Finding photographers’ price lists can be a difficult task in its own right. Once you do, you’ll soon realize that there are no standards for photographers to adhere to when laying them out. This means that everyone pretty much packages their products and services up in whichever way they like - making meaningful comparisons difficult. To make matters worse, having never hired a wedding photographer before, most couples are completely unfamiliar with the process.
To help shed a little bit of light on the situation, here’s a quick explanation of the most common things you’ll find on a wedding photographer’s price list.
Coverage time - This is the most important item on a price list and typically weighs most heavily on the total price. It’s the number of hours that your photographer shoots for on your wedding day. Some photographers allow this time to be split into separate chunks, but most do not. There are usually no constraints within your coverage time; no maximum number of locations visited, or shots taken. It’s simply the time from when your photographer shows up in the morning until they leave in the evening. If a photographer lists “full day coverage” you should find out exactly what that means - It’s likely not unlimited.
Wedding Albums - As time goes by, your album will become more and more precious. This is how your photos will be enjoyed by you and your family for years to come. You’ll want to hold an album in your hands to asses the quality of the prints, and of the book itself. Photos online simply don’t do them justice.
Many photographers will include an album in their packages. It’s important to understand what’s included in this album and how you can upgrade it. Ask how many photos or pages are in the samples you view so you can get an idea of how many you might want in your own album.
Album Upgrades - You can always make your album bigger and better. The most worthwhile upgrade is adding additional photos or pages. You can also customize your cover with different materials and inscriptions. This is a great way to make your album stylish and unique. When you visit photographers, make sure you’re comfortable with the style of albums they offer.
Online gallery - Typically included in every photographer’s packages, online galleries are an easy way to view your photos on all your different devices, and to share them with family and friends. You can often order prints from an online gallery and have them shipped directly to you.
Digital Files - Included in almost every photographer’s packages and delivered via download from your online gallery, or on a USB stick. Your digital files should be edited, high resolution jpeg’s, and not include any watermarks or other restrictions to you printing them. With most professionals none of these things will be an issue, but it’s not a bad idea to double-check.
Slideshow - A selection of highlight images set to music. Slideshows are perfect for sharing with family and friends as they’re short and sweet. Check out an example of a wedding slideshow from Union Eleven below:
Second Photographer - Usually much less experienced than the main photographer, but still be quite competent with a camera. Some photographers will always shoot with a second, while others prefer to work alone. It may seem obvious that two photographers are better than one, but that’s not necessarily the case. A second photographer is a potential distraction to you and your guests, and may not be beneficial if your wedding is small and intimate. It’s best to get your primary photographer’s opinion on this.
Engagement Shoot - Typically a one hour portrait session, they’re a great opportunity to create artwork that celebrates your relationship before you become a married couple! They’re also a great way to get to know your photographer better. Make sure you understand exactly what’s included in the shoot. For example, does it come with digital files, or is that an additional fee?
One question we get all the time is “Should we do an engagement shoot so we can practice for our wedding photos?”. The answer is yes you should do a shoot (because they’re awesome), but NOT because you need to practice! To learn more about why that is, feel free to read our guide on how to look amazing on your wedding day!
Packages, A La Carte, or something in between.
Here’s where things can get a little tricky. Photographers take these fundamental products and services and group them together in whatever way they personally think is best. Some opt for the à la carte option, asking couples to pick and choose what they would like from a list. Others offer a series of packages, with each package geared toward a particular budget, coverage time, or wedding type. Still others offer some sort of combination of these two. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and each method has its pros and cons. Unfortunately, it’s pretty unlikely that two photographers will offer the exact same packages, making direct comparisons difficult. If you happen to know exactly what you want you can simply ask for a custom price, but many couples have no idea how much coverage time they need, so this is easier said than done.
The main thing is to understand exactly what you’re buying so you’re not surprised or disappointed later. Despite the different ways price lists are put together, most photographers of a given skill and experience level will have fairly similar prices overall. Once you understand what you’re buying, it all comes down to who you feel the most confident hiring, within your budget. Try not to choose a photographer purely based on price. Obviously, it’s an important factor in your decision, but what you really want to go by is how much you trust the photographer, and how much confidence you have that they’ll do a fantastic job on your wedding day. When you meet the right person, you’ll know!
If you’re curious, you can check out Union Eleven’s price list here. If you have any questions about this guide, feel free to give us a call!