It’s the most important picture many women will ever take. The wedding day, that moment when love, celebration and decades of family history converge and somehow it all must be forever recorded. Enter the wedding photographer.
A bride can expect to budget between $2,500 and $3,000 for good wedding photography, and $5,000 or more for top of the line. The difference is the time involved, and the one or two assistants or extra eyes the photographer brings. For a rock-star photographer, the bill can also rock — $30,000 all the way up to $125,000.
“You get what you pay for,” said 35-year veteran Danny Izzo, of Nouveau Photeau. “The diamond industry does a great job of marketing and couples think nothing of three months’ salary for a ring. But when the day is over, everything will go except the ring and the photographs. Those are your two tangibles.”
Izzo said to be wary of the well-meaning friend or uncle who offers to take the photos for free.
“It’s on the upswing,” he said. “People think they know how to do whatever. Engagements and weddings do constitute an occasion, and preserving those memories shouldn’t be left to amateurs or untrained wannabes.”
Lafayette photographer Jay Faugot said amateurs have cut into the business and some truly don’t know what they’re doing.
“It’s not just about taking pictures,” Faugot said. “It’s managing people. Can you deal with sudden situations that arise?
“There’s no do-overs. You have to get it. I’m still a little nervous when I do a wedding.”
Faugot said he believes couples should strive for an album that looks good now and later.
“Wedding photography should be timeless,” he said. “You should look back 25 years later and still have a great photo, not wonder ‘What were we thinking?’ ”
Faugot, who characterizes his work as a mixture of traditional and photojournalism, said the top five international photographers in his field are also returning to the traditional.
“Through the years, trends come and go,” he said. “They seem cool and last one to five years — maybe. Then they look cheesy, passé — gone.”
He said the three most important things a bride should keep in mind are, first and foremost, the longevity of the images; second, the photographer is there to capture, not control; and finally, digital-only files are a mistake. As many people new in the photography business opt out of prints and albums, couples get a disc they rarely know how to back up or preserve properly, whereas a wedding album is opened and “read” frequently.
Baton Rouge photographer Jenn Ocken embraces the wonders of digital with a word of warning.
“Digital has made it affordable for others to create easily and quickly,” she said. “I adore it, but there’s a lot of post-production in digital, and people don’t realize the time spent in creating.”
She says the problem with amateurs is pricing.
“Someone tells them they should charge, so they charge $100. It undercuts,” she said.
Ocken mentors young photographers, but believes in professional sustainability and the bottom line.
“There’s a balance between making a living and your clients being able to afford you,” she said. “I love taking pictures and I love my clients, but if you’re good, you should charge.”