The cost of wedding photography
If you’re looking for a photographer for your wedding and trying to justify the cost involved, I hope this article will be useful.
If you’re in the process of planning your wedding I hope you’re having lots of fun! After the giddy excitement of getting engaged, you are probably now in a bit of a state of shock regarding how expensive it all is! Weddings are expensive, there is no denying it and of course you want to have the perfect day you’ve always dreamed of, but compromises often have to be made in order to ensure costs do not spiral out of control. Much as you’d like your wedding venue to look like the inside of a flower market, you’ve realised that the budget simply won’t stretch that far. While you’d love to book the local castle & provide your guests with a four course banquet, you may have to settle for a more moderate venue, albeit one that you can personalise and make perfect for you.
While you’re trying to juggle the budget and get as much value as you can from all your suppliers, one area that it may seem you can save a bit on is the photography. You’ve had a few quotes and while Photographer A wants to charge you £1500 for their services, Photographer B is only charging you £500, and is even going to include the album – bargain! Noooo, don’t do it!!! Why am I telling you to pay more for exactly the same offering? Because they’re NOT the same. In the same way that a Ferrari doesn’t cost the same as a Ford Focus despite the fact that they are both cars, there are reasons why one photographer will charge more than others. Here are a number of reasons why it is worth investing in an experienced wedding photographer and why the old adage of “cheap is not necessarily good and good is not necessarily cheap” can be particularly true.
You may have a friend with a decent camera who is offering to do the wedding for free, which seems like an even better deal, right? No. These points are even more relevant for you.
Professional wedding photographers will have gained a lot of experience over the years with different locations, lighting situations, bad weather and so on. They will know the best poses, locations, camera angles, and lenses to use in each situation. The family friend or inexperienced photographed may be quite good at taking pictures but can they cope in a wide range of situations when under pressure, including bad weather and low light levels? You only have one chance to get it right, and the professional photographer will have the experience and knowledge to deal with all situations. Do you really want to trust the photographing of your day to someone who is still trying to build up their portfolio?
2. Skills & Training
There is so much more to wedding photography than having a decent camera. A professional will usually have a greater knowledge of the camera’s abilities and of photographic techniques. They will also be experienced at working with people to get the best from them, including coordinating large groups of people in a friendly and efficient manner. Your photographer needs to have the right balance between taking charge when needed, say for group shots, and then blending into the background for more photojournalistic style images. Think about your own job – presumably you’re better at it now that you were a few years ago? Wouldn’t you want a photographer who has also had years to improve their skills? The professional photographer will always be striving to improve, and continue to attend training courses to update and increase their skills.
Good professional photographers will always have backup equipment with them in case of breakdowns or accidents. Newer, more inexperienced photographers may have one good camera but what if that fails? Do they have backup cameras, lenses & flashguns? If they’re taken ill before your wedding do they have a good network of other photographers to call on, or would they simply phone and expect you to find a replacement at the last minute?
4. Equipment Quality
Photography equipment is expensive and needs to be regularly serviced and updated as new models become available. Professionals will have invested a significant amount of money in their equipment. Not just the cameras but also a variety of lenses for different circumstances, plenty of memory cards, flashguns, batteries, tripods, editing software, as well as back-ups of all of these in case of equipment failure. Their aim is to consistently get excellent quality results with reliable equipment. As an example, I probably take around £15,000 worth of camera equipment with me to every wedding, something that photographers new to the industry simply won’t be able to afford.
Professionals should be insured for their photography business. They will carry public liability and professional indemnity insurance. This means that in the event of an accident or a failure to provide an adequate service you have some comeback. If a friend of the family failed to deliver, would you be willing to take action against them and if so could they afford it?
A professional photographer’s reputation is at risk every time they cover a wedding. They have a strong incentive to do a good job, especially in the age of the internet where clients can quickly write bad reviews if they didn’t get a good service. An amateur usually has their day job to fall back on if it doesn’t quite go to plan. Ask to see testimonials from previous couples, and ask to contact them for references if you’re not sure they’re genuine!
7. Post Processing
A professional is likely to have more experience and skill with the post processing of the images as well as with taking them, which in the digital age is an essential skill. This includes retouching skills as well as album design and print presentation. It is also important at this stage that your photographer has the equipment to back-up and keep your images securely.
Most professionals shoot in a file format called RAW – this is like a digital negative and allows the photographer to change the settings like colour balance and highlights once they get back to the computer. Although this flexibility is great and helps with the quality of your photos, it does increase the time spent in post production and hence increases the cost. Some more inexperienced photographers probably won’t be shooting in RAW format and instead rely on the camera to turn the photos into JPEGs as they shoot. The problems associated with this will only be clear once you see the images, by which time it will be too late to save them.
As the photographer is relying on your business for their living it is in their interest to provide good service before, during and after the wedding. A wedding photographer would usually expect to visit the venue in advance to find the best locations to take the photographs & would meet you to discuss in detail the style and list of photographs you want on the day. After the wedding you should expect to receive your proof images promptly, ready for you to choose the photos for your album. While a friend may be willing to take the photos on the day, will they have planned the day in advance and then be prepared to spend an even great amount of time after the wedding selecting, editing & sharing the photos with you, as well as learning how to design the album for you?
9. Album Design
One of the most important aspects of wedding photography today is the album design, which is a skill in its own right. Even if your family friend can take good pictures can they put them together into a creative and stylish album design? Your photographer will have carefully researched the best suppliers & should be able to offer you a selection of different album styles to choose from, to suit your own personal style and budget. Some photographers will just offer you a disc of the images because they are not interested in designing an album, but I believe your album is an important part of the photography. You can read more about why I feel an album is the important final stage here.
10. Quantity is no substitute for quality
Some photographers offer clients 100s of photos on disc at seemingly bargain prices which can be tempting for couples who don’t want to miss out on images from their day. The danger here is that you can end up with a large number of mediocre photos rather than a smaller number of amazing ones. Ideally your photographer will show you a large selection of different images from which to choose your favourites. Beware of photographers who offer you unedited images simply to increase the number of photos you receive. ALL photos need some editing & if a photographer is prepared to let you have them unedited I would question how much pride they actually take in their work. Make sure you ask to see a whole wedding photographed by a photographer, not just their 20 best photos.
Don’t be tempted book a photographer based solely on price. It is no good receiving 2000 photos, 15 hours coverage & an album for a bargain price, if you don’t like any of the pictures! If you can’t afford an album at the moment, consider spending more on the photographer and ask if you can come back and buy the album later, or ask your friends or family if they can contribute towards the album as part of your wedding present.
If you don’t have the budget to pay a photographer for a full day’s coverage, consider asking if you could have them just for a few hours instead.
11. Protecting your memories
You spend thousands of pounds on creating the perfect wedding day, the day you have always dreamed about. When the cake is eaten and the wedding dress put away, all you have left are your memories and your photographs to remind you of one of the most important days of your life. Why trust this to a non-professional? Your photos can’t be reshot if you don’t like them.
12. Business Expenses
I sometimes hear people arguing that the cost of wedding photography seems high just for one day’s work. It clearly isn’t one day’s work. Prior to the wedding your photographer will probably already have met with you a couple of times & will have spent time planning their time for the wedding. They will then spend 10 or more hours photographing your wedding. After your wedding they will spend a number of days sorting and editing your pictures, as well as designing your album. As part of running their business the photographer also needs to pay for their training, website, marketing, accountancy fees, tax & insurance, camera & computer equipment, travel costs, advertising and other expenses associated with running a small business, and I’m afraid we need to pay for this from the jobs we do.
13. And finally….
Once you have considered the advantages of using a professional photographer for your wedding, possibly the two most important questions you should also ask are:
a) Do you like their work? Have you seen a range of photographs and examples of complete weddings they have photographed presented in good quality albums? A good photographer should be able to take consistently good photographs throughout the day, not just the odd amazing image.
b) Do you like them? Your photographer will be with you for a large part of your day and it is essential that you feel comfortable with them and trust them to do a good job.
You can see an article I wrote about the 10 questions you must ask your photographer.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, so please don’t just take my word for it, as admittedly I am a little biased! Please have a look at the following great articles from Rock n Roll Bride. I did consider blatantly plagiarising some of their points, (not really), but figure you might like to hear from someone else for a change!
Rock n Roll Bride – Don’t book a wedding photographer who does this
I hope this has helped you realise the importance of booking a professional to photograph your wedding. Please have a look at my website for more information about me and examples of my work, and hopefully you will decide that I’m the photographer for you! Good luck with your wedding preparations, I hope to meet you one day.
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