Appreciate the cost of wedding photography

10 11 2010

It is a wonder wedding Photographers get up in the morning with so many half-wits butting in on wedding photography to offer a unsustainable business model, for brides surely this means if a low cost cheap wedding photographer offers a cost that is a “steal” they will be out of business even before they get to print your album?

We of course we have all heard about the bride and grooms who have not had their wedding albums or the photographer is bankrupt or the job that the so called professional was so bad they cried for weeks after the photographer wrecked the wedding and their memories are ruined. But is it a case of you get what you paid for?

those out of work people who are quick to see where they can make a buck over their dole Giro from a weekends work of quick snap and go to Asda for the wedding prints, they  are all over wedding photography and I would guess more than 50% of the wedding photographers you will find are up to it. 

Let set aside the buying and selling points of wedding photography and the professional photographer from the weekend uncle bobs who offer mediocre performance and quality work to work out the costs of real wedding photography, let us see if you’re willing to pay the costs the real wedding photography. I have made this very simple for those wishing to check the prices themselves with the links  next to the information, so that you can see the real world costs of your wedding photographer and photography.

We will start with the cost of Camera hire. as many people who hire photographers forget, cameras are not free and must be purchased. Professional Cameras also need Len’s to make use of the cameras body which are two separate things. Of course we should have TWO of the camera bodies just in case anything happens and we cant stop the wedding to wait for a replacement.


Of course a Camera isn’t any good without lenses and they are everything when it comes to quality and style.

£38.00 fish eye

£21.28 Close up macro lens

£23.83 Wide angle lens

£26.38 Long lens

£17.87 Flash

Basic kit cost so far: £356.00

We will then need:

Memory cards to store the photos and some  lighting

£4.26 8 Gig CF and we will need a few to cover the day: we will have 5 of these (£21.00)

£45.00 Portable lighting kit

 A portable lighting kit is ideal for those weddings where it may rain and the photo shoot has to take place indoors.

Of course we need to have the right insurance to cover both the photographer and the wedding in the event something should go wrong: its about £17.80 £204.00

This is correct, there are two types of insurance that a photographer needs to have, with £5million pounds cover the photographer can work and be covered in a number of venues and areas, these are broken down to public and professional liability.

We also need to get to the wedding: Car hire from the Friday to the Sunday so that the car is ready loaded on the morning of the wedding and can be returned the following morning after the wedding.
Often overlooked by wedding clients and anyone else, cars are not free and nor is the day today running costs and maintenance costs.


We also need fuel £15.00

The concurrent costs are now £736.80


We then need to pay the photographer who will not work for free for you because you have a nice smile and they have bills to pay, I’m sure you wouldn’t go to work all week for free, or would you?

£15.00 per hour, is a good rate of pay for a professional that is an expert in their Field of work, Car mechanics are paid around £45.00 and shelf stacker’s are paid around £6.80 per hour,   on the basis that they could be booked all day regardless if a client is booking half a day or not we need to cover the costs.

From 08:00 – 22:00 is 14 hours and covers many of the wedding preparations and the disco later on in the evening reception, this wage amounts to £210.00

We also want a second photographer and assistant thats £6.80 x14 hours £95.20

For those who would say we can do away with the assistant, please come to visit to hold my camera bag for twenty minutes, most people struggle holding the camera for 2 minutes. yes there is a weight to be carrying for 14 hours, plus I’m sure that you are aware that you would want a photographer taking photo’s not moving equipment around all day.

Total wages for the day costs £305.20

Retouching and post production

When the wedding day is over the photographer need to make your images stunning before making the on-line gallery for you to select your photos. Most photographs from Pro SLR cameras is never spot on and as you may notice from your cameras, lighting changes so the images have to be balanced so that they look even though the album.

Typically this post production work  is around 3 times the time that the photographer was hired taking the photos. This would amount to around 42 hours we will reduce the rate of pay to £10.00 for the professional job they do giving you a total cost of £420.00

They need a computer to do this post production and an Internet connection as well as a hosting site for the gallery. So we need to factor these costs into the wedding photographer’s costs:

Computer and monitor £48.00

keyboard and mouse £16.00

Internet £17.99

A telephone line also costs £11.50

Hosting and domain £55.00

These of course run off electricity and therefore would cost around £10.00 to run.

The Total IT costs are then: £158.49

Dealing with orders and albums

Once your wedding gallery is on-line you may wish to order an album, at cost (what the photographer pays) a good album on average costs £300.00

They of course do not magic themselves together and though has to go into the layout of the album, this is called design work and takes around 20 hours, we will use the same rate of £10.00 per hour so that gives us a total of £200.00

As you would want the album shipped to you  and be covered by insurance just in case it is lost or damaged this adds another £18.60

This brings the total album cost to £518.60

Adding it all up.

The wedding day £736.80

The wages on the day costs £305.20

Post production and album £1,097.09

Wedding total cost £2,139.09

 Less – Marketing and advertising costs as well as National insurance and Income tax payments.

Capitalist wedding photography verses communist wedding photography

As we live in the UK we are a capitalist society meaning that a business should make a profit, this makes perfect sense that any business should make a healthy return, this works out as: money into the pockets of investors, or money returned into the business to make the business grow. The communist business would be to charge just as much as it costs to do the work. However we don’t live in that world and so 25%  should be added. And with income tax, National Insurance payment being liable to the photographer which equals around 21%, you will soon see that this adds 46% to the total costs.

Just so that you can follow this, so you know this is not made up, take your wages before deductions and take off 21%, you will find that this is about correct. also in consideration that there is no employer for the photographer there is no sick pay or maternity pay, and also no guarantee of work each and every two weeks.

If we look at the wages – which is the actual money the photographer sees, and take into account that there are 52 weeks in the year, they may be ill for two weeks and go on holiday for two weeks this gives us 48 weeks, divide that by two to give us the maximum clients the annual wage for the photographer would be

£630.00 per wedding x 48  = £15,120 Less tax and National insurance.(£11,994.80)

Of course these figures are based on a photographer being able to sell all 24 weddings each year, and with competition growing many photographers fail to reach 15 weddings each year. It is these photographers that go out of business and simply cannot afford to live. incidental 15 weddings a year is £9,450.00.

Being unemployed living in a family home would net £12,162.00+, so as you can see the photographer is marginally above the poverty line working at these rates that I have stated.

 So, now you see the real rates and costs of wedding photography and can appreciate the work, time and costs of wedding photography, needless to say these figures are firmly based on factual figures of the world we live in and everyone has the need to live and enjoy life.




15 responses

10 11 2010
James Fear

All so very true 🙂 This is the reason I do not put my fees on my website. I want people to fall in love with my work first. If they contact me asking for prices I will of course let them no my fees and make them realise the amount of work and effort is required to get the results they see on my site.

I find the biggest problem is with upstarts thinking wedding photography is easy and any DSRL and adobe photoshop elements will do – they’ll soon realise after the first wedding this is just not the case!

10 11 2010

I find that not using prices is double edged – Clients saying they contacted me because the prices are on the website. And also that if they are not on the website then you get the problem you also get people ringing up and then turn away if they cannot afford good quality wedding photography. To me thats wasting my time, time being money and so I always place prices on my website.
From research I have found that people want clear, simple packages that include everything; they budget from £500, £1000 and £2000 for their photographer and photographs, which as you know from the article even a £2,000 budget doesn’t even cut it.

I think many upstarts work for friends and these are much more easier than real weddings with people they don’t know. I have laughed when I have seen photographers under skilled and ill prepared for the world of wedding photography.
I have met photographers who think they could do it and have binned 90% of their photo’s. Taking into account that one photographer I trained, not in wedding photography but I took to a wedding with me; I only binned 30% of his photos on his first wedding.
I also had a bride send in pictures from a portrait photographer (SWPP) who tried their first wedding and failed badly.

I think the big question is if you cut costs to give low prices, where is the quality being cut from?

14 02 2011

I have a lot of brides and grooms say that they do not contact photographers that do not have prices on their websites, the reason is that they have to call and that many other photographers have published there prices.
If they fall in-love they may think, wow, but I guess he/she is going to be too costly, lets move on..
So it is a bit of a double edge.

11 11 2010
David Finch

A very interesting article and the simple principle behind a profit is something all photographers need to understand. Not sure I agree with your rates though I think a good pro should be charging at least £30 per hour for their time both in attendance and in designing the album. They should look to provide a quality presentation solution such as an album but also images in frames, on canvas, acrylic or even metal but they can only do this by understanding their clients likes and dislikes. They should also sell the album and frame for the price they pay for it but charge properly for the design and layout. Brides even those on a limited budget will pay for this expertise but will look at an album as a commodity and will always be able to find one cheaper – so if she does let her buy her own but sell her the images colour corrected to fit it – work with her to earn your money do not sell to her, this will truly increase your ability to earn, if she lovesd the end result price becomes less of an issue.
There will always be someone who will do work cheaper than you, what you need to remember is to recover the fee you are happy with for your time, compromise if you have to but do not get into a price war.
I am going to write an article on our site and link back to this as I believe it is something all our users should be focusing on.

12 11 2010

The reason (and only reason) I put a price at £15, was just because it is a tangible figure close to the average earning of many people. As you read on you will see that that rate puts the photographer on the low earning bracket and in many cases would be worse off that a person on state benefits.
There is a balance to running a business and of course as you will notice, not all of the business costs such as marketing, office rent and business rates are not included into the calculations.

I must say that photographers if they are charging a more realistic rate for work, should be charging around £60 per hour, but still offer a discounted rate for retouching and post production. Simply this is due to other marketing offering the services can make it more affordable to out-source the work, though like most photographers the control of this is very important; so a reasonable rate should be charge along the lines of regular work. – A graphics Designer is paid around £28,000 per year for example which would be a good guideline.

With regards albums, there are cheap albums, but when you (the photographer) is putting your name to them, You have to think is it and will it show quality for many years to come?
I searched the world for wedding albums and the only ones that met the standard I was looking for all cost around £300.00, there were cheaper ones and more expensive ones, and I have a great album supplier which averages a cost of just £150, the catch is the limit on cover options and they are neither good or bad in that respect.

I believe that as long as you make the costs and a living (note I didn’t say wage) from it then its all good. Making the point of the costs to the bride clear is a little more priceless. After all they want to know where their money is going and why someone else is so much cheaper and why.

11 11 2010
blogtogether » How Much Should I Charge For My Photography? » the photographic presentation blog for albums, frames, mounts, folders, accessories, papers, inkjets and software from Photogether.

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30 11 2010
Chris Wright

A really good article and something I point out to all our clients. I, unfortunately, hear more and more often from potential clients that they can get their photography cheaper from company x.

When I sit down with them and go over everything and they can see the finished product opinions almost always change. With modern albums costing £200+ it’s very easy not to take ones time into account when pricing a wedding accordingly.

Part-time photographers and those who offer copyright free discs for pennies are my biggest competition and whilst I cannot compete at their prices, the quality of my finished work will always be superior.

1 12 2010

well the clear point clients need to know is that photographers don’t just work for the wedding day taking photos and then just print them. I think a lot of clients are unaware of the amount of work that goes into each and every wedding.
Company x I would guess are part time photographers, who don’t invest in the a business or have business costs. It is a hobby and they don’t pay taxes and their own national insurance and pension plans and personal insurance, and professional insurances. They possibly do not advertise as much and therefore miss the legal side and professional side of the costs us professional have.

I always offer my clients choices, they can supply their own albums, and they can pick any album that they want. Usually I supply the albums at cost and they pay for the design fee or they can design the album themselves. They also pay per image and page of the album which again is a low fee. however they must pay for my time.
I feel that this offers the client most flexibility. however they do not account very well for the time.

I have had many emails asking for quotes where the client has stated, we only want you for a few hours on the wedding day and we only want a few prints. I believe they think that this will reduce the costs, when of course there is a basic cost and also I must consider that I could be booked with a client for the complete day and if I attend their wedding I lose money to meet my cost, and very often the cost of prints makes very little difference at all.

1 12 2010
Mark Dolman

Its true us full time professionals are up against part-timers offering budget price packages and free CDs but there is little quality in post production. I explain very clearly the difference between a £250 photographer and what I charge which is a minimum of £1500 and most clients except what I offer and sign up.
The trick is getting face to face with the couple to sell yourself. I have stopped just giving a price over the phone and find out what their budget is first. Also I always aim to make 40% mark up on any product i sell as a minimum. When people are looking for a deal you can then throw in more product to sweeten the deal as you have margin to play with and avoids giving away something for nothing.

1 12 2010

I think a 40% markup is a little steep, you should work out the cost of time. If you charge a client a reasonable rate for your time, calculate a basic costs over the weddings and add the two together you should have a good basis for pricing.
I prefer people to make their choice on what they see and want from me and our photographers. It is then the choice of the client to add what they want to make their own perfect package.

My view is that I want people to enjoy my images and view of their wedding or other photographic record of them and their lives. The more they buy for themselves means that I have done a good job. But I do not want people to miss out on having their memories due to a high cost of the end products, when they can make a fair payment for my time and the product where I cover costs and they are happy with their products.

12 12 2010
David Finch

I agree that 40% is a bit high especially as in this age of the Internet prices need to be more transparent. Even if you buy albums from a supplier who does not show prices online brides will be able to find others that are of an equivalent quality and style and this may lead to them thinking you are expensive. I agree with the comment that you should be charging for your time, as the best sell is always to show how you are adding value by balancing images and designing the album rather than trying to make lots of money on an actual product.
Mark you should be concentrating on selling your skills and ensuring your clients understand what you offer them which is over and above your competition especially if that competition are only supplying a CD.

26 01 2011
Mike Hayden

In some ways it is satisfying to know other photographers are having the same problems I am. It seems everyone with a compact digital camera is a “pro” today, who “as a mate” can provide a happy couple with a CD full of his 10mb images. My son gets married this year and I am doing the photographs and album for him and his bride, obviously for nothing, but already he has had two offers from the ‘digital brigade’ who, without knowing what his father does, have already said they can do it cheaper, and for all I know, with a declaration to do it ‘better’ as well..!

I had one woman on the telephone last year who wanted my “bottom line”. I said I did not have one – the album alone that she was hoping to get, actually cost me more than she was willing to pay. “Well, I can get a photographer (sic) who can do it for £x.” The long and the short of it must (I hope anyway) have been that she could not get what was being offered for the price suggested. I know what these things cost me and what she was claiming was just not possible, unless I was happy to work at a loss. In the end I lost patience and I said my prices were as offered, were not negotiable, and if she wanted a BMW she should not expect to pay Vauxhall prices – the conversation ended.

The last year for me has been difficult, as I am sure it has for others, but I do have a mortgage to pay and I cannot offer a cheap compromise, as I clearly need to show a profit to show for what I do.

26 01 2011

10mb Images, that actually good for a PAS.
Yeah people think that photographers can magic things down in price and get a cheaper quote than they are offered, I think that people forget that photographers have costs and that they are trying to meet the low budgets that people have.

I do not think your approach to the client was a good one, I would have said well, no need to waste my time, you should be on the phone to the cheaper photographer offering the same style thats uniquie to me and all for less! Ripp their hand off, good bye.
People will try to steel the bread from your mouth these days if you let them.
How about saying well it costs me X amount to get my cameras and kit ready, and I will need to be insured for your wedding, so Give them a great offer of they pay for camera kit hire and your insurane and you will knock it off the price. By rights, it will then cost them more than the packages you offer.

I think that peopel assume that photographers turn up for the day and only work for the time they are at the wedding, aka 3, 6, 10 hours and then magic out the free prints from your free camera kit on your free computer which costs nothing to run as you have a free home and free electric, and that the courses you may have attended were also free along with any bills and the clothes on your back which are also free.
Of course your free car with its free petrol, free road tax and free insurance means that you can get to the wedding and pre wedding meetings; therefore you only should be paid for the hours you are there.

14 02 2011

This has been really insightful reading.
I will admit now I am a part timer when it comes to weddings and am probably one of the people you all appear to despise.
I do see what everyone here is saying, and tbh I agree with pretty much all of it.

I don’t think it is entirely fair to say that those who do not do this full time will necessarily do a bad job or a worse one but I think that most of you do offer a lot more then I can.

I for instance cannot offer albums at the moment and do the CD route. Having said that I often spend a couple of days on post production to make sure all the images are something I am proud of.

I think the best part of your article was laying down the costs, it IS quite expensive. Hell I bought most of my kit (it started as a hobby but I now use a D300 and D700) – to the point that all I hire is lighting equipment and having my own car that I need anyway does help.

I think though to a certain extent we are offering very different products.
You all seem to be offering prints and albums etc, I just do images on CD and allow the bride and groom to do with them what they like (within the limitations of personal use).

Yes I charge much less than you guys, about £500-600 depending on times but I think that that is a fair price. At the end of the day it does take a while and I need to justify the yearly insurance costs

However I do make it clear I am not a full time working professional, after about 15 weddings in the past few years I would say that I would love to go full time but alas I don’t think I could live off 18k a year. I will have to keep my day job. But when I get the opportunity to shoot a wedding I seldom turn it down as I really enjoy it, in-fact that is the biggest reason for myself to do it, I enjoy it.
It makes me very glad to be able to capture someones special day and hopefully deliver images that the bride and groom will treasure for years. I know that sounds cheesy but it is perfectly true. And when you have the equipment at home anyway, it seems kind of sad not to use it.

I am curious of one thing though, would you guys say I am in the wrong with what I am doing ?

14 02 2011

being part time and deadicated is perhaps what is happening to many professional photographer as more part time people move into photography, i think that in the next few years there will only be part time wedding photographers, may this will effect other areas of photography as well?

On of the points that you make is about not going down the album route, this is not a good thing and your justifications of doing the post production is worthless; This is why.
You have super stunning images and you give them to someone; your a a mid budget photographer, so the people dont have a great deal to spend on an album.
They pop down to WHSmiths and buy a £13.00 album and put your prised images into it.
Their friend looks at the photos and thinks wow and then looks at the album and thinks ohh thata a shame, wouldnt want one of them, not going near that photographer.

Photography is all about presenting work as much as it is taking the shot and what ever post production you feel is required to give your artisit interpretation. Anyone can see for themselves, a mounted image looks 100 times better than a lose print or worst still a poorly mounted cheap mounted image.

For albums there is no excuse not to provide them and to present your work in the most stunning way possible, really show off the work you do and give your clients that will make them cry with joy.
I offer CD packages, Slideshows, DVD, Album deisigns and a complete range of products, because I want my cleints to have everythign they want, Its not hard.
Every client I have product a slideshow and designer album has cried, both the make and female and even there family memebers and friends, It is only then that I know that I have done my job correctly.
With a here you go nice pictures on a CD does not have the same effect.

For all part timers, I think that they are open to problems, Like We are backed up should something happen. Imagine breaking a leg rushing to a wedding, or the car breaks down or something else happens, Do you still think that insurance will cover the emotional cost of having no photograph’s of the wedding?
Having support from networks of photographers means that you can ensure quality and cover your back, but more importantly provide a service to the clients on such an important day of their lives.

I do not see where you have done your math, you say £18K but you have said you have done 15 weddings over the years ( more than one year) even in total the amount is only £8250.00
I think many photographers see this as money that they could have, after all your trade is your full time job, where as you have taken £8,250 from photographers who’s only trade is photography..
Also where you do not offer an album and give the CD away, this means that all brides and grooms exspect to have a CD of images, your costs are cover, full time photographers not so good. to value the disc, we have to put our prices up and push more clients out of the market.

AS you can see one effects the other and it makes for an unbalanced market. there are pros and cons to profesisonals and part time hobbists. One quality may be vastly different to another..

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