Most competent and reasonably priced wedding photographers charge a few hundred bucks to cover a one hour wedding; edited digital images and prints vary in price in this range but are typically still somewhat reasonable.
By all means, if you have the budget for the famous ‘Rock Star’ photographer & his entourage, hiring the big dog on the block will ensure that all angles are captured in high quality by a team of 2nd and 3rd photographers and most likely a video production team will add to the hoopla with heaps of huge lights, tri-pods and personnel taking over the otherwise calm and tranquil destination wedding site. Of course, if you are funding a wedding of this magnitude, nothing is ‘reasonably priced;’ spending a few grand to over $10,000 on the media production becomes really essential.
Attempting to define a ‘reasonably priced’ wedding photographer will vary greatly from the bargain pix options to the “Mega Marriage Machine” — they are all ‘reasonably priced’ in their own way. So the first consideration in choosing a ‘reasonably priced destination wedding photographer’ would be to start off by planning a reasonable destination wedding.
For a small intimate wedding party of six or less, just about all aspects of the wedding will be in the ‘reasonable priced’ category; wedding parties of 12 or more will just be paying more for those services. Find a practical wedding package that includes everything you’ll need for a simple, stress free wedding like the Wedding Planner, minister and photography. When all the essentials are bundled into a ‘Mom and Pop’ wedding with photography package you will often save on the overall costs by not individually hiring a planner, a wedding minister and a photographer.
Compare “Mom & Pop” or small and personal wedding planner’s websites that showcase the photographer’s galleries; you should see somewhat of a consistency in the quality of the pictures, providing the equipment & editing is at a professional level.
Inquire about the photographer, ask for their website & galleries and look for what type of equipment they use; do they shoot in the professional uncompressed ‘Raw’ format with top quality JPG files as backup? Do they use the industry standard & pricey editing software or are they using a cheaper ‘Jr. version’ or other substandard editing software? Even with a great camera & a great photographer, not all the candid shots will be able to be taken with optimum contrast & exposure like a bright sunset in the background of the, now silhouetted, wedding party. Good technical editing with an artful eye for detail is truly paramount for perfecting what already seemed like the perfect shot. Skipping this step would be missing out on the magic that really makes a picture pop with vivid clarity & gently pull out the wonderful colors that are truly there but just need a wee bit of technical artistry.
Most hard-working photographers will spend between 3 to 12 hours editing a one-hour photo session so the most time-consuming part is the editing. Check out the photographer’s gallery of weddings at various locations you want your wedding and then compare to others. Most professional photographers using a good camera and who edit at the highest resolution on good industry standard software like Photoshop & Lightroom should all be consistently good–just be aware of the bargain photo deal where they encourage you to accept un-edited photo files. Unless you are an experienced amateur photo editor you should select a photo package with a photographer that professionally shoots and edits the pictures.
If you are fairly confident that you are capable & want to edit your own wedding photos, ask for a big break in the price for just the unedited picture files. Considering that it should take at least 3 times longer to edit a one-hour photo shoot, most photographers may agree to about a 25% discount off their normal rate with edited pix. Make arrangements to have the photographer shoot right to your ‘CF’ memory card. Be sure to have the photographer set his camera to capture both Raw and top quality JPG for backup. Back up any pictures you may have on your memory card; shooting at both high resolutions will take up quite a few giggle bites. Be sure to have at least a 16 gig CF memory card for a one-hour photo session. Another option is to have the photographer mail you a USB drive or a photo disk with the image files.
You should be able to edit a camera’s ‘RAW’ or uncompressed format. If your particular digital picture editing software does not support these formats you should consider upgrading to software like Adobe Lightroom, which cost quite a bit less than Photoshop, but has all the tools to do most of your digital enhancements you would need when using a good camera with taken with good contrast & lighting.
If these details seem like it would be a distraction for you on your wedding/honeymoon, but you would still like a crack at your own editing, then inquire about purchasing both the edited and Raw unedited digital image files. Take advantage of the expertise of the local destination photographer, they shoot these locations for a living and typically have honed their skills at digitally enhancing the photos with great skill.
Watch out for the wedding photo package that boasts of including prints; often these are just the tiny 4″x 6″ sized prints. Just to give you an idea how inadequate this size is, good professional cameras will be shooting an image that is about 24″x 36″. If you are just buying these tiny prints, keep in mind you’ll never be able to blow them up to a reasonable size if you ever needed to.
Be sure your wedding photo package allows you to at least buy a large number of edited Top Picks from your wedding gallery, and consider purchasing all the pictures taken on your wedding day; you may be able to negotiate a nice quantity discount on the whole group; as these will be great to have forever & a big hit for the anniversaries!