Without a doubt, one of the first questions asked after finding the photographer of your dreams is “What are wedding photographer prices?”
It’s a question we ask with all purchases in our lifetime whether it is your first house, that designer handbag you’ve been eyeing off or even a great bottle of wine for dinner on Saturday night but I’m going to get real with you here – great photography is expensive.
In life, you get what you pay for and wedding photography is no different but when you think about the longevity of your choice, it is so much more important than many other life decisions. This is not something you’ll upgrade in a few years when the next model comes out – it will be with you for your entire lifetime and then with your children and grandchildren so it is not the time to make a decision solely based on budget. Today I want to help you understand the “investment” of your photography and the value of great photography.
First things first, the cost of your photographer can often be an indicator of experience. I won’t lie, when I first started photographing weddings I was charging $1500 and that was for 12 hours coverage, an engagement session, an album – I was giving away a lot of stuff because I wanted to get my calendar filled and I didn’t understand how to price my work and time properly. Now I have almost 10 years of experience behind me, my price is understandably higher because I am producing much better photographs than I was 10 years ago and I also bring with me years of knowledge and expertise and know what my time is valued at. If you are looking at a professional, experienced photographer you can expect to invest $3,000 or more for their services on your wedding day.
You only get one chance to photograph a wedding so you want a photographer who has first hand experienced with every lighting possibility, weather mishaps, time delays and so much more so they can get you back on track while still producing photographs of quality.
When you’re viewing images from potential photographers its likely that you are seeing one or two great images from a few great weddings. Its not hard for a photographer at any stage to be able to get one or two great images from an 8 hour wedding but your experienced photographer will be able to get many more than a budget photographer. You truly do get what you pay for when it comes to wedding photography and a lower price point will generally bring you a lower level of quality.
The pricing of a photographer will increase with their quality and consistency because honestly, photographing weddings is hard work and that quality brings with it an intimate knowledge of wedding days, knowing their equipment back to front and having the confidence to be more assertive when needed to help you get the photographs you expect. If there is one thing you must do before you book your photographer, it is to ensure they have consistent quality in their work and not just a few great images or a portfolio full of style shoots. Remember that having a great camera doesn’t necessarily make you a great photographer – just like a great set of golf clubs won’t make my husband Tiger Woods.
You might have heard it said that the actually photography part of being a wedding photographer is very little. It is true that while I may spend some 40 hours over the course of a year on one client, approximately 20% of my time is spent shooting on the wedding day. The other 80% of my time is spent before the wedding offering advice to my couples and helping them build a timeline for the day and then after the wedding has taken, I bunker down in my office downloading, culling, editing, uploading and more to create a true collection of photographs of their day.
On average a professional photographer will spend anywhere from 20-40 hours of time on a single wedding from the first enquiry email until they deliver the images – and then possibly even more time if there is an album to be designed.
Everyone has that one friend who is a keen photographer and may offer to photograph your wedding to build their portfolio (heck, I WAS that photographer!) but with this budget-decision, comes some very real issues. You want a photographer who is going to be professional at all times and trust me when I say that being a friend-photographer is hard as you want to enjoy the party but know you still have a job to do.
Hiring a professional photographer however brings a level of professionalism that will help you relax and enjoy the day because you know this is not their first rodeo and you’ve invested in them to do the best job they can. They will keep your mum calm and assured that they’ll get her best side, smile and wave with that one groomsman who thinks he’s Will Farrell, show guests where they’re supposed to go, help the groom with his boutonniere and fix your veil and hair and so much more.
A professional photographer will have fun with you on your wedding day, but won’t let anything get in the way catching those once-in-a-lifetime moments. They are always ON.
At the end of the day, I want you to go into the decision of choosing your wedding photographer considering the quality you’ll receive rather than the price you’ll pay. If you are ok with knowing that your photographer a hobbyist and is not a professional or has only one year of experience, then go for it! It’s your wedding day after all.
But remember that after the cake is eaten, the dance floor is empty and your dress is in storage, these photographs will be all that is left to help you remember the best day of your life. Not every great photographer will be expensive (there are many photographers more expensive than I am) just like not every cheap photographer will be a disaster but keep in mind that worth of a great photographer is so much more than simply taking photographs.