“Why is wedding photography expensive?” you might ask. In fact, is it expensive? This might seem a tricky subject for a photographer to tackle as I am, after all, running a business, and probably just like you, have a mortgage to pay. So going beyond the obvious need to provide a saleable service at a profitable price point in order to earn a living, there are a number of factors that influence to cost of wedding photography services. All told, it can mean that booking your wedding photographer can be one of the more significant wedding costs.
To capture your wedding in all it’s glory, and ensure that the photographic record is of the highest possible quality, very high-end photographic equipment must be used. An image from a smart phone camera may look great on Facebook or Instagram, but that’s a viewing environment that displays a very small image that does not demand high resolution, colour accuracy, or even critical focusing. If you have ever tried to get a large print made from such an image you’ll appreciate that while these devices are wonderful pieces of the tech that are now part and parcel of modern life, they are not pieces of specialist photographic equipment. A wedding photographer will have invested thousands upon thousands of pounds assembling a collection of equipment that enables him or her to produce results that are worthy of someone who takes photographs for a living. So, thousands of pounds on a camera? “So what?” you are asking? Well actually, one camera is not enough. Can you imagine how you would feel if your photographer announced part way through the big day that his camera had failed and he didn’t have a back up camera? So multiple cameras, each at multiple thousands of pounds. Ouch! You may never have noticed or thought about it, but the light level in some wedding venues can be very dim. A camera does not “see” as well as the human eye. It is therefore necessary to get as much light as possible into the camera, and this means the lenses fitted to the camera can themselves each cost thousands of pounds. All in all, there is such an outlay on the tools of the trade, it can take a long long time, and a lot of weddings, to recoup those costs.
So, this chappy turns up on the wedding day, clicks off a load of photos and gets paid royally for it? Well actually, he will have taken time in the weeks before to visit the venue and do a recce of where to get the best shots, and judge the lighting conditions that may be encountered on the day that may influence the equipment to be used. He will have planned contingencies for inclement weather. He will have spent time meeting you beforehand to discuss the images you want him to capture. He will spend several days retouching the images, preparing proofs, making them available to you, designing your album and dealing with general administration and suppliers. In all, it would not be unusual for at least 5 days’ effort to be spent on a single wedding. As you will appreciate, the daily rate drops significantly when the figure is divided by 5 not 1!
Let’s be honest, you’re paying for the accumulated expertise and skill of your photographer. Wedding photography can be demanding and hectic, and no matter what, the photographer must get the shots. You need someone who is used to this pressure and can deliver no matter what.
Most wedding photographers will not do everything in-house. Album printing, the printing of photographs and picture framing will typically be outsourced to specialist, professional third party suppliers. These suppliers’ costs must be covered.
Your photographer absolutely must be insured. At the very least he should have public liability insurance, and in my view you should ensure he also has professional indemnity insurance too. These are overheads that must be covered, as is insuring all that expensive equipment!
No business can survive without customers, and to get customers involves marketing. This is no different for a wedding photographer. Attending wedding fairs, print advertising, getting a professional website and maintaining an internet and social media presence are all costs that have to be covered.
So maybe the original question posed should have been “Is wedding photography expensive?” When you turn the pages of your wedding album and treasure the memories that come flooding back, you’ll realise it was not only a great investment but also good value for money!