We’ll Call It Market Research…

Wedding photography packages. They have their pros and cons, and one size fits all never really fits anyone. Originally, I didn’t want to offer packages, but when the parents are paying for the wedding it makes a nice way for them to purchase an album for the bride & groom, pay for a portion of their prints, and so forth. But I still don’t like packages. I’m realizing over time – and as I look back at why I hired my own wedding photographer – that people don’t book their photographer based on why you think they book them.

For example, when Mike & I got engaged, the plan was to take Rannie up on his offer to shoot our wedding. Then, about 2 months before the big day, I went to the Bridal Symposium. It was there that I saw a flush mount wedding album for the first time. I had to have the album. HAD TO HAVE IT. Then, not only did we book him, but we booked one of his middle packages to cover photographing the whole day (the album was still an add-on to the package). I kept telling Mike that when it was all said & done, the lights were out and the guests had gone home, all we had left were our photographs. He knew how important they were to me, and we made them one of the bigger items in our budget.

The irony? We still don’t have an album. I plan to fix that soon though, since we have a DVD of all the photographs and a print release for using them. One of the perks of now offering albums to my clients – I can get one for me!

Would you mind sharing with me? What is your story? If you’re married, why did you choose the person you went with? If you’re planning on getting married, what would make you choose one person over another?

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

16 replies on “We’ll Call It Market Research…”

My aunt shot our wedding on the beach. She’s been shooting for 30-odd years, and we weren’t being very formal with our wedding.

We chose our photographer based on the personal recommendation of only one person. The assigned photographer showed up AFTER I walked down the aisle (he missed his appt. to shoot the groom’s family and my getting dressed). He tried to make up for it by following me around during the whole reception shooting every movement I made and apologizing every five seconds. I was ready to kill him by the champagne toast. If we could do it again, I would definitely do more research!

you know what… i in *NO* way mean this to insult you and this is just my personal opinion, but i’m not that worried about the pictures. does that make me crazy? i don’t know. i only want like 4 pictures of me & him together, a few during the ceremony, and a few at the reception. probably like 50 or less pictures all together. and i don’t really mind if they’re professional or not, though i am lucky to have two uncles pretty skilled with a camera.

i totally understand how important pictures of that day are to some people, but i’m really more into the pictures before/after – when life is really happening – like the honey moon, or going skydiving, or visiting a zoo. my actual wedding day pictures … ah, i don’t need a thousand to be happy.

🙂 but that’s just my take on it! i think your photography is BEAUTIFUL and anybody would be lucky to have you take their picture!

We chose our photographer firstly because of personality (very low key) and her willingness to do small packages (we didn’t want a million photos) but, most of all, because she seemed to be capable and organized in how she presented her work to us whereas the other two photographers were late to appointments, dithered over how to explain packages and one kept going on in rhapsodies over how much he loved, loved, LOVED weddings. (It was a bit too over-the-top!)

Kalen, that doesn’t make you crazy at all – obviously, photography has been an important part of my life for 20 years now, so it was only natural that it was important for my wedding (and my honeymoon! LOL!) but that isn’t the case for everyone.

Ancarett, I often tell my potential clients that in the end, they should take into account personality – their photographer will be the “guest” at the wedding that they see the most. It is also one of the few vendors that you have to deal with after the wedding. So that is a very valid point!

Hi Christine! This is your almost-client Andrea who lives in England. I zoom by your website every now and again and eventually made my way over here! Hope you don’t mind me de-lurking. Anyway, I just had to comment on this post since as you know, I’m in the process of hiring you for my wedding. 🙂 I did a *lot* of research on photographers but there were several reasons I chose you:

1) Price. Always the bottom line, right? You know our situation, we’re students and in any case my parents don’t have a huge budget for the wedding anyway. There were some photographers out there who I loved, but there was no way I could afford them, or it would have been a huge stretch out of my comfort zone to afford them. What I’m paying you is about what I can spend, which is fine with me.

2) Quality. I know that you know that there are many photographers in Houston that have even lower prices than yours…but I didn’t hire any of them because the photos wouldn’t have been as good. Since photography happens to be really important to me, I didn’t want just “good” or “decent” wedding pictures (which I could have gotten relatively cheaply) I wanted “amazing” and “stunning” pictures. Your photographs are exactly the level of quality that I’m looking for, and I was willing to pay a bit more to get that quality.

3) Professionalism. I have been consistently impressed by the way you do business- you are amazingly responsive to emails (important when planning long distance!) and willing to work with me on circumstances out of the norm (like, ahem, being in England, among other things!) You obviously care a lot about your clients, which I really appreciate.

4) Personality. I wasn’t sure how much personality was going to play into my photographer selection until I talked to you on the phone. That conversation is what convinced me to hire you- even from just that one interaction I can tell that we’d get along just fine, that I would never be nervous about talking to you and that I genuinely like you as a person. I hate having my picture taken normally so I think it’s important to have a photographer who I’m comfortable with since like you said we’ll be seeing a lot of each other on the day.

So, there you have it- my honest to goodness reasons why I am delighted to be hiring you for my wedding next year. And just as a side note, I hate wedding photography packages too- much prefer just getting a quote for the things I want, which I got from you as well. It’s all good. 🙂

I was the parent paying for the photos. We choose our photographer because she was the daughter of a family friend that had started out in the business (had done a couple of weddings) and we liked her contemporary style. She also offered us a great deal if we’d let her use the photos in her portfolio.

Although we would have chosen her anyway because we think she is really good. The most important thing too is that she gave us copyright (but not to sell only to print for our use) of all the photos she took. That was the thing I liked the very most. She also made a DVD with music of select photos and created a photo album for the kids.

She was SUPER organized (and I realized that especially after attending other weddings this summer) and sent letters out to the entire wedding party with the exact times of their photos and where it would be taken (i.e., chapel, garden). She always had her list with her and photos ran ON TIME and it was great.

Oh…sorry for the double comment…but the photos were very important to me (for my daughter to have as a memory) because at my wedding 25 years ago my dad took the photos. He was so nervous they were all double exposed so I haven’t got many photos from that day. A few that other took that gave me, but I was very disappointed so I wanted my daughter to have fabulous photos for lasting memories.

Our wedding pictures were REALLY important to me, too. Maybe it’s a photographer thing? 🙂 We didn’t have a videographer at the wedding, so I knew the photos would be all that was left the day after. We chose our photographer for several reasons:

1. He was recommended by our first choice photographer, who was unable to do our wedding because of an internship with National Geographic.
2. He’s a photojournalist. I didn’t want a wedding album full of stuffy posed shots. I wanted photos that would remind me of the day and the events as they happened. Plus, I just liked his style and his eye.
3. He shot all digital, which was an absolute must. Afterward, he gave us all of the RAW photos (above and beyond the 200 photos we paid for) so that I could Photoshop them, or make prints and albums to my hearts content.
4. Last but not at all least, he made me feel at ease when we met with him. He was organized, professional, on time (early, actually!), interested in us and our lives, was easy to work with and assured me that he would get nice photos of me, no matter how un-photogenic I thought I was 🙂

Oh, and I should add that before we booked him, he gave me access to a full wedding shoot he did on Pictage, so I could see all of the photos from one wedding, not just the best of the best. I wouldn’t hire a wedding photographer without seeing a full shoot they’ve done!

I’ll shut up now. Hope that helps 🙂

All of our customers seem to want a DVD of all their photos and plan to use MPIX or some other printing option. I have no problem with that, I just don’t want to process the 800 photos we shoot just so they can print 10 of them for an album. We try to give a combo of prints and rights to reproduce. But *do* put a time limit on the prints. We say that you have to order prints from us within 30 days in order to get your print credit. We STILL have brides asking for photos well after their 1 year anniversary. 🙂

Also, finding the combination of photojournalism and posed photos seems to be what sells my customers. They may not like the way they look mid-laugh, but they sure love that I captured that moment.

I am in awe of a fine photographic eye, but I don’t particularly care about photos of my own wedding. But I know a girl who spent a small fortune on a truly artsy, gifted photograper and then for music for the wedding, they had a boombox with cd’s. Really. This photoguy, he even laid on the dance floor to get artsy shots of the flower girl spinning around (Abby). He was good. But he took forever getting her photos to her. Since she lost her mom shortly after the wedding, I am sure that she is glad she had a good one and great photos to remind her of the day. It’s going to be very important to some people and others, not so much. What I think is important is for people who don’t have unlimited resources, to be able to hire a decent photographer too. When Kandis got married, it was almost an afterthought, because of the budget.

I’m like the posterchild for what not to do regarding wedding photos. I was still in college and working the nightshift and had no money at all so I asked a friend to shoot the weddng because “he had the prettiest camera”.


Oh and because I knew the photos would be bad I decided I needed at least one “professional shot” so I went to Sears Photo Studio. Picture me walking through a hick Texas mall in my giant Scarlett O’hara wedding gown and (homemade) veil.

If I could go back and hire a professional photographer for myself I so would.

PS. I adore your work.

We had a rather small, private family wedding at a local eatery. One of my friends ended up taking the pictures with her new fancy camera. Though the pictures are good, there were mishaps with her “assistant” (read hubby) that has everyone looking all different ways; none of myself, my husband and the only living set of grandparents, etc.

The reason that we did not hire a photographer for our wedding (and a decision that regret to this day) was the time we needed one and the cost. We were married inside the restaurant, and had our “reception” there right afterwards. It was a total of 3 hours at the most. I was having a super hard time in justifying paying so much for a package by some of the photographers that was recommended to me. If I had been able to find someone who would give me a block of time, at a reasonable rate, and had good pricing for prints, or the rights, or whatever, I would have jumped. But I was only find rates as cheap as $1500. Our entire wedding was less than $750 (that includes the drinks, dinner, cake, etc).

I now regret that we don’t have any really decent photographs of us that could be printed out to be framed and displayed. And I really regret that I never got that coveted shot with my grandparents. If I could do it all over again, I would.

You have fabulous work and I enjoy reading your blogs. Keep it up.

A photographer friend of Grady’s covered our wedding. We wanted b&w (which it seemed most folks weren’t doing then) and images that captured a more vintage feel (sort of a ’20s theme wedding) and his style was a great fit – plus the price was right! He volunteered his time and we covered film & developing.

Anther reason we went with a friend was to get more of a candid feel and less staging. Now I see many wedding photographers capturing great candid moments but then it seemed everyone was going with the ‘official’ setup shots.

Of course, almost 15 years later, I have my 35mm proof prints and all the negatives but no album (unless you count the archival binder housing the proof prints). We also don’t have many blown-up shots … a few I had done quickly for parents & grandparents but that’s about it. My grand ideas of ‘art directing’ the developing of images seem to have been crushed by the everyday things-to-do.

If I were to do it now, I would be sure to hire someone who would also print some initial protraits (would want some flexibility here – not be forced ito a package with a gazillion wallet photos for example) and put together an initial album. I’d still want the proofs/negs for doing more of my own work later.

Hey … at least I finally scanned in one of my wedding pics and posted it on flickr 😉

My parents’ photographer didn’t use a flash, so they have no photos. It was critical to me that we had a lot of good photographs. We used a place we found at a bridal show here in DFW — their claim to fame is that many of the Texas Rangers baseball players used them for their family portraits. Their portfolios of bridal, family and baby portraits were amazing and they spent an immense amount of personal time with me for my bridal shoot and for the actual wedding. It was by far the most expensive part of the wedding — even more $$$ than food for 250 people. And worth every dime. For the last 13 years we’ve been trying to go back and have them do a family shoot, but we can’t justify the cost just yet.

These folks have a great studio, indoor and outdoor, and they even cultivated their own bluebonnet patch behind their studio so they didn’t have to go all over N Texas for bluebonnet photos. They didn’t do packages so much as a sitting fee and then individual portrait prices.

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