Expert Advice: A Guide to Tampa Bay Wedding Photography


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 Expert Advice A Guide to Tampa Bay Wedding Photography


Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Expert Advice

What factors go into the cost of professional wedding photography?

Carrie Wildes, owner of Carrie Wildes Photography, who just celebrated 10 years in business shares:

“Having a professional photography company has all the same costs as a normal business (marketing, equipment, insurance, second shooters, product cost, etc.,), so there is a huge difference in the price the photographer is charging versus how much the photographer is actually making. In order to pay the bills and stay in business just like anyone else, photographers have to charge based on these costs .Much of the cost of what we do actually happens after we shoot the wedding. There’s downloading, editing, proofing and album design all, of these things are part of that hourly rate the photographer is charging. Being a wedding photographer is exponentially more than going out on the day of and taking pretty pictures.

Marc Edwards, owner of Marc Edwards Photographs adds:

“The cost of a wedding photographer can vary as wide as the skill and level of service you can expect to receive. Like any professional, there is a cost of doing business and a cost of trust and experience to deliver. In life we tend to get what we pay for. What other investment can you make in preserving your history for your future?

Kristen Jeffers of Kristen Marie Photography shares the following insight:

“There are such a large amount of hours involved. There are hours upon hours of touchups and editing done after the wedding day. Our time only starts on the wedding day.”

What is the average cost of hiring a professional wedding photographer in Tampa Bay/Sarasota?

Andi Diamond, veteran Tampa wedding photographer and owner of Andi Diamond Photography shares:

“Depending on the experience and expertise level of your photographer, as well as the artwork (albums and wall art) and options you select, there is an extremely wide range of pricing for this wedding service. For entry-level photography you can expect to spend $1,500-$2,500, for mid-range you may invest $2,500-$3,750, and for a highly experienced more luxury service, you may invest anywhere from $4,000-$7,000+. Much like shopping for a car or a an engagement ring, you can expect a significantly different level of customer service, image quality and creativity, and higher level of product quality with a higher investment. Most of my couples put photographer extremely high on their bucket list, thus they invest anywhere from 15-20% of the total wedding budget towards a photographer (some a bit more, and some a bit).”

Kristen shares that you aren’t just paying for someone to take photos, you’re investing for memories:

“Remember that at the end of the day, after all of the decor is down and your dress is back in the closet that this is what you have for memories. Yes, budget is important, but if you don’t like the photos, it’s all you are ever going to focus on.”

Brandi Morris, owner of Brandi Image Photography, reminds couples that weddings are a treat:

“Weddings are a luxury, pure and simple. It costs under $100 for a Florida marriage license, which is all that’s needed to be legally married. Everything else is a luxury celebration.”

Marc adds:

“Budgeting for your photographer will largely come down to the value you place in having lasting images of your wedding day. And if memories, family preservation and peace of mind are important to you then budget accordingly. I promise it WILL be worth the investment.”

What are some qualities I should look for in a wedding photographer?

Buffy Feldman, owner of Life Long Photography Studio shares:

“A good photographer takes gorgeous images. A great photographer captures true emotion and goes a step farther to understand their couples and how to make them feel comfortable enough to be themselves. A wedding photographer should be caring, compassionate, decisive and detailed. They need to blend in enough to make everyone feel comfortable, but also take charge when the time is right.”

Marc believes that a combination of talent and personality are the top skills to look for:

“First and foremost, you should love the kinds of images they take and you want to see yourself naturally in their images. Can your photographer beautifully capture moments as they happen, when they happen, no matter what sort of “light” you are in? Your photographer should be totally fun to be around too. You will want to enjoy each other’s company, because you’re kinda stuck with them on your wedding day and having solid rapport is valuable. (Trust me, you’ll thank me later!) You should absolutely feel like they have your interest in mind. This is your wedding day and capturing you in a natural and comfortable way is key to getting images you’re going to love. Also, look for organization and communication skills. You want a professional who will treat you with integrity and deliver promptly.”

Ashley Roper owner of Grind & Press Photography agrees that personality is a key factor:

“More than any specific qualities, you want to make sure that your wedding photography vibes with you. There are obvious qualities you want, professional, adaptable, experienced, etc., but what’s just as important is that you genuinely get along with your photographer. You are going to spend the better part of your wedding day interacting with your photographer, so you want that to be seamless.”

Carrie touches on a key trait that you should have in all of your wedding professionals:

Trust, personality, and love of their work are the most important factors. In order for us as photographers to be most creative, I need to know that you fully trust that we know exactly what to anticipate in capturing your story.

Cat Pennenga, owner of Cat Pennenga Photography advises couples to invest the time to choose the right fit:

“Do your research! You might feel like finding the best deal is your best option, but make sure you find someone who is a legitimate professional. You’ve spent so much time planning this day, you want to make sure it gets captured beautifully!”

How do I know if I’m hiring the right photographer for me?

Andi encourages you to check references:

“Meet with your photographer in person. How does he/she make your feel? Look at multiple weddings albums to see if their style fits what you are looking for. Talk to friends and other brides who have used that photographer. What do they have to say about their experiences?”

Buffy believes that your gut reaction can be a good indicator:

“Every couple needs to connect with their photographer even more than with the photos taken. For that reason, the experience your photographer gives you on your wedding day should be as flawless as the images they capture. You can look at previous client experiences by glancing through reviews left by previous couples. However, it is essential to have a consultation and an engagement session to know your photographer and for them to get familiar with you. The key to making sure you are a great match is all in the communication. Seasoned photographers should encourage open communication. But in the end, how do you know they’re the ‘one?’ If you get warm and fuzzy feelings after talking to them, then you have found the photographer to say ‘yes’ to!”

Marc agrees relying on the feedback of past clients:

“Read their testimonials, and see if the photographer aligns with your core values. Also, speak to your photographer in-person or over the phone. Make sure you do some form of interviewing this valuable person because the last thing you want to do is hire someone based purely on price.”

How many hours of wedding day coverage do I need?

Carrie advises:

“This is specific to each couple’s wedding and how much time the photographer needs to capture the key parts of the day. A photography timeline is one of the first things I do with couples before they even book. The factors that go into it are: number of people in the bridal party for getting ready before, if there is a first look or not, sunset time, and if there is an exit or not. Generally our couples need 6-8 hours of time, but sometimes it is much longer if there is a couple hour gap between the ceremony end and cocktail hour start time.”

Kéra Holzinger, owner of Kéra Photography, shares:

“Every couple’s wedding day is unique and that uniqueness is a direct result of how many hours you need. Some of the easiest ways to determine how many hours you need is to figure out what parts of the day are most important to you. Some couples only want coverage from getting ready to cake cutting (6 hours). However, if you’re a couple who really enjoys the party and/or you are having a special exit, this is when I would recommend an 8 to 10-hour package. Work with your photographer to determine the best plan of action. As a professional, they will be able to guide you in the right direction.”

Ashley adds:

“It really depends on the specifics of your day. For example, if you are going to be getting ready in one location, having the ceremony in another and the reception in another, you would need more hours than if all of those things were happening in one location. Other factors could be the size of the wedding, the length of the ceremony, first look/no first look and what moments you want captured. I think it’s important to talk with a couple about these things and look at the different timelines and coverage times before having ‘x’ amount of hours in mind. I find just as often that a couple needs less coverage than they originally thought.

Cat relies on her experience to advise couples:

“Over the last 6+ years of being in business I’ve found that 8 hours is a perfect amount of wedding day coverage (sometimes more is needed if you’re having a traditional religious ceremony and/or there are breaks in the day or significant travel between locations). For me, I want to be able to deliver all of the key moments of the day without anyone feeling stressed or rushed or like they’re missing any part of the day, so I always recommend 8 hours.”

Do I need a second photographer?

Marc shares his expert opinion:

“Maybe. This can be answered by your photographer. A second photographer is helpful if you need photos taken in two different locations at the same time. A second photographer should be utilized to enhance the coverage of your wedding day, rather than duplicate the images your main photographer will take.”

Kéra adds:

“A second photographer not only provides a second set of creative eyes on your wedding day, but they also allow us to be more efficient with our timelines. More often than not, my second photographer is photographing the groom and the groomsmen getting ready, while I am with the bride and the bridesmaids. The second photographer is also an assistant to shots that I couldn’t otherwise get without them. For example: picking up your dress to blow in the wind or holding my flash for an amazing sunset shot. A second photographer is versatile in their work and only adds to the experience, making for a very smooth day.”

Kristen feels that a second photographer adds to a couple’s experience:

“Yes, and it isn’t because it makes less work on us. It makes more coverage for you. The groom gets his fair amount of coverage, and it gives you a whole different perspective. I can’t be doing your formal portraits and shooting your reception detail shots at the same time.”


Wedding Photographer Search:

  • Include budget, style, # of hours. (Average photography budget range for a Tampa Bay wedding: $2,000-$7,500+)

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Marry Me Tampa Bay editor, Anna Coats, created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area's best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talkshow Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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