s skill and style ask to see a couple of entire weddings – 400 pictures from the same wedding will be very revealing.
Depending on where you live, the average price for an experienced photographer might be around $2500 for a full-day. So, what can you realistically expect from an inexperienced photographer who might have photographed less than 20 weddings and is charging around $1000? That’s not an easy question to answer. There are some very talented up-and-coming photographers who because they are early into their careers offer an amazing value for the work they do. But these photographers are in the minority. Wedding Photography is very challenging. Experience counts and there are no redoes. It requires great interpersonal skills (some photographers should only take pictures of objects). It requires an understanding of timing and logistics as they relate to the particular wedding at hand. And while many artistic photographers poopoo/denigrate wedding photography it requires the most skill, often on the fly. A Professional Wedding Photographer will also have back-up equipment in case things go wrong – many amateurs do not, which his scary indeed.
All of this is not to say that by paying more to someone whose been around for a while you’re guaranteed to get great pictures. On the contrary, it’s best to do your homework. Go on forums and see if anyone is saying anything about the wedding photographer(s) you’re interested in. You’ll read some disturbing and/or crazy stories about the photographer drinking on the job, interrupting the ceremony to ask the officiant to do something again, hitting on bridesmaids, etc. Do your due diligence.
Meanwhile, in this day and age of difficult economic times it’s easy to pay less for wedding photography, but keep in mind that all you have after the wedding are the pictures (and maybe video). You might be better served trimming from other areas, such as flowers, which only a small percentage of people will notice or care about – or the DJ (unless you’re getting something very special, most wedding DJs sound the same. Their get-up may look nicer, but they invariably play the same songs.)
In conclusion, if you’re a bit of a gambler, you’re on a tight budget and you’ve really checked things out, a cheaper photographer may work out just fine. More often than not though, the axiom/adage, “you get what you pay for”, usually applies to wedding photography. So, if it’s in the budget, do plenty of research, get some recommendations and pay extra to get a professional. It’ll be worth it.
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