1/14/16

What Weddings Cost: Photography

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Friends! As promised, we’re bringing you a little series here on the blog called What Weddings Cost (read more about why we’re doing it here). We’re beginning this series with photography. Why? Because couples who are forgoing using a planner typically select a date/venue first and a photographer second, and sticker shock can occur right out of the gate as couples are making these two very important decisions.

Today we’re chatting with Sarah Landry, the endlessly talented photographer behind Sarah Jayne Photography. Fun fact: I first met Sarah years ago (maybe 7!?), when TLT and SJP were still just dreams, on a white water rafting trip in the heart of Maine. We were camping in the woods, no electricity, and I came out of my tent the first morning to find Sarah heating up her french press on the grill. I didn’t even drink coffee then (what!? I know.) but it’s something I will never forget in my life. While everyone else was settling for instant coffee after enjoying a few a good amount of adult beverages the night before, this chick was spending 15 minutes brewing the perfect cup. Flash forward 7 years, and so much has changed since we first met on that camping trip- but one thing that will never change is who Sarah is: someone who goes the extra mile. Just like she did for her coffee that day!

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Alright. Let’s get into it.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and about Sarah Jayne Photography.

There’s one word that I use to describe myself and my photography. Cheery. This word bridges happy with optimistic, and that is how I like to approach life, every client and every wedding. Oh, and I’m also pretty silly. I like to laugh, and I’m queen of obscure faces.

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What made you want to become a wedding photographer?

I’ve been behind the camera for a long time. I studied film photography in high school, and photojournalism in college. I’ve always loved photographing the raw emotion of people. Now, I wish my college guidance counsellor would have told me that I could make a living photographing weddings. Oh no, that didn’t happen. Instead, I went the route of public relations, which brought me out to New England, where I was doing public relations for photography brands.

One Spring I found myself in the middle of the biggest wedding photography trade show, talking to established and successful wedding photographers. It was here, through these conversations, that I decided I was going to reignite my passion for photography, and start documenting weddings. And so my love affairs with weddings started. That was 5 years ago.

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What type of weddings do you love to shoot/what type of clients do you love to work with?

Sure, I love weddings with pretty details in beautiful locations, but for me, the most important thing is working with clients who know who they are, individually, and as a couple. They have their own personality! I believe that when you know yourself, and what you want, the wedding is more natural, sentimental and memorable. Your wedding photography becomes more transparent, and you can really feel the emotion in every photo.

Goofy, serious, nerdy…it really doesn’t matter so long as you DO YOU.

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Do you prefer natural light, flash or both?

First and foremost, I use natural light. I’ll use available or ambient light any chance I get. However, when the sun sets and the light disappears, I pull out my off-camera flash to ensure there is enough available light to properly capture emotion and action. You can also snag epic night portraits with flash – so magical!

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Take me through a typical wedding day with you?

Every wedding day is different, and I like to make sure I’m customizing my approach for the day at hand. To start, I always like to chat with clients well in advance of the wedding day to ensure they know how to make the most of their wedding photos. For example, I have a couple who is getting married on Block Island next season, and a year prior to the exact date, I went to check out the venue, outdoor ceremony location and other portrait locations on the island to help advise on the best time of day for the events, as well as the best location for the ceremony based on the sunlight the time of year.

As we draw closer to the day, I like to create a wedding day photography agenda. I’m a big believer in setting expectations and being on the same page, so this document helps us do that. You can let me know any specific family portraits you want, any details that you want to make me aware of, and anything else that is important to you!

On the actual wedding day, it’s go time! I have a fly-on-the-wall approach, but there are also times when I need to be assertive to wrangle the crowds. The most common package is eight hours, and below is a sample outline of what that looks like with a 1pm start time.

  • 1-2:30pm – Getting Ready photos
  • 2:30-2:45pm – Travel to Venue for First Look
  • 2:50-2:55pm – First Look
  • 2:55pm-3:20pm – Bride and Groom Portraits
  • 3:20-3:40pm – Wedding Party Photos
  • 3:40-4pm – Family Photos
  • 4-4:25pm – Refresh and Prep for Ceremony
  • 4:30-5pm – Ceremony
  • 5-6pm – Cocktail Hour (This is when I typically capture details of the decor and venue, as well as candids of folks interacting)
  • 6-9pm – Reception! (During this time we get all of the dances, cake cutting and dance floor shenanigans, as well as sunset and/or nighttime portraits of the bride and groom.)

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Take me through what happens after the wedding day is over?

Immediately after the wedding, I take my memory cards and upload the files to three different places. The more backups, the better, in my opinion! Your files are safe and sound, and also up in the cloud for extra protection. Next, I put together a sneak peek to share on various social channels. You’ll get to see a sampling of the day, and gain a new profile picture!

Then, I get started on curating the photo story of your wedding day. I’ll take the 1,500-2,500 digital raw files and whittle the number down to a beautiful collection that you’ll treasure for years. I’ll also artistically edit each photo with my personal post-processing style. I always say you’ll receive your photos in 4-6 weeks, but typically it’s a lot sooner! Your photos will then be uploaded to a password-protected gallery, and from there you’ll be able to view, share, order and download your lovely photos. I can also help you make a wedding album, so that your photos can come to life in your home!

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On average, how much time do you spend on a client’s wedding from initial inquiry to the moment you send off the photos?

This is a tough one, because every client has different needs, and I don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Here’s a sample breakdown of just what I do for each client so you can better understand what goes into an average wedding photography investment:

  • In-Person Consultation
  • Contract Preparation
  • Engagement Session
  • Editing Engagement Session and Uploading Files
  • Creating and Consulting on Wedding Day Photography Agenda
  • Wedding Venue Site Check
  • Wedding Day Coverage
  • Culling, Editing Wedding Day Photos
  • Uploading the Wedding Gallery and Associated Client Communication
  • Photo Print Order Fulfillment
  • Album Design and Production

And of course, there are plenty of other things that aren’t accounted for, like invoicing, travel time, blogging your beautiful photos, sharing your sneak peek.

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I always tell my clients to select two or three main priorities for their wedding and focus their resources on those items. How much should a couple who is prioritizing photography expect to invest in quality, heirloom wedding photographs?

In order to set wedding photography pricing expectations, I think it makes sense to share data. A recent study showed that the average cost of all wedding photography in Boston is $3,600. The study also notes that Boston is the second most expensive place to throw a wedding, and this fact alone is helpful to know when setting a wedding budget.

These types of studies should never be taken at face value, and should only serve as a general indicator of the market. That said, the average cost above does not denote the quality of images, skill level of the photographer, or items included in the wedding photography package. In essence, it doesn’t talk specifically about heirloom wedding photography. If you want higher quality, timeless photography, a photographer who understands just how to capture these images, and boutique customer service, you should expect to pay more than the average. In my opinion, average heirloom wedding photography packages start between $3,600 – $5,000. Typically, starting packages include 6 hours of photography coverage, one photographer, and a full gallery of artistically edited images. Of course, packages increase in price to include more hours, additional photographers, heirloom weddings albums, and engagement sessions.

All of that said, when selecting a photographer, I believe it comes down to much more than price. You should make sure you’re emotionally connected to their work, and you like them as a person! Be sure to meet them in person before you book. I’m a big believer in ensuring there is a personality fit with my clients. The more we connect on a personal level, the more I can better capture and tell the story of your wedding day.

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What are some ways that couples who are on a strict budget can still get quality wedding photography?

Most clients think they need more coverage time than they actually do. If youreon a strict wedding budget, try trimming your coverage time down to six hours. Typically if your wedding ceremony and reception are at the same place, this is more than enough. Most of the time an hour of dance floor photos is more than enough! Also, a lot of people think they need two photographers, when sometimes, especially with a smaller wedding, you’ll be super with just one!

The other thing to consider is asking for additional value, versus a discount. For instance, some photographers will include a complimentary engagement session in the package. Others will happily add on an hour to a package if you book a certain amount of time in advance. Hey, there’s no harm in asking!

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All images by Sarah Jayne Photography

 

 

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  1. Sarah Landry says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these! It seems like so long ago since that rafting trip, and I’m so happy we’re in this industry together! It is awesome to see your beautiful business boom. You rock, Alexis!

  2. This is a fresh and honest perspective on what is included when hiring a professional wedding photographer. Many are under the false perception that wedding photographers simply capture the wedding day and then magically the images come out perfectly, without any need to edit them, make continuous contact with the clients and all the other work needed to do what professional photographers do. Kudos to you, Alexis, for reaching out to a photographer to better explain her craft, and great job to Sarah for pointing out not only what happens as a photographer during the wedding day but what happens leading up to and after the big day.

  3. Blue Colibri says:

    Many couples prefer two photographers to ensure more coverage of the day. And many photographers shoot as teams (or hire second shooters) for the same reason. Still, plenty of photographers go it alone, so make sure you know what your preference is (if you have one) and find out how the photographer does it.

  4. awesome blog! You have elaborated very nicely about photography. Thank you and please keep posting this type of blog.

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