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The cost of wedding photography

I

 have decided to write this blog post because so many brides approach me with no idea of the price of wedding photography. I have also been a bride so I understand that the initial budget you set for your big day can also change when you start planning. It’s not every day you plan a wedding so it may be easy to underestimate the price of wedding photography and be left confused by what you want or need from a wedding photographer.

It also seems many brides and grooms expect to find a top wedding photographer for £750 but Your Perfect Wedding suggests the average spend on wedding photography is £1450 and wedding photographers can charge up to £2000 and still be considered the middle of the market. So what are you actually paying for? Is £2000 expensive for wed­ding photography? Let’s take a closer look at what are you paying for and the common misconceptions among many brides.

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 “Wedding photography is easy. My friend has a great camera; get her to photograph your wedding”

Sure, the digital revolution has made photography accessible for everyone and cameras are getting more intelligent at taking pictures with a good exposure but does that make everyone a professional photographer? Can everyone set up and create a picture as well as take it?

Of course not. A photographer is not only experienced in using and getting the best results out of a camera but trained in the art of directing people, being in the right place at the right time and finding the beautiful light to create outstanding images. A wed­ding photographer’s work has to be 100% right every sin­gle time and for all the precise moments i.e. walking down the aisle, first kiss or first dance because you can’t recreate those moments. We know how to handle these situations no matter what the light throw at us and can manipulate our camera for the best results. Shooting in auto is just asking for trouble!

What you are ultimately paying for is the experience of a photographer and the peace of mind that it doesn’t matter if it rains or gets dark early, you will still get beautiful photographs. As photographers, we can­not have an off day, because our off day is some­one else’s big day. So come rain or shine, in sickness and health we have to be on form and capture the moments you expect to see in our work. There will be so many other things to worry about on your wedding day and your wedding photos shouldn’t be one of them if you have chosen the right photographer. Experience is not something that you can’t put a price on and ultimately you want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

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“Wedding photographers only work on Saturday’s. What a great job!”

Not only do wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers work week­ends but weekdays as well. It is a common illusion that we come to your wedding; photograph all day and then our job done, if only! What the client doesn’t see is that a large amount of work goes on behind-the-scenes and this is also reflected in the price. So what goes into the true cost of wedding photography?

Well, the most obvious (or not so obvious) factor is time. On average each wedding is approximately 40 hours of work. I hear you gasp and ask, really?! How do you come up with 40 hours?

Here’s an example:

Before ceremony: initial client meetings and signing the contracts, engagement or bridal portrait sessions, phone calls, venue scouting trips, meetings with wedding planners, last minute planning, telephone call and emailing. Editing portrait session, viewing, and products i.e. guestbook, signing canvas etc

Day of the ceremony: initial equipment check and loading, travel time to the venue, on average 10 hours at the event from bridal prep until first dance.

Post-Production: downloading images from devices, image editing, colour balance and retouching, archiving, blogging, uploading to Facebook and client galleries.

Albums: Building the album, emailing proof sheets to clients, approvals, delivering the album.

This is without even considering our overheads and operating costs such as equipment, maintenance, website hosting, online storage, camera insurance, bookkeeping, taxes, advertising, and marketing budget. Plus, in total, my equipment cost around £17,000 (this is average) and a working pro’s kit will need to be repaired or updated at some point in time.

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“The photographer down the road is prepared to photograph my wedding for £295 and give me the disc of images.”

The truth of the matter is that times have changed. A wedding can be expensive and naturally is making everyone look for the cheaper option and compromise; however, the true price you will pay will be in the quality and service you will receive from your photographer.

You do not need any qualifications or certificates to become a professional photographer, anyone can take the name but not everyone can live up to the expectations. Some people believe they can make a quick buck from wedding photography but often these people are either a hobbyist with a full­time job to pay the bills, or pros that will be out of busi­ness in a year or two unless they change their busi­ness model.

Those prepared to shoot a full wedding package for virtually no money are also likely to be either lacking in experience or equipment i.e. they have no backup equipment or insurance. If you are happy to take the risk, fine, maybe it will work out okay. But let me ask you this, would you take the same risk on your dress or the catering?

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My verdict

Ultimately, what it comes down to is your perception and how much you value the photographs from your big day. For me, photography is a way of holding on to memories and for a split second holding time still. But like other creative medium photography is subjective and how do you put a price on photographs worth? Does the perfect photograph actually exist? Or is the perfect photography only perfect for the people that it needs to be perfect too? I often think the photographs are not truly important until they are all you have left. I will let you decide………

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

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