So being new with the whole planning process, I have just began to talk to photographers. I'm pretty set on what it is that I want which is really going to be a custom package from whomever it is that I choose. But I have some questions since I really have no idea. I want the copyrights to my pictures on a DVD, does this mean that I will be getting the proofs, or the touched up pictures? Now like I said, I'm wanting a custom package, but it's pretty basic; one photographer, about 7 or so hours, the copyrights, possibly an engagement session and possibly a larger portrait say 16x20. I've been quoted $2500 from two different people. Again, being new and having no idea, does that seem right or really high? I have no desire to have a coffee table book (don't really like them anyway) I want my own pictures so I can make my own albums and not have to pay someone $400 to do it for me. I guess I just want to have my own pictures that I have paid someone to take, so that I can reproduce that at will. I didn't think I would have to pay an arm and a leg to get them. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. Also, what questions did/would you have asked your photographer other than the suggestions offered here in this site? I've got the basic ideas down, just wondering if there was anything additional.
I am on the east coast as well, and those prices seem in the right range if you are going to an experienced wedding photographer.
However, if you want to spend less, you can by going with someone with less experience but still a lot of talent. The good thing about choosing a photographer is that you know immediately if you like their pictures or not. Some are super cheesy. I also looked for low light photos and close up photos, because those are more difficult to take. Also, if you are going with a less experienced photographer, ask questions about the cameras that they use, the type of processing that they do, their philosophy on their role at the wedding. Are they a director or do they prefer candid photography? How do they plan on capturing the special moments during the ceremony and reception? Any answer is okay as long as it lines up with what you want.
For the cd, I am getting that as well so that I can print my own books. You may not have full copyright, but that is not a big deal. For example, they may retain the right to enter a photo into a contest but you will not have that right. Just make sure the contract says that you receiving a cd of the retouched photos and that you have permission to reproduce them independently.
Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding. Let me try to answer your questions. The major factors which determine a photographer's fee are their skill level, labor involved, overhead costs and material costs. The more skilled the phtoographer, the more expensive they will be. Next, every event a photographer photographs, has overhead. That includes the gas, insurance, equipement depreciation costs, etc. These costs do not change from event to event. The last cost if for the materials provided. Since you are not getting an album, this is not a factor. BUT, the photographer still expects a specific profit from each event. So even though you are not getting an album, they are still adding in the profit from it.
Another thing you need to consider is that since you are asking for a disk of images, you are depriving the photographer of income from the sale of wedding images. So the smart photographer will determine the average reorder profits and the labor to create the disk to determine the value of the disk. Depending on the photographer, they may provide you images straight out of the camera or they may fully retouch each and every image. Every photographer is different. You will need to discuss this with your photographer to determine what they will be giving you.
Finally, there are two concepts, copyright and usage license which you should understand. The photographer owns the copyright the moment they take the photo. A copyright allows the owner to determine who, what, where, when and how many copies can be made. This is the most valuable of the rights available with a created work. A copyright owner may grant a usage license to somebody detailing the conditions underwhich they may make copies. This is a bit less valuable than a full copyright. If you want the copyrights, you could actually prevent the photographer from using their own work in their portfolio! I suspect that you really want a personal usage license to allow you to make as many copies as you want and create your own album.
So while you didn't think you would have to pay a lot for what you wanted, what you'd like does represent a lot of labor for the photographer. In addition, a photographer can only be in one place at a time. Shooting your wedding means they can't be a another wedding. Therefore, a minimum profit (determined by each photographer) will be required no matter what products are being delivered. Perhaps you should check out less experienced photographers who are not charging as much. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there are risks associated with using a less experienced (and less expensive) photographer. Please feel free to contact me should you have any additional questions.
Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer