The pricing structures of professional wedding photographers can be complex, and packages impossible to compare. Modern Wedding gives you a head start with some terms and techniques to be aware of when deciding on your package and your photographer.
Packages are generally great value for money; however the cost depends on the services you want. Most photographers offer a selection of packages. A basic package will include:
- Time spent photographing on the day
- Prints or proofs
- Amount of pages in your album
Extras introduce an element of flexibility into basic photography packages. For example, you might purchase a basic six to seven-hour package that expires once the bridal waltz has been complete, then, for an additional fee you can have night photography included without having to change to a higher priced package."¨Extras may include:
- Additional album sides
- Upgraded albums
- Additional coverage options
- Reprints and framed enlargements
- Special effect shots such as panoramic shots, the cross-processing look, and any manipulation of colour such as sepia or toning.
Most photographers will be happy to tailor a package to suit your needs, so don't decide that someone whose work you particularly like is out of your budget before speaking to them. You may be able to get the sensational shots you've always dreamed of by limiting the coverage time and album size, for example."¨Before deciding on a package, ask your photographer the following questions:
- How many photos does the price or package include?
- Does the package include print enlargements?
- Is a wedding album included in the package price?
- Can you purchase a wedding album for your parents?
- Are black-and-white or special effects prints included?
- Do they offer photoshopping of images?
- Do they offer to put your photos online?
- Are engagement photos included?
- Does a location shoot cost extra?
- Is there a backup photographer if the booked photographer falls ill?
- Is there a wet weather contingency for a rainy or overcast day?
- Does the photographer use an assistant during the wedding?
- Will there be a charge if the wedding runs overtime?
- What are the payment terms?
- Will the deposit be returned if the wedding is cancelled?
Hidden extras can increase the cost of your wedding photography. It is important to initially determine what is included in your package and ask for it in writing.
In order to book your photographer, you are generally asked to pay a deposit of up to 50% of your package price You will be given a contract to sign, so ensure you read the small type and confirm the details. "¨Accept no verbal promises. You must have a clear, concise, written contract - keep a copy in case something goes wrong. Remember to cross check the details with your photographer."¨The agreement should state:
Which package you have chosen and what it includes, i.e. The name of your photographer, how many hours you have the photographer for, how many proofs are included in your package, how many 8x10's are in your album, the album brand, model, and colour.
- Any additional charges for special effects and enlargements.
- The cost of extra album prints and additional album sides.
- The payment plan.
- Reprint prices for friends and family.
- Who keeps the files.
- Turn around time (4-6 weeks is reasonable).
Whoever is paying the photographer and signing the contract is the 'commissioning agent' of the work. The commissioning agent has automatic copyright of images produced of a domestic nature, including pictures of weddings and portraits. Many studios will ask you to sign a contract which may re-assign copyright to them, in which case you would not be able to have your images reprinted without their authority.
Make sure you see the exact wedding album you are getting so there will be no surprises when it arrives. Most people get 36 eight by ten inch photos (sides) in their album. You may, of course, extend your album by paying for additional prints or pages. A small slush fund should be kept aside for just such an emergency, but remember that it is better to have fewer photographs of good quality than to have a large quantity of mediocre images in your album.
Once you return from your honeymoon, meet with your photographer to review the shots. You may have hundreds of images to choose from, and selecting the right ones for your album can take some time. Use these tips as your guide:
- Are everyone's eyes open?
- Did someone look away?
- Is the lighting nice and white, or is it dark and off-colour?
- Is there anything in the background that will look ugly when blown up?
- On natural lighting shots without a flash, is the exposure too dark?
- Does the picture make you smile when you see it?
Parents are often involved in the wedding preparations as much as the bride and groom. A wonderful way to thank them for their hard work and support is to give them a copy of your wedding album. You may choose to give them an exact replica of your own album in a smaller size or perhaps something the same size but containing fewer photographs.
Value for money
By knowing what factors affect the pricing of your photography package, you can judge value more accurately and have greater flexibility when choosing your photographer. And of course, knowing what's available in the industry is the best way to ensure you get exactly what you want for your money, so shop around. At the end of the day, however, it's not what you spend that matters but your perception of the value for money you are getting.