Why does wedding photography cost what it does?

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To be honest my original title for this blog was going to be ‘Why is wedding photography so expensive?’ as this is something that I hear fairly regularly. And from the outside it’s an understandable question. You see a photographer charging £1500 to photograph your wedding and think that that’s a lot of money for one days work and all you’ve got to do is press a button. However, that is not the be all and end all of being a wedding photographer. This blog will hopefully go some way to explaining why wedding photographers charge what they do.
For this example I’ll be using a price of £1000 just to make the maths slightly easier. So, to start with, if a photographer is charging £1000 it doesn’t mean that their take home pay is a grand. They have got to pay tax on that plus national insurance, so that’s 29% (lets say 30% for easy maths) taken off right away, so that means that that £1000 has suddenly become £700.
There are also all of the necessities you need to run a successful, public facing business, such as business insurance, an accountant and the correct property and car insurance (which is an extra on top of what you’d usually pay for those).
Then you’ve got to take into account all the expenses that the photographer has in order to perform their job well. This includes travel costs, software subscriptions (photo editing/client management software / client galleries etc). All of this combined can easily take £100 off each wedding, so you are now down to £500-£600.
And don’t forget all of the admin costs, such as paper, postage and packaging, a personalised USB in a presentation box (or similar if your photographer includes this in their basic package). Once you’ve added all of this on you’re looking at, in reality, only getting about £500 per wedding.
But that’s not all because a wedding photographer also has all of their equipment, which is a lot. They can easily turn up to your wedding with £10,000 worth of gear and most of this gear will have to be replaced every 4-5 years so that it can perform it’s task properly and you can have the amazing photographs that you’ve paid for. This means that a photographer might put £100 aside per wedding to save up for new gear. So after all of this the take home pay is £400 (if your photographer is lucky).
The average amount of time a wedding photographer spends on a wedding is 40 hours (this includes travel, meeting the couple, admin, photographing the wedding, editing and delivering the images) so that means that they are charging £10 per hour and when you look at it like that you can see that your wedding photographer is not actually charging that much, even if they are charging £2000 per wedding they are only really taking home £20 per hour which is definitely not excessive. And I haven’t even touch on all the training and personal development courses that wedding photographers take each year, which of course cost money.
“But I’ve seen photographers charging £400 for a full days wedding?”, I hear you cry “what about them?”. Wedding photographers charge a huge range of prices but those that are charging lower down the scale are either just starting out in the industry and so are willing to charge less in order to build up their portfolio, whereas others charge so little because they do wedding photography on the side and so don’t need the money to make a living.
There is a wedding photographer for everyone out there. Some couples are planning their wedding on a super tight budget, maybe only £500 and in that case paying £250 for a wedding photographer makes sense as there is no way that they can afford a £1000 one. However, if you have budgeted £20,000 for your wedding then definitely put 5-10% (or more) towards a photographer. This will mean that you’ll get an experienced photographer who will deliver you incredible images that you can look back on in 50 years time and by then you won’t even remember how much you paid for the photos, you’ll just have the memories of the day because you invested in having the right wedding photographer.


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