***I started my ‘Taiwan Wedding’ series over a year and a half ago, but it fell to the wayside for a while when I took a three-month blogging break last year. However, it is the one thing that people always ask about, so I am going to see it through to its completion. This post was written in September 2014 (!!) and it is finally making its way into the blogosphere.***
Like I mentioned in previous posts in my ‘Taiwan Wedding’ series, weddings are a big deal in Taiwan and wedding photos are no exception.
Pre-wedding photo shoots are a big business in Taiwan. And the industry doesn’t only cater to Taiwanese. My friend from Hong Kong told me that many of her friends have traveled to the island just to get their wedding photos taken.
There are several wedding photo shops in every city and major town in Taiwan, so there is no shortage of options. Taipei even has an entire area dedicated to photo shops.
Sometimes too much of something is not always a good thing, and the whole process of selecting which shop, style, and package can be overwhelming. However, I have compiled a list of items to ask about, consider, and get written on paper. If you keep these points in mind, then the entire process should be a breeze and hopefully, stress-free.
 Ask Around
A good jumping off point is to ask around for suggestions. Do you know a newly married couple? Then, ask them for advice. They will be able to give you a general idea of the prices and packages in your area. Also, they may be able to offer some advice about what you need to have included in the contract, and you may even learn from their mistakes.
 Know What You Want
Compile a list of what you would like to be included in your package. It is better to have all your wants and needs written down on paper, rather than forget one of your mental notes.
Because once the contract is signed, any additional requests may cost you.
 Photo Shoot Location
Wedding photo shoots usually consist of two portions: photos taken indoors and ones taken at an outside venue.
Have an idea of your ideal outdoor location in mind. Some people choose the beach as their background, while some choose mountain scenery as their backdrop. Other options include architecture, lakeside, or a famous landmark. No matter what your preference, be sure discuss it during your initial visit to ensure they are willing to and can meet your expectations.
**From what I understand, some [if not all] photo shops in Taipei expect you to provide transportation to the location (if this is not the case, please let me know). However, we got our pictures taken in the Taichung area and it was provided by the shop and included in the price. This is also something worth asking about during your initial visit as well.**
 Special/Unique Requirements & Requests
This was a big one for me. I was a unique bride with a special list of circumstances.
For example, when I learned that I didn’t get a proof of each photo prior to beginning our search, I knew that is something I wanted included in the package. To me, it is pointless to capture a day’s worth of pictures and only have thirty to show for it. My husband was skeptical that I would find any shop to agree to these terms, but low and behold, I did on the first try.
Also, I got it written in the contract that our pictures were not to be used for promotional purposes. I know I am by no means a model or anything, but I heard that foreigners’ pictures were often used without their knowledge nor consent.
Another big one for me was to have no English quotes included in the albums. I have seen so many couples’ albums with phrases like ‘Happy Marry Day’ or ‘We Happy Marry Today.’ They don’t know the difference, at least.
 Price & Package
Most stores have standard packages which include the following:
~ an entire day of photographing with a professional photographer, including three to four clothing changes [with dresses and suits provided for both the bride and groom], and three to four make-up and hair style changes
**Note – Some couples choose to have a two-day photo shoot these days, so that is another option.**
~ a large photo album, two smaller ones [for each set of parents], and a very some one [including 4×6 pictures]
~ a large photo [or two] which will be displayed at the wedding
~ everything you need for day of the wedding [ribbons for the car, guest book, etc.]
~ a beautiful bouquet of roses [well, mine did anyway]
~ wedding day attire for the bride [wedding dress, a change dress [or dresses], and accessories [make-up and hair styling on the wedding day, if you choose to get it done at the photo shop, will cost extra.]
~ A CD copy of the purchased photos
For the package above, we paid NT$35,000 about ten years ago [about US$1000 at the time]. A similar package in Taipei will set you back A LOT more. It all depends on what you want to have included. My brother-in-law, who got married the same year as we did, spent a whopping NT$100,000 on photos [about US$2850].
Now, this is where it gets tricky [and why my brother-in-law spent way more money.] Like I mentioned before, the photographer will take at least two hundred pictures, if not more, and only a handful of these are included in the package [our package included thirty].
If you want additional photos, the price of NT$600 up towards NT$1000 (US$20 – $33) needs to be paid to have the rights for each extra picture selected. Hence, the reason why no proofs are provided. I know a few couples that ended up spending A LOT MORE on photos than originally intended, meaning more money for the store.
So, be sure to keep this in mind.
 Select to Style that Suits You
Every photographer has their own unique style, so make sure it is something you consider as well. Each store has sample albums and one stood out for me as the photos were more natural and had ‘less cheesy’ poses.
We were so happy we picked the photographer we did. We had a lot of fun during the sessions and he even climbed high in a tree to capture the ‘perfect shot.’
This also applies to your wardrobe on that day as well. They may pick outfits that don’t suit your style, and if they do, then keep searching.
 Don’t Be Afraid to Compare
Some couples feel obligated and even forced into making a decision on the stop, but don’t be afraid to say you will think about it.
This is what happened to us. We were about to leave and the manager agreed to give me a proof of each photo. 🙂
 Stand Your Ground
Make sure the photo shop sticks to the contract. The package we purchased included albums with brown leather covers which I loved and paid a little extra for [a portion is seen in the intro picture]. Then, they tried to get me to change to a bright pink plastic design because they said the leather option was no longer available. When I said no and pulled out the contract, the brown leather miraculously became available again.
Also, if you don’t like something, speak up. I wish I had to taken my own advice on the day of the shoot as there were a couple of things I didn’t agree with. For instance, they had me stand on something, so I was nearly the same height as my husband, and it just looked wrong in the pictures.
 Don’t Pay Everything in One Shot
To ensure you still have some power and you will get what you agreed to, don’t pay everything at the start. It gives you a little power to make sure you are not going to get taken advantage of.
A year after we got married, the photo shop we got our photos taken at closed without noticed, and left several couples high and dry. Can you imagine how they must have felt? Some were getting married within days and had no photos to show for it.
I am not saying every shop is like that, but it is definitely another factor to keep in mind because this shop was one of the best in the area.
Now, over to you. Would you prefer a pre-wedding photo shoot or one on the day of the wedding?
Luckily for me, we had both [the pre-wedding photo shoot in Taiwan and photos taken on the day of our church wedding in Canada.] The next post in this series will give you a rundown of what each entailed, what we thought of each, and which one we preferred.
Want to know about weddings in Taiwan? Then, check out these posts!