A question I have been asked previously by potential clients is “Why does wedding photography cost so much?”. I thought about this and I decided I would write a blog to answer this question.
For most couples the decision to get married is one of the biggest decisions made in their lives together. They may already have a house or flat, but when they decide to get married a whole new set of tasks which neither of them has had to tackle before opens up before them like a giant tsunami of things to do!
I am aware of the various task lists the couple will read in magazines, download from various marriage websites, discuss with their friends and how daunting all of it must appear to them. They then start the journey of working their way through their task list, and at some point the issue of wedding photography will arise.
Before the arrival of the digital camera when we wanted wedding photographs we went along to the photographer’s studio on the High Street and looked through wedding albums, as having a wedding photographer was part of the day, along with booking the venue, buying the dress, hiring the wedding car and deciding on the cake etc.
Roll forward to today when nearly everybody has a smart phone with a built-in 5 or 10 megapixel camera, a lot of people have a good quality digital camera and some people have a good quality digital single lens reflex camera or DSLR camera for short.
Now let us return to the Wedding Task List and taking it together with the budget for the wedding at some point couples need to make choices, maybe their guest list is longer than they planned or the dress that the Bride has fallen in love with costs that bit more than she had in mind before she started looking, because let’s face it for most couples getting married this will be the first time they have embarked on such a journey and they will not have any idea of what each item on their list costs, and why should they as they have not been married before.
At some point the question of wedding photography is reached, initially most couples will agree they need a wedding photographer as they realise that following the wedding day there is no lasting record of the day, besides their own memories of the day, so they will agree they want wedding photographs.
Usually when people encounter something they have not done before they ask someone who has done it before, so a good starting point is family or friends who have been married before and had a photographer, personal recommendation is the best, but failing this most people turn to the internet to start their search.
When couples start their on-line search for a wedding photographer they are swamped by the number of photographers and the difference in price. They have very little to go on except the photographs they see on the photographer’s site, the style of photography and the price being charged. At this point some couples will start talking about the cost of a wedding photographer to their friends and what sometimes happens it that someone will say “Joe is going to be a guest and he has a really good camera (DSLR), why not ask him to take your photos and save the money”.
This is where we come back to the question asked at the start of this article; “Why does wedding photography cost so much?”.
Professional Wedding photographers take wedding photographs for a living. In order to operate as a wedding photographer we need to invest in professional camera equipment, high spec computer equipment, photo editing software, we also invest in training so that we can work in any conditions, for example if it rains on your wedding day will the photographer be able to take your photographs indoors even though you are getting married in an 18th century castle with dark rooms and dark walls. If he drops and damages his camera what happens, does that mean you will not be getting any wedding photographs?
There are 101 things a professional photographer needs to be aware of and will be able to deal with on the day, your wedding day, a day that if the photography “goes wrong” cannot be re-run. Will “Joe with the really good camera” be able to deal with any of this?
Your professional wedding photographer, will carry with him a vast quantity of camera equipment on the day, it will consist of at least two camera bodies (often three or four) with various lenses to cover all eventualities, flashguns, numerous batteries and memory cards, the average value of the contents of a wedding photographer’s camera bag will be not less than £10,000.
Along with equipment and training the photographer requires loss and theft insurance, Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance and all the other costs of running a business, plus he needs to earn money to live on; as wedding photography is after all a career.
A full day wedding collection to include 300 – 400 digital images on a USB flashdrive may cost between £1,000 – £1,750 and will include photography from bridal preparation through to the first few dances in the evening. The photographer will be with the Bride and Groom for 10 – 12 hours on the day, previously he will have spent time discussing the details of the day, planning the day, visiting the venue if it is one where he has not worked before. Following the wedding the photographer will spend anything between 20 – 30 hours editing the photographs as he can easily have taken 1,200 or 1,500 photographs in RAW format and then finally produce the 300 – 400 photographs in Jpeg format that the client receives and can be used to produce their own printed photographs. If a client requests a wedding album then the design of the album is required with a selection of the 300 – 400 photographs from the final set, communication with the album company, approval of the finished album and delivery to the client.
You might now realise that a wedding photographer does not simply turn up on the day, shoot a few shots and two or three weeks later send you a USB flashdrive of everything straight out of the camera. A lot of time will have gone into the preparation before your wedding, on the actual day the photographer will get a short respite during the wedding breakfast but for the rest of the day he will not get a moment’s rest, he will be constantly watching you and your guests (but remaining unobtrusive) for those special moments to capture, he will organise you and your guests during the formal family or group shots, and organising anything up to 300 hundred people for a photograph is no mean feat!
Following the wedding the photographer will upload all the photographs taken during the wedding to his computer and personally look at each photograph to ensure that those that are delivered are consistent in their colour and of the highest standard. Some further editing may be required, for example removing ugly “Exit” signs in rooms from otherwise beautiful photographs. Only when he is 100% happy with his work will he produce the client’s copy of the photographs, some photographers including myself will provide their clients with two sets of all the photographs, one set in High resolution to be used for printing and a second set in Low resolution for social media usage, ie posting to facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc.
In conclusion I hope I have answered the question of “Why does wedding photography cost so much?”, and when you sit down to look at your wedding task list you do not say, “let’s save some money and get a guest with a really good camera to take our wedding photographs”.
Copyright Tony Cullinane 2015