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Some photographer’s state in their contract that they must be fed, some make no mention of it at all. There is no hard and fast rule about it. Even photographers can't agree on how it should be handled.

But here are a few things to keep in mind...

Even if you decide not to provide a meal for your photographer, they will appreciate a break sometime during the day to feed themselves. Remember that they'll be on their feet for ten or more hours, and carrying twenty or more pounds worth of equipment. It gets tiring, and without some nourishment along the way, even the best photographer will start to run out of gas as the day goes on. And regardless of how hard they try...a hungry and thirsty photographer can't do their best work.

Some photographers are perfectly happy with a ten or fifteen minute break to have a bottle of water or Gatorade and a couple of power bars that they've packed for themselves. All they need is a place to sit for a few minutes.

Others will request a hot meal, and most reception facilities are happy to help out by setting up a "vendors table" off to the side somewhere. If you are feeding your photographer, it helps if they're taken care of towards the earlier or middle part of the serving time. If they do go at the very end, chances are they won't get any chance to eat, as by that time you'll be done with your dinner and be up and about, so they need to be up as well.

Keep in mind however, that if you send your photographer to another room or the kitchen, there is a small chance something important might happen like your dad decides to sing a song, or there's an unexpected toast from your grandmother, and it might get missed.

Unless a meal is contractually required, the final choice is up the bride and groom. Just let your photographer know what to expect so they can plan accordingly.

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I've heard much discussion recently about photographers who limit or restrict guests from taking pictures. Different photographers have different policies regarding this...with some being more restrictive than others. Here is a factual look at why most photographers have such policies in place.

It used to be that photographers derived a large part of their income from the sale of prints, and every time someone else took a picture, it meant that some of their income was going to be lost. This was particularly true with the formals and family photographs. So, to protect their ability to feed their families, many photographers prohibited outside cameras during the family photographs.

But it goes much deeper than the photographer missing out on a few sales...besides, most photographers include the digital files in their packages, so they know the client will likely make their own prints.

It's more about the photographer’s ability to provide the best images that they can for their client. Most photographers’ care very deeply about the images they produce, and when a great image is compromised by a guest with a camera...or missed altogether...it's frustrating to the photographer. And it's been know to cause brides to be very angry with their photographer over missed pictures, when in fact; it was completely out of the photographer’s control.

Here are a few real world examples of what can go wrong...

During the bridal and family photographs...some of the subjects may look at someone with a camera other than the photographers...so you end up with family and bridal portraits that have some of the people looking in different directions. That doesn't make for a very appealing image. And while these can usually be retouched to some degree, it may cost you significant money.

Your photographer got no emotionally charged images of the father/daughter dance...because the entire time there were friends and relatives calling your names and tapping you on the shoulder to turn and look at them so they could take your picture.

That wonderful moment when you when you were dancing with your brother would have made a great photograph had it not been for that big orange glow on his face coming from the focus assist light on someone’s camera.

I know a photographer who once was unable to get any images at all of the ring exchange. The priest had restricted him to the very back of the church, and although he could see down the aisle just fine with a telephoto lens, his view was completely blocked by the three guests with cell phone cameras who got up and stood in the aisle near the front.

I could go on...but I think you see my point. Wedding photographers in general understand that guests want to take pictures. They expect it. They know that many guests bring cameras, even if it's a cell phone camera. They certainly don't want to deny anyone the chance to take a picture. Most photographers will tell you that they want the guests to take as many pictures as they like.

But they also hope that they're given the opportunity to produce their best work for their clients. They don't expect a client to tell their guests to leave their digital and cell phone cameras at home, but they do hope that you understand that sometimes an otherwise well-intentioned guest will compromise their best efforts.

All they want is the chance to give their clients the best possible work that they can. They want their clients to be thrilled with the images...not unhappy because something got missed or ruined.

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One topic that comes up fairly often is why photography costs as much as it does. I'm going to attempt to break it down here and hopefully give you the information that will help you more fully understand the answer to that question. These figures are average and will vary from one photographer to another. Also, keep in mind that a single unmarried photographer will probably have a lower cost of living than one supporting a family of five. Individual differences between photographers such as this, among others, does impact what a photographers needs to charge to survive.

Let's assume the photographer lists a price of $2700.00 for 10 hours of coverage, an engagement session, a book of 500 proof prints and a 30-page coffee table album.

Out of that $2700.00 you need to consider the photographers expenses. First, there are the annual expenses that take a part of each weddings income. Among those expenses would be insurance, advertising, updates and maintenance of their website and sample albums, advertising, accounting and legal expenses, repair or replacement or upgrading of very expensive cameras and computers, continued education, wear and tear on their automobile, and for some...studio rent, electric and telephone. All this may come to $300.00 per wedding.

Next, there are the fixed expenses for each wedding. Include in this figure...proof album and proof prints, consumables such as DVD's or CD's, and the cost of the coffee table book. This figure may come to $800.00.

After these expenses, the photographer is left with $1600.00. Federal, state and local taxes, social security and payroll taxes will take, on average, 40% of that $1600.00, or $640.00. This leaves the photographer with $960.00 in earnings for photographing your wedding.

Wow, you say...a thousand bucks for a few hours work on a Saturday sure isn't bad. If it was that simple...you'd be right...it would be pretty good money. So, let's look at the time investment for each wedding.

2 hours for meetings, emails and phone calls as you interview the photographer.
3 hours for the shooting and editing of your engagement session.
12 hours on your wedding day.
10 hours to process your images, get proofs printed, etc.
10 hours designing and producing the final album.
5 hours for misc. meetings, phone calls, emails, planning sessions, trips to the lab, etc.

All this and you still need to add in the hours each week needed to run the business.

All told...a photographer invests 40-50 hours in each wedding. Also consider that the wedding photographers season in this part of the country is about 40 weeks long. There are relatively few weddings in January, February and March.

The national average income for wedding photographers is approximately $28,000.00 per year. So if it seems like wedding photographers make huge amounts of money...they do not. On average their incomes are pretty much in line with the rest of the employed public. Some make more and some make less, depending on experience, talent, the actual type of product being delivered, and overhead costs specific to that photographer.

I hope this information is helpful in understand why your photographers prices are what they are.

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There has been much discussion lately regarding whether or not you should retain a large, chain studio to photograph your wedding. Part of what generated this discussion was the closing of a long time studio in the New York area...one that employed dozens of photographers. They recently closed, leaving more than 600 brides without their wedding photographs, a photographer, or their money.

The case is currently being looked at not only by the bankruptcy court, but also by law enforcement agencies to determine if any criminal wrongdoing was involved. Many brides put their faith in the large studio thinking that they may be more stable and reliable that a smaller independent operation. Sadly...they were wrong. Over the years, many chain and large multi-photographer studios have closed; leaving brides to fend for themselves...it seems to be the nature of the business.

Some questions you want to ask if you are considering using either a chain studio or a studio with a large stable of photographers...

1) Who exactly will be my photographer? While all the albums and photographs they show you will no doubt be beautiful...is it the work of the person who is going to show up at your wedding? Or, will the photographer who shows up be someone with no experience and no idea what you're looking for?

When you meet with an independent photographer, you can pretty much be assured that the work you see is truly indicative of the work you'll be getting. You'll know your photographers qualifications, you'll know their personality...and they'll know yours. This personal relationship goes a very long way in providing the insight they need to fully understand how to photograph your wedding and caption the essence of who you are.

2) Will you be an actual bride and groom to them, or just a name on a file folder? The shear number of brides a chain deals with dictates that you'll be a number. They won't recall your personality or all the small things you may have said about what you wanted. The independent photographer will remember you when you call, they'll know your personality and they'll remember the little details that will eventually make so much difference in creating wonderful photographs of your wedding day.

3) How will your album be designed? Will it be done by someone who never met you, doesn't know you and simply sticks your images in a template like all the other brides? Or will it be done by the person who actually photographed your wedding and understands what some of the details and nuances in the images mean to you? Will your album look like all the rest, or will it have that personal touch that makes it YOUR album?

4) Where will your photographer come from? I know it sounds like a silly question, but there are some large chain studios that will bring in a photographer from another city if they can't find anyone local. Will this photographer know his way around town? Have they been to your church or temple and do they know your priest or minister or rabbi, and will they know how to deal with the light and layout? Do they know where the best spots in the park are? Do they have the personal relationships with the limo drivers, florists, wedding planners, videographers and catering managers that will help things go smoother?

The independent photographer will have insights into all these things. They'll know where your priest is going to stand, and which window the sun will come through at 2:00PM. They'll know about that giant willow tree in the park and how the sun will shine through it's branches at just the right angle. And they'll have a backup location in mind if it rains.

5) If your photographs are important to you, and more than just a stack of pictures, then it makes sense to have a photographer that you can communicate with and who knows you. It makes sense to use a photographer who can make you wedding photographs special because they know how you smile when your groom holds your hand, and how that tear on your dad's face is the first one he's ever let you see. The unnamed and unknown photographer will have none of this insight. And while they may take nice pictures, they'll lack the depth and insight and meaning that would have truly set them apart.

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