Why is wedding photography so expensive and why should you tip your photographer!
When couples start looking for wedding photographers, the range in prices can seem vast and somewhat confusing! Often you will see photographers charging next to nothing, then right up to several thousand pounds, why is this?! Let’s explore some of the factors.
The first consideration and probably the most misleading factor is time. When you book a photographer, you are often quoted a number of hours of photography. Even if the hours are unlimited, the anticipation is that they will be present for around 12 hours. As an example, if you book a photographer for a 10-hour shoot and they charge a £1000, that equates to £100/hour… Pretty good going, where do I sign up to become a wedding photographer?!
Sadly, the day of the shoot is a scratch on the surface! Before the wedding, the admin side has to take place. Sending out quotes, answering emails, phone calls with clients, social media, marketing, along with all the other paperwork that goes along with running a business in the UK. The day before the shoot there is preparation to ensure all the required gear is ready and there aren’t any unexpected surprises. After the shoot, the editing begins and delivery of the photos. Between the preparation and editing at least another two days could easily be accounted for per wedding. Calculator please!
10-hour wedding, 20 hours of admin and editing = £33.33/ hour
Still not bad!
Now factor in that 95% of weddings happen on Saturdays, reducing your potential earning days to 50 odd days per year, then divide that by 2 since most people want a summer wedding!
Now let’s look at costs. A professional wedding photographer should have at least two cameras. The reason behind this is that equipment does fail, so if one camera fails, yep, you get it! A variety of lenses are used throughout the day and unfortunately, like most things, you get what you pay for and they aren’t cheap! Add flashguns, memory cards, tripods, LED lights, straps, bags, batteries plus all those other little accessories that form being a professional photographer and you are suddenly looking at over £10,000 worth of equipment. Naturally, this needs insuring, as does the business! There’s also the time and cost of travelling to and from the venue.
At the office, the equipment list keeps growing! The software is specialist, the computers need to be fast in order to edit efficiently and the photos need to be backed up several times at different places. It’s all damage limitation as unfortunately, you can’t just pop back to a wedding if you lose all the photos! There is also CRM software and software to allow the photos to be delivered in a professional manner. Without forgetting email and website costs.
Advertising costs vary enormously between photographers, so it’s a hard one to call, but advertising isn’t cheap either, unfortunately! A conservative estimate would be £200/month.
Granted, I haven’t provided all the costs, but you start to understand that the cost/hour actually starts to be pretty minimal! But it still begs the question of why some photographers charge anything from a couple of hundred pounds to maybe even free…
Starting out in the wedding photography industry is pretty fierce. The digital era has meant that anyone can pick up a camera for a few hundred pounds, pop up a Wix website and call themselves a wedding photographer. Their portfolio can consist of staged photos, or even worse (and this does happen) other wedding photographer’s photos!! Now if you aren’t that bothered about your final wedding shots, then giving someone who’s new to the game an opportunity, is a win-win situation. It’s fantastic for the photographer to have a go and get their feet wet trying and it saves you a few hundred pounds. However, dun dun dar…. If you do care about your photos, then as my friend would say, only birds cheap! Unless you are very lucky, you risk having less than perfect wedding photos, or maybe even professional no photos at all.
Now let’s put this into context! I love this part, whenever I say this to people, they always look at me with horror – Your wedding photos will almost certainly last longer than your marriage… No, I’m not saying you are going to get divorced, don’t worry!! I would be willing to bet that you have seen photos from your parent’s wedding or your grandparent’s weddings, maybe even great grandparent’s weddings, taken on film, maybe even black and white and I bet you were pretty fascinated by them. Now factor in the change in technology, the ease of storing the photos, the number of photos you receive and in all likelihood, your photos are going to last longer than your grandparent’s photos have, a good few generations. And they aren’t just any photos, they are your wedding photos, or as they will be referred to when your grandchildren look at them, granny’s wedding photos. They will be looked at with huge curiosity and love! They may even make an inappropriate comment about how wrinkly you are now compared to then!
Out of all the investments that you are making for your wedding, is there anything (other than your love for each other of course!) that will last longer than those photos? Please don’t say the cake, as I don’t want to imagine 80+-year-old cake!!!
What I’m trying to say, is that your wedding photos should hold value to you as they will bring you joy in your life (our memory is not as good as we would like to think it is!) and they will bring joy to the future generations of your family, so please think carefully about your decision! As with most professions, experience does count for quite a lot. Wedding photography is a full-on job, it’s multi-disciplined and requires knowledge in nearly all aspects of photography. As good as technology is, it hasn’t reached the stage of filling in for experience!
So to conclude this extremely negative article that is slapping wrists left right and centre, please pay your wedding photographer a greater level of attention and tip them with a huge bonus at the end of the shoot! Don’t worry, I’m just joking, kind of! Since we don’t do financial tips in the UK, the best tip you can give your photographer is to share your photos far and wide, tag them, leave reviews everywhere and tell all your friends and family how amazing they were! Many wedding photographers, not all, but many, choose this career because they genuinely love it and it shows through their work. I choose to shoot weddings because I love meeting the couples and getting to know them albeit briefly. I get huge pleasure witnessing and capturing your day that is brimming full of love, happiness and emotion. It’s awesome and a privilege every time!