How much does a wedding photographer cost? Well, there are two unhelpful answers to that question; one is: ‘how long is a piece of string’, and the other is ‘*ahem* my rate’.
But, it is an important question, one that it is best for you to answer yourself - funnily enough - after you consider various options, and shop around a bit. Once you get there, what you decide to pay will probably have a sizeable impact on your wedding budget, one way or another, so here are 5 things to consider:
1. How important is wedding photography to you? Some people spend a lot on the venue for their wedding day; others spend a lot on the flowers. Whatever you choose to spend money on, it will impact on everything else, so it’s important to work out what is a priority for you, what you can afford to spend and not to compromise on that.Do you find that photographs powerfully remind you of that time and place when they were taken? Or, on the other hand, do you never look at photographs again, once they are taken?
Wedding photographs will be your lasting mementos of the day, and although the wedding venue you lovingly chose may eventually go out of business and close down in the future, and your beautiful flowers may die within a week, you’re likely to be looking at your wedding photographs for the rest of your life; how much you value photography will be central to your decision.
2. How many guests do you have coming? If you are having a larger wedding, with a lot of guests, a photographer may want or need to have an assistant or second shooter on the day. At the upper end of the market, this is often built into the price, but for other photographers, who usually work alone, they will probably need to bring in outside help, which will cost them money, and have a knock on effect on the price.
3. What style of photography do you want? As photography has developed as an art form, many distinct styles, and approaches to photography (and wedding photography) have emerged. There is still the traditional, formal and posed style, with lots of pictures of every family member and guest. Then there is the fine art style, which is all about composition, lighting, and tasteful editing to produce an artistic, editorial look. There are also naturalistic/photojournalistic photographers, who are all about capturing natural moments as they happen, and telling the story of the day.
Of course, there are many other styles, and most photographers will be some kind of mix of those different approaches. Within each area, there will be a variety of prices you can pay, but you’ll find that if a photographer is positioning himself or herself in the ‘fine art’ category, this may mean more expensive equipment that they need to purchase, and they will need to build this into the price. A photojournalistic photographer may be cheaper on paper, but if they are talented enough to spontaneously capture moments, but still give them an artistic look and composition, they will probably charge accordingly, and a photographer focused on posing may need time and space to set up lights and other equipment, necessitating a longer day, and more gear, meaning that their price may increase.
4. How long do you want the photographer to stay? Some photographers, in an effort to seem more affordable, will sometimes offer ‘half day’ packages. What this means in terms of length varies from photographer to photographer, but essentially, it often means that they will be there for the ceremony, and probably leave just after the speeches. If other parts of the day aren’t as important for you, this can be a good way to save some of your budget.
5. How do you want to receive your photos? Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly common for photographers to separate out the costs of wedding books, prints, etc. from their rate for being there on the day. This is because it can vary so much from wedding to wedding, and there are many different ways to approach this. If you want a high quality, 100 page wedding book with lay flat pages, you can expect to pay a lot, but if you just want a selection of prints to stick into a wedding album yourself, this will affect the final cost, and is important to consider.
So there you have it, there are quite a few things to consider when working out what a wedding photographer should cost, and how much you should spend on them. Whether it’s how important photography is to you, the size of your wedding, your print requirements or something else that is an important factor, many things can affect your decision. If photography isn’t too important to you, then there are cheaper photographers out there, just bear in mind that the images may not be as good.
In reality, a lot of couples settle on a figure for their wedding photography that equates to roughly 10% of their overall budget, but as you can imagine, that varies wildly! If you’d like to discuss photography pricing further, then feel free to get in touch.