Why do professional wedding photographers charge so much?

This is often a question asked, especially by wedding clients who can sometimes be spending over £1,00o for their wedding photographer.

Like most professions, we get paid for our time and the actual time spent on the day is only a fraction of the time we put in to a job. Even the job itself can be a couple of hours drive from our base.

As a basic calculation, say you’re spending £1,000 on a full day wedding of around ten hours. One thousand pounds for one day sounds like a lot, that’s £100 per hour right? If only it were like that, I’d do that every day.

Firstly, I come with an assistant, who I pay £10 per hour, so that’s £100 taken off the balance to start with. Before the wedding, the photographer will meet the wedding couple at last once but normally twice, once at either their home or if we’re lucky, our offices – then normally again at the wedding locations to discuss the day. That’s another 3 hours minimum, plus petrol costs for the location meetings. So that’s 13 hours for a £900 wedding so far.

After the wedding, the session, we have to go through the images and not only select the best images our of hundreds of shots. This alone takes around 3 hours but I also need to edit the final selection. Editing starts with colour correction and exposure, then cropping and other basic editing. We are not even doing anything to alter the photos significantly, like removing unwanted background objects or skin retouching. Correct retouching does take longer and there aren’t many good shortcuts. On a big wedding I would normally work with 700 images, and even if I just spend 2 minutes on each image that’s well over two days work. So all in all I spend around 3 days in the edit phase after a wedding. So that’s 39 hours for a £900 wedding so far.

I also include a wedding album in that package price, the minimum time I spend on an album is a day and a half. The first day to design and create the album, another half day to make any final amends after proofs have been sent to the wedding couple, plus dealing with the printers. So that’s 51 hours for a £900 wedding.

Apart from the website maintenance, time spent blogging and other labour intensive tasks, there are the very real costs for Google Adwords and other wedding directory submissions. I spend around £150 a month on Google at around £50 on other site submissions. So assuming a generous 4 weddings in a month, that’s another £50 towards marketing costs. So that’s 51 hours for £850 wedding which works out at: £16 which seems pretty reasonable for a professional service.

We haven’t even talked about the cost of the equipment which is heavily used and needs regularly updating and replacing. My main setup is around £5000 which needs to be replaced every three years in my experience. Plus liability insurance, travel costs, wedding outfits, etc. etc. There’s a lot that goes into being a professional wedding photographer!

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