Choosing the right Wedding Photographer by PJA Photography
The information provided below is a ‘guide’ on current wedding photography pricing across the UK and what to expect for the different levels of investment. It is by no means definitive and of course there will always be exceptions to the rule.
We fully understand that couples will have varied priorities and budgets for their photography, and will often have vastly differing expectations of what is available for that investment. If this is the first time you are hiring a professional wedding photographer, we feel the following information will be of a aid in understanding what you can expect for different levels of investment.
Most of the couples we speak to irrespective of budget, have two things in common. They want the very best photography of their day possible, and they only want to trust this vital task to a dedicated and professional wedding photographer. Without doubt, this investment is not ‘cheap’. It is however less ‘expensive’ than getting this important decision wrong!
Photography in the UK is unregulated and the market is flooded with 1,000′s of poor quality wedding photographers. It is imperative to understand that just because you ‘pay’ someone to photograph your wedding, you should not, by any means, assume that you’ll end up with ‘professional’ results. This guide is designed to help you with your choice, inform you of what to expect as a result of that choice, and hopefully will go someway to explain why full-time, professional wedding photographers in the UK are worth every penny of your investment:
Category 1: The amateur wedding photographer – Expect to pay from free to £500
A mixture of hobbyists looking to generate some pocket money to cover the cost of their equipment, together with student photographers, a few part-timers and family members/friends. These people are unlikely to be insured, unlikely to pay tax and NI on their photography income and unlikely to be around if (when,) things go wrong.
Due to no or limited wedding photography experience, the quality of photography is likely to be low at best, poor or even ruined at worst. These photographers are likely to ‘shoot & burn’ (supply images on CD’s with no editing/colour correction/retouching or support). This means you are left to do the pain staking photographers job by sorting out the 100’s if not 1000’s of poor expressions/blinks taken. They are also likely to have nothing available in the way printed products or display options and/or the knowledge to deliver great printed results that will last the test of time. Any albums offered will be poor quality items available from the high street and using low-cost printers. Expect at most, a simple/poor website with only a mobile phone number as their method of contact. These photographers are unlikely to have any insurance and limited/no back up equipment.
Category 2: The part-time wedding photographer – Expect to pay from £500 to £995
A mixture of part-time ‘new’ wedding photographers looking to break into the local market and establish themselves, together with full-time non-specialist ‘general’ photographers (Jack of all-trades,) who maybe struggling in other areas of photography. Again, it’s unlikely to find these people with business insurance and most will have ‘other types of employment’ to supplement their less than commercially sustainable rates.
The quality of photography is likely to be average at best, with little in the way of uniqueness to set it apart from the 100′s or 1,000′s of other photographers out there. Their websites will be guaranteed to have only ‘the best’ images they have taken and will NOT give you a full uncut example of what you are actually likely to receive. Some printed products, albums and display options are likely to be available, but the quality is likely to be low to average at best. Any albums supplied are likely to be designed using template software and by the album companies themselves, meaning that your album will look exactly the same as the last one. The images taken are likely to be heavily ‘templated’ meaning they will shoot the same pose in the same place at the same venue for every couple. Nothing personalised at all.
Most will have a simple website that seems to focus on many different and often ‘un-connected’ areas of photography, with a mobile phone number likely to be the only method of contact. It will be highly likely that they will advertise to work in more than one or all photography areas; wedding & portraits, commercial, landscape, product, model portfolios etc. Expect them to have limited or no insurance and limited or no back-up equipment if things go wrong. These photographers are unlikely to restrict the number of bookings taken for each year, meaning that long waiting times and poor service quality is usually a feature of their business.
Category 3: The dedicated and professional wedding photographer – Expect to invest from £1,000 to £3,000
These people are experienced and dedicated portrait photographers who photograph weddings as a their sole occupation. They run their small business as a photographer and are likely to be paying full business rates, full business insurance, tax and NI on their income and have to cover the less than cheap costs of running a small business, solely from the turnover they produce. More importantly they will also be dedicated to improving and learning their photographic skills by attending regular seminars or work course run by the country’s top wedding professionals.
Each wedding photographed is likely to take up more than a full week of the photographer’s time. Numerous hours are spent meeting, calling and emailing couples in the run-up to their big day. The photographer will be with you 8-12 hours on the day itself. There will then be 7-9 full days of primary image editing, followed by more meetings with couples. This is then followed by 2-3 full days of secondary image processing, including album design and print processing. It’s not unusual to therefore spend 80-100 hours on each wedding photographed during the year.
The quality of the photography is likely to be high, with unique shots which are not templated and a personal photographic style that is distinguishable from the next photographer in the same category.
The quality of albums and display products available from these photographers is likely to be extremely high, with most of these photographers using the same few high-end album supply companies from Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Albums are likely to be uniquely designed by the photographer themselves (not the album company,) ensuring that your album will be personal and completely unique to you and your day.
Most will have professional looking websites that focus only on wedding and portrait photography. They are also likely to have dedicated ‘wedding studios’ either as part of their homes, or in high street locations. They are likely to be fully insured and carry with them back-up equipment (and indeed back-ups for their back-ups.) The level of service and attention to detail from these photographers is likely to be high, as they will limit the number of weddings photographed each year in order to maintain their high standards and level of service.
Category 4: The Celebrity wedding photographer – Expect to invest from £3,000 to £10,000
These few talented individuals are able to virtually ‘name their price’ for their wedding photography services. Photographing royalty and the rich and famous world-wide with highly unique photographic styles.
Their albums and display products will be sourced from the same companies as the category 3 photographers above. Expect them to have studios in London, New York and/or Paris, and teams of employees and assistants helping them with their wedding ‘productions.’
Article written by: PJA Photography