Today’s guest post, brought to us by UK based wedding photographer Andrew Hind of Lightworks Photography, offers an in-depth look at wedding photography pricing and what you can expect at each price point. Enjoy!
In many ways photography is like cooking! To a certain extent everyone can do it, most of us have the tools and a bit of basic knowledge, and it’s very much part our of our everyday lives. However, we’re not all chefs any more than we are all photographers and the meat and two veg of everyday meals are as far away from the creations of a cordon bleu chef as mobile phone snap shots are from the work of a professional photographer. Most of the time we do very well eating everyday sausage and mash but there’s a great joy and experience in going to a fine restaurant and tasting a great chef’s food!
Read the full post after the cut!
Similarly, there are events in our lives when having professional photography is a desirable luxury but it can be very difficult deciding exactly how much to spend and working out what you might get for your money.
In photography, as in many things in life, you tend to get what you pay for. Of course there are exceptions, but the more you pay the less risk you are taking of things going wrong and of the pictures not being everything you had hoped for. In many ways I think that wedding photography is one of the things in life that shouldn’t be cheap. Unlike an expensive splash out at a fancy restaurant having great wedding photographs will be of immense value as you go through your married life and your pictures will become part of your family history. I think they are potentially too precious to not invest in properly.
However, not everyone has the same priorities, so firstly it’s really important to decide how important wedding photography is to you. If it’s not that important you may well allocate a smaller proportion of funds to it or it might be that having a visual record of the day is of prime importance and so you might allocate more to the photography and significantly less on transport or evening entertainment for example. It has to be said though that a good photographer will have the skills to make great pictures from a low budget wedding whilst, on the other hand a budget priced photographer will possibly make the most lavish wedding look less amazing than it really was! So, think carefully about your priorities, as a starting point on average couples spend between 10% and 15% of their total wedding budget on photography but that may not be right for you.
To make things simple I’m going to compare price points for a standard day’s coverage including a DVD or USB of high resolution print ready files. Most photographers offer something similar to this type of coverage as a starting point but obviously it gets more complicated as you start to add in the costs of albums or prints or extra hours coverage. Be careful if you know that you will require some extras as it could be possible to book someone based on their reasonable starting cost only to realise that to get what you really want will cost considerably more. It’s always worth asking for written quotes and price lists before you make a commitment just to be sure that you know exactly what you will be paying for. I’m assuming that the cost is for a single photographer to be present from preparations in the morning until the first dance in the evening. I have quoted approximate current UK prices in pounds – this will obviously change over time and also according to where you are in the world but broadly speaking the price brackets below will continue to apply.
This will most likely be for a student photographer, a photographer who is just starting out or a more experienced photographer who is just doing it for a bit of extra cash at weekends. Your pictures may be unedited and inconsistent and you risk being disappointed with the outcome. It’s possible that the photographer won’t be insured and won’t have back up equipment with them also.
That’s not to say that all photographers in this price bracket are poor. It’s very possible that you will get great value for money but it is certainly more risky than paying a bit more to ensure experience and professionalism. Bear in mind that the photography industry is unregulated and anyone can set themselves up as, and call themselves a professional photographer.
If your budget will only run this far then consider your options very carefully. Possibly the best course of action will be to try to find a more expensive photographer who will provide a shorter amount of coverage. Also, you might be able to secure a very late booking from a more expensive photographer who just happens to have your wedding date free. Otherwise, you are taking a bit of a risk.
There’s always something to be said for spending your budget on a high quality camera and asking a friend to take pictures on the day. They possibly won’t be as good as a budget professional photographer could produce but you reduce your risk as you know what you will be getting and you get to keep the nice camera to take on honeymoon afterwards!
£750 – £1500
At this price point you will get a more experienced photographer who will be able to produce a competent and consistent set of pictures. Their customer service should be much better, they will have full insurance, back up equipment and your pictures should be hand assessed and edited before they arrive with you. There will be some sense of style but their work may be fairly generic but good.
They will probably be able to offer you a number of extra services, for example designing and supplying wedding albums, and you would expect that their products would be at the lower end of the quality scale but good value nonetheless. A photographer in this price bracket will probably be a full time photographer, even if they are not exclusively a wedding specialist.
£1500 – £3000
A much more experienced photographer with great customer service and a clearly defined sense of style. You should be able to see an extensive portfolio and examples of pictures from many weddings and the photographer will have a clear photographic personality and a thoroughly consistent approach. They should be able to get great pictures in whatever circumstance and you should feel rest assured and very confident in your choice.
You will also get a full range of services, access to a great range of high quality products and a much more bespoke and designer experience all round. A photographer in this price bracket will probably be a wedding specialist and they will be able to offer a level of expertise, care and attention to detail that isn’t possible without an intimate knowledge of their market.
A well know photographer with a personal brand and style that’s recognised nationally or internationally. A photographer in this price bracket should be offering something that is exceptional, extremely bespoke and a level of service, care and customer experience that is second to none. You will still need to make your choice very carefully in this price bracket as, if you are investing this amount of money, your photography and experience has to be perfect. You should be expecting nothing but the best from beginning to end and the final photographs should be outstanding.
Obviously much of the above is generalisation and there will be exceptions in all categories! You can get great pictures and a great experience for £750 and equally you could come away greatly disappointed having paid over £3000!
The best advice I can give is to meet several prospective photographers in person and see if you like them and feel a personal connection with them. Ask to see pictures from several weddings so that you can get a really good sense of their capabilities and consistency. If you can, try to see pictures from weddings similar to yours as seeing pictures in similar venues and at similar times of year will give you a really good indicator of what your final pictures should look like. Also, do not be afraid to ask for recommendations, any photographer should be happy to put you in touch with former clients so that you can find out what the experience of working with them is really like.
Finally, be absolutely clear about costings from the outset. Check for any additional extras, added taxes, travel expenses and the cost of add on items after the wedding. All trustable professional photographers will have full insurance and a contract/agreement for you both to sign as well and these should reassure you and protect you should things not go to plan.
Your wedding photographs will be with you for the rest of your lives. You will look over a great set of wedding pictures over and over again as the years pass and only as time passes will you realise how valuable they really are. Getting your wedding photography right is really important and hopefully some of the information above will have helped you come to the right decision for you.
Andrew Hind is a professional wedding photographer based in Cambridge UK. He has been shooting weddings for 13 years and specializes in photo documentary coverage with a bit of a quirky twist! To learn more about Andrew Hind and Lightworks Photography, please visit his WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to his website. You can also connect via Facebook.