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Author Topic: What to charge for wedding photography?  (Read 5649 times)

LewisShermer

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What to charge for wedding photography?
« on: September 13, 2012, 08:39:39 AM »
Hello, about 2 years ago I was asked to photograph a friends wedding. For a number of years I've been a product photographer in a studio so I assume that's why she asked. I said yes as it was a few months away. I then thought I'd best go and buy my own camera and flash (canon 500D + jessops flash with 18-55 & 70-300 tamron kit). I got some books and practiced pretty hard...

my current website is www.lewismaxwell.co.uk although I'm in the process of setting up a proper wedding photography site and only have my first 3 weddings on there...

10 weddings later and I'm thinking of starting to charge for them.

I basically limit myself to a 7D with a 17-85mm and a 60D with a 28mm

I carry all my other lenses just in case but they rarely come out of the bag. I'm waiting until next month to see if this 6D comes out, if not then I'll get a 5D mk ii. I'm not rich by any means and treat my photography out of the company I work for (as a commercial product photographer) as a hobby, hence the free weddings.

How much should I be charging as pretty much a beginner/non pro? I do make people aware that that it's not my proper job.

I've had a few enquiries for weddings next summer and quoted £400, but I think that may put some people off.
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What to charge for wedding photography?
« on: September 13, 2012, 08:39:39 AM »

LewisShermer

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2012, 08:53:02 AM »
this is the kind of stuff I get up to
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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2012, 10:44:29 AM »
Hello, about 2 years ago I was asked to photograph a friends wedding. For a number of years I've been a product photographer in a studio so I assume that's why she asked. I said yes as it was a few months away. I then thought I'd best go and buy my own camera and flash (canon 500D + jessops flash with 18-55 & 70-300 tamron kit). I got some books and practiced pretty hard...

my current website is www.lewismaxwell.co.uk although I'm in the process of setting up a proper wedding photography site and only have my first 3 weddings on there...

10 weddings later and I'm thinking of starting to charge for them.

I basically limit myself to a 7D with a 17-85mm and a 60D with a 28mm

I carry all my other lenses just in case but they rarely come out of the bag. I'm waiting until next month to see if this 6D comes out, if not then I'll get a 5D mk ii. I'm not rich by any means and treat my photography out of the company I work for (as a commercial product photographer) as a hobby, hence the free weddings.

How much should I be charging as pretty much a beginner/non pro? I do make people aware that that it's not my proper job.

I've had a few enquiries for weddings next summer and quoted £400, but I think that may put some people off.

You have to charge enough to cover Gas, food, Insurance, cost of prints, web hosting and any rental stuff you'll need. Thats the base.

Now, How much to you want to make for your time? 10$ an hour? 25$ an Hour? 50$ per Hour?

Example.

Real physical expense's - 500$
 
Total Labor time - 20 Hours x 10$/ hour = 200$

Basic Cost for shooting a wedding - 700$ + Tax.

Unposed-Jeff

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2012, 11:39:05 AM »
If you are only looking for $20 per hour for your 10 hr day... Find a new occupation.  You can look for the $20 per hour but you must look much wider.  15 hrs prep time talking to the couple and getting your gear ready.  10-15hrs day of.  40 hrs of offloading, culling, editing, uploading, and finishing orders.

Thats 65-70 hours invested into the wedding plus fixed cost of gear, insurance, extra rentals, gas, food....

So that is a minimum of 1300 that you should charge plus your costs.  Do you need an assistant?   So you are now looking at 2K for a wedding.  Now if you make money elsewhere great... if not, then you need to pay for the off weeks.  So maybe $40 an hour knowing you will fluctuate between 70 hr weeks and 10 hr weeks.  You can make your hourly rate as high as you really think you are worth.

As hard as it may be to charge what your worth, people who love your work will be able to afford you, and you will be doing the entire photographic community a service by instilling the value of photography into your customers in a world with shoot and burn photogs shoot and sell a wedding for $500.

Your work is very good btw.


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snowweasel

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2012, 11:47:25 AM »
I went about it by looking at competition in my area, and charging more than the photographers that clearly didn't know what they were doing (there will ALWAYS be somebody willing to do it cheaper than you, and there will always be brides/couples looking to find the cheapest...I strongly recommend not targeting them as your clientele). I also don't feel that I can justify charging what some wedding photographers charge, especially if I view them as significantly better than me. I tried to price myself in the low end of what I consider the good photographers in my area. I started out at $750 USD, and have since upped that to $950, which I still consider probably a little lower than I probably should charge.

As a side note, I had a tough time deciding what to charge for "friends" who asked me to do their weddings. Originally, I felt I should give them a really low price, but at the same time, you are working, and they are hiring you, and thus far, I haven't had any of my "friends" scoff at my prices when they asked what I charged. If it's someone you're particularly close to, or someone you know can't financially swing it, well, of course you can come down some for them, or offer them something additional (a free engagement session, some free prints, etc). It appears (without me looking particularly in depth) that you at least somewhat know what you're doing, and if you price yourself low, you're doing yourself a disservice, as well as other photographers in the area that DO use wedding photography as their primary income.

Those are my thoughts...

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2012, 11:48:17 AM »
Also, invest in a backup strategy and charge accordingly. Once you accept the money, 'sorry, lost it' is no longer acceptable. You need immediate image backups, plus offsite backups asap, plus backup hardware.

Anyway, 400 quid is peanuts. I've heard of people paying 10-20 times that amount while not even expecting top class shizzle.
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snowweasel

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2012, 11:53:55 AM »
I agree on the hours...if I shoot for 8 hours, I count on a minimum of 8-12 hours downloading and post processing. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it's way more than your time that day that they are paying you for.

Also, if you get a few paying gigs, I would strongly recommend the 5Diii, if you can swing it in your budget vs the ii. The low light capabilities and the silent shutter are fantastic for weddings! Except for going to full frame, I would probably just stick with the 7d for the time being vs the mark ii. Especially with the new firmware. It's the camera I started doing weddings on, and is still my backup camera and the one I use for some better lit distance shots due to the 1.6x crop factor!

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2012, 11:53:55 AM »

LewisShermer

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2012, 12:16:04 PM »
Yep, I've already taken on board the whole de-valuing photography by charging very low prices, that's why I've done them for free, I think. I thought even charging a little would almost be an insult to the profession. It's a nice way of getting out of buying a wedding present though, although it's a little stressful on the day and the hours of editing at the end go unappreciated... I've got to think about albums and all of that and costing printing in...

So far I've just shot them, taken all the shots I like, processed them and given a DVD of those images. Then they've had them printed from online places which doesn't do anyone any justice, which is a shame.

Locally there are quite a few wedding shooters and I know they're charging at least £2000 (about $2600 ?). I don't think I could justify that to anyone until I have a proper gallery up online and a few printed examples.

I've seen a few photographers that shoot the day, do no post-production and just put everything up online, even the duff shots and charge per download. Is it just me that is precious about which shots make the cut? does anyone give the client all the shots from the day? a few have asked for them and I've refused as I don't want anything going out that's out of my control.
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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2012, 12:26:42 PM »
Also, invest in a backup strategy and charge accordingly. Once you accept the money, 'sorry, lost it' is no longer acceptable. You need immediate image backups, plus offsite backups asap, plus backup hardware.

Anyway, 400 quid is peanuts. I've heard of people paying 10-20 times that amount while not even expecting top class shizzle.

Along with the backup strategy, get proper insurance. It'll cover you in case you have that "oops" moment, or disaster happens, or you know over old Uncle Phil and break his hip when he's trying to get the shots after you wrangle the family for a few minutes for the formal shots.

Also, about that price, if you've got 10 weddings already and haven't been charging and have some great stuff for each wedding, start charging a lot more. For the £400 you'll only get real cheapskates or people who really can't afford more. For the latter, maybe set aside X number of weddings you'll do a year for them if you want to sorta spread your talents and skill. For the former...it's going to be worse than usual since they'll nit-pick and expect you to turn out amazing shots at their cheap-ass wedding & reception.

Locally there are quite a few wedding shooters and I know they're charging at least £2000 (about $2600 ?). I don't think I could justify that to anyone until I have a proper gallery up online and a few printed examples.

I've seen a few photographers that shoot the day, do no post-production and just put everything up online, even the duff shots and charge per download. Is it just me that is precious about which shots make the cut? does anyone give the client all the shots from the day? a few have asked for them and I've refused as I don't want anything going out that's out of my control.

You make a point about having some prints and sample albums, as well as a better online gallery, but you don't have to start charging super low otherwise you'll get stuck there more often than not.

As for the shoot & burn (or charge per download), you have to make the decision if you want to do that or not. IMHO you should care about which shots are shown to the client(s). In terms of giving up all of the shots from the day, it's somewhat of a personal thing. Most wedding photogs I know of (mostly from this forum) won't show everything, and won't give everything they do show. You do need to ensure that you provide a good number of web size images for posting to FB, G+, etc. Otherwise, in terms of printable sizes, it's a really great question. Do you have them order through you (either directly and you go to a lab, or using SmugMug or similar high quality service)? Do  you give them a sub-set of your delivery at full res for printing? Do you give them all that you deliver at full res? Do you charge more or less for more full res since you can't make anything off of the printing for them?
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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2012, 02:16:03 PM »
Personally, I only let my best (or at least, only my decent) work out into the wild. I usually give them 3 discs (one for the couple & one for each set of parents) with small (for e-mail & facebook, usually with a small watermark in the corner with my website), medium (sized for 4x6 at 300 dpi), and high (for larger print) resolution images of the ones I've chosen (which usually ends up being around 250-350 images out of the 1-2000 I may end up shooting), and a printing release.  I will occasionally include a slightly sub-par image if it is of something particularly important or memorable that I don't have a better shot of. I explain up front that THEY don't want to go through 20 almost identical images to pick the best one or two. I don't like doing it, and I'm getting paid! I also don't want someone potentially seeing the crap shots (which even the best photographers will get occasionally) and judging my work by it. (Along these lines, t also should be noted I shoot RAW, but give the discs in JPG.)

I also offer prints, and explain that while they can get them printed at the lab of their choice, I am more than happy to make recommendations and I STRONGLY suggest they not just go to the cheapest place they can find for that, as you usually get what you pay for. (I still remember the first time I had prints of the same images made at 2 different labs back in the days of film...my first ones came back incredible while I was in Europe and just found a lab near by, which happened to be good. I came home and went to my usual cheap place and they looked like absolute crap in comparison. It had never occurred to me before that point that where you got them printed made much of a difference!)

It certainly is a viable option to charge a little less on the front end and require them to get prints & albums through you at a mark-up and/or charge an additional fee for the disc of high res images with a printing release. Again, be sure to take into account the costs of shipping (if you send them off somewhere) and the additional time of putting together the album or cropping the images for printing. This does give you the most artistic control in the end product to make sure it's what you like/want/approve of.

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2012, 02:17:36 AM »
Maybe the biggest mistake the beginning photographer makes is underpricing the product. You have to understand that even when you are new your clients will be getting pictures they themselves could not reproduce with their point and shoots.  That has value to the.  The problem you then have is as the word gets out you do great work for pennies how do you then raise your price?  When I got started I checked the competition out and let's say for example they were charging an average of $200 for a session fee. So I began also charging $200 for a session fee but offered a discount of $50 for new clients or referrals and my ads had a specific end date to the deal (say 12/31). Then if i felt I needed to continue offering the discount I'd simply extend the special. That way when it came time to increase my prices I just removed the special. By then I had a good client base who was happy to pay market rate, and actually I ended up charging quite a bit more than my competition because my clients valued what I did. Honestly I wished the new photographer would just do work pro bono rather than undercutting the market because all you do is devalue the service provided or worse get yourself constantly doing more work than the job is worth.

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 03:30:36 AM »
As posted above 700+ is exactly what I charged for a client, who told me "you're just the photographer I've been looking for for my wedding!". And I never heard back from them again when I told them what I'd charge, that's $750 for an engagement shoot, full day coverage of wedding, all pictures edited and theres to use freely. How could there be a better deal from someone that wants to make enough to have food on the table???

Which is exactly how things have become these days, anyone with a DSLR thinks they could jump in the market and start making money "just by taking pictures", and because of how flooded the market is there's plenty willing to shoot for practically nothing. Of course, naturally those that are good can make a name for themselves and charge more, but when the bride wants to go cheap she may not think twice about paying more for a photog.

I'm still noob status with one wedding under my belt, though, in my opinion at least, I got splendid shots compared to some of my locals who have been established long before. Last I got $200 for 10 hrs of shooting and the post work on images, which I'm happy with, but that kind of money barely covers rental fees.

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 05:44:33 AM »
Wouldn't be too worried about the online albums etc.  With any business, there are always things that need to be done.  But you can't use it as an excuse not to get underway. FWIW, most of my local photographers charge approx. $AUD2,000 to $AUD3,000.  But some are a lot more.  Probably a totally different market, so as suggested above, check with the local competition.  Attend a few wedding expos and see what the market rates are.

Nishi, I wouldn't be shocked if they went with someone more expensive.  My first thoughts when I see someone offer a low price for a service that I know requires a lot of skill and time is "Do they know what they're doing", "Have they done it before?",  "How reliable are they?".  A lot of people (ok....predominantly younger people) see a wedding as a once in a life time event.  Photos are an integral part of this.  Most people are comfortable (although maybe not happy) with paying a high price for someone they believe will document their big day with proper care.
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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 05:44:33 AM »

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2012, 06:10:09 AM »
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brianleighty

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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 07:22:34 AM »
Just thought I'd give my experience with doing weddings. We started out with doing weddings with friends or people we know. Instead of really charging for them I basically had them cover the cost of equipment rentals (around $250). We've had a couple that we went a little over that and made a little profit. We've now shifted up to around $750. There was a mix up with this last wedding so we ended up doing it for $600 by accident but it's all good. We got some great pictures and it's really going to improve our portfolio a lot. For us starting out, that's the biggest thing I'm looking for is what's going to improve our portfolio. We're finally to the place where I feel we have enough work to get in the $1250-$1500 range which is pretty much where I think we need to be for the amount time it takes. We currently are telling clients if they put down a deposit before the end of the year it's the $750 but it's going up next year. I know we under price ourselves but I'm not doing this as a permanent rate and we've really been able to bless some people out that wouldn't have been able to afford anything or (shutter) some of those people that really shouldn't be doing a wedding with the gear they've got. Anyways, so that's our take.

Regarding people mentioning not getting the 5D Mark ii, I understand where they're coming from and I'm already wanting to try out the mark iii at a wedding next year but honestly I was blown away by the increase in quality going full frame. I shoot at ISO 800 on my 50D but on the 5D most inside stuff is shot around ISO 3200 which really gives me a lot more freedom. Not only that but I rented the Sigma 85 1.4 and found it to be way too long on the crop body but on the full frame it's more manageable. My thought is either rent nicer gear for the time being or invest in glass.  The Mark ii can be an excellent deal for what it is if you can find a good deal. I got mine for $2400 with the 24-105.  The Mark iii has been coming down in price and you'd be better off putting that money towards some nice glass for the time being.I actually haven't even tried it but the 35 1.4 springs to mind as it would work very well on your current crop bodies, it's on my list of lenses to rent, and once you go full frame it'll be awesome there as well. I use the 35 2.0 currently and it does well on a crop body so I'm sure the 1.4 is that much better. I know you didn't ask about equipment but since others chimed in, I thought I'd give my opinion on their opinions  :P

Sorry for the poor quality (was taken off of our Facebook account), but this is an example of a shot I don't feel would have been that great if it wasn't for being on a full frame and having a nice prime. You're work is an excellent example of not needing high end equipment to get some nice creative shots but that's inherent in your work and so nicer glass/ff will give you even more creative freedom
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Re: What to charge for wedding photography?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 07:22:34 AM »