Q & A: Wedding Photography

A Q&A with studio owner and master photographer, Heather Murphy of {Heather Photographers}. She has been photographing weddings since 2006 and is based in Canton, GA, a northwest suburb of Atlanta. Heather earned a BA in Film & Video which lends highly to her individual, unique approach to taking pictures and her art of storytelling through photographs. She plays well with others, shares and doesn’t hit. {Brides}, event planners, CEOs and entrepreneurs all agree that Heather snaps beautiful photos capturing life, love and spirit.

How much your wedding photographer should cost: I am constantly looking at other wedding photographers’ pricing. I check out photographers that are awesome, and others that are not so. I’ve found that wedding day coverage can range from $800 to $5,000, and even more for hotshot photogs in NYC. I’ve seen these photographers charge as much as $20,000! From my research, you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for a high-quality wedding photographer. With this fee, you should be provided with consultations, hi resolution files, two photographers with professional attitudes, an online gallery, and possibly a final storybook album.  The files and products and/or prints should be delivered in a timely manner. Six months is not reasonable.

How can you tell that you’re being ripped off? If you say the word “wedding,” it seems like the {price} automatically goes up 300%. I treat every wedding as a unique session and charge based on the size and length of it. I don’t understand how a photographer can say that coverage starts at $4,000 when someone is only having a 1-hour, 6-guest ceremony in their backyard. But I do understand that photographers that have specialized in weddings need to {capitalize on Saturdays during prime time to make a living}. Prime-time in Atlanta is May and October. If you Google “wedding photographer,” you are certain to pay full price during those months, even if you are having a 20 guest wedding. If you are having a small, intimate wedding, you may have better luck with a portrait or lifestyle photographer. But beware, not all portrait and lifestyle photographers understand the flow and intricacies of a wedding day. And definitely beware of moonlighting photographers and ones with fake portfolios!

percentage of your wedding budget should you spend on a 
photographer? I’ve read that you should spend about 10-12% of your wedding budget on photography. I suppose this is a good starting point, but I think you should create your own priority list and go from there. The average wedding is around $25,000 these days. WOW! That’s enough to buy a new car. The venue, catering and alcohol will often be the first aspects to take into account. If my budget were only $10,000, I might opt to do a state park or backyard wedding in order to spend 30% of my budget on photography. I might get wild flowers instead of peonies. I might serve BBQ instead of filet mignon. The take home point: Ask yourself how important it is to document these memories in images. If this is very important to you, you can give and take a little here and there to allocate the desired funds toward your photography.

Should you be cautious of lowest cost in the
 market? When weighing the pros and cons of the lowest cost photographer you’ve found, you have some things to take into account. The lowest cost “wedding photographers” I’ve found are generally around $800-$1,200 for full, 8-hour wedding day coverage. These folks are generally more camera operators and/or scam artists….not photographic artists. They may:

- Charge cheap on the front end, but charge you exorbitant amounts to get your files or images printed.

- Have subpar equipment - generally no back-up equipment in case of failure.

- Have no insurance.

- Were never properly trained. If they don’t shoot and edit in RAW, they have not been trained.

- This is their side job to make an extra buck. Photography is not their #1 priority and it may take much longer to get your files and/or album back.

- They aren’t affiliated with a professional printing lab - your wedding prints and products should be printed at a high end print lab.

- They are new to the market and lack experience to anticipate the flow of a wedding day.

And, right next to “lowest cost on the market” is FREE. Maybe it’s a friend or relative. This can be a great way to save your wedding budget! But, along with all of the issues listed above, you should also be concerned with them getting distracted. They may get a little tipsy, resulting in blurry images or get caught up in a conversation during the cake cutting. Are you willing to miss that special moment on film because it was free? Is that worth it? There is a lot of value in having the person in charge of your most important day not be a “guest.” Remember: someone hired to do the job won’t drink and chat and become distracted during important traditions you are doing.

Another tip: Look for reviews and get recommendations to {choose} the right photographer. I’ve heard of photographers using other photographer’s images in their portfolio! Yikes. Ask to see a full wedding gallery with a setting similar to yours, as this helps you determine whether or not this photographer can achieve your desired vision for your keepsake images.

{Heather Photographers} is available for on-location portrait sessions and destination weddings. She also has an indoor and outdoor studio for portraiture. Her outdoor studio, affectionately called, Murphy Gardens backs up to protected forest land.

1 Comment

  1. David - Thurtell.com · December 2, 2013 Reply

    At least there are many couples decide to use which services of wedding photographers are the best. They can find out how much budget is spent in a package. In addition, the photographers can also create a standard how much budget should they charge for their clients.

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