This article is about the rather “touchy” subject of Wedding Photography Pricing, and we will discuss at what stage do you think you might price yourself out of your local Wedding Photography market?
How much should we charge in relation to Wedding Photography Pricing?
Wedding Photography pricing is one of those problems with no correct answer. Wedding photography pricing is influenced by so many factors: The Country where you work; the local area within that country; your own target market and the expectations of that market all have an influence on the answer.
Define your “local market” for Wedding Photography
When pricing your wedding photography services, it’s important to consider your local market. What do we mean by local market?
In this context, we’re referring to the geographical area in which you operate.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in London, your local market is likely to be much larger in terms of population than if you’re a wedding photographer in a small town.
But it may also be smaller geographically, as you don’t have to travel as far to reach the same amount of people as someone in a rural area might.
There are several other factors that will affect how much you can charge for your services, and knowing your local market is an important part of setting your prices.
You’ll also want to consider the size of your local market and the number of potential customers you have.
Have you defined it yourself?
For example, have you ever asked yourself the following questions:-
- Who is your target bride/groom?
- What type of wedding venues do you want to work in?
- How many weddings are you comfortable shooting per year?
- How far am I willing to travel to a wedding?
- Do you want to photograph weddings throughout the year or take an extended break at some point?
- If you were looking for a new job instead of what you are doing now, what would be your salary aspirations?
That last question is a particularly important point.
Self-employed people need to cover so many things on their own: their basic working salary; they need to earn enough to cover holiday periods; they need to cover their own pension arrangements (you are doing that aren’t you!); they need to ensure they cover the tax bills; enough funds to re-invest in new equipment as they require it; and they need enough savings for a rainy day.
Then there is insurance for your equipment and public liability; marketing costs; expenses such as heating and lighting; do we need to pay rent for a studio or small office; the list could go on….
But let’s just stop and go back to basics for a second. Let’s think in basic salary terms.
If we were to put the Profession of Wedding Photography into a Salary box – where would you put it?
What is the annual salary of a Wedding Photographer?
The annual salary of a wedding photographer can obviously vary depending on a number of factors, such as the country where they are working, the type of venues they are shooting at and how many weddings they are shooting per year.
Therefore, it is quite difficult to pin down.
Would it be the same as a low-paid manual worker?
Would it be a country-specific “average wage” earning role?
Would it match other professions and skilled roles and be above-average?
Would it be Senior-Management level?
Would it be higher?
As an aside, I’d love it if you would actually leave an honest answer in the comments below – you can use an anonymous name if you prefer.
But here’s the thing.
Your answer probably says two things about you:-
1. Your own attitude to how you value your profession
2. Your own attitude to your own dreams and aspirations
Number 1 affects all of us.
Number 2 is personal and everyone has their own goals here.
But both say a lot about how we value our industry and what we expect to get out of it.
So, how much should I charge as a Wedding Photographer?
Consider my original question in the title of this article:-
At what stage do you start to price yourself OUT of your local Wedding Photography market?
What would your answer be for your market?
£1500 / $2000?
£2500 / $3250?
£5000 / $6500?
£10000 / $13000?
HOW ABOUT LESS!
You see, you can never really price yourself OUT of a market by raising your prices.
But you CAN price yourself OUT of a market by LOWERING your prices.
Now at this point, some of you are probably thinking, WTF?
Well, you see, primarily the weddings you shoot determine the market you will work in. The wedding venues you show in your portfolio and the word of mouth referrals all stem from those same weddings.
So if you shoot cheap weddings, you will work in a cheap market and you will work in cheap venues.
Of course, there are exceptions to any rule, but typically market dynamics work along those lines.
On a Facebook Wedding Photography Beginners Group, I came across a debate over whether someone should shoot a full wedding for £375. The person was relatively new to the market, but normally priced themselves a bit higher, so like many seem to do, decided to throw his business decision to “the Facebook Boardroom”.
The answers of course said a lot about our industry:-
“Yes, just do it”
“Where’s the harm, it’s midweek after all”
“Of course, why not?”
“It’s a quick £375 in your pocket.”
Now I am paraphrasing, as I don’t want to post specific answers here to protect the innocent (or is it guilty 😉 )
BUT…. I’m sure you get the gist of it – most answering the thread felt that it was okay.
But here’s why (IMHO) it’s NOT.
It’s your future.
It’s your industry.
It determines how hard you are expected to work for the rest of your photography career and determines how much time you have available to spend with your family.
I responded to the thread pointing out that, as this was a teaching group, perhaps being someone with a little bit more experience in the industry I could add my tuppence worth.
So, I posted an example where over a three month period from April to June where we had photographed 12 weddings – we had a couple of doubleheaders so we had two weekends off in April and two weekends off in June, but basically, it averaged around one wedding a week. That’s one edit, one wedding of wear and tear on my cameras and my body.
The gross earnings for that particular period were £32,180 or an average of £2,681 per wedding.
Now I am not a “great” wedding photographer – I’m a decent wedding photographer, but no better than most of you.
I’m not working in a well-to-do area, I’m right in the middle of Central Scotland.
I’m also saying that that is in no way High-End wedding prices – there will be loads of you charging a lot more than this. Lets face it, if you really want to be a high-end wedding photographer, stick another zero on the end of those prices.
What I am saying is that for my area that market is easily achievable.
AND HERE’S THE BEST BIT – In my local area (i.e. Scotland) I’m one of only a few who pitch to that price point – the majority all pitch to a price point of below a £1000.
So from a competition point of view, I have LESS competition.
“But it’s easier to book cheaper weddings!”
So let’s go back to our £375 wedding? Lots of them about aren’t they?
Well, to achieve £32,180 gross earnings in three months our £375 wedding photographer would need to do the following:-
- Shoot 86 weddings in 12 weeks
- That’s actually just over 7 weddings a week. Hmmmmm.
- That’s 86 wedding edits he/she would have to do.
- That’s 86 wedding meetings/ emails / follow-ups
- That’s 86 weddings he had to actually WIN AND BOOK.
I had just 12.
- Just 12 Weddings I had to WIN and BOOK
- Just 12 weddings that I had to edit
- Etc Etc Etc
I hope you get the point.
So what is easier? 12 Weddings or 86? Booking a £2,681 per wedding or a £375 wedding?
I know what I would prefer!
Hi Alan – I enjoyed your post on pricing, a very important topic for all of us.
The example you used of 12 weddings over three months – can you say how many hours you attended the majority of weddings for and if mileage, overnight accommodation and any other expenses are part of the calculated average cost of £2681 per wedding. Thanks
That’s a great question – the majority of those weddings would have been within 40 miles of our studio and would be for 8 hours of coverage. So typically a two hour round trip in terms of travel time. The few that were beyond that would have been charged separately for any additional mileage or accommodation and that wasn’t included in our “income” for those weddings. I hope that makes sense.
My average earning (gross) for each wedding is about £1300. I don’t do anything like enough weddings at that price to earn a proper living out of weddings, so I’m supplementing it with teaching photography as well as dog photography and graphic design. I’d love to charge more and do the same number of weddings, but since only 1 in 10 of my customers ever books my top price package, I’m loathe to raise my prices.
Out of interest. Can you tell me the base price of each of your packages?