I wanted to highlight something today that is always a question I hear asked, as does every wedding photographer out there I'm sure. It's a simple one to ask - 'Why is wedding photography so expensive?'
Sound familiar? Simple to ask, not quite so simple to answer as there are a multitude of different factors contributing to the overall cost of wedding photography. I can't speak for everyone, but here at Prime Photos, I can outline exactly what goes into making my own wedding photography packages.
First it is important to remember that, like everything in life, the word expensive is relative to who is actually asking the question. Some people would happily pay £5,000 for a wedding photographer; celebrities would pay closer to £25,000. Most wedding photographers charge somewhere between £1000 and £2000 depending on the Packages they offer. If you look at my current prices, my most expensive package is £700. Which out of these examples is actually expensive? In relative terms to the overall wedding photography market, my prices are very affordable, which is exactly how I market myself, an affordable wedding photographer.
So, the next question you may ask is why do some photographers charge more than others. Complicated question with many possible answers. The elite expensive photographers who charge £5000 and more would probably use multiple assistants, multiple flashes and multiple second shooters. Their outlay is likely very expensive, so they charge more. Don't feel too sorry for them though, their profit margins are likely through the roof. But that is a status they have earned (probably) with decades of experience and immeasurable talent.
The photographers who charge in the region of £1500 are either one of two things.
1. Very good at their job, bringing in years and years of experience with hundreds of happy clients, ensuring truly great images and willing to put a lot of time into editing. They are the ones who should be charging these prices.
2. The photographers who are probably not very good at their work, not experienced, possibly don't even edit their images but see that some photographers charge this much and so think they can get in on the action, taking the rewards without sacrificing to get them. These photographers should not be in the business at all.
How can you tell the difference between these two types of photographers? Look very closely at their images and review their experience.
Then you have the photographers such as myself. I have been in photography for years but have only been on the wedding scene for a couple of years, thus my experience doesn't qualify me to charge £1500 or more. I am honest with my experience levels and don't hide behind lies about it. I don't need to; the quality of my images and the happiness of my clients assures me that I am doing a fantastic job. So, the difference between me and a £1500 photographer? Experience, that's all. Not quality and not service (in fact my service is probably better being that I need to strive to always please every single one of my clients). I offer fair pricing based on my experience and how much it actually costs me to run a wedding photography business.
In summary, my pricing is not expensive in relative terms to other wedding photographers out there (some who charge a lot more than me despite not having any experience, passion, commitment or sacrifice). My prices are very much affordable, cheap even when put to comparison against others, and reflect exactly what I should be charging.
Some £1500 photographers (the good ones) are not expensive either in relative terms, they are simply charging for their experience.
As for the ones who can charge £5000 and above I will leave you to your opinions; for that money I would be expecting multiple assistants, second shooters, extensive flash equipment and decades of experience.
Now that I have tried to sum up what relative expense actual means for wedding photography, I will list below what actually goes into making Prime Photos an affordable wedding photographer.
1 - Travel.
This can easily add up. First you have travel expenses to meet clients for the first time, next may be an engagement shoot, possibly a pre-venue visit, the wedding day itself and that sometimes includes a separate reception venue.
Now I live in Exeter and I actually really enjoy travelling and driving especially, it's like my safe zone, perfectly snuggled inside the 4 sides of my metal box with some nice music on. Living in Exeter, I am fortunate that I am within easy access of motorways and A roads which makes travel easier. Nevertheless, some of my clients have weddings up to 2 hours away from me. That's a 4 hour round trip, potentially making that journey three times - initial meeting, engagement shoot/pre-venue visit, the wedding day itself. That's 12 hours of travel time, believe me when I say that adds up in fuel. The wedding itself may last 12 hours, so in this case I am actually being hired for 12 hours of the wedding day AND 12 hours of driving time. Basically, this becomes two working days not just one.
2 - Equipment.
I think it goes without saying that photography equipment is expensive. You can see a full list of my equipment here.
One camera body as my main camera and one as a backup = Thousands of pounds.
A variety of lenses = Thousands of pounds.
Batteries, more batteries and more batteries again, professional memory cards and then more professional memory cards = Hundreds of pounds.
Flash, off-camera flash, more batteries for flash = Hundreds of pounds.
Tripods, stands, bags, filters, grips and accessories = Hundreds of pounds.
And you know what; it all gets damaged, worn and worked. Repairs, new kit, upgrades = Thousands of pounds. The start off cost and annual cost of wedding photography equipment is a lot of money. Oh, and did I mention you need a very powerful computer, millions of gigabytes worth of back-up hard drives and subscription based editing software. Well just add in the cost of that as well. This takes me nicely onto the next section.
3 - Editing.
This is where the time and workload really come into play. If you want to know one key difference between a professional wedding photographer and 'a friend who has a good camera and is going to be taking our photos at our wedding', it is in the editing. This is a trade where professional wedding photographers have employed thousands of hours in practice, pain, frustration, joy and knowledge in getting photos to look how they should. Real wedding photographers know exactly how to edit to bring out the best from their photos. I will reserve a separate blog entry for the whole process of editing but needless to say it takes days, not hours, to edit a whole wedding. For a full day, ten-hour wedding, expect about 40 hours of editing. Suddenly we're starting to see that travel time + the wedding day + editing is equalling about a week’s worth of work, sometimes more and sometimes less.
4 - After service.
This is a simpler section; after service is simply that, giving service even after the job is done. Weather that be printing photos as requested by clients, providing backup photos upon request, tweaking any edits that a client may feel needs doing (like taking a piece of confetti out of someone's face) and just generally being there to continually help and understand the needs of clients.
5 - Advertising.
The hardest part of a wedding photographers job is this, actually getting clients. There are a lot of wedding photographers out there and it is growing, the competition is fierce. How do you get more clients? Advertise. There are multiple ways to do this, some ways work some of the time, most don't work at all. And advertising takes both time and money. One of the biggest outlays in wedding photography is advertising. I can easily spend hundreds of pounds a month on advertising and long hours that stretch into the night creating adverts, writing blogs, making and editing vlogs and everything else that I can possibly think of in order to drive clients into my cameras waiting focus. I can tell you now that I could nearly cut my prices by a third if it wasn't for advertising.
There are aspects I haven't even brought up here. Phone calls, messages, e-mails, spam (my biggest hate, every company you can imagine trying to get your business to opt in to theirs in order for them to generate more money), SEO, website maintenance, social media maintenance, dealing with suppliers, ordering, filing, printing brochures and business cards. The list goes on.
My point in this post is simply to highlight the different aspects that go into wedding photography. As professional wedding photographers, we don't just turn up on your wedding day, shoot the photos and go home. Everything before and after is put into it. One day of work at a wedding easily equates to one-two weeks work when you take into account what is actually required to run a successful photography business. That outlay of money that makes wedding photography 'expensive' is what is required to ensure you are getting the best equipment, the best service, the best experience, the best reassurance and most importantly the best photographer.
Prime Photos - 'Affordable' Exeter, Devon & South West Wedding Photographer.