What are wedding photographer prices? Especially around the NYC area?
One of the first questions wedding couples ask when they call me is “how much are wedding photography packages?” This isn’t as cut and dried as you may first think a question to answer, so I’ll do my best to explain some general pricing guidelines covering wedding photographer cost.
Maybe it’s like buying a car because as in buying a car there are lots of options available. When you think of options for example, it can be various related services and products such as wedding books, digital negatives, day-after session, engagement photo session, thank you notes, wall portraits, rehearsal dinner coverage, canvas wraps… and so you can easily see how prices can swing from one end to another and all over simply depending on how much you want to purchase.
Of course all those options are completely voluntary and up to you what you want to include in your photography collection, getting as much as or as little as you want, because everyone has different tastes, wants, and budgets (I prefer to custom create collection rather than offering ‘one size fits all’ type of packages which end up fitting no one perfectly).
Adding to the “how much does a wedding photographer cost” question is the time needed to properly photograph your wedding, which may impact the wedding photography price. Many times wedding couples over estimate how long they really need their photographer, and just as many times they underestimate how long it takes to create photographs properly. So the exact time you actually do need is something to figure out with the photographers you’re considering.
And don’t forget with every hour of taking photos, there’s billable time needed after the wedding to process those photos. The work which goes into a wedding photo assignment isn’t all contained within the wedding day itself.
(if you want some ideas to plan out your photography timeline, see how to figure your wedding photography timeline here.)
More Wedding Photographer Cost factors
The wide range of wedding photography pricing in the marketplace also reflect each individual photographer’s level of expertise, skills, talent, reputation and customer service because each photographer, being an individual, is at a different level, either blessed with more talent, skills and acumen or not so blessed but working on it. Naturally, wedding photographer prices for those different calibers of photographers will differ accordingly.
Prices will also reflect if you’re working with a staff member in a high volume studio operation handling hundreds of weddings per year or if you’re working with the owner/photographer of a low volume studio who limits himself or herself to personally handling a small select number of weddings.
You’re also paying for several behind the scenes tangibles. For example, the image processing may be done cheaper and faster in six second batches or individually per print for minutes more per image for a higher quality. The work done behind the scenes affects your photography, so let’s consider a few more.
Retouching may not be included so that obvious glaring exit sign sticking out from behind your your head on the dance floor may cost you additional to remove. Facial retouching, stray hairs, distracting elements in a photograph, these and more could add to how much your wedding photography costs down the road. Unless it’s already included as more couture services tend to do, it can add up, so be sure to check.
Photography products may be made from lesser expensive or more expensive materials. Glue binding on books is cheaper to do than is the more permanent stitch binding, for example. Archival photographic papers are more expensive than inkjet papers. So the axiom “you get what you pay for” is true here – because everyone knows you can’t produce high production value without the money to produce it.
How Couples Handle Wedding Photography Prices
Naturally, wedding couples look to firm up what options they want prior to their weddings so they can allocate their budget accordingly. And that works to their benefit – – in many cases the photographer offers a significant reduction in price when the couple pre-orders photography products, such as albums, prior to the wedding.
Couples understand they’ll have these items to enjoy, share and look back on their wedding day for the rest of their lives, and that even several generations further will enjoy this family heirloom too. Even though it’s so long lasting and meaningful, some people only consider its one time acquisition price rather than its long term value, seeking a photographer among the cheapest priced ones.
It may be they’ve underestimated costs, or genuinely can’t afford to do more or don’t wish to do more than that but it does limit them to what could be better choices: online wedding surveys such as those from New York Magazine and Shutterfly have polled a significant percentage of newlyweds who regret not having spent more to get what they really wanted from their wedding photography.
Of course after the wedding it’s too late. There are no “do overs.” Yet the majority of couples understand the importance of getting this budgeted correctly up front so as to not have any regrets down the road. Many times that doesn’t mean they need to spend more. It’s usually a matter of allocating a more realistic amount from the wedding budget than the couple originally estimated to get the caliber of photographer they desire to have. Wedding planners agree the best practice is for couples on budgets to allocate the larger percentage of funds to only one or two top priorities, and to do that up front in order to not prematurely blow out the budget on other services.
So what are wedding photography prices? I’m avoiding hard numbers for several reasons: 1. I want this article to remain impartial and respectful of the fact photographers are at all different levels and so are their prices, 2. wedding couples read my blog from all over the United States and so prices vary from region to region, and because 3. It depends… on you. Ask yourself what level do you want your photographer’s expertise, talent, skills, reputation and knowledge to be? A little or a lot? Do you want to work with a studio’s part time staffers or with the full time owner? Do you want higher grade materials or are you okay with a lesser grade? You’ve read the photographer reviews, the good, the bad, the ugly. Don’t put blinders on, are you okay with their reviews?
All this is what’s really going to be behind the wedding photography prices you get, so know what it is prices reflect first – and decide if that’s what you want.
Because you don’t just find out what wedding photographers cost. You find out what it is you’re buying into for that price.
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