Mike’s Muse:
Why Is Wedding Photography So Expensive?

Aah, the old chestnut! I came across a short little video this week by fellow wedding photographer Magnus Bogucki and it got me thinking to write a little piece for the “muse”. By the way, here’s the video here if you want to take a quick look but please do read on afterwards for my slant on this matter.

So, wedding photography…expensive? Well, I guess that depends on what you pay for your wedding photography. There’s no doubt that the general consensus is that it is expensive. But, you can, of course, get a wedding photographer for a couple of hundred pounds (a quick search on Google will find one for you). And, at the other end of the scale, you can end up paying astronomical amounts upwards of two to three thousand pounds. But, and I’m sure most will agree with me here, a good ball park figure is around about a thousand pounds for the photography itself, plus a bit extra if you’re going for an album package. But, even so, “a thousand pounds for a few hours photography I hear you gasp.  Isn’t that just because it’s for a wedding? Doesn’t everything associated with a wedding come with over inflated prices?” Well, I can’t speak for other sectors of the wedding industry that sell dresses, flowers, cakes etc., but I can give you the lowdown on photography. So, here goes.

First up, there’s the initial meeting with the couple. To make things easier, I usually offer to travel to the couple to see them. The meeting can take about an hour or longer, with often up to an hours travelling time either side of that. And not forgetting petrol costs – not cheap in this day and age! If the couple then choose to book with me, there’s the time taken to draw up the booking form and contract, plus a few emails back and forth to finalise the booking, so perhaps another hour or two.

Pre-wedding shoots come as standard with all my packages. I don’t see this is an add-on to the packages; for me, it’s an important part of the package that lets us get to know each other that bit better before the wedding day, and this in general will lead to better results come the wedding day itself. The pre-wedding shoot will usually last between 1-2 hours plus perhaps an hour or two travelling time and, again, petrol costs. After the shoot, all the images need to be edited – approx. 100 images at an average of 5 minutes per images, so somewhere around 8 hours in total.

Come the wedding day, it’s the same process as per the pre-wedding shoot, but only in larger volumes. Roughly 10 hour’s photography on the day plus a couple of hours travelling time (and petrol). And, if it’s a venue that I’ve not been to before, I will have undertaken a recce a few days beforehand to ensure I’m not caught cold come the day itself. Once I’ve finished for the day, all the images immediately get uploaded on to the PC, before backing up a copy to DVD and a further copy to an external hard drive – it just wouldn’t go down too well if I lost a couple’s wedding images so no chances are taken here.

Next up, I start working on editing all the images from the wedding, but not before I’ve undertaken an initial selection. I’ll take on average somewhere between 800-1000 images on the day itself, which will be whittled down to about 400 that will then receive full editing, and this process in itself will take a couple of hours. I then start work on the remaining 400 which again receive an edit taking about 5 minutes on average, so around 30-35 hours total time. Finally, I’ll back-up the edited images once more to ensure that I have a couple of copies before uploading all the images onto an online gallery on my website.

If the couple have chosen an album package, the album layouts have to be designed which, for a 30 page album can take around 7-8 hours. The couple may then want to make a few changes to the page layouts (only minor tweaks but it does mean that the layouts have to be worked on again), so again, another hour or two, before the design goes off to the lab for printing.

So, there we have it, I’d say the whole end to end process (excluding the album design) takes somewhere between 60-70 hours in total. But I love what I do and I get great deal of satisfaction when couples say how much they love their finished product. But to arrive at that finished product, a serious amount of work has to be put in, before and after the wedding day , and I do hope that I’ve given an insight here into why us photographers charge what we charge.

Oh, and finally, the taxman ensures that he gets his 20% cut as well!

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4 comments
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  • GabriellaFebruary 24, 2012 - 5:34 pm

    I completely agree with you Mike. Sometimes folks forget the things that go into making great memorable photos. It’s not just standing around pointing and shooting.ReplyCancel

  • MikeFebruary 24, 2012 - 7:53 pm

    Yeah, I certainly agree with that although I would add that the images taken on the day are still of paramount importance, as no end of editing at the post processing stage will make a bad photo any better – it will just end up being an “edited” bad photo! However, you can certainly make good photos better by spending a bit of time working on them after the event and this, as they say, is where the bulk of the time goes.ReplyCancel

  • HamishFebruary 28, 2012 - 10:07 pm

    Great post. You should have mentioned all of the equipment too, plus insurance, office supplies, printers, computer equipment/software! Probably loads of other things I can’t remember off the top of my head. That’s before you even talk about how good someone might be!ReplyCancel

  • MikeFebruary 29, 2012 - 9:05 am

    You’re right Hamish and this is the real difference between a full time pro (who will naturally charge higher) and a part timer who might do a wedding for you for about £300. As pros, we need to make sure that we keep up to date with all the latest equipment and software and part of the package fee, as you point out, needs to be allocated towards that – it’s all for the client’s benefit at the end of the day.ReplyCancel