3 Things to Know Before Scheduling Your Spring Portraits

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Alexis and the Cherry Blossoms

Natural light is your friend

Have you ever had a photoshoot scheduled and it looks like it’s going to rain shortly before your outdoor-Oregon family photo session? Don’t worry too much about it, call your photographer up and see if they think it’ll still be a good time to take photos. If the weather is like many Spring days in Oregon are, there is likely a chance that that dull gray sky will actually enhance your photos. I like to think of those dull gray clouds as a gigantic light diffuser. Talk to your photographer to see if the weather will be good or not, you may be surprised.

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Danika in the Japanese Wisteria

Great foliage backdrops

Spring time is the best time to go out and capture family photos with excellent greenery and flowers. The grass is vibrant green and the flowers are usually plentiful and colorful. If you don’t have a special place in mind for your photoshoot, your photographer will. I have several places around the Willamette Valley that I enjoy taking clients to and I typically try to schedule photoshoots around the times when those flowers and trees look their best. A personal favorite are the Japanese Wisteria in Bush Park.

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The Davidsons in jackets

 

Clothing Choices

The weather in Oregon during the Spring is a time of change and your clothing choices should follow suit. =-) I recommend being prepared for both rain and sun. If you happen to have a new jacket, bring it along. It may go great with the background. Not every photoshoot needs to be formal.

Props

Sometimes, props can be great add-ons to a session. Here in Oregon, an umbrella may not get used in the rain, but it can make a great prop for photos! Giving it a little thought and grabbing a couple things that are special to you can take a good photo session to great in a flash.

 


From your photography team at Photos By Orion

Wedding Ceremony at the Oregon Gardens by Photos By Orion

What is a typical wedding ceremony look like?

You’re engaged, planning your wedding, and are super excited to start meeting with vendors. They ask you about your ceremony and you suddenly realize you have no idea how to put together a wedding ceremony! You start to freak out as you add yet another thing to your list of to-do’s that is already a mile long. But…DON’T PANIC!

A wedding ceremony can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Realistically, the list I have compiled below is what happens in a typical American ceremony. Different cultures will change this accordingly. I have tried to keep this list as bare-bones as possible, just the things that are typical and/or necessary, and labeled everything else optional. If you follow this simple formula you can have a ceremony plan in a few short minutes!

Wedding Ceremony Elements

Processionals – where the wedding party and parents of the couple walk in. Typically the parents are seated by ushers or groomsmen/attendants (attendants = the people standing with the couple up front, not the guests) first, then the groom/partner#1 walks in with the officiant, then bridesmaids/groomsmen/attendants walk in, followed by the ring bearer. Finally, the flower girls/grandmas/people walk in just ahead of the bride/partner #2.

žBride/Partner entrance

žOfficiant opening remarks – These are typically short comments welcome, of what makes a marriage work.

žCharge to the couple – This is the remark about the couple coming together seeking a committed relationship and that they are here to take the other person as their husband/wife/partner.

žVows – These are your promises to each other. They can be the same to each other or completely different. They can be repeated after the officiant or read from a paper. However and whatever you choose to promise to your soon to be spouse, this is the important part of the ceremony as it is what will bring you together. Spend time on your vows, be honest and committed to what you say here.

žRing exchanges

žUnity event – (optional) I have included this because about half of all weddings have some sort of unity event. Some examples I have seen are unity candles, hand-fastenings, and sand/bead/candy ceremonies, although this could truly be anything that brings two things together into one.

žPronouncement of marriage – “…By the power vested in me…”

žThe Kiss

žClosing Remarks and presentation of couple – “May I be the first to present…”

žRecessionals – wedding party walks back in reverse order.

 

There are many ways to make the wedding ceremony all your own, but as long as you start with this framework you will be good to go.

Comment below to let me know if I missed anything. These are the elements I have noticed in my wedding photography career as going into a typical ceremony.

Getting started on your wedding photo “Must Have” list

Your “Must Have” list is a very important part of your wedding planning. It not only determines the amount of time you need for your photography, but it also helps you with your timeline planning, with the order of events, with knowing if you need one or two photographers, and if there are other options like bridal portraits that will help you keep your wedding on track and on budget.

The list given below is a general list that I have used to help my clients over the past 10 years plan their wedding day photography. It is by no means completely inclusive, but I have found it helps my clients start the process of making their own list. While the list is written in “Bride and Groom” language, the ideas and concepts can be used for any wedding couple!

For planning purposes, plan to set aside 3-5 minutes per pose/picture on your list. This is a great starting time reference.

“Must have” wedding photo list ideas

Pre-wedding/Getting Ready

Rehearsal area before guests have arrived/details

Prep Shots – Bride & Groom getting ready

The Dress – Hanging or Draped

The Rings – with invitation, bouquet, etc.

Zipping Dress

Bride Applying Make Up

Groom Fixing Hair

Attaching Boutonnière to grooms lapel

Ceremony

Groom waiting at altar

Church Wide Shot (with & without guests)

Bride walking down aisle ( Side Profile & Front )

Father giving away bride

Groom over the shoulder shot of bride ( & Vis Versa)

Holding hands – Bride and Groom

Bride & Groom Kiss

Bride & Groom Leaving Church ( Receiving Line)

Reception

Reception/Banquet Hall Outside shot

Food Shots (Cocktail Hour, Drinks, etc.)

Shot of each table full of guests

Bride and Groom Hand & Ring Portraits

First Dance

Bride & Father Dance

Groom & Mother Dance

Bouquet Toss

Guarder Belt Toss

Cake Cutting

Bride and Groom Feeding each other

Misc. Guests Dancing

Best Man & Maid of Honor Toast/Speeches

Bride & Groom Toast/Speeches

Centerpieces & Flower/Decorations

Guestbook Signatures

Bride & Groom “Just Married” Vehicle – Driving Away

Thank you picture (if doing one)

Posed Photography

Bride alone

Groom alone

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom at alter

Bride and Groom with Officient

Bride and Groom kissing

Bridesmaids/Flower Girl(s)

Groomsmen/Ring bearer

Bridal Party

Bride with Groomsmen

Groom with Bridesmaids

Bride with Bridesmaids

Groom with Groomsmen

Bride with flower girl(s)

Groom with ring bearer

Bride and Groom with bridal party

Bride with parents

Groom with parents

Bride and Groom with bride’s parents

Bride and Groom with groom’s parents

Bride and Groom with both sets of parents

Bride and Groom with bride’s grandparents

Bride and Groom with groom’s grandparents

Bride’s parents alone

Groom’s parents alone

After a bridal show: Now what do I do?

Beautiful green and orange bridal bouquet by Stem Designs in Salem, Oregon

Beautiful flowers by Stem Designs

So you just got back from a bridal or wedding show. You have tons of materials from all sorts of vendors and you are on wedding overload! You are probably asking now what do I do?!? If you read our previous article Bridal Shows: 5 tips for couples then you are prepared for this moment and I recommend you skip to step 3 and take a week or two off! If you haven’t read that article that is ok, there are a couple steps to do right away before you take your time off.

Step 1 – Take notes and Sort the materials

When you get home from the wedding show, or very shortly after (hopefully within a day), you will want to clear the floor and dump out your bag (or bags!) of information you received and start going through them. You will want to start separating the information into categories (venues, caterers, photographers, etc.). As you do, take a minute with each to remember each one and takes notes on what you remember. Think about how each one made you feel, a memorable quote or experience at their booth or while you were talking with them, your likes and concerns about their work and how they would work with you, and anything else you can think of. You want to do this while it is still fresh in your mind and when you can remember the most.

Step 2 – Order the categories by which you want to hire first

Next you want to order the vendor types into the order you are planning on booking them. This helps balance your priorities and all your desired pieces. It will also help you in step 4 to stay focused and should make decisions easier. If you need help on when to book there are several helpful articles available online, such as this compiled timeline from MyDeejay. I like this timeline because it gives you the suggestions from the three biggest wedding websites (The Knot, WeddingWire, and Brides.com) as well as the author’s suggestion and why they suggest it.

Step 3 – Take a break!

Now that you are all organized, you deserve a break! Take a week or two off to relax and recharge before you get into actually choosing your vendors. This will not only help you clear your head, but should help you narrow down your choices in each category.

Step 4 – Choosing your vendors

While each couple will approach this part differently, there are a few tips I can pass on here. First is to choose one vendor at a time according to your organized categories. This will let you more easily compare packages/offerings from vendors in this category and will let you deeply explore what you want from that type of vendor. Next, You will want to discuss each type of vendor together and make some choices before you start talking to vendors. For example, do you want a religious ceremony? Do you want the ceremony and reception all in one place? Do you want a DVD or digital files of your picture? How much are you hoping to spend on this category? And many other questions.

Once you have narrowed down what you want from each category, then take the first category and read the materials you collected, looking for those elements which you decided were most important for you.

Finally, choose your top 3-5 from each category based on what you want and your budget, and call them for a consultation. This will allow you to get a better feel for them and a personalized quote for your wedding. If you find what you feel is your perfect vendor from these consultations, put down your deposit and move on to the next category. If you are still on the fence and can’t seem to make a decision, move on to the next category and come back to it. The important thing is that you can make the decisions without feeling pressured or frustrated with the process. Planning your wedding should be a wonderful experience. And always remember the experts are there to help you. There are many wonderful planners and vendors out there that can help you along the way.

 

Happy Planning!!

What to expect at a portrait session part 3

After the Session: What happens to my pictures now?

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Baby after smashing/eating a cake

Baby’s first birthday cakesmash

When you are finished with a portrait session, there is still a lot of work to be done for the photographer. The first thing that will happen after you leave is that the photographer will transfer the photos from the camera memory to several places. The first is the computer where the editing process will take place, the second is the primary back up, which for us this is another drive in the main editing computer. Finally there is usually at least one other backup done, such as to a server or other memory. This is the most critical time because until the photographer feels the photos are safe, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong and the pictures could be lost.

Once the photographer is satisfied that the pictures are safe and backed up, then the initial culling process happens. This is where the photographer goes through the pictures and removes all those where the subject (that’s you) is blinking, moving, or talking so that their expression is not good. After this initial culling process, the photos are then cropped as necessary and put into a proof gallery. This gallery is then given to you in some form (most photographers do online proof galleries now) so you can choose which photos you like and would like digitally mastered. This whole process typically takes a couple days to a week after the photo session depending on how busy your photographer is.

After you have chosen your favorite portraits, the photographer then goes back and perfects those photos. This can be as simple as adjusting a color or as complex as creating specialty colors or skin adjustments. The timing of this part of the process really depends on the proofs and what you wish to have done to them. Next, the portraits are adjusted for printing and for viewing to maximize their beauty for whatever form you wish them in. It can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks to finish all these adjustments.

Finally, if you are having your portraits printed by the photographer then the printing process will begin. This again can vary depending on the number and size of prints you have ordered. This could be anywhere between a week and two weeks to get them all printed and shipped or delivered to you. If you ordered a high resolution CD, then the pictures are burned onto the CD, which takes about an hour, and then it can be delivered to you.

If you are looking to save money overall, purchasing the HRCD with printing rights will save you money when you do want to make prints. Typically, whether the photographer is printing in-house or outsources printing to a professional lab, it is more expensive to print through the photographer than to have the prints done yourself. This is true for the lab we use as well. The wholesale cost to us as the photographer is more than they charge you as a consumer for the same service. Make sure you know what you are getting, however, as each photographer’s contract is different and will charge accordingly. There is a huge difference between getting printing rights or usage rights and getting the copyrights. Some people will insist that you MUST get the copyrights, but for most people, this is more expensive and more of a hassle than they would want.

This is a very generalized guide to what happens during a typical portrait session and is meant to help you be more comfortable with the process. The more comfortable you are, the better your portraits will be! I hope you have found it helpful.

What to expect at a portrait session part 2

During the Session

Now that you have all the details worked out, you are ready to head into the photography studio and get to the actual picture taking. This is why you originally called your photographer, but it can also be nerve racking, uncomfortable, and down right scary. Photographers know this and most will try to make the process as easy as possible while still working with you to help bring your vision of a family portrait to life.

If you have not done it before the session, the first thing that will happen is that you and your photographer will decide which backgrounds you would like to use. Most photographers will have several colored and/or patterned

Senior Portrait

Senior Portrait

backgrounds to choose from besides the standard black, white, and cream. This will help you choose an outfit if you brought more than one and will set the mood for your portrait. Solid black, white or cream backgrounds tend to be more serious and artistic, while colors and patterns can be used for both serious and more fun poses, giving them a bit more versatility.

Next, the photographer will have you sit or stand where you will be for your portraits and begin working with lighting. Lighting is a key ingredient to great portraits and it should take the photographer anywhere from 2-6 minutes to arrange things properly so you have the best lighting possible. This is also a great time for you to ask any questions you may have. This allows you not only to get even more of a feel for how the photographer works but also for you to relax a bit.

Being relaxed is one of the best things you can do to ensure your portraits will reflect the true you. A genuine smile can make a portrait and bring in that wow factor everyone desires, while a tense smile will show through and make you look rigid and unhappy. If the studio has the capability like ours does, you may wish to bring or request music to be played during your session which will help you be relaxed and more you.

Next comes the hardest part of the session, posing. Photographers will try to find the poses best suited for you, but this is where a little research beforehand can keep you in control of the photo shoot. Having 3 or 4 poses which you would like to try will help move things along and will give the photographer a really good idea of what you are looking for. Then the photographer may be able to suggest small changes or poses of a similar style which will complement you and still achieve the kind of portrait you are looking for.

Once you are posed, the photographer will begin taking the actual pictures. The biggest thing to remember during this time is that whatever you are feeling will come through in your eyes. You could have the greatest smile you have ever had, but it won’t matter if your eyes are saying you are uncomfortable or unhappy. A smile can be faked some of the time, what your eyes say cannot. This is why it is so important that you are comfortable with your photographer and why most photographers will ALWAYS suggest meeting before the actual photo session. The more comfortable you are, the more it will show through in your portraits and the better they will look.

Next time…Part three: After the portrait session

Previous blog: Part One: Before the Session

What to expect at a portrait session (Part 1 of a 3 part series)

Family photo - Eugene, Oregon

Family photo – Eugene, Oregon

Before the Session

It is always advisable to meet with your chosen portrait photographer before your session for a consultation. Not only does this let you get comfortable with your photographer, but also allows you both to discuss what you are looking for in your portraits. Many people know that portraits, especially family portraits, are important and good to have, but they do not think beyond that. There are several elements to be considered before the session can begin.

Type of Photography:

The first thing to consider is what type of portrait photography you want. There are a few different kinds: traditionally posed, candid or lifestyle, artistically posed, and dramatically posed. Whichever of these photography themes you choose will have an influence on all of the other elements of the session.

Clothing and Accessories:

The next thing to consider is what to wear. This is not only dependent on what looks good on you, but also on the backgrounds you choose or that your photographer has and what you wish your photographs to look like. Most photographers will have a standard black, white, and cream background, as well as a few others. If you are outdoors in the green lush valley, you probably don’t want to be wearing green as you will blend in to your surroundings. You should discuss with your photographer what color combinations will go well with the type of photography you want.

Props and arrangements/must have list:

Finally, spend some time considering arrangements of subjects. For a single person getting portraits, this is more of considering any props you would like to have. Many people choose musical instruments or special gear/outfits. For a family or multiple families getting portraits, consideration should be given to groups. For example, for a family there are many different groupings you could have. In addition to a photo of everyone, there can be a picture of the parents only, the children as a group, and singles of each child. For multiple families, there are so many combinations it is important to consider them before you get into the session.

All of these things must be considered before a portrait session can begin, and if you wait until the day of the session, these decisions can cut into your session time. We offer a free consultation prior to the session to take care of these details without costing you session time. Even if you choose to take care of these details on the day of your session, be sure to consider them ahead of time as this will make the process faster and give you more time in front of the camera. After all, that is why you are there!

Next article…During the Session

The top 4 things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer.

wedding hands in heart

Your wedding photographer will spend so much time with you, make sure it is someone you like!

There are many things to consider when looking for a wedding photographer, it can be very overwhelming. Before you go with the first person who has an opening, here are a few things to consider which can help you find your perfect wedding photographer.

  1. Style

With so much difference between the styles of wedding photography, it is important that the photographer you choose has a style you enjoy. While most brides will want a combination of styles, some find that they enjoy only one style, such as photojournalistic or artistic, and so should choose a photographer who specializes in this style. For those brides who like a combined style, consider hiring a pair of photographers who have different styles. There are many husband and wife teams where each photographer specializes in a different style (kind of like our team!). The key is to identify your favorite style or mix of styles and then to look for photographers who use those styles. A photographer’s portfolio(s) should be a really easy way to see their style. (For more information on styles see our blog article)

  1. Availability

Once you have established a style you like, then comes the hardest part, finding photographers who are that style and finding out who has availability. Make a list of the top 5 photographers you like whose work is similar to the style you want and request availabilities from each of them. Then, try to schedule consultations with the top 3 of those photographers who have availability. You definitely want to meet with more than one photographer because …

  1. Personality

At the consultation with your 3 chosen photographers, pay special attention to the chemistry between you, your fiancé, and the photographer(s). Does he/she/they make you feel comfortable? Are they easy to talk to? Do they easily visualize what you are describing? Do you feel you could spend the whole day with them and still be comfortable at the end of the day? All of these questions are very important because your photographer will most likely be spending a great deal of your special day with you. How comfortable you are with the photographer is especially important if you are looking to have “getting ready” pictures taken. You don’t want to have someone you aren’t comfortable with in your dressing room as you are in only your underwear putting your dress on! Be sure to keep notes at each consultation so that you can go back after all of them are done and remember feelings, impressions, and likes/dislikes about each photographer.

  1. Price

Finally, I will mention price. While ideally price would not be an issue, we do not live in the ideal world. Price is important, and should be considered, but it should not be the first thing to shop for when choosing a photographer. It has been said many times before, but your photography is one of the only things that you will have left after the wedding, so getting someone of quality who you are confident will get you the pictures you desire is worth paying a little more for. Really, price should be something that is considered in the background of doing the first 3 steps. If you know you absolutely cannot afford to spend $6000 on wedding photography, then photographers with starting packages of $5000 are probably not going to be in your budget, so look cautiously at their sites. They can give you great information about styles and numerous other things, but they are probably not one you should call for availability when you get to that point. Keep in mind also, however, that many photographers make personalized quotes, so even though their range may seem a bit high or low for your budget, if you really like them it never hurts to ask. (For more information on photography budgets in Oregon, see our blog article)

A comparison of photography styles. Which style is right for me?

Couple Kissing in vineyard

Which photographic style is your favorite?

In several of the last few articles posted, I have discussed the different styles of portrait photography without really describing what those styles are. I hope this article will shed some light on the subject (pun intended) and help you decide which style or combination of styles most fits you.

Traditional studio posed

When most people think of portrait photography, this is the style they are thinking of. This is where you go into a studio, have a solid or specialty backdrop, everyone is positioned around one family member (usually mom) and you all smile towards the camera. Although it has evolved some over the past century as photographic equipment has gotten better, for the most part this has become the staple of portrait photography and is consistent over different types of portraits (family, individual, business, etc.). There are some things which can be added into these types of photos which will spice them up but still keep the essentially a traditional studio shot. Some of these things include instruments, sports equipment, toys for children, or your family pet. This type of portraiture is still the most common, where you are posed by the photographer and they take the portrait of all of you looking at the camera.

Child in swing, portrait from Photos by Orion

Lifestyle photography is great for kids and families!

Lifestyle/Candid

Lifestyle and candid photographers are very common now. While they are not the same, they share many similar traits. Lifestyle photographers typically will take a subject, put them in an environment and will ask for eye contact while get photos in that setting. For example, when I do outdoor portraits with children I will usually employ a combination of posed and lifestyle photography. I try to take the child to a local park, will get some posed photography in the beginning in the lush greens, then will end at a playground where I only ask the child to look at me and smile when I ask for it. Otherwise I just follow the child around and capture photos of them doing what they love to do, play.

Candid photography is similar, except that there is no asking for eye contact. A candid photographer would take the child to the playground and get photos of them playing on the equipment, but would not get too many photos of the child looking at the camera.

Photojournalistic

The photojournalistic style has been greatly romanticized over the last 5 years or so. A true photojournalistic style is similar to lifestyle photography, but with a black and white touch and a “did our photographer even show up” feel. When you hire a photojournalist to document your wedding, their job is to observe without interference. If they have done their job correctly, you should see them when they arrive and when they leave, but not really notice them throughout the day. True Photojournalists do not ask you to look at the camera, do not edit much beyond conversion to black and white (besides maybe some contrast adjustments), and are excellent storytellers. You should be cautious to really get a good look at the work of photographers stating they are photojournalists, as it is rare to get a skilled photojournalist. There are many photographers who claim to be photojournalist but are really candid/lifestyle photographers. Photojournalistic wedding photography, is both an acquired taste and a hard skill to master, so if this style really speaks to you be prepared to pay more for a skilled photojournalist.

Artistically desaturated bride by Photos By Orion

Artistic portraits can add a little class to your portraits.

Artistic

Artistic portraits are done with some specialty settings. It can either be your outfits, such as Victorian or western dress, lighting, such as all black except for your face, or it can be specialty tones such as sepia or selective desaturation. Any of these elements, and many others, can create an artistic feel to a photography session. All photographers are artists, but each photographer will develop their own style. This is again why it is important to research your photographer and find one whose style you like.

Wedding Photography budgets for Oregon: What should I plan to spend?

Wedding Rings displayed on a flower.

Wedding Photography in Oregon: How much should I budget for?

How much should I budget for wedding photography?

Creating a wedding budget is a very important, and very stressful, step in the wedding planning process. It can also be extremely difficult because there is such a range of prices for wedding services. In no service is this truer than wedding photography. Depending on where you live, wedding photography can start anywhere from $300 to $10,000! So what should you budget for your wedding photography? This is a question that only you can answer, but I hope this guide will help you either choose a budget, or if you have already chosen a budget to know what to expect from a photographer in your budget.

*Oregon Wedding budgets – This guide is geared toward Oregon couples, but the general guidelines can be applied to any area. Price ranges will be different*

Photography Budget: Under $1000

This is a small budget for Oregon. The key to working in this price-range is knowing that the quality of the photographer you will get for this price is poor to moderate. The further under $1000 you go the less likely you will be able to get a professional photographer for that price. A photographer in this range is most likely an amateur, beginner/student, or a part time photographer (meaning they have a job other than photography). If you are looking for professional quality photography, be cautious of photographers in this budget range. Many times they will try and entice you with offers of “all day photography and get all the photos on CD for $600!” What they are really saying is something like: ” I only do this for extra money, I have no insurance, I am not registered as a business, and if something goes wrong you are basically S.O.L.” This isn’t every photographer in this category, but be sure to ask about insurance and if they are a registered business. It is absolutely ok to ask for a federal EIN (employer identification number) and state registry number. If you ask, businesses are required to give this information to you and it is public record to look up the information on the business, so do your homework. You can also check out if the person/business has any complaints with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org). If your budget is in this area then wedding photography is not one of your top priorities (which is ok, photography is not everyone’s top priority!) and you may want to look into photography students or young companies looking to build a portfolio.

Note on Craig’s List: Many times couples in this budget range will post on Craig’s list looking for less expensive photographers. Be careful when receiving responses to see a portfolio or know that you are taking a risk when you go with someone without a portfolio. You get what you pay for!

Photography Budget: $1000 – $3000

This is a good, mid-range budget which will allow you to hire a high quality photographer and receive a good number of pictures. You can get digital copies of pictures in this price range, or you will most likely receive a print credit if a CD is not included. There are a good number of photographers who fall into this range in Oregon so you can expect to hire a professional wedding photographer with a budget in this range. This budget infers you believe photos of your wedding are an investment in your memories. With so many choices within this budget range, it can be difficult to choose. I recommend our article Finding Your Perfect Photographer if you are having trouble choosing.

Photography Budget: Over $3000

This is a high budget, inferring you consider your wedding photography one of your top priorities. You will be able to hire an excellent photographer and build a package to suit your desires. You can expect some sort of digital files, whether that is a high resolution CD or a DVD slide show, in this price range. Also an album is most likely to be included at this price point. There are a good number of photographers who fall into this price range in Oregon, so finding a photographer in this price range should not be too difficult.

 

If you haven’t set a wedding photography budget yet, I hope this is helpful information which will help you decide which budget range you want to be in. If you have set your wedding photography budget, I hope this information helps clarify what to expect from a photographer in your budget range.