How much should you spend on your wedding photography?

Welcome to Clearwater Beach Portraits. Around here we try to be different. We believe in providing excellent wedding photography at affordable prices anyone can afford. One of the things we recognize is that couples who are planning their wedding face many choices, and quite frankly it can be confusing. So the purpose of this article is to address some myths and talk about reality in regards to all the different things you see about wedding photography in your search.

Unfortunately, most of the wedding photography industry seems to revolve around up-selling and/or selling you on services and products you don’t need. The wedding photography industry is a big example of capitalism at work. Now, there’s nothing wrong with capitalism. However what most businesses in the wedding industry do, is capitalize and get you to buy based on emotional decisions and maybe not what you actually need. That is the part we don’t like about the wedding industry as a whole. So we try to rise above all that and conduct our Wedding Photography portion of our business differently.

From the moment you go dress shopping the up-selling begins. Have you noticed? Usually the dress is one of the earliest things you begin shopping for. Remember when you found the dress you wanted and you said yes to the dress. Then the salesman, after he rang the bell says… “Oh.. I have the perfect shoes to go with that..” Wait, suddenly he is a shoe salesman too? Then as you head towards the shoes, conveniently on the way to the shoes is jewelry, some garters, maybe even a toss away bouquet. Then they try to sell you a veil that costs almost as much as the dress. Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t try to sell you a new car while you were in there. At some point, some couples start thinking to themselves. I got the dress, I’m pretty sure we can the accessories somewhere else… Cheaper. So they start looking around first, before they leap any further. Well, that is unless you are a member of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Wedding Photography is a lot like dress shopping. Many photographers will try to add on things you don’t need. Like seven to ten hours of all day coverage. Do you really need 500 images of your hair being a mess and then getting it done at the stylist? Do you really need 800 images of your guest dancing to tell the entire story? Trust us, reception dancing shots of intoxicated people start to look repetitive after a while. How many pictures of Uncle Harry and Aunt Sally dancing do you exactly need from the wedding reception. Unfortunately, our experience from photographing over five hundred weddings over the years has taught us that most of the images from “full coverage” points to the fact that most couples quickly skim over or only view once or twice the bulk of all the images.

The main images they come back to over and over again, and the ones that end up in an album are. A few pictures from getting ready. Like Mom helping with the dress. The guys putting the finishing touches on their tuxes.

The wedding ceremony is very important, that’s a given, so those are highly valued. The romantic pictures taken of the Bride and Groom during cocktail hour are the most highly coveted images, along with stylish portraits of the entire wedding party.

The introductions of the wedding reception, first dance, father-daughter dances, and mother-son dances are highly valued as well. Additionally some dancing shots throughout the night are fantastic but are mostly achieved early on in the evening. The bouquet and garter tosses are great shots, along with the cake cutting shots. That really sums up how most wedding photography goes, with slight variances from here to there. All this can usually be accomplished in 5 hours or less if you have an experienced photographer who actually bothers to go over your timeline with you. This right there can save you thousands.

If you get a good experienced DJ, he is going to keep the flow of the evening moving and there will be plenty of photo opportunities. We always recommend hiring a very experienced DJ. So, a lot of photographers try to sell you unlimited coverage or very long periods of coverage amounts for thousands, when really you just don’t need it. In most cases. It is designed to make you feel as if you are getting more when really more doesn’t always equal more. Sometimes more is actually less and less is actually more. Most of the time this is an up-sell which is designed to capitalize your emotions. Ever wonder why the biggest sales phrase in the wedding photography industry is “Your once in a lifetime special day”? When we remove the emotion from the equation and look at things logically, we find that often times we are being sold services we don’t need, and that isn’t going to return any better investment.

In fact sometimes photographers selling you long hourly coverage packages are compensating for lack of experience and lack of quality in the work. Just look closely and see for yourself We see it every day.

Also, what we see a lot is photographers trying to pad the bill with other extras which look good on paper, but are most of the time just designed to give you the perception of added value where there is none.

These days teams of photographers or second photographers are the biggest way of padding the bill. Any wedding photographer worth his salt could photograph just about any wedding by himself. Perhaps in some cases of very large weddings such as 200 guests or more, would second photographers be needed. We could see that easily. We’ve done those types of weddings and in cases like that a second photographer or even team of photographer is very handy to have around.

The simple fact of the matter is that the majority of weddings just don’t call for that. Also if your shopping in the $1000 to $1500 price range for weddings, what do you think the extra photographer or extra team is actually getting paid? How much of the share of the loot do you think the main photographer is actually giving up? Most of the time a second photographer is a fancy term for “the wife” or “some guy or gal that asked me if I ever needed help so I pay them $100 bucks to help me shoot weddings”. This goes on every day.

What is really funny is that in an industry designed to sell the idea that wedding photography should be valued it is sadly so many wedding photographers that actually devalue the second or third photographers they hire to photograph your wedding, by paying them peanuts. We know a few husband and wife teams that are actually both real photographers. They shine in this industry. But unfortunately that is the exception and not the rule. Chances are if your paying less than $3000.00 for your wedding photography and think you are getting a “team” that actually consists of two or more actual real photographers, you are in fact getting bamboozled.

Another way that wedding photographers pad the bill is to charge extra for work they should be doing in the first place. Like processing your images with those fancy artistic enhancements. There is a difference between editing and retouching. Editing simply means to sort, color correct, correct exposure, and adjust the cropping of the image.

Retouching or applying artistic enhancements is something that takes your images further. Makes them beautiful. Makes them look like they belong in a magazine. Many photographers out there act like this is a very time consuming and lengthy process when in reality it isn’t so bad. Fact is, they should be doing that type of work to your images anyways, in order to show them off to get future w0rk. Yet so many photographers try to charge you more for these “added” services. Forcing you to buy an album, buy prints, or just flat out buy the retouching service. It’s silly and something that needs to change. The industry standard should be to always deliver the best finished work you can. Simple.

So why are we telling you all this? It’s because we want to change the status quo. We want to raise the standard. To get back to creating beautiful work and become artists again as a whole industry rather than have an industry that acts like a hoard of used car salesmen. Isn’t that why we fell in love with photography in the first place? To create?

With our wedding photography we prove every single day that amazing wedding photography doesn’t need to be expensive. No one needs to be up-sold on anything. With our wedding photography we prove that the work can stand on its own and we do not need to sell the false pretense of “added value” by padding the bill with exuberant sounding extras that make no sense in reality.

That is the difference with our wedding photography.

In the end the best advice we can give you is to look at the work. Then look at the cost and compare value. Buy the best you can comfortably afford. Shop around and again really look at the work. Really consider what you are actually buying. Albums can be made anywhere and by anyone these days. So product is a very unimportant factor. In the end, the proof is all in the finished image. Real quality begins and ends there.

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