Often times our first contact with people is so they can ask about our prices.....and that's fine.  In times like these everyone wants to know the bottom line.....how much does it cost, what do I get for that, and why does it cost that much.  I know that sometimes the price tag on our wedding photography can cause a bit of sticker shock, and I also know that I'm not the perfect fit for everyone.  That's OK...not everyone can appreciate a fine wine either.  People have different tastes, and appreciate different things.   It is very important when choosing a photographer to choose based on their work.  What you see is what you will get!!  I do think that it is important for our clients to understand the value of what they are paying for....what they are getting for their money, and why we cost what we cost.  I also think that it's important to keep in mind that the photography is one of the only tangible items you will have when your big day is over.  You have a spouse, a ring, and a memory at the end of the day.....the photography is what makes that memory last.  The photography is what you will use to show your children the story of your wedding day.  The photographer of your special day is a very important part of that day....not only should you make sure you understand that.....you should make sure that the photographer you choose understands the importance of their role in your day.  The photographer is usually the only vendor you will continue to work with after the wedding day.  So, while it's easy to think that you are hiring a photographer for just 8 hours on your wedding day, you're not....in fact by the time we get to the wedding day we will have several hours invested in our relationship already.

So here is what you are paying for:

  • Pre-wedding consult and meeting
  • Engagement Session
  • Travel
  • Editing and processing E-session (approx. 3-4 hours per hour of coverage)
  • Creating a custom online gallery
  • Storing and backing up E-session images
  • Online image posting
  • Any products that go with that E-session
  • Final consult..wedding day planning

And now the wedding day:

  • Full Wedding day coverage however long that might take
  • Second photographer
  • Storing and backing up images
  • Editing and processing images(approx. 3-4 hours per hour of coverage)
  • Online image posting
  • Creating a custom DVD slideshow
  • Album layout (approx. 24 hours)
  • Album layout consult and modifications
  • Album printing
  • In-house Custom printing
  • Archival quality custom prints
  • DVD's, Cases, packaging etc
  • Anything else your package includes
  • Print rights to every image taken at the E-session and the wedding (this means you have the right to use your images any way you like...web, print, email, cards, etc.)

Then there are all the costs associated with running a proper full time business:

  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Studio Space...in my case in home but still a cost
  • Paying Employees
  • Ongoing education courses throughout the year both locally and across the country studying under top photographers in this field.....so we are on the cutting edge of what's going on in our business
  • Marketing...Web, print, etc.
  • Printers and printer equipment...ink, paper, maintenance, etc.  (we print in house not because it saves us time or money, but because we want to provide our clients the highest quality possible)

And last but not least camera equipment:

We use top of the line PRO camera bodies and lenses from Nikon (not available for purchase at Costco).  I have backup equipment, and backups for my backups.  Camera bodies, lenses, flashes and various gadgets....at least two of everything.  I have a lot of top quality, expensive gear because I don't want anything to hold me back from capturing your day in the best way possible, and exactly how I want it.  Of course...having great camera gear does not make a great photographer any more than owning a great brush would make me DaVince.....the magic of photography is in the person holding the camera.  Sure, great photographs can be taken with lesser gear, having the best equipment just helps to ensure that nothing will get in the way of me capturing my vision of your day exactly how I see it.

I know that there are photographers out there that only charge $500 to $1000 to photograph a wedding, and what you receive from them in the end varies widely.  Some of them just hand you a disk with straight out of the camera images and wish you luck.  Never mind if the color is off, or the light isn't right....no digital darkroom work, and no service whatsoever.  Some photographers even manage to provide what they call an album for that price....I would call that a picture holder, but at those prices I don't know how they can even afford to provide that.  Our albums are custom designed and hand crafted.  We partner with our album company to design a line of Signature Vail Studio Storybook albums which are unique to each couple.  Usually, I think they can afford to work at those prices because they have weekday jobs to pay the bills, photography is just a hobby for them, and they might get bored with that hobby in a year.  We are full time photographers and I have been for over ten 15 years now...Ali has been for almost 10, if you call our studio during the week we will answer the phone.  If we had jobs to go to during the week, we could not possibly provide the level of service and quality that we do now.   If photography was just a hobby/part time gig for us, we wouldn't be able to buy backup gear (to make sure that nothing goes wrong on your wedding day) but then what would it matter if it was just a hobby.  Weekend photographers think that $1000 is great for 8 hours of time, that's because that's all the time they will give you.....they ignore the rest of the work, commitment to excellence, and financial investment it takes to truly be a professional photographer.

When you hire a true professional you're not hiring a by the hour employee...you're hiring an artist, with a commitment to excellence no matter how long it takes.  You're hiring peace of mind....and the knowledge that your memories will be captured and preserved in the highest standards available.  You are hiring an artist and trusting them to capture their vision of your day.....so, be sure that vision is one that you LOVE!!

My commissions for Full Wedding Day coverage start at $3000.00 and ranges to $7000.00 with our average client spending around $4500.00....please inquire for more details at erikvail@vailstudio.com or call our studio at 360-679-3983.  We take a limited number of weddings each year so that we can concentrate on quality and service and spaces fill up fast.  Currently we are booking 2015 and 2016  with  limited space left for 2015.  I hope this page clarifies what you should expect to get when you hire a professional...