Wedding photography can be quite expensive. It is also one of the most lucrative photography services out there
(Check out, for example: www.work.chron.com/much-money-professional-wedding-photographer-make-3280.html )
So, don’t be surprised to see lots of flashy ads and polished marketing blogs popping up when you do an online search for Wedding photography or a wedding photographer.
Those photographers who’ll charge several thousand dollars for wedding photography can probably afford to spend a couple hundred dollars each month on online marketing.
Don’t trust paid wedding photography blogs or ads
But can you trust the information on the internet? In many cases, you can’t. Here is an example: On www.snapkot.com we learn, that the average price for Wedding photography in the U.S.A. was $2814. For Philadelphia, it is $3041. These numbers are based on Snapkot member photographers in the year 2014. In any case, it suggests that the average price you should expect to pay for a Wedding in or near Philadelphia is approximately $3000. So, if you’ll find a photographer who is offering the same service for, say, $2000, it is probably a very good deal. Or is it not?
If you do a search on www.thumbtack.com , you’ll get a much different picture. The average amount of money Thumbtack photographers charged for wedding photography nationwide was $815 as of February, 2017. For zip codes 19102, 19103, and 19106 in Central Philadelphia, the average price was $835 for the same period.
Why are these numbers so different? Should you pay several thousand dollars for wedding photography? Does a lower price always mean lower quality?
This blog intends to give an answer to these questions. So, let’s take a closer look.
The price depends on many factors
Wedding photography really is a very general term. The final price depends to a large extend on the number and level of services included in a wedding photography quotation.
Below are 12 of the main pricing factors
1) How many photo shoots
Wedding photography may just include photographing the ceremony, up to pretty much anything related to the wedding. It may include an engagement session, showers, engagement parties, a “trash the dress” shoot, or even a bridal boudoir photo session. Adding additional photo shoots will, of course, increase the price.
2) Travel and number of locations
How far the photographer must travel will be a factor too. Very often, there is also travel between the reception hall, the ceremony, and possibly other locations involved. The photographer may need to setup lights and other equipment at each of these locations. And this adds costs.
3) Number of photographers / assistants
Weddings may include a second photographer or assistants. With a second photographer on location it is generally more likely, that they’ll capture all or most of those special moments during your wedding. You may also enjoy close-ups and wide angle photos of the same scene or event. Two photographers can switch between close-up and wider angle views quickly. A single photographer would need to switch cameras or even lenses. While switching, he might miss the right moment.
Depending on shooting location, the photographer may need to setup lights, backgrounds, and other gear. He may need to bring several cameras and lenses. I will most certainly improve the quality of the photos, if the photographer uses quality equipment and if he can choose from various cameras and lenses. However, the costs to purchase and insure all the equipment will be a factor in the quoted price.
5) Time on location
The total length of time the photographer spends on location has a significant effect on costs. This is especially true, if you are booking more than one photographer and possibly assistants.
6) Photo editing and retouching
Editing and retouching the photos after the wedding will take up the bulk of the photographer’s time. Advanced retouching of a single photo can take between a few minutes and several hours. Therefore, the number of retouched photos and level of retouching has a significant impact on price.
7) Albums and prints
There are various ways a photo or set of photos can be delivered to a client. They can be delivered online, on a CD or DVD, as prints, or as part of an album. A photographer may spend a significant amount of time creating a visually pleasing album. This can greatly increase costs.
8) Experience of the photographer
More experienced photographers are in higher demand than less experienced ones. So, they can charge more for the same level of service. However, don’t take it for granted that more experience translates into higher quality. It is very possible, that a new and talented photographer, eager to impress new clients can deliver exceptional service at a relatively low price.
9) Pre-planning and pre-meetings
A professional photographer will meet with you in person before the event, to discuss the details of your wedding with you. He should have a keen interest in visiting the location or locations where the wedding and wedding related events will be taking place. These meetings are a great opportunity to find out how well you are connecting with your photographer and how well he or she understands what you are after. Perhaps this is more important than experience level.
10) Access rights and copyrights
This is a touchy subject. Your contract with the photographer should specify who owns the copyright of which of the photos. Do you as the client own the raw files? Do you also own the retouched images? If not, be aware that the photographer could sell your photos online, if you don’t own the copyright. In that case, he or she may also charge you for usage of the photos, for example for displaying them on social media websites. Copyrights should be a significant pricing factor. Unfortunately, it isn’t always.
11) Advertisement costs
Professional photographers, especially those who show up on the first page of a search engine, spend a significant amount of money on search engine optimization, website polishing, paid advertisements, and paid blogs. Unfortunately, this will translate into higher prices for the client.
12) Liability and gear insurance costs
A professional photographer should have liability and gear insurance. Imagine a light stand the photographer brought will fall and injure one of your wedding party guests. If the photographer is properly insured, you won’t have to worry about your guest or you possibly becoming liable in such an unfortunate event.
How to keep your costs down AND to get the photos you desire
Below are some tips, on how to keep your wedding photography costs reasonable, without sacrificing on the quality of the final product.
☐ Most importantly: Meet with your photographer in person and ask him or her to take some photos of you and your soon to be husband or wife. This doesn’t have to be a full engagement session. See if you like these photos and if your photographer understands what you are after. Do not judge the photographer just based on experience level and quoted price.
☐ Do your research. Don’t limit your searches to the first page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Check out photographers on websites, which do not just cater to pricey wedding photographers. (Examples are www.Soply.com, www.Smartshooter.com, www.yelp.com and www.Thumbtack.com)
☐ Have a clear understanding what you want and what your photographer offers for the price, touching on all 12 pricing factors mentioned above.
☐ Don’t fall prey to upsell tricks playing the copyright game. Make sure you own the copyright of at least the retouched photos.
☐ Consider designing a photo album yourself or ask someone in your family to do it. Some photographers will charge a large amount of money for albums you may not even like.
☐ Get at least three quotations and compare.
☐ Don’t hesitate to negotiate the price.
Wedding photography costs versus wedding costs
The average cost for a wedding in Pennsylvania was $24,045 in the year 2016. That’s more than 44% of the median annual household income for Pennsylvania in 2015 ( www.census.org and www.deptofnumbers.com Household income numbers for 2016 won’t be available until September 2017) So, in the grand scheme of things, wedding photography is typically a relatively minor expense.
This blog was written by Gunter Moeller, owner of GM Photo Video LLC. To learn more, visit my website at www.PhotoVideoLLC.com