This such a hot topic. I see photographers and brides bringing up this question time and again, and it’s not an easy question to answer by any stretch, but I would like to try to at the least explain the costs.
I would like to start by stating upfront that there are so many excellent photographers, some who are starting out and some with years of experience. If you get a good photographer, they can make you and your day look fantastic, even if it you are on a shoestring budget. The dress, decor and all the extras are important in creating the atmopshere for a good photograph, but they should not be the deciding factors in whether the photographer is able to make the bride and her day look terrific.
I have often spoken to someone looking for a budget photographer – often they have the idea that photos of the day will be fine whether it was done by someone who knows what they doing or a person with only a little experience.
A wedding is an expensive endeavour, and the thought of paying thousands of pounds on a photographer can really make a person think twice. However it will be the photographer that captures the images from your day, regardless of whether its a small DIY wedding or a grand lavish affair. The photographer really is the person you should splash out on. If you can only afford £500 for a wedding photographer then that is great, but be aware that someone charging that will almost definately be inferior to someone more expensive, regardless of talent. It might be worth your while to spend slightly more and get someone who will make your memories look great for years to come.
The general acccepted guide is to start at 10% of your budget and work from there, this obviously depends on how big your budget is and how important the wedding photographer is to you. It is not unheard of for a bride to spend 30% or more of the budget only on a photographer, because the photographer is that important to her. So take the 10% as a guide, and work from there.
What you choose to spend on your photography is not always just down to budget. Couples with small budget weddings will hire me to do their wedding photography because it is what they want to spend their money on. They hold back on flowers and cake and get family members to donate their skills and time. In the end, where you want to spend your budget is your choice.
Being a photographer is not just about owning a professional camera; it’s about knowing how to use it. People often assume that if an individual has an expensive camera, the shots coming out of that camera will look professional regardless of whoever is taking them. The reality is that a good photographer knows how to put a picture together and has spent a great deal of study and time learning just how to do that. It is frustrating when people lump all photographers together, as though we all are the same, with the same skills and approach, we don’t do that!
As price goes up, what are you paying for ?
Now firstly it’s experience. The more experienced a photographer is, the more the photographer should cost. Each Wedding day has its own set of challenges and surprises. For example light conditions in a dim chapel, or how to handle moving from a dim church out into full sunlight, and restrictions on the photographer such as not being allowed to use a flash inside the church ? These are things a wedding photographer must know how to deal with in order to get their client the best possible picture.
An experienced photographer has experience working in different light and has techniques to handle and enhance the situation, whatever the conditions.
These days Photoshop has become another tool of the trade for Wedding Photographers. It is not unusual for a bride to ask (and even some grooms ) if they will be retouched. I so often hear people talk about photoshop as a pancea to all photo problems, but I will state that a bad photo remains a bad photo no matter how much you edit it in photoshop. Now if you choose the cheaper option it may well mean that the Wedding day coverage will not include any retouching. Retouching images tackes time and again experience, both which cost money.
Then there is the package you pay for. For example, it may include an album or photobook, and as the quality of the album improves so the cost will be affected. The layout and design of the album can also lead to a increase in price, as time and experience are brought into play.
Does your photographer have an assistant ? An assistant will have his ( or her ) own level of experience and knowledge that is used to make everything work a little bit better. They are people brought in to make sure that everything goes that way it should during each photograph and they are ultimately part of the cost.
There is also the equipment – we all know how expensive equipment can get , and photography equipment is not exception. A photographer can easily have thousands of pounds worth of equipment that needs to be insured and maintained, these again will influence your cost.
Before you start bargaining with your photographer because you have a tight budget, remember the photographer is there for you, sometimes for the entire day, and by the end of the wedding day will be pretty worn out. Please realise that a wedding photographer will work very hard at your wedding.
The photographer charges because that’s what their experience, artistry and costs demand them to charge. The recession, the day of the week your wedding is on, the size of your guest list, and how much you spent on your cake, doesn’t affect how much it costs your photographer to shoot your wedding.
First decide what you would like from your photographer, and then look at how it will affect the price. Decide how much of you day you want captured, whether retouching is important and what level of expereince do you want. Know that if you choose the £500 photographer you will have to be careful and perhaps a little lucky, or you may decide that the most important part of your budget is the photographer and you schoose a £4000 photographer. There are couples who decide that the photographer is the most important investment of their wedding day and have spent more on the photographer than on the entire rest of Wedding budget.