What Should I Pay For Wedding Photos?

This question could spark as many viewpoints as a political debate. You can always get someone to weigh in with their thoughts, whether they are married or not. I could be a friend, relative, co-worker, cashier at the grocery store, or even your FedEx guy. Fact is, almost everyone has an opinion. If there was ever a loaded question, this is one. My answer is simple, whatever you like! There is no right or wrong answer. Although it may sound a bit vague at first, once I explain my answer, it is usually appreciated advice. It’s the same as asking how much should I pay for a  suit, dress, car, or a pair of shoes? I tell my clients (or clients to be), to follow these simple guidelines for successfully arriving at the right price for photo coverage  of your wedding.

  • Decide how important photographs are to you as a couple. This will begin the process of determining cost. If photographs are not a priority for you, don’t get a high end photographer because it’s trendy, or for bragging rights. If you are prepared to keep your expectations to a minimum, you may opt for a less expensive and inexperienced photographer. However, if photographs are of crucial importance, this is not an area to skimp on. As with most goods and services, higher quality is associated with higher cost.  At 30A, we believe photographs are your visual legacy, to be passed on for generations. They should be heirloom quality, durable products that tell your story. 
  • Is your potential photographer a good fit? Do you have the same goals/values when it comes to photography? If you view your wedding photos as artwork, and your plan is to proudly display them throughout your home, then make sure to hire someone capable of creating your vision. Does your photographer want to provide outstanding service from start to finish, or do you sense a business as usual, on the next customer mentality? Does his/her style of shooting align with the type of images you expect? Talk to your potential photographer to see exactly what comes in their wedding packages.  It’s important to find a photographer that has experience shooting weddings and has a portfolio that reflects the style and quality of work you’re looking for.
  • What are your intentions with your photographs? Are you simply looking for images to post on social media? Do you only intend to place a few 8x10s here and there, and have little interest in having an album that documents your story? If this is the case, you may be okay with a photographer that only provides digital negatives. Usually, the photographer will cover the event and provide images for the client to do as they wish.  Although this is easier on the wallet, it presents you with the challenge of finding how and where to enlarge your prints.  Also, there is the chore of creating your own album.  While some places like Sam’s and Walmart offer these services, more reputable distributors only offer access to these services to professional photographers.  It’s done that way for a reason. As professionals, we have the expertise to produce and present your images in a professional manner.  At 30a, we view it as a dis-service to leave clients with the burden of completing their own enlargements and storybooks. After all, that’s part of the reason you hired us.
  • Is your photography budget reasonable, or an afterthought?  Many times, the photography budget is lacking because it was simply forgotten. There are so many decisions to make in preparation for a wedding, that sometimes photography falls through the cracks. So when should you decide on a photographer? Either before or after you decide on a venue. Yes, it should be that high on the list. Considering that photographs help document everything else on the list, (the ring, the dress, the cake, the venue etc;) that alone earns a first or second place spot. In addition, you’re asking your photographer to capture the excitement, details, emotions and beauty of your day, all in a moment’s notice. Lastly, your photographer is usually the only vendor still working for you after the wedding is over, capturing all those other moments that add to this wonderful occasion.   
  • Can you live with your photographic decision for years to come?  This answer needs to be an emphatic yes for many reasons. Mainly because like it or not, you’ll have to live your choice. A wedding is not a “do-over” type of event, so wedding photos aren’t either. You want your photographs to convey the events of your day as best you can. Choosing the right photographer gives you the best chance to have your story told beautifully, elegantly, and completely. No matter what the budget is, giving these questions careful consideration before reaching a decision will give you a better insight on how much (or little) you are willing to pay to have your special day memorialized. So while it may be tempting to cut costs in this area, keep in mind that your wedding photos will be cherished memories that you’ll want to look back on for years to come. Consider your priorities and find a photographer that fits within your budget while also delivering the quality of work you desire.  Happy Hunting!

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