(Closed) Great photographer prices?

posted 10 years ago in Beehive
Post # 3
Member
337 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

Personally, I don’t think you should bust your budget for it.  I think you will find a great photographer within your budget.  Maybe not your dream photographer, but an excellent one nonetheless who will take gorgeous photos of your day.  I am biased however because that is the decision I made when I was in your shoes a few months back.  My dream photographer’s prices started at $4000 (STARTED.  You didn’t get much for $4000 – only 6 hours of photography with no album, no high res image CD, no engagement shoot, nothing else) but we got our photographer for $2900, and that includes 12+ hours of photography, an online proofing album, an engagement photo shoot, and a CD full of the edited high res images.  And we are THRILLED with him.  To get an equal package with our dream photographer, we would have been looking at over $6000.  I’m sure the photos would have been slightly more artistic, but I just don’t see them being $3000 nicer, you know?

So that’s what I would do.  I tend to err on the side of practicality with these matters though, so take it for what it’s worth.

Post # 4
Member
73 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

We thought we had a dream photographere in mind.  There prices were $2000 just for the photography (which is high for my city).  Prints, albums, etc were extra and they were above the average cost for these items. 

We decided to go with photographer who is charging us $1175 and includes an engagement shoot and a trash the dress shoot!  We also get the photos on a high res dvd.  He also provides prints and albums at way below the standard rate (between $400-600 for a full leather bound album).  My dream photographer was charging $2400 for the exact same album!!!!

What we love about our photographer is that he is super excited to do non-traditional shots.  It’s hard to find this type of photographer here.  He also has a passion for fashion photographry and shooting punk bands!  It’s going to be so great!  No class of ’89 photos here!!!

Since we booked with our photographer and locked the rate, he’s increased his prices to $2400 for the day (e-shoot and ttd extra)!  We’re so happy to get a great photographer that thinks outside the box and for such a great deal!

Post # 5
Member
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

I want to live in mssmartpants’ city! all of our dream photographers say they start at like $4000 and that is really really basic!

After speaking to a LOT of married couples, the advice I heard was really different from what i have been reading in briald books and on bridal blogs. i have always heard that you shouldn’t skimp on the photog because the pictures are what really last… but how many married couples do you know who regularly loook at or hang up these images? What most of them said was, no matter what, pictures from your wedding are going to be special and once you start having kids, your family pictures actually matter more. They all feel kind of silly to hang up those large mounted pictures of themselves as an engaged or married couple when they have beautiful kids that they want to hang pictures up of. I don’t know if this makes sense and I don’t want to offend anybody by this, because I am not really sure how I feel about it either… but it is something to think about. Hope that helps! 

Post # 6
Member
161 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

The photographer we ended up booking is my mom’s favorite.  He had shot our cousin’s wedding early this year (my mom loved it), and fiance and I were bridesmaid & groomsman for them, so the photog must’ve seen our day coming!  He asked of our wedding even before fiance proposed!  we had to at least check in with him because of that.  Before it though, we checked out the other photographers in  Socal, whose pricing BLEW us away!  Their starting package started at $6K, include an outdoor and studio shoots with 8 hours on the day of, travel extra.  The only thing that comes with the shoots were one album and a canvas, CD extra.  We looked in on our cousin’s photographer and his price of $3800 includes outdoor and studio sessions, three dress changes (provided if i didn’t already have mine), makeup for the two sessions, four canvases (one 30×40, two 20x24s and one 24×30 with frames) and two albums (each 25 – 30 pages), a guest signature book, slideshow presentation, proof book with all pictures taken, unlimited thank you photo cards and cCD of the all pictures, he will be with us from 8 am until the end with no travel fee anywhere in southern cali.  But we didn’t go with him based on that, we ended up booking him because he was REALLY helpful during my cousin’s wedding and because he knows us and would be able to put me at ease as i am quite camera shy!  He owns his business and included videography for $900 for a full day, which is a steal!

Post # 7
Member
35 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: September 2008

Definitely no need to break the bank. I think there are talented photographers at every price range.  Some are charging a high rate because of their popularity and tenure in the industry, some startup photographers might be super talented yet at a very affordable rate.  Our dream photographer charges 800 per hour, although it includes EVERYTHING, but still, it’s just too much for us.  So we gave up our first choice and started searching for something more reasonable and eventually found him.  =)   My suggestion is to be patient and ask for referrals.  Some good photographers do not advertise widely, but they are diamonds in the rough.   Good luck!!! 

Post # 8
Member
471 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

It looks as though I am in the minority. I spent a long (LONG) time researching photographers with my manmeat and it was evident from our research that for the style we were looking for, we were getting what we were willing to pay. Yes, there are photographers that go for less but we really lost on the artistic style that we were looking for and even in the packages if you think about copyrights, digital negatives, etc.

When I told Mr. JCM that I had found an amazing photographer he had major sticker shock (as did I) and we both were determined to find something comparable or "almost there" for less. We compared tons of photographers and we didn’t find anything else that either gave us as much for the $ or that had good quality and similar styles as our photographer now. At the end of the day, we sat down and thought about what we would take away with us after our wedding. We decided to put photography higher up on our priority list and decided to cut down on other things or maybe even inviting less people on our guest list. We ended up spending $7,000 on our photographer, Gene Higa (www.genehiga.com). In my honest opinion, it is probably one of few things that I really feel is worth splurging on even if it is a little bit more than what you originally wanted to spend because these pictures will be witih you for a very long time, perhaps even after you and your significant other are gone.

Bottom line, to answer your question, it really depends on what your overall budget is which determines whether you should shell out another $1500. If it is a huge % of your budget and you can’t allocate funds from somewhere else (save somewhere else) or you truly cannot afford it/will go in debt, etc., then I would say keep looking. If it is not a financial hardship, go for it. If it is someone reputable, I don’t think you’ll regret it, especially if it brings back sweet memories everytime you look at them. 🙂   

Post # 9
Member
291 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2007

For us, photo was a huge priority.  Most prices here started at the $3-4K range in order for us to have what we wanted (full day coverage, 2 shooters, etc.), although I fully intended to bargain b/c I wanted to design my own album, etc., but it was going to be more trading prints for the negs instead, and we would’ve spent the $4000 happily.

We lucked out, tho’, when my MOH’s photog offered to fly here and shoot our wedding for a not-cheap price, but considerably less than what she normally charges (she starts at about $5K).  In addition, she threw in a pre-wedding portrait session, and pix of various events we invited her to as a FRIEND, not to shoot.  

We love these pix and would’ve happily spent more than we did pay for them.  That said, yeah, I wouldn’t go bankrupt for it!  But I would shift money from other things (flowers, favors, etc.) to pay for it instead.

I would suggest that if you find someone you LOVE but cannot afford, try inquiring about their associate shooters. Mine has 2 great assoc. who are younger and starting out.  My understanding is that they cost less b/c they are not as experienced and don’t have a "name" — they’re still learning. BUT they are probably learning the same style that the head photog shoots in.  Ask to see their portfolios of work (for a full wedding, not just their highlights). Keep in mind, though, that they may have been the 2nd shooter assigned to the less prominent stuff — so keep an eye out for how they used light, angles, etc. to capture the moments to see if their style might work for you.

Post # 10
Member
112 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

In our situation I had a list of about 8 photographers on an "approved vendors" list.  Both Fiance and I had a favorite in terms of style but it was also the MOST expensive starting at $4000 (not including any photographs, albums, etc).  At the lower end of the specturm (around $2000) although the pictures were nice, the style was just not what I had in mind.  While Fiance doesn’t really care, I felt that photgraphy wasn’t one we should skimp on (as we’re all told) yet, I didn’t want to pick everything on the highest end.  In the end I picked Chrissy Lambert (http://www.chrissylambert.com) and chose her most expensive package (which includes 2 albums, dvd of images online proofing, etc).  Although I did not pick the most expensive, I realize this is not cheap either.  Especially when we add on additional hours (only comes with 3 hrs) at $300/each additional hour.  I am sure we’ll be over the $4000 mark as well. 

I agree it totally depends on your area.  In both HI and CA I think the average starting rates for a contemporary photgrapher ranges from $3-5K.

It’s really a matter of preference and if you will really value those photgraphs years from now to justify the increase.  As I was told, you can’t really go back and re-shoot the day in the future.

Post # 11
Member
65 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

It really depends on how big a priority you place photography in the whole scheme of wedding planning.  For us, photography was the most important thing to us and we booked our dream photog before our venues or any other vendor.  He is pricey…$5k which includes an engagement session, wedding day coverage, wedding album and two parent albums (which we will give to each set of parents as a gift).  Even though we blew a huge chunk of our wedding budget on him, we don’t have any regrets.  My friend is just starting out in wedding photog and offered to shoot our wedding for free, but our thinking was, our pictures are what we’ll have to look back on fifty years from now and we were willing to pay more for someone whose work we really admired.  We didn’t want to get the pictures back and think, I could have shot that myself, or even worse, I can take better pictures than that.  To make up for it, we’ve decided to diy our invitations and I bought a less expensive wedding gown (for me, the dress wasn’t as important).

I think it also depends on whether or not you plan to look at your wedding pictures much after the wedding.  Some couples look at their pictures once or twice then store it away. Our photog is using our engagement pics to make a glossy yearbook/magazine-style guestbook for us.  We’re planning to have this and our wedding album on our living room coffee table.  So it all depends on your personal tastes and priorities.

Post # 12
Member
68 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

photog is such a priority for my wedding b/c at the end of the day, the pictures are the only thing you’ll have to remember your wedding day. so i splurged. i’m paying 6K for my photos. he is amazing! very photojournalistic approach, he and an assistant for all day, a coffee table album, 2 mini-parent albums, all pictures on CD, an e-session, and a trash the dress shoot, plus $300 print credit. i think its well worth it b/c i’ll have those pics for a lifetime.

Post # 13
Member
38 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: September 2008

in researching wedding photogs i found there were a few popular ones in my area that spent a ton of money on advertising, and their prices reflected that. we found a couple that shoots weddings together, who hardly advertise at all, and who did beautiful work. if you’re willing to look deeper beyond the high-visibility photographers you can find good stuff for much more reasonable prices.

Post # 14
Member
47 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: May 2008

Photography and videography were definitely tops on my priority list so unfortunately I paid $$$ for them but I’m actually surprised to say that I don’t regret it at all. (My photographer is $6500, including an engagement shoot, and my videographer is $4300.)

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