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How to Choose the Best Wedding Photography Packages

Photo by Greg Zook Photography

How to Choose the Best Wedding Photography Packages

Photography is one of the most important parts of your wedding. Here’s what you need to look for in wedding photography packages so you don’t miss a thing.

Your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life. But any bride will tell you that the day goes by in an absolute blur.

Between getting ready, mingling with guests, and the ceremony itself, you’ll have a lot on your mind.

Photography is one of the best ways to capture the day. You can remind yourself of those key moments that made you smile. But you can also see what was going on elsewhere.

With a good photographer, you’ll find out what your young nephews were really doing when they disappeared after the speeches.

The average wedding cost is $35,329. Almost $3,000 of that will be spent on the photography.

When you’re spending that amount, choosing between wedding photography packages isn’t easy.

We’ve prepared this guide to help you choose the best one to capture your day.

Finding the Right Photography Style

Wedding photography actually covers a broad range of styles and approaches. Sure, you’ve got traditional wedding photography that you’ve seen before.

But how about wedding photojournalism? Maybe you want more of a fine-art feel to your photos. Or you’d prefer a fashion photography approach.

Spend time researching wedding photographers. Dig into what kind of work and photography styles they’ve done previously.

Identify the photographer who can produce work in your preferred style before you even start looking at their wedding photography packages.

You don’t want to find the perfect package, only to find the photographer can’t/won’t do the style you want. You need to check if the photographer’s style suits your chosen venue.

Will the photographer charge more to travel further?

It’s also important to check that the packages include a certain number of requested shots. A wedding photojournalist may not want to shoot the traditional group shots. But that’s up to you, not them.

Being clear on what you want will help you to narrow down the available packages.

Look at the Experience Level of the Photographer

Asking a photographer how much experience they have can be a tricky question. Don’t use ‘years practiced’ as a guide because it can be flawed.

For example, the photographer might claim 10 years of experience, but they only shoot five weddings a year.

As a rule of thumb, you want someone who’s shot more than 20 weddings. More than 30 is ideal.

You should also check how much of their photography experience is devoted to weddings. They might offer wedding photography packages alongside other services, such as graduations.

This comes back to the previous point about finding a photographer who specializes in weddings, as well as your chosen style.

You need to make sure they’re available on your chosen date. Use our handy wedding planner checklist to make sure you start making inquiries with enough time to spare.

Check How Many Events They Photograph in a Day

Larger studios have enough photographers that they can book multiple events across a weekend.

If you’re looking at wedding photography packages with a studio like that, make sure you’re getting the specific photographer you want. But smaller studios, or lone photographers, don’t have the same resources.

If they’re booking multiple events across a weekend, they’ll be more focused on watching the clock than photographing you.

Does The Package Include an Assistant?

The average number of guests at a wedding is 145. One person can’t capture all of your special moments around that many people.

Two photographers mean one can focus on you and your groom. The other can capture your guests or interesting scenes within the venue.

If you’re inviting more than 200 people, you may even need a third photographer. Check what packages the photographer offers that might cover this.

You might even ask what the photographer and their assistant plan to wear. You don’t want them to stand out.

If they blend in, the guests will be more relaxed. That means more natural images for you.

Do They Provide Contracts for Their Wedding Photography Packages?

Not all studios will provide contracts. You should make having one a requirement.

The contract will set out, among other things:

  • what service they will provide
  • prices
  • resolving any disputes
  • how to terminate the agreement

Contracts protect the photographer as well as you. So, it’s best to have one in place. Make sure it specifies what happens if your photographer is ill on your big day.

Part of the contract should also specify what happens if your wedding lasts longer than you thought.

Does the photographer charge for the extra time? If so, how much?

You don’t want to be hit with a $1,000 charge you weren’t expecting. But you also don’t want the photographer to leave just because their time is up.

Pay Attention to Copyright

Be aware that photographers retain the copyright for the images. A photographer can even sell them if they choose to.

In theory, that means you can’t do anything with them yourself. You don’t hold the intellectual property.

Make sure you negotiate a license to use the photo as part of the package. That means you can upload them to social media or order your own printed products.

Is Insurance Included in the Package?

Insurance benefits the photographer since it covers their equipment against theft or damage.

But they also need liability insurance. What happens if a guest trips over their equipment and injures themselves?

Wedding photography packages might not specifically include insurance if the photographer already has it as a business. But check anyway.

While it’s not part of business insurance, you should ask if the photographer has a form of physical insurance. Especially ask if they have backup equipment?

You can’t redo your wedding just because your photographer’s lens broke.

Research Post Production Styles for Your Photos

Taking the photos is just one part of the wedding photographer’s job. If you find wedding photography packages that don’t include post production, walk away.

Otherwise, you’ll get the raw images from the day with no editing done. Unless you’re an experienced photo editor, these photos aren’t worth having.

You need finished images

There are many different styles of post production technique. The one you get will depend on the photographic style you’ve chosen.

It’s best to research what’s available – and what’s actually included – before you commit to any wedding photography packages.

That also includes color correction. You don’t want images to have a color cast. This will leave you looking washed out or jaundiced on your big day.

The photographer must color correct all of the images they send to you.

When Will You Get the Proofs?

Photographers will offer different timescales for the delivery of your images.

It can vary based on what post production you want and how many images need to be edited.

If you need the images within 2 weeks, then don’t choose wedding photography packages that have a turnaround time of 4 months.

Bear in mind there will be a waiting period between approving the proofs and getting the physical products. The packages on offer should make these timescales clear.

Working Within a Budget

Wedding photography packages include the photographer’s time producing and editing the images. But they can also cover the deliverables at the end of the process.

Think of the beautiful albums, the art prints, or other photographic mementos.

Photographers may offer unlimited images or a limited number. Check if they only offer digital files or if prints are available.

If budgets are a concern, then cut the products from the package. You can always add extra prints or another album at a later date.

Keep Quality in Mind

Choosing a cheaper photographer just to get all of the products immediately might mean you get lower quality images.

You can add products from a more expensive photographer. You can’t add quality to cheap images. Don’t immediately assume you can simply print your own. As we said earlier, the photographer automatically holds the rights.

If you negotiated the license to use your images, then you’ll be able to order prints online. Some photographers may charge you more if you want to print your own copies.

A Note on Products

Does the package include a photo book or a photo album? There is a difference, and it’s worth knowing about.

Photo albums are printed on professional photo paper using photographic processes. They use a flush mount format. That way, you can lay the pages flat. The cover is often bound and can be leather or metallic.

Photo books are printed on ordinary paper using digital presses. They might be soft, hard, or leatherette cover.

The difference in quality is immediately obvious. If the package includes a photo book, ask if you can swap it out for a photo album instead.

The Next Step in Choosing a Package

Here is a quick set of questions to help you find your photographer:

1. Are you a member of a Professional Photographers Association?
2. Do you have an assistant? Will you be the one who is photographing my wedding?
3. Have you photographed at the site of my ceremony or reception?
4. Do you use high-speed film to expose natural light? What type of equipment do you have? Do you use digital?
5. Will you help us create a wedding day schedule so that we will know what is going to be photographed throughout the day?
6. What will you wear the day of our wedding?
7. Do you have insurance that will make it possible to reshoot the wedding if something goes wrong?
8. When will the proofs be ready? How long after ordering will the final prints and/or album be ready?
9. How long do you keep the proofs and negatives? How are they stored? Do we get to keep the proofs or camera originals?
10. What are the names and phone numbers of some recent bridal clients?


Now you’re well equipped with things to look for and questions to ask. Your next step is finding photographers.

If you’re looking for a place to start, ask friends and family if they can recommend wedding photographers.

Or check out our list of Orange County wedding photographers.

Good luck and let us know how your big day goes!

Posted by oclynn | in OC Wedding Blog, Orange County | No Comments »

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