Wedding Photography Prices....why do we charge what we do?

Don’t worry! I am not going to scare you off. Wedding Photography Prices are a minefield and its entirely understandable why. I just want to use this opportunity to hopefully educate those who are put off by wedding photography as to why some of us charge what we do.

A big question from people I get is “why is wedding photography so expensive”? Which then tends to go onto the next part of their question “why is it when it comes to weddings, everything is so much more expensive”. Now, I can’t speak for other suppliers in the industry, but I will tell you this….all of what I am about to say, they will have their own version of it that is relevant to their trade and will be just as relevant to you as a couple. But, I am a wedding photographer who can only speak for wedding photography prices, I shall only talk about that!

Depending on who you speak to, wedding photography prices tends to vary so much that it can leave a poor couple properly blindsided and not really knowing what they are getting, why they are getting it, how and who is right and who is wrong when it comes to their decision making and what makes that price what it is. Make no bones about it, the choice of your wedding photographer IS an important one, no mistake! It’s the memories you will take away from your day, its the things you will carry with you onward in your marriage and you want someone to do the best job they can for you, right?

In today’s odd political and financial climate, wedding photography prices are regularly getting undercut by the one of a thousand new photographers just getting into the game, or having wedding photography as a little sideline where the making of money for them is an added bonus, an extra if you like, maybe next to being already financially secure or having a full time job. And in some ways, the principle isn’t a bad thing. But what it DOES do is undercut all those amazingly talented people who are trying to make a living as a wedding photographer outright and then they can’t compete.

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“ Well, change with the times” I hear you say. Well….it’s not that simple really. Because those who are doing cheaply are bringing the whole industry down and people are losing work, money, livelihoods as they can’t compete and that’s just not fair.

So, why DO wedding photography prices fluctuate so much depending on who you see and speak to?

Well, the biggest one is the quality of the work. There are clearly exceptions to the rule, of course there are. But it does tend to follow that if it looks cheap, it is cheap. I could put a £2000 photographer in front of you and a £750 photographer in front of you and 9 times out of 10……you will DEFINITELY be able to tell the more expensive one.

The available budget for some couples is a very important factor. I get that. Of course money is real concern and has to be taken into account. Totally. But don’t cheat yourself either by going cheap. I hear horror stories all the time when someone said they had a low budget, but the photography was important to them and they have had a nightmare with their photographer, the work was poor, the service and communication was none existent and so on. What a real shame. Don’t be that person. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. You wouldn’t expect Rolls Royce quality from a Kia, so don’t expect the same with your photographer.

If you are paying less than £1000 for a photographer…..be careful. Why are they so cheap? Are they new? Is their work any good? How many weddings are they doing? (by the way, be aware…if they are cheap, you might not get an honest answer. Do the research as well. Any photographer worth their salt will make sure they have as much online exposure to sell themselves as possible and if it looks like they aren’t or haven’t done many weddings, then…..well….good luck….). Are they fully insured? Is their gear up to scratch? Do they have backups? Are they reliable?

Wedding photography prices reflect SO much more than the actual photography quality. It reflects experience, the investment by the photographer themselves into their work, equipment, ongoing self improvement etc etc. I will do a little breakdown in a mo….you will see what I mean.

And lastly, the time spent. Anyone can shoot a wedding, do barely any processing to effectively what are snaps and then send them out. But that is it. You definitely aren’t getting a good product or good service in any way. Wedding photography is a big thing and takes time and this is all accounted for in the prices.

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So, let me show you roughly what things we are doing for the money we have to charge…..there will be more to this, but this is basic stuff for any GOOD wedding photographer.

  • The time. The consultation with the couple beforehand. The reccy to the venue if its new to check it out. The time at the wedding itself (I am unlimited hours, so I could be there for a LONG time…). The immediate time afterwards to make sure everything is safe and backed up. The travel time. The processing and behind the scenes time….it all adds up

  • The gear. Professional grade cameras aren’t cheap. Ok, you can’t really buy a “bad” camera anymore, but even low end cameras and all the lenses and all the flash lights, stands, light modifiers, radio triggers, batteries, straps, bags etc cost a heck of a lot of money. Before we have even started the work, we outlay a LOT of money to get going. That needs to be made back for sure

  • Backups. All of the above needs to be double. So, you CAN, in theory, get going on minimal gear. I did. But I learned, very quickly, the hard way, that things go wrong. And going wrong at a wedding is an absolute no-no. There is no going back and doing it again. So we always buy double, just in case. You won’t notice or know that we have done this, but you would if it all went wrong and we couldn’t carry on…..(I have two main cameras, two backup cameras and double the batteries and lights etc I might need. The 4 cameras alone cost together upwards of probably £8000……without lenses…)

  • The subscriptions. Eh? Yep….we need to subscribe to things to give you the best results and services we can. Online galleries for you to view your photos after the event aren’t free. We have to pay a monthly subscription to use them. The software that helps us sort out the photos, the software that we process the work on, the software that keeps a check on our finances and keeps the business running, the website domains we have to pay for, the websites themselves…..this all costs money, in some cases of it, a heck of a lot too. We have to pay for that somehow.

  • The self improvement. If I want to stay in business, like ANY other business, I have to move with the times. And to do that, I have to pay to train myself further, to improve and hone my skills, or learn new ones, get new inspiration. It works for you guys too…you get a “ new and improved” me. It benefits us all. But I have to pay for that and again, not cheap. It all adds up. Even Morgan Car Company has had to move with the times….

  • The consumables. I send all my stuff out on USB’s and package them as nicely as I can for you. Materials add up. Then there is lens cleaning cloths and liquids, lens blowers, other types of batteries, printer inks and paper etc. All has to be for the business, all paid for by us. There is a lot more than this, but you get the point…

  • Insurance. A BIG part of what we do. Public indemnity, public liability, equipment insurance, car insurance…I couldn’t and wouldn’t work without any of it. And its not cheap…

  • Travel. Fuel, the running of the car and sometimes accommodation if working at places not so near to me.

  • Taxes. We ALL have to pay our taxes as we aren’t any different. It creeps up on us, so not all the money we earn is our own!

  • The service. I am at the end of an email and will reply and give as much support and knowledge and help to go the extra mile as I can. If you paid someone to do something for you and you then got nothing back from them, you would say it was terrible value. I don’t want to be that person, but I also need to be paid.

  • Marketing. We need to pay to get ourselves out there and stand out in a highly saturated market and because it IS, it’s not cheap to do. Even social media can be expensive for a business…..

I have no idea how much all this costs of the top of my head unless I went into my accounts and looked. But……let me put it this way….

If someone is charging £500 a wedding, I PROMISE you they are working for less than minimum wage or they are doing SO many weddings in a year that they can, in no physical possible way, give your wedding the attention it would and should deserve. ANY photographer will say that upwards of 45 weddings a year is getting to limits. I know some who have done 50+ a year (at a high price as well) and they have said never again because its physically and mentally exhausting.

But I did calculate, roughly once, that if you are charging £500 a wedding, then if its your sole income and you are only a wedding photographer shooting weddings at that price, you would have to be shooting over EIGHTY weddings a year to just…..JUST break even. Put’s things into perspective doesn’t it?

So…..when I have people ask why am I so expensive and why is wedding photography pricing so expensive in general, I usually say this…..

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We have to live, just like everyone else. Put food on the table, feed the kids, put the roof over our heads, do all the things any other person would do to stay alive and have a job. When it all comes down to it, we are just trying to do what everyone else is doing and at £500 a wedding, we definitely wouldn’t be making a living. With all that it costs us, we have to price ourselves accordingly. Yes, we love our job. Yes we do it because its the freedom of working for ourselves. But that comes at the cost of the stress of wondering if we will make enough bookings, the stress of ensuring nothing goes wrong.

I appreciate some people see that photographers only turn up and press a button a couple of thousand times, but it really isn’t the case. It’s a LOT of hard work….

It’s a mantra well known withing professional photography circles that we spend 15-20% taking photos and 80-85% of our time behind the scenes doing other stuff to allow us to do the 15-20%.

So, why is wedding photography pricing so expensive and why do we charge what we do?

In the grand scheme of things and compared to other industries and jobs…….it really isn’t that expensive and we all have to make a living, right?

Of course, choose your photographer wisely and I totally understand that not everyone has £3000 to spend on a wedding photographer! I certainly didn’t when I got married. But I also made sure it wasn’t something I skimped on either. And if you can afford that little bit more, then neither should you.

So…….

Please help feed a poor photographer this year. Send your £300 non-returnable booking fee donation to either this website or enquiries@johnwoodwardphotography.co.uk The appeal will be open indefinitely as there seems to be no end to the crisis of the overworked, underpaid wedding photographer, but the immediate cause would gratefully receive those donations for the year 2020 and 2021. In return you will get the promise and delivery of fantastic wedding photography and a great deal of fun along the way. But remember what you are doing so dig deep people…..help a creative. Thank you

;-P

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