Why wedding photography is so expensive ?
Why is wedding photography so expensive?
Most articles in that subject usually start with bragging about the cost of running business in general. Telling couples how insurance, taxes, website, advertising, vehicle, gear etc affect the photographers’ fees. Those are hugely impactful factors. But isn’t it in any other businesses?
At least for myself and my fellow vendors it is obvious. So naturally I assume that everybody knows that…everyone apart from my future brides and grooms. There is a saying that claims ‘Assumption Is The Mother Of All Mistakes’ So let’s brag.
How come the other guys can do it for a fraction of what you charge?
I decided that I need to educate the couples and give them a little insight on why why some photographers can charge you less.
First option is that you are dealing with a newbie, someone who is entering the market and needs to build a portfolio and get some experience. For obvious reasons that photographers will have lower package prices to attract more couples.
The other is you are dealing with someone with a portfolio that has shallow artistic perception on the market. Simply the work produced by that person has less value to his potential clients. Quite often if you look at the portfolio of a wedding photographer with 15 years of experience It’s almost like you are looking at your parents wedding photos.
Their artistic approach has barely changed. Wedding images look the same as they were done in the last century. So the only way to differentiate himself from others is to charge less.
Another option is when you are dealing with a studio. What does that mean? Studios usually employs several different photographers, retouchers, social media specialists etc. They might be also doing other genres of photography like family sessions or product photography.
If you look at their website Instagram or FB you will usually see a set of really solid images. It is most likely the best of the best from a portfolio of x amount of different photographers. Some of which might not even work there anymore but the studio owns the image copyrights and therefore uses those in marketing.
They cover several weddings on the same day so it is profitable to lower the package price to attract more couples. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if a certain style of photography is important to you, make sure you know who exactly will be covering your event. Have a look at their own portfolio specifically.
Couples’ perspective on wedding photographers
I have come across a statement that claims ‘ wedding photographers are just glorified hipsters. They just walk around the venue all day with their fancy cameras snapping photos and charging arm and a leg for that. Anybody can do that. My iPhone takes amazing photos. I could manage to do that no problem. ‘ As it may come as a surprise to some of you I actually agree with most of that statement…well to a certain degree.
Let’s dissect that here.
‘walk around all day snapping photos ‘
True. However for a solid wedding photographer the walking itself is very deliberate without any sign of randomness. It is driven by the experience of being at an x amount of previous weddings by knowing its pace and timeline. Make no mistake there is nothing casual in where and when we go during the wedding day.
‘My iPhone takes amazing photos’
So does mine. And I use it all the time when I’m out and about with my kids. No need to carry a big camera and set of lenses to every family trip. You have all that in your pocket. Would I use it for any professional work? Absolutely not.
Pro wedding photographers take anything between 3,000 to 10,000 images on every wedding. Do you really think your iPhone would keep up with that kind of pace within 8 to 16 hours of a full day wedding? How quickly will the battery be drained? How long the internal memory would last?
Pro grade cameras are no different but they do have removable batteries that can be changed in seconds same goes with memory cards. Can your iPhone do that? What if something goes wrong and your iPhone fails?
What if there’s no wi-fi or any kind network coverage because you are in the Isle of Skye shooting elopement? How in that instance your iPhone’s memory performs cloud backup of all images?
Most pro grade cameras that we use record every single image that is taken simultaneously on two memory cards. And most of us have two of those cameras with us at all times during the wedding day.
‘Anybody can do that. I could manage no problem.’
Anybody can actually do that but not everyone can manage. I’m talking about a minimum of 8 hours of constant thinking about composition, lighting conditions, different angles, storytelling. And there’s a timeline of what is happening next.
You can afford to switch that mindset off because you end up missing important moments. You can’t just go to the bar for a quick drink if you feel a little bit tired. Even something so trivial like bathroom brakes have to be well considered. What if you take it in the wrong moment and miss the father of the bride’s speech. Can you really afford that as a professional wedding photographer?
Wedding Photography Cost
A lot of you treat wedding photography as a one day photoshoot and job is done. In real life most professional wedding photographers spend on average between 40 to 80 hours on every wedding. That includes initial contact emails, phone calls, consults, video chats, getting in and out of the venue, editing, designing albums etc.
While all other wedding vendors are long gone and you enjoying sandy beaches during your honeymoon we are still working on your story editing and polishing it up in post-production. Don’t forget that at the end of the year the taxman is looking to get his share of the pie.
Wedding in numbers
Let’s throw a few digits in here so we have a better understanding of the subject. According to a popular UK wedding website an average cost of a British wedding venue with reception and catering in 2019 was £10,880. You have access to all that goodness for about 12 to 16 hours.
- Wedding dress is £1,313 which you will wear one time only.
- Honeymoon cost you £4,645 which will keep you happy for a week.
- And your band/DJ will provide around 6 hour entertainment for your guests for £1005.
- Videography is around £968. And there’s the photographer costing £1155.
Altogether £19,966 of the biggest guns of your wedding expenses. (photographer is a 5.8% of the overall) And deliberately I have excluded other equally important stuff like decor, flowers, cake, transportation, stationery, stag and hen party, littlemoon etc
True value of an image
All these things above are absolutely essential and without them the wedding wouldn’t be happening. Nevertheless all of them will elude and become memories. That’s where us photographers come in with an imperative role as storytellers. The images taken on that day will last your lifetime. They will most likely outlive you. Ask yourself a question: how would you like the story of your wedding to be told? And what actual value the wedding photography have to you?
I posted two images on my Instagram . Both has been taken within few seconds from each other. One is my own other is been captured by bridesmaid’s iPhone. I wander if you guess which is which.