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Things to look for in a wedding photographer
HOW TO UNDERSTAND VALUE
Weddings are highly technical and premium events. To cover them well and deliver outstanding imagery they require significant client care and consultation, high end photography gear, composition and technical mastery, in these ever changing environments. If you're curious why the costs of wedding photographers vary significantly, something to keep in mind is the following – a small UK study (2020) recently found that wedding photographers typically spend around 4% of their time actually taking photos of weddings and the rest on editing, album and product design, and communication with clients and business administration.
Photographers, like most small business owners, must account for overhead and taxes with their pricing. It's not uncommon for their take home to be 1/3 of what's quoted, and for them to then take 40 or more hours to edit 1,000 images.
Here are some significant factors that shape a wedding photographer's pricing:
- Deliverables included.
Preserving and displaying your memories is the most important part of the investment. While some photographers provide digital galleries, others also include heirloom albums, wall art, folio boxes, slide shows and other prints or gift cards in their packages.
- Experience and education.
Training, developing and enhancing our capacity to care for clients and deliver incredible art work is a significant investment. Career photographers typically operate as small business owners and contractors, who then must regularly invest in workshops, education, and mentoring opportunities to keep their portfolio and professional capacities relevant and inspiring.
- Limited availability.
Given that many weddings occur on weekends, every photographer is inherently limited in which dates they can take during peak season.
- Pre and post production time.
Consultation and meeting time, location scouting, editing, album artwork and ordering represents a number of essential tasks that occur beyond the wedding day itself. This can often represent 40+ hours of work outside of the wedding day.
- Tools and depreciation costs.
It's not uncommon for a photographer to take 500 photos during a session and 4,000+ photos during a wedding. Some pro models of Canon camera bodies (valued at 3k USD) commonly have a shutter lifespan of 150,000 articulations before repairs are required. It's also not uncommon for professional photographers to have 5 - 30k worth of equipment. My own kit is valued at and insured for 18k CAD.
- Overhead, software, marketing, insurance, licensing, and taxes.
No business can operate without these costs, unfortunately.
Common approaches to booking
After completing an inquiry form, many photographers will either send some pricing options right away or reach out personally to arrange a consultation to learn the details of your ceremony and coverage needs. During an initial meeting you may chat about your unique love story, what you loved about the venue you booked, travel logistics, other vendors you're looking for, what's most important to capture, and any challenges or needs that require a solution. Remember, this person is the one getting a front row seat to all your wedding day feelings. I highly recommend you connect on a personal level, and confirm they're someone you can be yourselves around.
No two ceremonies are exactly the same. Some photographers will provide their standard price sheet upon contact, and others will provide a custom quote and proposal most relevant to your coverage needs. I prefer the latter approach, and you can learn more about my approach and rates here.
Many photographers will ask you to review and complete a contract and booking questionnaire, and provide a 20% - 50% non-refundable retainer to secure your dates. The remaining balance is typically due a minimum of two - four weeks prior to your session. As mentioned, wedding photographers can book 12 to 24 months in advance! If you've got your heart set on a specific photographer, contact them as soon as you've secured your venue dates to avoid disappointment. Some vendors will have greater availability and alternative pricing options for weekday dates; this can be a good option for elopement coverage planned within shorter timelines.
If you need anything, I'm here to help
I really adore guiding and helping couples on their wedding photography journey. Providing solid service and experience is truly my jam. Before returning to photography as a career path, I was a hospitality manager for 4 years! Living life without regrets is a value I hold close to my heart, and wedding photography is truly something that I hope you'll look back on with confidence that you got the best possible images of these precious memories. Please book yourself in for a free discovery call if you'd like to chat about booking me to cover your special day.
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