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Why Does Good Wedding Photography Cost So Much?

March 8th, 2012 | Julia Braime

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Andrew Scott Clarke

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Why does good wedding photography cost so much?!

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We’ve all been there at some point or other especially when we are planning our wedding day. We try to work out our budgets and more often than not we try to find reason why the photographer costs so much. 

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After all – how hard can it be to take a photo, right?

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Wrong.

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This morning, we get serious and talk to Brides Up North Featured Supplier Andrew Scott Clarke about where your pennies go.  An informed pocket is a happy pocket, in my opinion… unless we are talking about telling the hubby about my last shopping trip! 

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Hubby, if you are reading.  I’m joking of course.  Artistic license and all that…. *burns receipts*

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Andrew Scott Clarke

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Over to Andrew: I’ve based this article on a normal wedding session.  The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process.  Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional and the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels.  However, with flexibility comes a price. 

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Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in it’s lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art.

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We all know that you can go to the local chemist and pay a £1.50 for a print – so as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of £500 – £3,000 for a wedding album or disc with your prints?  Professional photographers hear this question every once in a while. 

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The truth of the matter is that the answer to this question is multifaceted.  Much of the cost of a photographic image produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time,  equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

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Andrew Scott Clarke

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The Cost of Time

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Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love to photograph your wedding.  This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your day.  Here is an example of a time break down:

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    Wedding prep time (30 mins– 1 hour including equipment/ back up checks, vehicle checks)

    1 hour travel time to wedding

    15- 30 minutes prep time at client’s home/venue

    4- 12 hours with client photographing wedding

    1 hour travel time from wedding

    30- 45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer

    30- 45 minutes time spent backing up the original images

    12- 24 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images

    1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering

    2- 3 hours time with client for ordering images

    1 hour sorting through and checking order

    30 minutes -1 hour prep time for delivery

    30 minutes -1 hour getting order shipped

    Any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

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In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 18 hours to 30 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service.  This is time dedicated only to ONE session.  When the photographer charges £800 – £3,000 for the wedding shoot (aka the session fee) you are not just paying for the 4-12 hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 18-30 hours complete time for your session – sometimes even longer!

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Andrew Scott Clarke

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The Cost of Maintaining a Photography Business

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Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from £10,000 – £30,000 dependent on the photographer.  Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about £1,000 there are still other costs related to photography.  A good lens for portrait photography can run from £900 to £2,000.  A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run £2,000 to £6,000 dependent on the photographer.

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Then come lab costs for specialty products.  A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success.  Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the professional photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

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Discussing other costs of running a photography business could take a while so we’ll skip many of the intricate details.  There is of course much more including: costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, and so it continues.

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Andrew Scott Clarke

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Reputation/ Expertise of the Photographer

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Being in demand, being well known for quality work and having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part.  Their expertise comes at a cost:  their time learning their craft, learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a business persona that communicates professionalism.  A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography.  Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time: how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream?  They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups and so on. 

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Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to maintain this quality level.  To create good work, good equipment, reliable equipment and back up equipment is a necessity.  The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalleled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is to be reliable and dependable. This is how reputations are built.  Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

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Andrew Scott Clarke

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I hope that this article helps shed some light on why a professional photographer is a better choice for your wedding memories.  The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring someone who is right for your precious investment. 

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Brides Up North – Images © 2012 Andrew Scott Clarke

Andrew Scott Clarke is a  Featured Supplier, but this is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

 

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comments

  • March 8, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Some great points made here by Andrew – the breakdown of time spent on a wedding is an interesting read. It’s a popular question: I published a similar post a couple of weeks ago with a different perspective, with Jonny Draper sharing his views on the subject. Jonny’s explanation looks more into reputation and brand image of a wedding photographer as an artist – it’s worth a read http://english-wedding.com/2012/02/does-wedding-photography-seem-expensive-to-you/ – would you pay more for Jimmy Choo than Clarks?

  • March 8, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    It all seems so obvious to me now that I run my own wedding business but when I was planning my wedding I too was shocked that some photographers were charging 4k plus! Now I see that you are paying for the experience really, the 4-6k photographers are the best in the business and you’re buying in to that. I don’t think you have to always pay top dollar to get amazing images, everyone has to start somewhere, but it is worth investing in a photographer and videographer as these will be the ones putting in all this time to create your perfect album/ DVD. A good supplier will be willing to put in all that time to make everything perfect for you and, for me, that’s worth every penny xx

  • March 8, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Interesting comparisons:
    * Would you walk into a car sales showroom and tell them that you could get a car for £250 from ebay (no returns) so could they meet the price with their brand new (or even second -hand under warranty) car that would meet your needs?

    * Would you expect the same quality?

    * Would you realise you were taking a risk with the ebay car?

    * Would you agree to let a student build you a car – paying them first – especially if you were then not able to replace the car in the future?

    * What would your family and friends think and say if you were then disappointed with your ebay car? (Or what would you say to them if the tables were reversed?)

    * Would you hire someone else who did the above to drive you to your wedding even?

    So …. maybe go make the comparisons between the above and your wedding photographer and / videographer! Can’t tell you how often we meet couples who think they would never watch their wedding film because they’ve seen friends’ poor quality boring videos. Lately we’ve met lots of couples looking for a photographer based on price alone too.

    Cheap but poor quality is EXPENSIVE!

  • March 9, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this article. So many people don’t think about the time spent preparing the images after the wedding.

  • March 16, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Hi,
    Yes, good to break it all down. Often forget how much is spent on software alone never mind camera servicing, new memory cards and business costs do have to be added as in all businesses. I can’t see a client being ‘appreciative’ of time spent travelling as most working folks travel to work. The bulk of the costs should be on the photography itself and also experience, especially for weddings.

  • March 22, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Really interesting post

  • April 18, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Great Post & food for thought! Same applies with wedding video!

    only client’s that can see the benefit in a video with high production values are happy to spend at a rate that gives the film maker sufficient scope to use the equipment & hours & hours of dedicated edit time to create a video similar to a motion picture look.

    There always has & always will be couples that see the value in great imagery be it still or moving. Alas there are many who do not see the need until after the day has passed. We hear so many times ‘If Only ….. ‘

    Kit wise our investment runs into well over £30k just on the hardware & software alone required to do a professional job, but what has to matter is that people see the value in our work.

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

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