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 Why Is Wedding Photography SO Expensive? Here’s your answer…

What is a reasonable price for a wedding photographer? Is wedding photography worth the cost?

Why wedding photography is SO expensive, is one of those questions that raises a few eyebrows. For the majority of couples it’s an aspect of weddings they’re not entirely sure upon. And yet, 9 times out of 10, they end up not finding the answer.

Instead they conclude that “it’s simply the way it is” and that wedding photographers charge so much “because they can”. So more than often, they end up judging a wedding photographer on their price. Oh what a dangerous game to play.

Not that it isn’t understandable. Weddings themselves aren’t exactly cheap, so on the face of it, cutting your wedding photography budget may sound like a shrewd move. But hold on – before you start patting yourself on the back, consider this.

Shopping for your wedding photographer is just like shopping your dress. You’re searching for ‘the one’. The one that’s able to accentuate your natural beauty and fit in perfectly with your marital vision. Something that let’s be honest, you’re not going to find on the reduced rail. Just like a bespoke wedding dress, professional photographers come at a premium. So with this in mind, is wedding photography worth the cost? Or is slashing your wedding photography budget a good idea? Read on to find out.

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What is the average cost of a wedding in the UK?

How much a wedding photographer costs in the UK can vary quite substantially, although typically it can be perceived as quite high. The exact reason that brought you to this blog.

It’s recommended that you spend 5-10% of your budget on wedding photography. After all, if you’re pumping so much money into the preparation of the day, it seems silly not to capture every moment at it’s best.

The average wedding photographer cost in the UK sits in-between £1350 and £1840. And despite fears over coronavirus, wedding, in  April 2020 this hit £1725. Over a 4-year period, the average cost of a photographer for a wedding was:

  • £1,560 in 2018
  • £1,480 in 2017
  • £1,450 in 2016
  • £1,520 in 2015

Prices also vary depending on where you are in the country. So for instance, a photographer in the North East may only charge £1400. But, if that photographer relocated to London, they could hike this up closer to £1800.

Now although at first glance this may all appear quite expensive, when you break down how much time is spent on your wedding, it’s not all as pricy as you’d think. A professional wedding photographer on average would spend anywhere between 30-50 hours delivering your package. That refers to: a full day’s coverage, your consultation visit, spouts of venue scouting, selecting and editing your final images, commuting and even preparing their equipment.

How much does a wedding photographer charge per hour?

To work out a rough wedding photographer cost per hour simply divide £1595 by 40 hours – the average of spent by a wedding photographer delivering their package. Do so and and I’m pretty sure your jaw will drop. To have your wedding covered by a professional photographer costs less than £40 per hour! #MindBlown

*Big thanks to YourPerfectWeddingPhotographer for the above stats.

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What does a price say about a photographer?

When you’re considering if a wedding photographer is worth the cost, it’s important to bare in mind what their price says about them. Remember: a confident photographer will promote themselves using their work, not their price. So if you see photographer with a ridiculously low price then don’t be tricked into thinking it’s a green light. In reality, it’s more like a red flag. Here’s why…

Wedding photographers with ridiculously low prices

  • Don’t likely have much practical experience behind the lens, so the quality of your wedding pictures is likely to be far from perfect.
  • Typically have little knowledge of how to work a professional camera. Mention shutter speed or ISO and they’re out of their depth. Autofocus is their best friend.
  • Usually won’t spend a good amount of time getting to know you as a couple, even thought it’s the most important part of the process. How can a photographer bring your vision to life if they don’t know what it is?
  • Don’t necessarily understand the significance of  composition or have a style of wedding photography themselves. They’re what I call a flat shooter. Nothing in the foreground, no playing around with focus, just a quick snap of you square on and job’s a good’en.

Not going to lie, there’s SO many more things that price says about a wedding photographer, but I’ll leave you to discover the rest in your now time. Don’t want to bore you with them all.

The four breeds of wedding photographer you should avoid!

If you’re currently on the fence about a wedding photographer, then you need to consider the various breeds you’ll come across. Reason being, these are often why professional wedding photography comes at a cost.

And even then us professionals aren’t the same either. We all offer different packages, a unique approach and our own specific style of shooting, hence why doing your research and evaluating us each individually is a MUST! However doing so can be time consuming, so to save you the hassle here’s the main breeds of photographer that you’ll come across…

NOTE: These breeds are here purely as a guide. In some cases, a photographer may be a hybrid of two or more. Or they may not even be one at all… i.e. me.

The student photographer

The student photographer is someone who for the most part is on the hunt for experience. I should know because at one point I fell into this category, but thankfully not anymore. You see, the reason a student photographer is so cheap, is that they’re still ‘finding their style’ per say. By that I mean they haven’t yet developed one. Why?

Clue’s in the name – they’re a student. In other words, they haven’t accrued enough experience to fathom how they prefer to shoot, or get aquatinted to being behind the camera in a social setting. So don’t be fooled by their bright-eyed and cheerful persona. There’s a good reason behind it. You’re willing to risk the quality of your wedding photography, just so they can get a couple of portfolio pics.

The family friend/ relative turned photographer

As great family and friends are, there are just some things they should be let loose with. Your wedding photography being one of them – let me explain.

So I’m pretty sure there’s that one person in every family who likes to think they’re a photographer. Not because they do it as a job, but simply because they’re forever upgrading their camera. Exactly the sort of person you shouldn’t entrust with your wedding photography; a photographer’s equipment is only half the puzzle piece. It’s how the equipment’s used which is the real party trick, something that goes way beyond reading the updated manual.

And speaking of use, even if someone in your family is a photographer full-time, that doesn’t mean they’re qualified to shoot your wedding. Remember, fashion or wildlife photographers are mostly shooting still objects – a whole different kettle of fish to wedding and event photography. Keep reading and I’ll spell out the difference…

Undercover wedding photographers

So this is arguably the hardest type of photographer to spot. Contrary to what their website will have you believe, they don’t actually work for themselves. Instead they work for a big company, hence their low price. All of which means that the photographer you meet for your initial consultation, is likely not to be the photographer who shoots your wedding. It also means that to them, you’re not even a couple, more a number. So just as with all large companies charging low prices, they’re more focused on KPIs opposed to quality of service. Basically they’re a photographer who doubles a saleman. Need I say more.

The economist

Now this photographer is kind of a mix. They’ll have the urge to build a portfolio like the student photographer (hence their one page website). While the way they see photography is through the eyes of a businessman much like any photographer who’s undercover. So you could call them a bit of handful. Nevertheless, if you can learn how to spot them, you could be in with a chance of avoiding them. Thankfully I’ve got 3 tips to do just that…

  • Unravel their portfolio – Let’s face it, nowadays one page websites look a bit amateur, or like you’re trying to hide something. So if a wedding photographer has a pretty barren website, call them out on it and see if they do have the portfolio to back it up. A covert way of asking would be to say, “Just looking at your website – assuming it’s just a taster of your portfolio. Can you send us through some more examples of your work?”. Just don’t tell them I told you to say that.
  • Pull their package apart – Ask this photographer for specifics about the extras they offer, as their interpretation of the word ‘bespoke’ may be a whole lot different to yours. In their eyes a 20 quid wedding album and a quick stop off a VistaPrint, could be all that lye behind their ‘bespoke’ package.
  • Quiz them on yourself – Sounds bananas, but trust me, it works. A photographer who listens is worth their weight in gold, as they take your ideas on board and up the chance of them being turned into a reality. So if you have your suspicions, after your initial consultation test them on you as a couple – you could simply ask them to recap what they’ve got planned. A photographer who’s speechless here, most likely doesn’t have your best interests at heart and is more worried about how they’ll spend your deposit.

Getting wed in Yorkshire? I’m a wedding photographer from Harrogate – we’re not that far apart…

Why is wedding photography SO expensive?

Professional wedding photographers don’t come at a premium ‘just because’. In fact, there’s very good reason why they charge more than just a couple of hundred pounds. So before you even consider rummaging through Google to find the cheapest wedding photographer you can get your hands on, take into account these. The five reasons why wedding photography is so expensive…

NOTE: Every wedding photographer is different so the extent to which these apply all depend on the photographer.

Pro photographers invest time

Contrary to popular belief you’re don’t just pay a professional wedding photographer for one day’s work. You see as well as your wedding day they’ll also be working tirelessly in the background planning, editing and producing your final package. And don’t forget your pre-shoot consultation too, as well as working on you with any other shoots you’ve got booked – opt for my Sweet Package and you also receive an engagement shoot. But that’s not the only reason why the average wedding photographer cost seems quite high.

The amount of work we produce on the day isn’t small either. To put it into perspective, a standard shoot could throw up a couple hundred shots, whereas a wedding will likely touch on a few thousand! So as you can imagine, this then stretches out the editing process which includes whittling these thousand or so shots down to fit into your wedding album. And not forgetting all the scouting we do prior to the big day to familiarise ourselves with the venue and eye up how we can get the best shots. Lighting is a big reason behind this. All time that your photographer charging a couple of hundred pounds, or maybe even less, is not going to invest into your day.

Is 6 hours of wedding photography enough?

How many hours of wedding photography work for you all depends on how much of the day you want covering. 6 hours would mainly cover the ceremony and the first portion of the evening, usually up to your first dance. In the case you’re after shots of your bridal prep and coverage later on into the night then a full day would be the more sensible choice. You may even require a second shooter if you’re after shots of the groomsmen in the morning and come extra shots during the ceremony. Of course though, this will all depend on the format of your wedding and of course your budget.

Professionals don’t bother with hidden costs

Yes, this sounds bananas but the cheap photographers could actually turn out to be the most expensive. For some the cheap base price is merely a marketing tactic – i.e. a way to tie you into a package where all the things you want are additional extras. Add up these hidden costs and more than often they amount to nearly as much as a professional package. Hence why hidden costs are something I avoid altogether. But what can you expect, I’m a photographer from Yorkshire – I was born to be blunt.

Experience in ‘getting the balance right’

Another reason the average wedding photographer cost is quite high, is because you’re not just paying for someone to click a button. you’re paying for someone’s skill and experience at doing it. Anyone can pick up a camera and take a shot, but it takes a skilled professional to do it with style. By that I mean catching you at the right time, while playing around with focus, depth of field, exposure, lighting… the list goes on. The trick of the photographer is getting this balance right in the moment on a consistent basis. Take a look at a photographer’s portfolio and you’ll soon their ability at doing this. But there’s more to the ‘balance’ lark than just maintaining quality.

Another part of a wedding photographer’s duty is to catch ALL the moments as they unfold because as you know, at a wedding there’s quite a few. And then to add even more pressure to the plate, pretty much all of these are ‘firsts’ – AKA they’re extra important. So there’s the first kiss, first dance, first reaction to the venue, first photoshoot as a married couple… Hence why a photographer who understands you and your concept is SO valuable. Yet another reason why you pay a premium for an experienced wedding photographer.

Pro photographers are insured

Insurance is a cost that every wedding photographer should incur, be they a full time pro or second shooter. Doesn’t matter if a photographer is there for just five minutes or the whole day, it’s only responsible to take out the correct insurance. Thankfully, I take it out a policy for every wedding, so I’m protected as well as you.

Venues will usually ask for proof of this insurance before a photographer sets up. Without it, they’ll likely not be allowed inside the venue. Not exactly what you want to hear, especially at the last minute. Why uninsured photographer could be prevented from covering your big day, is because wedding photographers’ insurance covers liability. A factor most venues will want all external vendors to take out. From the photographer’s perspective, insurance also protects their equipment, so if there’s a photographer who doesn’t take out insurance, be suspicious, as it may be a sign their equipment isn’t all that professional.

Pro photographers have pro equipment

Speaking of professional equipment, that’s another reason why wedding photography costs so much. Just like most things technical these days, professional standards come at a premium price.

So your typical pro will usually have at least £5000 worth of equipment on them. Everything from spare cameras bodies and lenses of various mm, to portable reflectors and the camera itself… the list goes on. But physical equipment is just the start; editing comes at a cost too. Professional editing software can also set a photographer back several hundred pounds a year, and that’s without accounting for upgrades and updates.

FYI: Although you may not initially think it, cameras, just like cars and computers, need to be serviced too. Typically this is about once a year, but for a pro is more of a 6 month cost.

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Is wedding photography worth the cost?

Yes, I’d personally say that wedding photography is more than worth the cost, but only if you opt for a professional. I know it sounds harsh, but at the end of the day if your shots don’t transport you back to the moment, then they’re worth diddly squat. So even if you’ve only been charged of couple fo hundred pounds, you’ve not received value for money. Hence why paying a premium price isn’t always a bad thing, providing of course you receive a premium service.

And this is my entire point. The average cost of a wedding photographer is high because it’s it’s one of the most important aspects of getting married full stop. So as you can imagine, it’s a role that comes with a LOT of pressure.

You see, your photography governs your memories. By that I mean, the ‘big day’ only lasts for just one day, but the memories last for a lifetime, so your coverage needs to be second to none. Exactly why you’d be bonkers to leave choosing your wedding photographer until last minute, let alone judging them on price. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a wedding photographer.

It’s one thing to find a professional, but another to find a pro who ‘gets you’. By that I mean someone who understands you how you interact as a couple, your vibe and what you’re about. Also someone with a photographic style that you admire. Find that though, and you can be confident all the money, time and effort injected into your big day, will be captured in all it’s glory behind the lens.

Excuse my Yorkshire bluntness, but when it comes to wedding photography, you get what you pay for. Fact. So why waste time focusing on the price? Focus instead on what you’ll receive.

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