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1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 | http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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Why Wedding Photographers Hide Their Prices


Wedding reception at Reimgstorff House, Shoreline Park, Mountain View, CA  A wedding budget is one thing many brides consider when starting to plan their weddings. Like a shopping for a new car or planning a vacation, most of us have a predetermined amount (budget) they are considering to spend on something. If you are one of the lucky ones, who don’t have worry about a wedding budget limitation: Well. Congratulations! This article might not be relevant for you then.

For the rest of the brides, who do have a wedding budget and are determined to fit into it, here are few thoughts on why not all wedding photographers advertise their prices. It is one of the most common complains I have heard from brides and widely discussed online, so decided to summarize my experience into this blog article.

So back to the question: Why Wedding Photographers Hide Their Prices?

Before we dive into the reasons why the prices for wedding photography might not be easy to find and understand, let’s first take a look at what a bride looking to understand how much a wedding photographer might cost, could find out on her own. There are basically three most likely outcomes:

#1: Zero Information: Some wedding photographers don’t list any prices on their websites. Nothing related to prices at all. If a bride is lucky, she might stumble upon few sentences as: “Your wedding is unique and we would like to ensure you would receive the best service possible. Contact us for further pricing information  …  etc”.

#2: Some Information But Not All: Other photographers might have listed a starting service fee and explanation of how a package can be customized to tailor the bride’s needs. Items as prints, albums, second photographer, etc can be added to the starting price as one see fit but no pricing for these items is provided. The pricing info available would look like: “Wedding packages starting at $3,500 (this will vary from photographer to photographer). Contact us for detailed pricing information … etc”.

#3: Comprehensive Pricing: The last group of wedding photographers provide detailed information not only about the service fee and the complete wedding photography package, but details on all included items or services. This would be example: second photographer, prints, photo retouching, high-resolution images, digital images, etc.

 

Bride & Groom Portrait in Mountain View, CA

Bride & Groom Portrait at Rengstorff House, Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA

 

So now that we know what a bride can expect to find online, let’s analyze why a wedding photographer would opt for choice #1, #2 or #3 and talk about the pros and cons for each approach. Hopefully that would help you to understand some of the reasoning and answer the main question we started with: Why Wedding Photographers Hide Their Prices?

#1: No Prices or Whatsoever Pricing Information Exist:

Why you might ask?

Well, the reason is that these photographers consider themselves the most sought ones, the cream of the crop, among all wedding photographers.  Because the demand for their services is so high, they think clients would pay any price for their services and as the money are not an issue for these types of clients, why bother to list prices in the first place. Most of these photographers (well respected and established professionals indeed) have built their reputation of masters of the wedding photography business and don’t take on any client. So if they can pick and choose their clients, and would be a privilege for the client to book their services, so they can name their own price too.

Word of caution here: It also, could be that you are lured into a wedding photography scam. To learn more about protecting yourself from fraudulent wedding photographers, consider reading How To Avoid Wedding Photography Scams

Pros: Unless you are dealing with a wedding photographer who just launched its website and hasn’t posted any prices yet, you, like a bride, would already know enough about the photographer’s style, reputation and have the money to afford it. You would get an amazing wedding images to remind you of your wedding day and bragging rights of having hired a famous wedding photographer.

Cons: Not everyone can afford to hire a photographer who can name its own price. It also might get you a while to hear back from the photographer or not hear back at all. He or she is busy working with other affluent clients and even if you can afford it, you might have to book way in advance to get your date or consider getting married next year.

#2: Starting Prices Available But the Entire Wedding Photography Package is a Mystery That Needs To Be Unraveled:

This scenario is somehow better than #1 but still doesn’t answer our bride’s question: Can I afford this wedding photographer and are his/her services within my budget? To find the pricing, a bride has to email, call or leave a voice message for the photographer and hope to receive a prompt response. To make things worst, the response on “How much a such and such package would cost me?” question, might not be what she expects: an easy to understand price tag.

Why? There are many reasons, but the most common one I have heard, after speaking with brides and fellow wedding photographers, is: The wedding photographer who doesn’t provide complete pricing information but only a starting price, would first try to find out the date and name of the wedding venue.

 

Bridal Formal Portrait at Rengstorff House, Mountain View, CA

Formal Wedding Portrait at Rengstorff House, Shoreline Park, mountain View, CA

 

And you guested it right: high demand, creates shortage and therefore justifies higher prices. Not all wedding dates and venues are created equal. Some wedding dates are more popular than others because of  the weather pattern, relatives availability, religious and ethnic reasons. So are the venues. Many are simply more are expensive than others. So if many seek to book the same wedding date and the bride can afford to spend more than $20,000 on a venue, that speaks to the total amount of bride’s wedding budget.

And so these wedding photographers are simply adjusting their prices according to the demand for the wedding date and the overall wedding budget. Think of it like a floating pricing. The more budget the bride has, the more they charge. What would be the target price you might think? Well, let’s say it is between 10-15% of the wedding budget. So once these photographers figure out the total wedding budget, it’s simply a matter of calculating 15% of this amount and naming it as wedding photography package price.

Well, I can feel how some of you might have their brains exploding right now and getting their blood pressure raising. Some might be even ready to scream: This is an outrage! It feels like, me spending more than 6 hours in a car dealership, dealing with sleazy salesman who was trying to extract as much money as he could for my new car. I hate being taken advantage of. It feels like I am begging someone to answer a simple question: How much would it cost?

Well, I don’t blame you. You have the right to feel this way and most of you after not even considering option #1 and being completely outraged by option #2, now hope there is an option #3 to calm down your nerves. Well, you are in luck because option #3 does exists and might provide the answer to your question: It this wedding photographer for my budget or not?

But let’s first review the pros and cons of option #2 before we move down to option #3.

Pros: At least, you have a starting point to qualify the photographer, although as you heart might be telling you this might be a trap to get you into the door only to find out latter than the “add-on’s” quickly add up and make the overall package not affordable. You will at least get some idea about the pricing and something is better than nothing. You can continue to inquire for the rest of the information and get a chance to communicate with the photographer, therefore understanding how fast it responds to information requests, how detailed is, how it communicates: verbally or in written form, etc.

Cons: The final price might be miles apart from the listed starting price, so you might be wasting your time with this photographer. You might also have to spend an additional time and further questioning before getting to know the final price. It will for sure, delay you getting the answer to the question: Can I afford this photographer or Not? and if you are on a hurry to make a decision or don’t like to be interrogated before seeing to the price tag, you might be better off to consider option #3 instead.

So, don’t get depressed. There is a hope. So let’s jump to option #3 and see what it is all about.

 

Bride & Groom Portrait at Rengstorff House, Mountain View, CA

Bride & Groom Portrait at Rengstorff House, Shoreline Park, Mountain View, CA

 

#3: Not Only the Entire Wedding Package Price Information is Available But Also All the Services Are Listed in Great Details:

There are photographers who are listing the pricing and detailing their services on their websites.  These wedding photographers understand how valuable your time is. They themselves, feel that price and services offered should be easy to find and understand as walking into a store and reading the price label.  Or like shopping online where everything has easy to see and understand price. They believe that in today’s information age one should not have to call, text or email to get a price for a service.

These photographers also understand that answering their client’s questions before they even ask them is simply matter of great customer service. A bride visiting their website, doesn’t have to struggle into finding the information she is looking for. After all, anticipating client’s needs and providing answers before any questions arises, it is what clients want. To see an example of detailed pricing for wedding and other portrait photography sessions, take a look at Trifon Anguelov Photography Pricing

Pros: Pricing and services information is available at first sight. No need to waste time for inquiries and communication back and forth before qualifying a photographer for the wedding budget. Knowing everything about the pricing and services makes it easy to make a decision. You will not feel like taken advantage of or have post-wedding remorse when finding out other clients paid less for the same photographer and same coverage. And if the pricing is straightforward to get hold of and understand, so would be your experience dealing with the photographer.

Cons: Well, I cannot think of any. In today’s instant gratification society and information age, it does make sense to see an easy to understand price of almost anything.

Conclusion:

I hope this information was useful for brides to understand some of the reasons why some wedding photographers don’t post the prices for their packages and services. As with everything in life, there is no uniform truth, neither this does apply to all wedding photographers. Nor it is a rule you should follow 100%. Having or not having wedding services pricing available is also not a measure of wedding photographer skills or the quality of images he or she can deliver. So keep these considerations in mind and apply your own judgement when selecting a wedding photographer.

For additional information to help you plan your wedding day, make sure to read my Wedding Photography FAQ Guide.

If you found this information useful  and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Wedding and Events photography business based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can follow him on social media by checking on the social links in the top right side block.

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Tips For Choosing Wedding Photographer


Bridal Preparation at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Bridal Preparation at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

 Ask any bride or event planner on what they consider is the most important thing when planning a wedding and the majority would mention selecting the right vendors was the most important decision they had to make. A complex and budget constrained event as a wedding requires highly skilled and experienced vendors in order to make it successful. Hiring the wrong vendor can cause the whole wedding to easily become nightmare and very stressful.

While many couples hire a wedding planner to help them with selecting and hiring the wedding vendors this might not be feasible for many other couples. As many couples decide to research, screen, interview and hire vendors on their own, they are faced with an important decision to make: Who is the appropriate vendor to hire? Who to screen and what are the questions to ask? What I should be looking for and how to determine what makes a good or bad wedding photographer?

So many questions and surprisingly there are not easy to understand guides available. I have photographed many weddings in the past and had the opportunity to meet and interview many couples and wedding planners in the past, there were six criteria which started to repeat consistently a wedding after wedding:

  • Availability
  • Cost
  • Photographer’s Personality
  • Photographer’s Experience
  • Photography Style
  • Image Quality

I hope by explaining each one of these criteria and why they are important when selecting a wedding photographer would help any bride or groom looking to make the right vendor’s choice. The criteria are ordered by importance in my view but you are free to probe and eliminate in any order you find applicable to your wedding.

Availability:

You have found online or got a solid referral to a wedding photographer you like. Great! Seems like your search is over.. Well, not exactly until you called the photographer only to find out your wedding date is actually already booked and he is not available. So before you go into deep research of anything else related to the photographer and its style, pricing, image quality, etc, ask the simple question: Are you available for my wedding date?

If yes, great. You just got closer to hiring the photographer you like. If not, you might have to consider other photographers in the area. Unless you are willing to postpone or change the date of your wedding when the photographer is available.

Cost: 

So you cleared the first hurdle of hiring a wedding photographer: Availability. Great! Now hold your breath and tread with caution. You are not there yet.

Before you all get excited about how cool and understanding the photographer is, how exactly he or she matches your personality and photography style taste, there is one important question to ask: Cost. Unless you have unlimited wedding photography budget or willing to stretch your budget or sacrifice lets say food, venue, flowers, etc in order to sign the photographer you like, you might have to make a choice.

If the cost of the wedding photographer is not something you can afford, there is no point to invest more time into pursuing this photographer. Unless you must have it and willing to make adjustments to your budget, or go over budget.

Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Photographer’s Personality:

Time for the third criteria on the path to hire your wedding photographer. So far you confirmed your date is not yet booked on his / her calendar and the cost is something which works for your budget. I can see you smile and understand how you might breathe easier now. So after phone conversation to clear the first two, you are finally set to meet the photographer in person and talk about your wedding.

Well, good for you. There is nothing more important than meeting and interviewing your vendors face to face. After all, you will be hiring someone who will spend at least 6 to 8 hours with you, will be around when shed tears of joy and excitement, when your father and mother see their little girl or boy take on life on their own and kiss & hug you, when your friends cheer from happiness and you party all night long. So if you are looking for someone who:

  • You can like simply like a human being and get along with
  • You have the feeling understands your needs and you can trust to capture the best moments of your life
  • You think would be liked by your parents and friends
  • You feel like belonging to your wedding

then you need to like your photographer for the person he or she it is. Do they listen and understand what are you trying to say or keep going like a broken record according to their script and trying to push the services and products they can offer? Are they fun to be around or anti-social ignorant to your needs “photography artist” who treat you like you know anything about what you need? Do you get the warm feeling that this is a person you would meet outside of your wedding and have funny and pleasant conversation with? Do you think you can trust that person to deliver on its promises or he or she gives you murky and incomplete pieces of information and vague answers.

Take your time to probe this in-depth and trust your gut feeling. If you don’t feel good about it now, the chances are that later you will not only not going to feel better about this person but you will also feel sorry for choosing it.

Photographer’s Experience:

And here we are. Availability: checked,  Cost: checked, Personality: checked. Seems things are going smooth for you after all. Lucky or simply you are so good at picking vendors. Time to check the next criteria: Experience.

Why does experience matter you might ask. Well, your wedding photographer would provide an important service on your wedding and 99% of service based activities are mastered by practicing. Like a swimmer who wakes up at 4:00 am every morning and swims for miles in order to perform at its best, or like an actor who rehearses its act over and over and performs in front of live audience night after night, the practice makes it better. There is no pill or app for wedding photography experience. Skills are learned and perfected over long period of time, so if the photographer you are considering has little or no experience with weddings at all, you might be making a big mistake.

No or inadequate experienced vendor will stumble when faces with fast paced and challenging event like a wedding, might miss important moments of your wedding, or might not know how to capture your beauty and emotions in a pleasant to look later way. So don’t underestimate the importance of previous experience. One more reason not to hire uncle Bob for your wedding.

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Photography Style:

We are getting closer to narrow down to the right photographer for you. I can feel your excitement already. So what’s next? It’s something which cannot be easily explained in words as photography is a visual art: Style.

Like the latest fashion trend or designer clothing. I am sure this is natural to every bride. The feel, look and mood of each photo is either matching or not matching someone’s visual taste. Some like highly saturated colors in images, so like more mute and washed off colors. Some like the sunny and dreamy look of golden sunlight while some like more well-defined and contrasting transition between highlights and shadows. As the saying goes: The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No right or wrong. You have to like the photography style the photographer has and can show you examples of from his or her previous work.

You will receive lots of wedding images and if you order, a wedding album with your favorite wedding moments captured forever. There is no way to change these images later. Either you pick the right photographer for its style or you will spent plenty of time after your wedding hating your wedding photos. Make the right choice!

Image Quality:

Congratulations! You have navigated successfully and feel pretty good about finding the wedding photographer you think is right for you. Before, go ahead and sign the contract, there is one more thing to consider: Image Quality.

The easiest way to see how your images might look is to visit the photographer’s portfolio and see the most recent examples of his or her work. Are the images in focus and you can see the details clearly? Are the people in the images have accurate skin color and don’t look orange like pumpkins or green like zombies? Are the images clear of distractions like partial body parts and are they aligned without tilted horizons and trees?

As this is very subjective criteria, again apply your own judgement. The chance is if you like the past photos most likely you will like the images from your wedding too. If not, try to explain your expectations. You need your wedding photographer to listen and explain how he or she can make them happen. If you feel like being convinced politely that this is not possible or doesn’t make sense, ask for explanation. After all, you will be the one looking at your wedding images over and over. You have to like them from the very first look and even years pass by.

 

Wedding First Dance at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding First Dance at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

 

Conclusion:

Selecting wedding photographer for your wedding is a time involving and step by step process. It requires time and energy to get it right. There is also not a one way to do it, neither there is a one wrong and one right way of doing it. It’s similar like a buying a new car or picking a dining place for Friday’s night. What might work for some could turn out to be completely not applicable for others.

The six steps I listed about are just few of the criteria to focus on when picking a wedding photographer. The point is that better educated and armed with knowledge brides are more likely to make the right decision that the one who decide to “roll the dice” and trust the vendors would do the right thing.

You also need to be aware of the ways not to fall prey to wedding photography scams. For more on this topic, make sure you read the two parts guide on How To Avoid Wedding Photography Scams:

I hope this article helps brides in their planning and selection of vendors. If you are looking for additional information on how to plan your wedding day, make sure to read my Wedding Photography FAQ Guide.

If you found this information useful  and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. To review his portfolio and most recent work, visit his website.