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What Wedding Photographers Won''t Tell You About Their Packages

Congratulations you just got engaged! Now it’s time to tackle the daunting task of looking for a wedding photographer. You’ve come to the right place! I’m going to breakdown everything you need to know about wedding packages and how to use this knowledge so you can get the perfect wedding package that fits your needs.
WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR
Based on studies of over 27,000 couples who got married in 2019, the average wedding photographer cost is $2,400. Most if not all of them offer some sort of wedding package/s. Within those packages there is a wide variety of things that can be included; hours covered, second photographer, photo sessions, prints, online gallery, albums, and the list goes on. Ultimately you’re paying for a photographer’s time and talent. That’s one of the main reasons why prices range so vastly. The more experience and accomplishments a photographer has the more expensive he or she is.
 
Speaking of accomplishments, if your looking on sites like WeddingWire pay no attention to awards given to photographers from the site. I belonged to Wedding Wire and they gave me awards for no reason. I didn’t earn them nor did anything special to achieve them.
DIGITAL IMAGES ONLY
I understand that wanting only digital images saves money, but I would think long and hard if that’s all you want. It means you have to do the rest of the work. You have find a company that makes albums, then you have to choose which album is best for you, then organize the images for your album. You need prints? The process is the same. A seasoned photographer takes care of all that for you.
 
TO BE HONEST: When I started as a photographer I too offered “digital images only” packages then I quickly realized that business model is just a race to the bottom. I was competing on price only and leaving out the value of my brand, but I do include digital images with my top package/s or at a premium.
 
TO BE HONEST: If all you want is those digital images you have a better chance of getting them by hiring a new or aspiring photographer, but be mindful of what it comes with, and not come with.
ONE OR TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS
My advice would be if you have 50 or less guests and not too many activities planned than a seasoned photographer who knows what their doing can handle it. If you have more than 50 guests or a lot of activities than making sure the photographer you hire come with a team. 
 
I almost always shoot weddings with a team of at least two. The main reason is no matter how small a wedding I can’t be in two places at one time. Many things happen at the same time like Bride & Groom prep time, reception action, and people doing interesting things is all over the place.
THE MYTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY STYLES
You will hear photographers describe their style with terms like traditional, editorial, dark & moody, fine art, landscape, black & white, and the most popular one, photojournalistic. In my opinion a good seasoned photographer should be able to do all of them and use them according to the situation at hand.
 
I believe the only style a good photographer should master is how to capture all the emotions, feelings, and laughter of the day. I learned a long time ago (thank you Bambi Cantrell) that “expression over perfection sells every time.”
 
FYI the term “photojournalistic” was first used to describe a photographer named Denis Reggie (from Atlanta, GA). He has photographed people like the Kennedys, Oprah, Vera Wang, Mariah Carey, among others.
CAN YOU CUSTOMIZE A PACKAGE?
The short answer is yes…sometimes. We photographers do our best to customize packages with the needs of the couples in mind but, we know there is no perfect package to suit every ones desires so modifications of packages is common. A good photographer knows this and is (hopefully) prepared for requests to customize a package.
 
Wedding packages are bundled and already discounted so removing an item is an undesired step. This action is like discounting a discount (see if that works at Target). All is not lost though. What we can do is substitute. For example substitute a canvas print with adding 2 more hours of coverage or add 10 more pages on your album by removing a canvas print.
CONCLUSION
One last bit of information. You’ve decided on a photographer and he/she has turned you down. Why? Don’t take it personal most likely it’s for reasons that has nothing to do with you. Some photographers (including myself) only take on a certain number of weddings a year. For me this helps from burning out and allows me to spend more time with my family. I know first hand the value of time with family having sacrificed a marriage because I was too busy chasing the light.
 
Now that you know these bits of information you know have a better idea on approaching wedding packages that best fit all your needs.
 
Ashton Boni (Written 2021).
20 years as a photographer.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
 
 

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