Since the start of my blogging career, a few years back, I haven’t written any articles for my own blog, having decided initially to concentrate just on the photography – but a recent meeting with a potential couple fueled in me the desire to communicate a few important things, so here we are.
I met said couple, along with a future mother-in-law, several weeks ago, to discuss wedding photography and prices. After showing them a beautiful Queensberry sample album and discussing my role as their wedding photographer, before, during and after their big day, we got on to talking about money.
After glancing at my price list for less than 30 seconds, the mother of the groom looked at me and declared, “that’s far too much!!” … As it happens, she was looking at my entry level cost, which I know full well to be very reasonable, and certainly inline with other quality photographers.
So, where is the problem here, you may ask? She just doesn’t have the budget, you might suggest?
Well, I don’t believe, in this particular case, that it is a question of budget. I believe that it is a question of ‘perceived value’, and after some more conversation it was quite clear that I was the first photographer they had spoken to, and they had done absolutely no research whatsoever. No wonder they thought it cost too much, as they had a particular figure in their minds (possibly in line with what they might have paid in their home country – no, they were not from the UK) and simply were not expecting to pay any more than that.
I was a little put out during this discussion, as I felt very undervalued and unappreciated, but maybe the problem was mine and not theirs?
During the journey home I thought that it would make a good article to explain some of the reasons why “good quality” wedding photography costs what it does – if you think that it’s just a case of turning up with a camera and knocking out some snaps, burning them to DVD and moving on to the next couple, then read on, you’re in for a surprise.
So, the first thing is to pose you a question; how much are you going to spend on (amongst other things) your dress, shoes, food, flowers, alcohol and cake ?
And the next question; how many of those things will you still have in five year’s time? Ten years?
And, on the day of your wedding, when you look utterly stunning walking down the aisle, when he wipes that tear from your eye, and when you have your closest friends and family together for the first time in ages … how will you make sure those memories stay with you forever ? How will you record that moment he first sees you, the expression on your faces as your eyes lock in that single moment? How will you remember just how proud your dad looks when he sees you in your dress for the first time … ?
Ok, so i am labouring the issue somewhat … but i am trying to make a point.
As important as all those material things are (cake, dress,shoes etc.) none of them will last. In the years to come, the one thing that you will have to remember the day by will be your photography. I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, if you cut corners here, you will seriously regret it later.
There is little point having all the lovely extra bits, and making everything and everyone look amazing, if you cannot remember all of those details in the years to come. And there is little point in not doing the correct research when searching for the right photographer for you – and when I say research, I mean researching the prices as well as the styles and the actual photographers themselves.
To give you a bit of an insight as to why good quality Wedding Photography costs what it does, read on …
So, let’s start with our investments. Firstly there is the equipment. A good quality photographer will come to your wedding armed with an array of kit, and it won’t be expensive just because we like gadgets – it needs to be up to the job. At least two, if not three, camera bodies – one or two will be backups in case of breakdown. These need to be regularly cleaned and serviced to maintain a good working order. A variety of good quality lenses, able to cope with both normal and low light situations. These types of lenses cost close to, if not more than £1,000 each! As with good quality photography, good quality equipment does not come cheap. There are also the flash guns (to be used properly, mixing ambient light and flash), memory cards, back up devices etc all of this investment in equipment is required before we even start shooting.
Training & experience
Then comes the training and experience. Good photographers regularly attend training courses, to ensure that we’re constantly challenged with new ideas and techniques, as well as discussing ideas and critiques with fellow photographers. As with any job, training is important, as it keeps you fresh and up to date, and more importantly, evolving, so you don’t get stuck in the rut of doing the same old things time and time again.
This invariably leads to the experience that we have gained over the years, which gives us the knowledge of how to confidently handle any issues that may arise – broken equipment, low light problems, rain, crying brides/mothers/bridesmaids, etc etc
An initial wedding consultation can take up to 2 hours, during which you will go over all the options for the wedding day. Imagine dealing with 10 enquiries per week and all the time that takes up … it all needs to be costed.
Not all photographers include a pre-wedding shoot, but we do, and it is an essential part of our wedding photography preparations. With the travel to and from the shoot location, the time taken for the shoot proper, the post production and the viewing this can easily amount to an entire half-day.
Then, naturally, there is the wedding day itself. This is a given, and so there is not much to discuss here, apart from the fact that whether we physically spend 6 or 12 hours with you, the day is still pretty much dedicated to your wedding.
Back up devices
After the wedding, and often ‘during’ too, we need to ensure that all your images are backed up, in several places. No respectful photographer will rely solely on DVDs as a means for safe and secure backups. External hard disks, on-site and off-site, as well as special arrays of redundant disk storage are key to the safety of our imagery. This is a huge investment, and can amount to thousands of pounds if done properly, as well as the time taken for the data transfers and verification.
So, the all important post production … as a rule, at Matt Pereira Photography we don’t like to over-Photoshop any of our images. We much prefer to get it right ‘in camera’, and the initial post-production is limited to tonal balance and colour correction. However, the time taken to select the images for viewing and prepare these for our couples can equal an entire morning.
Next comes the viewing itself and this is something very important to us. There is no way on earth that, after spending all that time, love, effort and money, we would ever want you to see your wedding images for the first time on anything less than a big screen presentation. What we create on your wedding day is art, naturally and beautifully and it’s shocking to think that your first viewing of those gorgeous images could be in the form of an unflattering little thumbnail on a website, or a tiny little proof in a book. Absolutely no way, José! And so, this level of service that we provide is a mini-event in itself, and should be treated as such … but again, whilst this is so very worthwhile, it does take up several hours of our day.
Once the viewing is completed, and we have helped you choose the right images for your album, then comes the album design, and this is an art in itself. A good album design, which tells the story of the day, can easily take an entire day to complete – some of the larger albums can even take two days!
Finally, almost, there is the cost of the album materials themselves. We do not use cheap books from a local high street photo store. The album manufacturers we use have been carefully chosen for their exceptional quality, and all of our albums are hand made and imported from across the other side of the world.
And, so, if you are still reading, you should now be able to appreciate some of what goes in to a single wedding, and just why wedding photographers charge what they do. It’s a skilled business, and as with any skill, to become half decent it takes dedication, training, practise and commitment.
Of course, we have only touched on the immediately obvious things related directly to the art of wedding photography. We have not even started to think about marketing, wedding fairs, promotional materials, advertising, book keeping, accounting & travel costs, as well as a whole load of other things I’ve probably left out … but maybe that’s for another article!