Wedding Planning and Budget Basics

Wedding Photography Tips From an Industry Insider

Trustworthy advice on finding that special someone to capture your big day.

By Sarah Stebbins
Married couple kissing on the stepsSarma Ozols1 of 4

The big day is over before you know it, but a collection of gorgeous photographs will help you remember each precious moment for years to come. Wedding photographer Sarma Ozols gives us the inside scoop on capturing moments both big and small in an artful way.

What should couples look for in a photography package?
I think our entry-level package is a good baseline: two photographers for about eight hours, 950 to 1,000 shots to choose from after edits and an online gallery for purchasing prints. We also include things that are sometimes considered extras, such as a “proof book”—a small bound volume with all of the images—and an album of 80 to 100 photos.

How much should couples expect to pay for a photography package?
Expect to pay $3,000 and up. I encourage people to order an album, even if it’s not part of their package, so they get the full benefit of the photographer’s vision and expertise. When I’m shooting, I have ideas about what images will look gorgeous blown up, or what would be great in a series, and I work with the couple on the album layout. I can also guarantee the quality of the binding and printing. There are people in the business we call “shoot and burn photographers,” who might charge a smaller fee to just photograph the wedding and burn you a disc of images, but I think most couples want a higher level of commitment and service.

Are two photographers really necessary?
If you’re having a small wedding of 70 or fewer guests, one photographer is fine. But for larger events, it’s really nice to have two shooters. My goal is to be unobtrusive and working with a colleague ensures I don’t have to run around like a nut trying to capture everything, which can be distracting to guests. Instead, I can be documenting the cocktail hour while the other photographer is getting the details in the reception room. We can also capture important moments from different vantage points. For example, when the bride is coming down the aisle, I can be stationed up front getting the pulled back shots, and close-ups of the bride and groom together, while my colleague hangs behind and gets the side views and back of the dress. The effect is less one-dimensional and more cinematic.

 
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