Average cost of a Wedding Photographer in Minneapolis
The average price of hiring a professional wedding photographer in the Twin Cities, to record your entire day on camera (and not only the ceremony) usually represents 10% to 15% of the wedding’s budget.
Several studies (the Knot, Wedding Wire, Thumbtack) show that the average photography package time offered in Minnesota is somewhere between 6 hours to 8 hours. The average price of a wedding photographer in Minneapolis, MN, is between $2000 to $2400 (with variations of depending on the studies).
Other information: 78% of the couples spend between $1000 and $3000 for photography (yes, that’s a large range), 6% more than $3000 and 16% waste their savings hiring some so-called professionals for less than $1000.
Keep in mind that this is the average price, and it doesn’t reflect what is in your cart, and even less about the artistic quality! Some options can have a huge impact on the final price (bride and groom photo books + parent’s photo books are usually ruinous).
Also, when searching to hire a good vendor, you will experience a wide pricing’s variations between different professional packages! The good question to ask is probably not what is the average price, but:
- how much important are photos for you (it’s usually the second bigger budget [12–15%] after the venue [50%])
- how to invest wisely, saving money and in the same keep amazing pictures
That’s why, I will show you that with a good method you can easily understand these variations and control your budget. We will try to dissect those pricing, to understand how you can accurately compare them together, how to determine which offers are a good deal, what are the trap to avoid, and how to optimize your investment.
Be ready, I will reveal to you some typical marketing technic and how not to be fooled!
Table of Contents
Is wedding photography cost so much?
I grew up in worker class family, and I think twice before buying anything. I especially hate wasting my savings.
Also, it’s totally legitimate to wonder if hiring a photographer more than $3000 is fair, when you can find a $500 one on Thumbtack. So what is a reasonable price for a wedding photographer?
The answer is obviously more complicated that a yes/not question, because of the quality of the image and the expectations you have!
If you have low expectation, just want some snapshot (happy with your uncle’s pictures), then go for the cheapest one!
First of all, spending some bad clichés you won’t like (and won’t look in the future) would definitely be a bad idea and a waste of cash!
But if the result allows you to relieve some amazing moments as many times as you want, and give an heirloom album to your great kids, then that should be considered as an investment.
Yes, having exceptional portraits captured reflecting your personality is a luxury service. Photographers, have costs: advertise, equipment, websites, formation, tax, research, just to name few of them. And they also need to live.
What’s more, unfortunately there are no weddings weekdays. And if you had ever run an artistic business, you would know that the funny part (the artistic one, taking pictures on the field), is only one very percentage of all the rest you have to do.
For instance, taking pictures represent less than 10% of my time.
The Perverse Effect the internet When Choosing a Photographer
Can you guess what is the most famous reconversion job? Today, everybody holding a DSLR estimate being a photographer, and want to make a life of it! That’s why you can find some guys very cheap (but also offering very bad quality).
In real life, it’s quite different! A typewriter wouldn’t turn you into a talented writer. Well, it’s the same for photography. It’s a real job, that require real qualifications. It’s more complicated than just pressing the shutter (unlike camera’s maker wants you to believe).
The perverse effect is that the internet (and especially services that put professional and clients in contact), give those amateurs the same visibility as real professional. The result is that the customer is lost and compare things that can’t be compared. You don’t choose a photographer as you choose a handyman!
If photography is important for you and you have high expectation, then you should invest in someone with real experience, with talent, well equipped, and sharing the same level of expectation you have!
The legend of the wedding cost effect
Do you have the feeling that when you mentioned the word “marriage,” everything suddenly turns more expensive?
You might think some professional charge more for weddings that they would for other events?
First of all, I believe this wedding cost effect is mostly a myth (at least when you live in an area with enough competitors to generate a price war). And guess what, the 10,000 lakes state is the second state with the higher number of image-makers per number of citizens. What’s more, thanks to the internet (which make easier than ever to compare price), all MN professional cost tend to go down.
On the contrary, from the bride point of view, the quality expectations go up. The images you want today, have nothing to do with what your grandparents had for their weddings.
Finally, professional are more equipped than in the past, they need more formations, spend more time in post-production (the bad side of the digital).
So, the price might seem higher than in the past, but that’s normal and reflect the increase of the quality. If you are happy with your parents’ album (few pics, only cheesy pictures), then can hire an old professional for a cheap price.
Compare the same cart:
When you are buying something and trying to compare different products, the first thing to do, is to compare similar objects. The issue is that most of the package is composed of multiple elements that make this task difficult. If you are on a tiny budget and are trying to find the right photography pricing, you might skip on options and focus only on the essentials: photos. But even that could be complicated if you check the little lines and conditions of the contract.
How many images, are they retouched or not, what are your rights on the images?
Also, to have a good idea, you can start with a package including the same number of hours (for instance 10), all the pictures in High Definition and the right release for personal use. What a hazard, this is precisely our first package!
A simple technic to compare pricing is sending an email, explaining in detail the perfect package that you desire, and compare how much they cost.
Here is a list of the elements that could be included (or not) in photography package:
- The number of hours
- The number of pics
- The rights release or not
- Retouching (automatic or handmade)
- Second shooter
- Engagement session
- The photo album and its quality (cheap internet or super classy)
- Prints Enlargement and frames
- Save the date and thank you cart
- Photo-booth (with or without prints)
- Travels fee
- Weather insurance (if you have a free session in case of rain on your day)
- Cancellation options
- Obligation or not to do an in-person selling after the wedding
- Back-up of your files (or not)
- Gift for Parents and bridal party
Capturing real lifetime memories requires time.
Any good photographer in Minneapolis should include, at least, a long reportage. Indeed, we consider that photography is telling a story. And to properly telling a story, it needs to have a beginning and an end. That’s why we love to cover the entire day.
What’s more, we deeply believe that the strongest moments are the real candid moments. And it s not a secret that capturing such snapshot need lots of time.
For this reason, all our package includes lots of time.
How many hours do really you need?
In your research for the perfect photography price, you can find all kinds of packages from 4 to 12 hours or more (unlimited). Studies, show an average package of 8 hours, but don’t explain if the preparations are included, and when your reportage stop.
The amount of time you need depends on:
- What you really want to be covered, in other words, how much memory matter for you
- your venue (if you can do everything at the same place or if you need to travel)
- where you want to have your first look and the bride and groom photo session,
- the type of your ritual (especially if it’s a long Catholic office)
- your bridal party’s size
- the number of family photos you want
- finally your number of guests.
Better than giving a number that wouldn’t make sense, we recommend you to read out our article explaining the perfect timeline. We detail every single moment of this unique day, and give you plenty of advice. Using that you can determine by yourself your ideal time needed.
A One-time Life Investment
Despite a good photographer costs, keep in mind it’s an investment you will benefit in the future. Each time you will seat on your couch and open your album, you will appreciate it.
What’s more your wedding album will be part of your family heritage to your children and great-children.
That’s why, at French-Touch-Photography we love quality, and we love to produce images that you will remember forever. We want you to be proud to open your wedding album and open it every single year for your anniversary!
We want your little children to have glittered in the eyes when they will look at your family photo-book into forty years. We want raw and true moments, magical instants, artistic composition that blow your mind.
We consider ourselves nothing but handcraft men, trying to produce the best product ever. This is the reason why we offer our clients enough time so we can use all our knowledge and put all our efforts to the service of your big day.
We are conscious that it’s a lot of dollars, and consider photography as an investment.
What do we think of the averages 6 to 8 hours reportage?
The average duration for wedding reportage in the 10, 000 lakes state is between 6 and 8 hours.
This time is great for small families, to cover a wedding, from the beginning of the ritual until the first minutes of the dinner and to include couple session.
We believe it’s the very basic need for such a day, but two important periods would be missing: the preparation with your closer friends/family and the party.
We offer unlimited packages
Making a couple relax and feel at ease in front of a lens require at least 60 minutes. Creative work, posed groups, or staged couple using flashes, required lots of time. Chasing unique raw moments and capture them into candid shot require long minutes and patience. In other words, good photos require time.
Number of Images Delivered
Some photographer will limit the number of files delivered to you (to 300 for instance). You may consider that’s it’s an important number, but actually, on a wedding day the average number of files delivered is around 700 different images. Giving you a smaller number of images is a commercial technic to sell the bride and the groom options. A small number could also be a clue of a bad photographer who would not be able to produce a lot of good images during the day.
For comparison, at French-Touch-Photography, we usually deliver between 800 and 1200 different images on a 10-hour reportage. We shoot a lot of stolen moments, striving to capture all little anecdote taking place. Furthermore it would make no sense for us to deliver our client all raw shots.
If you want to be able to print and share your files, has you want, you need to have your personal use right and the copy right release. If you have none, it means that each time you want to copy, share or print a file you would have to pay the photographer. What a pity…
That’s obviously a classical selling technic to pay attention to.
At French Touch we keep the copy right (what allows us to use our work on our website), but we give our client the entire personal use release, which allows them to share everything with their guests and family. Besides our wedding galleries are made for this purpose with all the sharing tools, you can expect.
Retouching, number of images and the style
Check for the total number of retouched files delivered (if there is a limit), on the kind of retouch (if it’s an automatic software retouch, or a manual, if they enhance the pics or just fix the White Balance).
This part, which can easily be considered easy and quick to perform thanks to new software, is actually a very long homework, taking several days. This hidden work is also a part that some competitors would tend to quickly (and badly) perform using automatic software.
At French touch photography, we deliver all the files and we color retouch each of them to make sure colors looks great. We also enhance each image, turning some part brighter/darker, diminishing a saturated color, or increasing local contrast.
We believe a good retouches is the one you don’t notice.
Second shooter is the perfect example of the marketing strategy. While hiring a second shooter who is as good as the main shooter can make sense, hiring an amateur second shooter, or the photographer’s wife does not really make sense.
Most of the time second shooter are a marketing strategy, which purpose is to make you believe you would have twice more images when it’s not true.
I have written an entire article about that if you are interested. Most of the time, with 10 hours and a good schedule, a second shooter is absolutely not need.
Multiple location on Twin Cities, the choice among several coordinated outfits and your photographer for several hours (120 to 180 minutes) is what is included in our engagement session. It’s also what allows you to fully take advantage of the photo shoot learning how to relax and be at ease in front of a lens.
Most couples on a tiny budget would skip it to save money. We think it’s not a good option if you want great pictures showing real emotions.
In consequence we decided to include it in our pricing. It’s better for the client and better for our images.
Whereas it is a surprise proposal, or your wedding day in St Paul, pictures are made to be printed on real wedding book and should not stay on a USB key!
Wedding photo books are an important point to consider when checking at the photographer packages.
Nevertheless it’s quite difficult because most competitors won’t really detail the quality of their album, nor the number of pages and other options. What’s more, all the printing industry uses marketing names that make very difficult to understand the real quality.
That’s why the only option is often to meet the photographer, touching the product and discuss all the details.
A wedding album price varies depending on the size, the number of pages, the nature of its cover and if a box is included or not.
The most important element to pay attention is the quality of the paper. Indeed, the real traditional photo paper still remains the best-quality paper, offering a long conservation, a large dynamic of colors, and some sharp details. It’s also the highest-priced.
The secret of its longevity is its photography chemical processes (C41) and the thin transparent plastic layer that protect the image.
Stay away from the cheapest book (and the photographers selling them)
Thanks to the recent evolution in printing technology, you can now order photo book that looks great, great and at a very attractive price (3 to 4 times cheaper than the traditional ones). For instance, Blurb, Shutterlfy, offer some S-word album for less than $100/
That’s typically the kind of photo book you can buy on the internet, and lots of colleagues tends to take advantage of this low cost to offer attractive deals and increase their benefit.
Those books do look great at first sight, but if you look carefully they are clearly not made to pass the years.
The main reason, beside the economy of the cover’s fabrics is the paper itself (which cost less dollars). Indeed, the paper used in those cheapest new printing technology (ink-jet or offset technology), are paper that absorbs liquid and other chemical product in the air, or on your fingers. In other words, even if you take care of your photo book, page will turn yellow in a couple of years, starting to lose their colors.
What’s more the absence physical protection on the page (plastic layer), exposed the paper to alteration by everyday scratching (nails), and all liquids (respiratory secretion).
Finally, those cheap books almost never came with a box (that protect against time alteration), and are made with cheap synthetic material. The glue won’t last through the years and the book will start to break down after 1 year.
That’s why it’s difficult to judge a photo book when you can’t touch it, and especially if you are a novice. In consequence pay attention to the quality when comparing similar package including books!
Other options that can quickly increase the album’s price
Options can quickly increase the final price, such as fancy paper texture, embossing, engraving, special cover material.
The album layout condition is also important. How many images are you allowed to include?
If a photographer offers cheap quality, keep in mind that you can probably buy it yourself, better and cheaper.
Other points to consider:
Best months to get married are also the more requested. In consequence they are also the day on which you won’t have any discount. Indeed, most of the photographers would likely offer clients a cheaper price during the off season month or weekdays.
The greatest months to get married in the land of 10,000 lakes start from April until November.
While winter months are less popular (except around the Christmas and new year), they are actually months when the sun offers a very lightening. For instance, if you can deal with the cold temperatures, a sunny day with snow could be amazing for photos.
Should you tip your vendor?
Some clients are super happy and do it. But it’s absolutely not an obligation, and that would not change the quality of our service!
Do you have to pay for the meal?
On the big day, we ask to be fed. A simple meal is enough. With just need fuel!
Do you have a limit of location?
Can you go cumulate several parks to have different spirit. Or do you need to spend extra fees for extra location?
Make sure you won’t have to pay a lot for travel fees. Our photographers cover weddings in Minnesota from Mankato to Duluth to take portraits.
How is the customer service? Support and Tons of Tips
An experienced photographer should grant you with tips to find best locations, design the perfect timeline, deciding on the right place to shoot group pictures, etc.
Is not that your photographer is an altruistic person. But if he wants good result, he has to make sure that everything would go smoothly and that every single detail would go in the right direction.
Indeed, good images are the results of many tiny details that all have to be controlled. Thus, helping you choose the right props, right place, right schedule, is also assuring to work in the most favorable condition to create the greatest images.
Gear, Backup Equipment and Image Backup Workflow
Ask your photographer about his equipment and his backup strategy. When you pay a photographer, you also pay for those services. You want to make sure he has enough gear to continue shooting pictures in any condition including a body failure, a lens damage, a memory card problem. You want to be sure that image is recorded on 2 similar memory cards. When he is doing his homework on his computer, retouching images, you want to be sure files are saved in two different locations. When correcting your image, you would prefer that he use a calibrated photography screen that would display accurate colors.
In other words, that’s the guarantee that he won’t fail to provide the greatest service due to a stupid equipment issue. That’s rare, but that’s happened. Just check on the internet for bad stories about newbies losing all images, and forced to stop in the middle of the day because their equipment didn’t work anymore.
Why Experience it so important: it Guarantees You Smooth Wedding Coverage in Minnesota?
Hiring an experienced professional is having the guarantee of a stress-free experience. An experience professional is usually more costly than a beginner, and ensure you well investing your funds. Indeed, if we consider experience as the ability to deal with all kinds of unexpected situation, then it is an empiric knowledge that a professional acquire through the years learning from its own mistake. And you would prefer to avoid your photographer making those mistakes during your wedding.
That being said, it’s also a complicated criteria to evaluate when you are not a photographer.
Is your photographer being doing real estate in Minneapolis, MN, you might have good pictures of your venue. If he does sport, you might have a picture of you running. If he does products, then you have nice details. If he does macros, you will have your diamond ring in big. If he does events, you might have good pictures of people on the dancefloor. If he is an artist with his own personal production (check at my personal work), then you might have some artistic pictures.
Wedding photography is a field where several skills are needed. Also, the more specificities it can handle, the better it is.
Question to ask yourself in order to compare experience
Beside the number of years in business, and the number of events covered, there is some practical way to evaluate the experience.
- The first and most important recommendation I would give you is to check for some entire wedding gallery. By entire gallery I don’t mean the 100 top pics of a wedding that are featured in portfolios, but all the images that a photographer deliver to his clients. Checking 2 or 3 gallery should give a balanced and enlightened opinion. How are the images. Do you feel that you are part of the wedding by watching the image, do you feel close to the event?
- Check at your photographer’s reviews, and most of all, check if there are any bad ones, and what are the photographer answer. You should be able to make the distinction between legitimate message from unhappy customers and craziness.
- Ability to shoot in low light. Ask to see wedding with very low light environment. What does the image looks like. Are they sharp or blurry? Is there a lot of noise? Are the color goods? Does the photographer use direct flash all the time?
- Artificial light.
How does the artificial light look? Are the colors great or everything look yellow, orange, green?
- Sun Photos
Does your photographer take some photos with the sun in the subject’s face? How is the face expression? Are folks squinting? Does your photographer use flash to light the shade area of the face?
- Extra Flashes
Does your photographer work with additional flashes (especially inside). Does he use it a lot?
- One or two cameras
While shooting with two cameras on the shoulder is physically more difficult (they are super heavy), it’s also the way to capture more candid shot, having always the good lens ready to use.
- Check at the cocktail and reception.
Is there a lot of shots of your friends? Are they candid shots?
What is the photographer ability to stage a group? Do the invitees look great? What about lightning?
- The Composition
Is the head of the subject always small and lost in the middle of the image? Or does the photographer used to compose his frame after having properly focused on the subject head? Do you feel image composition are good? Are images straight when they need to be, or always skewed?
- Foot and Hands
Do you see family group pictures with feet missing? Or hands missing? If you see such frame for static posing images (such as posed portrait), then it’s a very bad signal!
- The details
Can the photographer capture clean and well-composed macro photography?
- Retouching and effect
How are the retouch images. Does the photographer use colors effect all the time? Are the dark tone black and the bright tones white?
Ability to uncover your own personality is what really make a difference among hundreds of other photographers.
Judging of the talent of professional wedding photographer is probably the most subjective part. When looking at portfolios ask yourself what you feel by looking at the image. Do you have the feeling to know those people you had never seen before? If yes, that it’s a good photography work!
Pay attention to the photographer relationship with folks he took picture of. Do you feel some complicity, some amusement, or, on the opposite do you feel that subject is experiencing a bad moment?
Making stranger feel at ease in front of a lens is a real art. It’s also the only way to capture images that reflect who you really are. Some photographers don’t have any creativity but know how to make people laugh and thus manage to create amazing images.
Creativity is another aspect that is also called talent. Creativity is an indispensable tool that allows your vendor to create artistic, or funny image, anywhere in any condition. It’s the ability to play the light, with the elements and to produce amazing pictures.
Hire someone who matches with your family and your guests.
When you invite your families and all the people you love, you want to make sure your Rochester’s based photographer matches with your expectation.
Internet if full of stories of the wedding ruined by rude vendors. You not only want to make sure he would match with your guests and he would know how to interact with them in order to catch stunning photos.
Indeed, if you hire a very nice person but shy, who is not able to engage in a short exchange with strangers, then you might not have a lot of pics of your guests.
If you also want a movie check if your vendors offer a photo and video package to cover your ceremony in MN.
If you just want good photography, then you could
- Compare photographer, and hire an experienced and talented one that offer competitive prices. For instance, a guy who just moved from another state (or country).
- Book as many years before as possible. Indeed, most of the company reevaluate their price every year (usually to increase them). So booking two years before would mean you would skip two prices increasing!
- Chose a package including only the very essential: all images, all retouched, all right release. It might seem more costly at the first sight, but if you want to print your photos, that will save you a lot of money.
- Optimize your timeline so you don’t need a long coverage.
- Do your first dance as soon as you enter your dinner room. Once that part is covered, you can release your vendor.
- If you want an album, ask if there is some packages including some. Packages are usually cheaper than à la carte.
- Decide on a weekday date and off-season day. Most professionals would give you a better price.
- Ask if there is a reward or fidelity program. Some company offers a commission to past client bringing new clients, and also give the new clients a discount.
- Chose a beautiful venue so your photos would be better. What’s more you won’t have to go in any park and pay any photography permit.
- Don’t hesitate to negotiate the price. Give your budget and ask if there is a way to make things cheaper.
- If you plan a destination wedding, check at the local options. That been said, if you want the most accomplished quality professional, hire a talented professional and handling the travel fees might be a better investment, than wasting money for a local amateur.
Bad Way to Trim on Your Photography
Now, there are several other ways to save on your photography service that you can read on the internet, that we consider are bad advice. For instance, if you try to buy a car, advising you to buy an old car, with 200,000 miles, rust, an oil leaking, would help you find a cheaper price, but probably not in the way you want to reduce the costs!
So, here is a list of the wrong advice to avoid
- Choosing a package including less than 10 hours that would only give your formal and boring snapshot (all the classical moment, you can expect and few candid shots).
- Hiring an inexpert photographer who would be lost in the first unexpected situation and missed all the good shot. Especially avoid student and new professionals.
- Not hiring any photographer but asking a friend
- Hire a photographer that offers a cheaper price by:
- not having a backup camera
- using his friend or wife as second shooter
- skipping adding additional lights (not using off-camera flashes)
- not having a backup strategy of your files (shooting on 2-memory card and then multiple hard-dive backup)
- not retouching your photos on a real photo-screen (the one you can see all the colors, compared to the average cheap screen)
- not having a human retouching your image but using automatic software (most cheap photographers do that)
- not paying tax or insurance
Be aware of the In-person sale: a marketing technic you should pay attention.
If you had your senior pictures taken, you might have noticed that the business strategy is to offer a very cheap price for the photo session (or even free). It’s method to book clients first. Then, after the session they make you come back for an in-person sale and you usually left the studio, spending much more than you wished.
The exact same strategy of in-person sale marketing is also used by some wedding photographer. Let me give you an example:
- You buy a package that includes a ridiculous album (maybe a 8 × 8 album with 20 pages), and not enough time.
- Before the wedding, the photo company makes you realize you need more time. So you upgrade.
- They also tell you that you might need to upgrade your album.
- After the wedding, you can’t download all the files on the web gallery.
- You might not be able to choose the photos to put in your album.
- You have the obligation to come to the studio to validate your 20-page album and take your images.
- At this point the photographer will show you more pages, and will manage to sell you a 60-page album instead of the 20 pages. You just spend more than you planned, and that was precisely the goal of the company.
Hiring a top professional to have the greatest photos to cherish come with some expenses. It’s a folly you can really appreciate and savor in the future. That’s why, you must definitely have a crush on the style and the kinds of images offered.
At the opposite, if you are just looking for a clean work, then spent wisely, compare carefully, and trim on the options.