Yes! You are engaged! Congratulations! Now comes the time to start planning your wedding. Photography is one of the long lasting investments you can make for your wedding. When starting your search for the ideal wedding photographer, you will find it can be overwhelming! There are full time wedding photographers, large corporate studios, freelance photographers and hobbyist/weekend photographers. There are so many options to choose from.
How do you make the right choice?
What should be included in your package?
Well, before we get into photography services, there is one very IMPORTANT caveat.
In general, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! You cannot expect a top level photographer to offer the same level of service that a hobbyist photographer provides. They are not playing the same ball game! When comparing services, it’s better to look at the photographer’s track record by vetting their full portfolios, reviews, and endorsements by other wedding vendors before fixating on the price.
Whether it’s a newbie photographer or an experienced studio, most photographers will structure their packages according to:
Experience and Talent of Photographer
Level of Client Interaction / Customer Service
Post Production Process
Additional Add-ons like prints, engagement shoots and second photographer
With that said… Here are a list of services that studios may offer and an explanation of each service.
The talent and experience of the photographer doesn’t just matter…IT MATTERS A LOT!!! The overall investment of your wedding photography package rests of the total coverage and talent of the photographer. Usually a package will include the total number of continuous hours that the photographer(s) will cover the event. A top level photographer will obviously have a higher rate than someone who only shoots occasionally or a freelance photographer with less experience. And guys, if wedding photography is important to you, then get in writing who your wedding photographer(s) will be and review their full wedding portfolios. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that they hired studio XYZ and the studio sent a random photographer whose portfolio they weren’t aware of!
To the best of my knowledge, most photographers will take as many photos as necessary to properly cover the wedding. In post production, the photographer will select the best photos that represent the day and edit the final set. Some photographers will minimally cull the gallery to give you the largest possible set, while others will mention in their package a fixed number of final edited photos. If you care about the final outcome of your wedding photos, then consider what does the photographer consider “edited”. Some photographers may minimally cull and then apply a general basic preset over the photos. While other photographers may curate a selected set of photos and spend time edited each one, retouching skin, removing distractions and adding fine art cinematic color grading to the photos. This all take the photographer’s time and affects the ultimate price.
If I am not mistaken, providing the edited high resolution digital images has become standard practice. There may be some studios that give clients digital images but not the file requirements to make their own wedding albums and prints. Make sure you read the contract and understand what form of images you will get and if you have the right to print your photos for personal use.
Again, this is another staple part of a wedding package because photographers want their clients to view their photos easily, share with loved ones, and order albums/prints. It is also one method of backing up their work on the cloud in case of hard drive failure. Usually, a studio will provide the service for one year or even indefinitely so long as the studio is in business.
In order for the client to get comfortable with the photographer, a studio might include a complimentary engagement session or offer it as an add-on. Again, it really depends on the talent, experience of photographer and what type of overall package you have with the studio. For example, a photographer might include a complimentary shoot if you hire her for 10 hours or more. The engagement shoot is a great way to get familiar with your photographer’s style and approach. Not only are the photos a great keepsake but you can use them for your wedding website, save the date cards, and other prints materials.
Prints and wedding albums are hard costs and depending on what is most important to you and how much of an investment you are making with the photographer, they may or may not include prints and albums. Of course there are always cheaper options, but a high quality wedding photo album can cost an average of $1000 or more. So if you are only hiring a top tier wedding photographer for 5 hours, it’s unlikely they will give you an expensive handmade wedding photo album for free. Ditto on prints. A fine art print of your photo from a custom photo lab will be more expensive than a print from Wal-mart.
Depending on the caliber of the studio you are working with, retouching maybe included in your package. But be aware that retouching is time intensive and is not the same as standard editing. In our top package, we do include retouching where we perfect skin tone and remove blemishes and distractions from the photos. Do not confuse editing with retouching when comparing packages! It makes a HUGE difference and it will affect the overall investment and quality of your photos.
I believe that any photographer should include when the client will receive their final set of wedding photos. It should be a part of the proposal, period. Maha Studios typically offers a two week turnaround on photos. Yes, it is fast, and the reason why is we have honed our skills, experience and post processing in such a way to eliminate lag time in photo deliverables. We also provide a direct download and USB of the photos depending on the package level. Again, this should be in writing.
Other options to consider is drone photography, slideshows, same day edits, and travel fees. All these items add on to the photographer’s time and expense. A photographer who is providing a highly curated unique experience for their client will naturally be more of an investment than someone who does not have the same focus. Also, someone just starting out will be willing to throw in more options for free just to beef up their portfolio. But keep in mind that time is money and each and every photographer has a bottom line to keep their business sustainable. You maybe that lucky one who finds a unicorn photographer who does amazing work and throws in everything for free…but let’s face it, that’s extremely rare!!!
With over ten years of experience capturing sacred moments and an artful intuition for what it takes to get the perfect shot, time and time again, it’s our joy to create evocative, timeless photographs that are as one-of-a-kind as your story.
Maha Studios is a destination photography studio that delights in the vibrant traditions and rituals at the heart of South Asian and multicultural weddings.