Last year I put together a frequently asked questions section of my website. It does what it says on the tin to be honest, a list of wedding photography questions (and my answers) that I am most frequently asked.
I got thinking about developing a series of blog posts that elaborate a bit on the FAQs page. Perhaps adding a few useful tools such as infographics and videos along the way which will answer all the questions you could possibly think of when it comes to wedding photography from me!
I got creative with the naming of the blog series too. I have gone with ‘FAQs series’. Fancy isn’t it?
So without further ado, first up (drum roll please) is all about wedding photography costs!
How much do you charge?
OK, straight to the point here, no messing about! This is the most popular question by far that my clients and potential clients who contact me ask, and I don’t blame them! Before falling head over heels in love with a photographer’s work, it is wise to know if they are even in budget. That is normal human behaviour. It’s what I do, and I would put money on it’s what you do too. However, I strongly urge you to not base your decision solely on price.
Photography as an investment
I am probably sounding highly biased here, but your wedding photographs are one of the few things you will take away with you, they are what you will cherish and look at for years to come. Please do not compromise on your photography, yes set a budget, but try to pay what you can afford and really research what you are investing in.
Always check what you are getting for your money. For example, you may find a package at a low price. You may get coverage of your whole day, but you don’t actually receive any photographs that would be suitable for printing. You may receive low resolution, watermarked versions of your photos and have to pay extra if you want the high resolution versions that you are able to create prints of. Or perhaps the photographer will only allow you to pick a certain number for an album (at an extra cost) and no digital version of your images at all.
Every photographer is different
All my wedding packages include your full set of wedding photographs in digital format and rights to share and create your own prints as standard. Two out of three of my packages also include a book too. I can also offer part day rates to match your budget.
But that’s just me. What I am saying is, photographers work in many different ways so just check what you are getting for your money. Plus it’s always worth asking if they do part day rates too to help keep costs down.
But why is wedding photography so expensive?
Yes wedding photography is expensive, and on the face of it it seems an awful lot to invest for ‘one day’s’ work. It’s easy to understand this misconception. You book us, we turn up shoot your wedding then a few weeks later you get your photos. Job done!
Break down of costs
This isn’t really the case though. Wedding photography should be seen as an investment as what you are paying for is:
- The photographer’s eye for detail
- Their expertise
- Their ability to judge situations almost before they happen. To capture and record your day in a subtle way, ensuring nothing missed but without getting under your feet or being intrusive.
There are things that the client doesn’t necessarily see that all have monetary value too, such as:
- Investment and maintenance of camera kit
- Paying for any albums that are part of your package
- The skills gained through training and the years of experience doing what they do
- Professional photo processing software
- Website and gallery hosting
- Storage for all the super big photo files we take (every pro photographer ensures that they back up their work in more than one way)
- Travel expenses (to meet clients, attend fayres, weddings etc)
- Marketing costs such as advertising, brochure design and print, sample photo books and albums and attending wedding fayres.
Time as an expense
Then of course there is the time investment that the photographer will calculate in their pricing. Roughly, you are looking at:
- Pre-booking appointments
- Email and phone call time
- Pre-wedding consultations and maybe a recce at your venue ahead of your day
- Travel time
- Coverage of your wedding itself
- Post wedding editing and perfecting your photo collection
- Design and delivery of your wedding book or album
I have to consider the costs of all of the above when it comes to setting my pricing. So if you are looking at a lower quote for your photography coverage, there may be some elements that your photographer is not including (i.e. you may be paying for time and coverage, but not the actual photographs) or perhaps they are new to the field and don’t have the years of experience to justify a higher rate.
Making the right decision
I would suggest at the very least looking through the examples on the photographer’s website and portfolio. Going slightly off topic, but still think it’s worth a mention but a photographer’s style is very important too when thinking about your investment. I will be blogging more on this in the near future, but my I would describe myself a mainly documentary/reportage style with a little contemporary and traditional group and portrait work thrown in, but never too formal.
What does that mean?! In a nutshell I aim to document your day and capture it as true as possible to how it happened. Very little input from me, blending into the background and telling the story of your day. But you may fancy a little more direction, more staged or arty posed photos. And although I do incorporate a few staged and posed photographs, I mainly take the role of the fly-on-the-wall photographer.
I would suggest researching a variety of different styles, and once you find one you like, look for consistency in style and edit, to make sure you are happy with what they offer.
You have to get on with us
Finally, ensure you get on with your photographer! They are after all going to spend the happiest day of your life with you. Having a good rapport will make all the difference. So I advise you, if you can, try and meet with them in person or have a good chat on the phone/via Skype.
What to ask your photographer
Here is a list of key points you may find helpful when contacting photographers and questions you may like to ask them:
- How long will you attend my wedding for? Do you include bridal prep, will you stay until the first dance? If not, is there an option to extend your coverage?
- What style of photography do you specialise in? Are you documentary, traditional or fine art/contemporary?
- Will I receive high resolution, printable digital copies of my photos and will these be included in the price? If this is extra, how much extra is it to get a copy of these?
- Do you shoot alone or do you have a second photographer on the day?
- Do you include an engagement/pre-wedding shoot?
- Do I gain copyright on my images or a licence allowing me to create my own prints and share with my family and friends?
- Are there any photo books or albums included in the price? Is there an option to order these separately from you?
- Can I order individual prints directly from you?
- Do you charge travel costs?
- Do you back-up your images?
- Are you insured? (In particular ask about public liability – this covers the photographer if someone is injured or property damaged at a client’s home or at a venue and professional indemnity – cover to protect the photographer against equipment failure, loss of data etc.)
More frequently asked questions
I hope that this quick guide on costs and investment has been of some help. Head over to my frequently asked questions page to have all your other questions about wedding photography answered. Plus keep an eye out for more blogs in the FAQs series!
Happy wedding planning, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.