You want every glorious detail captured on your wedding day, but you probably don’t want to assign the job to your cousin with the semi-fancy camera. What if he gets drunk? What if his thumb is in half the shots? You only have one chance at wedding pictures, so you probably want to do it right. We asked a few Thumbtack pros to demystify the pricing behind those Pinterest-perfect photos and dole out some advice on how to find the perfect photographer for your wedding.
Determining The Style That’s Right For You
The cheapest option is raw photography, downloaded onto a disc or via a file sharing service. But if you want something that more closely resembles those stunning wedding shots you see online, you’ll want a photographer who can help you determine what you want beforehand and spend time editing the shots after the wedding, a process that can take anywhere from three to eight weeks. “Those are obviously the much more expensive photographers,” says Kristopher of Think Photography.
Some photographers prefer customers who trust them implicitly and others prefer to work with brides who know exactly what they want. “Know your Cinderella dream,” suggests Karen Geaghan. “My perfect customer has looked at other photographers and done their research,” adds Kris of KABSPHOTOGRAPHY. “Then they know that my style is what they’re looking for. Have a good idea of what sort of photos you want, like ‘pictures standing on a hilltop with the wind blowing my veil out’ or ‘a big picture of the two of us for over the fireplace.’
Interviewing Your Favorites
Meet the photographer in-person to get your answers. “Check their style to see if it’s right for you,” says Kris. “Then sit down, have lunch, go to Starbucks.” That’s how you’ll get a real feel for whether or not they’re the right person for the job. “If you have a specific idea, ask them if they’ve done anything like it before and ask to see the shots,” she suggests.
But the most important question is what type of equipment they use. Kris says, “If they’re using a digital Rebel and on-camera flash, warning!” That’s when you want to ask how long they’ve been shooting and how many weddings they’ve done.
Why Wedding Photography Costs What It Does
“There’s actually more work post-processing,” says Kris. “That’s what people get confused about.” Karen says, “It’s easy to assume we go and work eight, nine, ten hours and then our job is done. We take all this money to work only ten hours and they have to work a month to make what we make. They don’t take into consideration all the post-processing, all the meetings and all the time beforehand.” There’s also the cost of equipment, what they pay subcontractors, and all the other expenses involved in running a business.
“All those pretty pictures you see online, they don’t just happen,” says Karen. “People just see what’s on social media – they see the end result without knowing what goes into creating it.” Karen uses an assistant to help her create beautiful, buttery light on the fly. If it’s just one photographer, you rarely get stunning shots – weddings are fast-paced environments, after all. But two people will cost more than one.
“People are always looking to save a buck,” Karen says. “They don’t realize until it’s too late that you can’t get it back.” If a couple gets their wedding pictures back and it wasn’t what they expected or hoped for, there’s nothing they can do. “This is what you’re going to walk away with, what you’re going to have forever,” says Karen. “That’s where you should invest the money. I’ve had people cut back a little on the favors or the flowers, because this is more important,” she says.
If you’re curious about a photographer’s price, ask. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable with a bigger number once you understand what your dream photographs require.
How To Plan For Taxes and Tipping
Kristopher includes taxes in his price. “What you see is what you get,” he says. “No hidden costs.” But some professionals do it differently. “The price they’re seeing is not the taxed price,” says Karen. “The tax is added separately at the rate of the state – ours is six and a quarter – and it shows up as a tax line.” So be sure to ask your photographer about their tax policy.
As for the tip, it’s at the discretion of the customer. “While a tip is appreciated, it’s never expected,” says Kristopher. “But,” he says, “I’ve only gotten two or three tips and they were from the very big weddings.” Another photographer adds, “I don’t get hurt if someone doesn’t give me a tip. They pay me what we agreed on and I’m cool with that.”