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What is a "reasonable" photography cost?

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Inanna

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
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565
Hello everyone!

I'm planning a destination wedding in the Florida Keys (Islamorada). We recently booked the venue, a gorgeous private estate on the beach which will house both of our immediate families for 4 days. We're just over 9 months away from the actual wedding date, and I am definitely feeling the crunch to book a photographer! My two favorite photographers (both based in Miami) who would normally be willing travel to our location are already booked and I'm feeling very stressed about our other options.

My question is, what do you feel is a "reasonable" price for a photographer for a in a destination location? Also, what are the normal business practices for photographers, disclosure of rates, payment schedule, etc.?

The second question is based on an odd situation I experienced with one photographer: I initially contacted her with my date, general location (city and mile marker). She replied stating she would not give out her rates without knowing my exact location (address and name of estate) - so I gave her that information. Afterwards, she did send her (astronomical!) rates along with raves about how beautiful the location we booked is, yet I can't help but wonder if she adjusts her prices based on the "grandeur" of the venue... or maybe I'm just paranoid?

I would love to hear any insights you have about this process. Also, I would actually like to hear your thoughts on the few photographers I'm considering... is it considered ok to post these photographers' websites on PS?
 

blackbetty

Shiny_Rock
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Feb 8, 2009
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198
I''m in this stage, and though mine is not a destination wedding, maybe my experiences can help.

I investigated various photographers used by friends & reviewed on the knot. I went to their websites & viewed some of thier work & their prices. A couple of photographers required me to fill out a contact form, after which I was able to view or was emailed pricing.

What I have been able to ascertain is that photoraphy is effing expensive! The photography for the day itself seems to run from $1200 - $4000 in Chicago. Most places give you your digital negatives. I was looking for a place that wouldn''t make me wait till my first anniversary, and there were a few choices. Once you start adding in the costs for photo albums, the cost climbs over $1000. Most places offer a really nice flush mount album of 20-40 pages.

I ended up with Bella. The smaller places I liked didn''t have a back up, which was too scary (someone geets stomach flu & you get no pictures?!). Some of the other places, both big & small, just started too high. I feel a little unsure since you don''t meet the photographer till the day of (unless you count a phone call a couple weeks prior), and because I''ve seen some bad reviews, but the number of bad reviews respective to the amout of weddings they shoot...probably no so bad. Also, they will send me a potential photographer, complete with bio, and give me referrals from other couples & access to the last couple weddings they''ve shot online. If I don''t like it, they''ll do the same with the the next possibility. For $1750 I get 6 hours of coverage, digital negs, and a couple prints, plus I''m adding an extra hour for $125, but 10% off for booking the day we met for the consultation for a total of $1687.50.
 

blackbetty

Shiny_Rock
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Feb 8, 2009
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198
BTW, I do find your experience to be strange. They should be able to povide you with a standard pricing sheet.
 

wannaBMrsH

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
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1,049
I am also planning a destination wedding. When I was initially looking at photographers, it felt like as soon as I said DW, I could practically HEAR the cash register ringing in the photographers minds. No joke, I had a photographer quote me a minimum $4000USD package PLUS round-trip airfare to my destination for photographer AND an assistant (her husband!) PLUS two nights at our resort and a $75 per diem for meals. Seriously.

I lucked out that halfway through the process a very good friend of mine sent out a link to her engagement photos. I really liked them. They weren''t overly artistic, but the pictures really captured my friend and her fiance. I asked her who did her pics and asked for a recommendation since I wanted to get engagement pics, but wasn''t going to pay too much for e-pics AND ridiculous pricing for the wedding pics.

I ended up booking my friend''s photographer to do the whole wedding for $2000USD! The photographer and her assistant, are doing everything (graphic design for my invitations and all stationary, as well as all the pictures for the entire trip) as long as we pay for their trip. They are just getting started and really wanted to get a destination wedding in their portfolio.

I would definitely ask for recommendations and then MENTION who referred you! My friend got a free 11x14 print for her wedding to put in a framed signature mat because she sent business their way.
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
12,111
This is a good question! I wonder the same thing myself. I''ve only gotten 1 quote from a photographer so far (who takes awesome pictures!) and the prices ranged from $3000 all the way up to $8000 depending on the package. But she sent me a pricing sheet in her first reply to me, so I think it''s very strange that the photographer you contacted wouldn''t give you a price without knowing where the wedding was.

I haven''t decided to go with this photographer yet, but I think I probably will if she''ll let me tailor a package for myself. (For example, she offers a standard engagement/boudoir/trash the dress session in each package and I don''t need/want any of those.) I do think wedding photographers are insanely overpriced in general, but what are you going to do? I want nice pictures so I''m going to shell out, I guess!
 

Inanna

Brilliant_Rock
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Sep 14, 2008
Messages
565
blackbetty, thanks so much for your response - very helpful information! I will definitely look into Bella (especially good point about the need for a back up in case of emergency, something I hadn''t even considered previously).

Of the quotes I''ve received from photographers I like and who ARE available, most of the basic packages start at around $2-3k for 4 hours and only a CD/DVD of digital negatives. One charges $550 per extra hour. Another''s rates don''t include ANY photo editing - that''s an additional fee. Originally I''d hoped for 3-4 hours for around $1k
... so I guess this the part where my budget goes nutzo!

There is only one photographer I''ve found whose work really sings to me - she conducts herself professionally, and I feel her price matches her talent (rates starting at $3k for 5 hours)... I''m just going to go ahead and post her site: http://www.aylinmarcello.com/. Opinions?
 

Inanna

Brilliant_Rock
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Sep 14, 2008
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565
WannaBMrsH - Your post had me cracking up, especially the DW cash register (so true) and the photography "assistant" husband. The photographer who required to know my exact venue location apparently only writes to her clients about vague floofy floo details (I''m romantic, I like color; call me, m''kay?)... then she hands off all the business details to her "studio manager" (i.e. her husband). Can I ask where your DW wedding is? Apparently mine is in acid-trip pretty colors land.


Thing2 - Insanely overpriced is right! And what the heck is a trash the dress session (sounds kinda dementedly fun)? I''ve ultimately decided I''m willing to shell out $$$ for a combination of: 1) a "WOW" factor; 2) feeling at ease, i.e. not having the photog up my nose all day; and 3) the confidence that my chosen photographer is not an amateur with an SLR camera and Picasa software. I simply don''t know how to judge these things when I''m planning a wedding long distance.
 

PearlDahhhling

Brilliant_Rock
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Apr 1, 2008
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1,167
We''re not having a DW, but we''re paying $2400 for 7 hours, two photographers, all our digital negatives, and an engagement session. I think we''re getting a great deal compared to the other photographers we''ve looked at.

I do think that situation with that one photographer is very weird. Every vendor I''ve contacted, photographer or something else, has given me their prices the moment I asked for them. I was thinking the same thing as you - she probably bases her prices somewhat on the venue.
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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12,111
Date: 2/12/2009 1:33:22 AM
Author: Inanna

Thing2 - Insanely overpriced is right! And what the heck is a trash the dress session (sounds kinda dementedly fun)? I've ultimately decided I'm willing to shell out $$$ for a combination of: 1) a 'WOW' factor; 2) feeling at ease, i.e. not having the photog up my nose all day; and 3) the confidence that my chosen photographer is not an amateur with an SLR camera and Picasa software. I simply don't know how to judge these things when I'm planning a wedding long distance.
Trash the dress is when you do a photoshoot after the wedding of you basically trashing your dress! The pictures are awesome (underwater, dirty city pics, rolling around in the sand, etc.) but I don't think I have it in me to trash my gorgeous dress that I spent way too much money on!


And yeah, your reasons, but ESPECIALLY reason #3, are exactly why I will pay too much for a photographer! I have a few acquaintances who are "wedding photographers" and let's just say I have NOT been impressed with their work! One of them randomly Facebook messaged me about wedding photography, etc. I was like "Umm...thanks but no thanks!" And the other one was almost as much as the super duper fancy professional one! I mean, my dad takes better pictures with his SLR...seriously. So yeah, you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to wedding photography, even though the prices are MINDBLOWING!

ETA the photographer you posted has fantastic pictures! Exactly the type of photos I want!
 

Octavia

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 28, 2007
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2,660
I wouldn't worry so much about independent photographers being unable to shoot the wedding -- just negotiate into your contract what will happen if it becomes an issue. My photographer belongs to an informal organization of photographers who will cover for each other if something prevents one of them from shooting a wedding, and I have it in my contract that she will send me a list of the other photogs who are "on call" if she gets sick so I can check them out. She is responsible for making sure one actually shows up if she can't, but I'll have the list as backup and if I really dislike any of them, I can strike them from the list in advance. To me, this is close enough to the guarantees a big company offers, for a much better quality of photography (in my opinion, of course), and I'm willing to assume the slightly increased risk for the photographer I want.

And yes, it is very strange that the first photographer wouldn't send you a standard price list when you asked. The only excuse I can think of is if she gets lots of random requests from people who aren't actually getting married and only wants to give out her prices for legitimate inquiries...but that still seems kind of odd to me. I'd mention to her that it really turned you off.

The photographer whose link you posted has beautiful work! And I don't think that price is too bad. It's about what I'm paying, although I did get more hours of service (but price and hours are SO location-dependent). Do you get any prints, albums, or digital rights for that price?
 

elrohwen

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 20, 2008
Messages
5,517
I think what is considered "reasonable" is very personal. I know people who think $5k is reasonable, but FI balked at paying more than $2k. We ended up a little bit over $3k. How important is the photography to you? If you already knew who your two favorite photographers in Miami are, it's probably fairly important to you
So in that case maybe $5k would be reasonable for you.

I also don't know what photographers charge to travel, so I'm sure that would add additional fees.

ETA: For that $3200 (approximately) we're getting coverage for more or less the whole day (I've asked them to come at 1am to do shots in a town 10min from our venue and they're not charging us extra). I'm also getting a small 5x7 album for myself and one for each set of parents. Most importantly I'm getting our pictures on DVD. I think we also get a few prints. Oh, and to drop the cost we've offered to let two of the head photographers assistants instead of himself and an assisant shoot it. If that's his only wedding that day he will do it, but more than likely we'll just end up with the assistants, which is fine with me. His pictures weren't that spectacular that someone else couldn't take them; we mostly booked him because he's nice and easy to work with and runs his business well.
 

teapot

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Messages
165
When I was asking around, I would send them an email telling them my date and city and asked for availability and quotes. If the photographer was available, they would give me a quote, otherwise, they would just tell me. I got quotes from $1000-8000. You will have to look hard for a good deal with a good photographer. The photographer who wouldn''t give you a quote until she found out the location might be doing something fishy. I would understand if you picked a location that might be difficult to get to, photograph, etc. But it sounds like she was thinking, these people can pay more....
 

Inanna

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Messages
565
Good to hear you all agree on that one photographer''s behavior. Thank you also for posting what you are paying - it helps put the quotes I''m receiving into perspective!

Octavia - To answer your question, for the photographer I''m considering, her lowest rate is $2895 plus tax. This includes 5 hours of photography (does not necessarily guarantee her as the photographer though), high resolution CD, 10x10 album, choice of leather and tiles (I have no idea what this means), and 24 sides (I have no idea what this means either). I don''t care about albums since I would prefer to save money and put together my own albums.

elrohwen -I''m still really deciding how important photography is to me. I''ve never really like being photographed, but at the same time I want a professional to document the event - it''s one of those priceless things that we unfortunately HAVE to put a price on. Initially, I simply wanted a photographer I considered "competent" who has a great personality, capable at making me feel at ease, etc. After seeing the work of many photographers now, it seems I have higher expectations. $5k is still way too much IMHO, but I''m willing to consider $3k.
 

Octavia

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 28, 2007
Messages
2,660
Inanna, to me that sounds like a pretty reasonable package with everything included. Have you asked if you might be able to substitute something for the album, if you don''t want it? Maybe you could get another hour or two of photography instead. It doesn''t hurt to ask! Getting a high-res CD (with copyright release!) was also the most important thing for me
 
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