Over the years the price of a Wedding Photography Package has changed dramatically. As we all know digital costs nothing and photographers rarely use film these days, their overheads have come down but their prices have stayed the same or risen. Doesnt seem to match up does it?
SO HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
I developed a rule of thumb that will help you understand the way a photographer charges. The more expensive your package the more things you get. i.e. more frames, more prints ect. I am in a fortunate position to buy the frames, canvases, albums and all the paraphernalia that you receive as a client at the cost price from the suppliers.
My rule of thumb is this: 20-30% of the total cost of the package is spent on your bits and pieces included in your package.
How does this help you? Well that is really up to you in the end. It sure gives you a little insight into the type of money these people are on and if I was a client in your position it would sure raise my level of expectation. Let me quantify this for you: If you pay say $3000 for a package and their overheads are $600-900 (20-30%) leaving $2400 to $2100 in clear profit for the photographer. If your going to pay this person that type of money for a few hours work on the day and a few more that they do later on, you want to make dam sure that you are getting what you want, and you sure dont want to be paying for something that you do not want just because its part of their package.
WEBSITES - DONT BE MISLEAD BY THEM
It is appropriate here to raise the issue of websites. Many of the photography websites you see are absolutely stunning. They showcase the work beautifully. Sometimes you could be forgiven for thinking you were in an art gallery. They have flashy graphics, beautiful photos and many other features.
However the common theme that I have noticed over the years is that the photographers all seem to tell you how good they are. They seem to think that they are the best and most fancy things since sliced bread. This is a marketing strategy attempting to build credibility. Dont be fooled by it.
The real credibility should exist in their offer of worthwhile information that is practical and helpful to you to plan your day, not by blowing their own trumpet. You want to be looking for useful and relevant things, not browsing galleries of strangers photography. Just because the photos on their website are beautiful it does not guarantee that yours will turn out as such. In fact if you look at the fine print in their terms and conditions, you will see a statement similar to the one I just made.
Often they attempt to build further credibility by stating that they have won this award and that accolade and have been doing it for 25 years. Dont be miss-lead by an award or accolade that you have never heard of. Dont be fooled by some gold star on their website claming to be a member of some association or another that you have never heard of. Flashy websites and beautiful photos are one thing but does their website contain anything of substance. If you take away the graphics and pictures are you just left with a price list? If so then they have offered you, the client, nothing other than them telling you how good they are. If this is the case they sure are not telling you what they can do for you.
The cold reality of them blowing their own trumpet is this: Who cares what you have done and how many awards you have, it doesnt guarantee that you will photograph my day in such an expert way as you claim. What really matters is the rapport and trust between client and photographer, not awards and accolades.
It is unfair to compare websites, as one may have a greater budget than another making their average work look terrific. I operated without the need for a website for many years. Word of mouth was and still is strong enough to keep me going full time. A very strong point to remember is that if I can only do 100 weddings a year then there isnt much point having the worlds flashiest website, which generates thousands of enquiries.
Good luck in your search for that elusive wedding photographer and my your marriage be a long and lasting one.