I’ve never posted on this subject before but it’s one of the most confusing within the wedding industry. Prices seem to be all over the place. Why? How much should you spend on your wedding photography?
I’m going to be really honest. Here goes..
What are wedding photography prices in the UK?
You can spend anything from pretty much zero to £10,000 for a UK wedding photographer – and if you look worldwide you can pay even more!
You’ve probably seen some of this already with ads promising high quality coverage both for £395 and £1895. Why pay £1895? Or is £395 enough?
What should I budget for a wedding photographer?
The million dollar question.
The accepted norm in the wedding industry is to spend 10-15% of your wedding budget on your wedding photographer, or 20% if the quality of your memories are particularly important to you.
What will my budget buy me?
Let’s ignore albums for a minute and just talk about prices for photography and a disk (I know not all photographers produce disks… but let’s assume they do for the minute).
What you will find is that photography mirrors the food industry: for both £2 and £500 you can buy a thing called “a meal”; they are both food, but they are incredibly different. The £2 meal will contain sustenance that your body needs, while the £500 meal will be a work of art. The £500 chef knows things about cooking that the £2 cook doesn’t even know they should know.
The same is true of wedding photographers. The typical price brackets for a full day of photography are:
- £3000+; a luxury or master photographer who is possibly a brand or celebrity within the photography industry
- £1500-£3000; a very experienced photographer with style
- £1000-£1500; a competent and professional photographer but with less experience and/or style
- £750-£1000; an upcoming photographer who may have limited experience
- £500-£750; a relatively inexperienced photographer or photographer with less skill
- Less than £500; a new photographer or photographer with only basic skills
(Please note that wedding photography prices are also affected by location – you will pay more in London than in a quiet village in Wales, for example)
Looking at the industry, the average UK couple spend around £1000 to £1500 for a full day of photography at their wedding.
My own photography is in the £1500+ bracket for a full day.
Why pay more for your photographer?
It’s very human to assume that other peoples jobs don’t require much experience and photography is no exception; it seems that anyone “with a good camera” is often seen as a potential wedding photographer.
The truth is that someone who takes some nice photos of ducks or landscapes or even people is as capable of photographing a wedding as I am at cooking a meal worth £500! Wedding photography requires a very specialised set of skills – people, organisational and photography skills – which are developed over years.
Pay more to reduce risk!
As you pay more, generally, you reduce the risk of disappointment.
- A friend with a camera who will do your wedding photography for free will almost certainly experience some basic problems with parts of the day so you may not receive even usable photos.
- A cheap wedding photographer for £500 for the day will probably produce poor results at some points (I know – I’ve been sent files to try and fix!).
- A professional wedding photographer for £1000 will likely produce acceptable results in most circumstances. The photographs may or may not be “basic” – they may have been on a few courses and learned a few tricks.
- An experienced photographer for £1500 will almost certain produce good results in all circumstances and the set of photographs will hold together with style.
- A luxury wedding photographer for £3000 should produce amazing results, no matter what.
Of course, the “for free” photographer may have everything in their favour one day and produce amazing results while the luxury wedding photographer might have an off day and mess up … The chances of these happening are low though. That’s why it’s about risk and not certainty.
Do you really get what you pay for then?
On the whole, throughout every industry worldwide, you do get what you pay for. Cars, houses, food, holidays and so on all follow the same rule. Photography is definitely no exception, but it is unique in that couples usually have little or no experience of professional photography on which to make an assessment about value for money.
Just like with chefs, photographers have a limit to their natural talent too. Photographers who are more effective will generally float to the top end of the industry because their love for their art will push them to produce more and more beautiful work.
Bargains can definitely be found, especially if you’re willing to be less exact with your requirements, but photographers who are more expensive will tend to provide a better service and more stunning photographs than a photographer who charges less.
Some obvious ways in which a more expensive photographer might differentiate their product:
- Use more expensive equipment, such as the highest quality lenses (which can cost up to £2000 each!), cameras and lighting.
- Spend more time and be more competent in the post production of photographs (post production is where the photographs are improved on the computer after the wedding). They could also have a higher quality screen and a colour accuracy tool.
- Spend more time listening to the couples needs and giving advice.
- Spend more time and money on training (either training themselves or being trained).
- Have more effective admin and business systems.
- Deliver your wedding using higher quality products.
If a photographer is charging less, it’s very likely that some or all of these elements will be missing.
How can I find a cheap wedding photographer?
If your wedding photography is in the £1000+ budget, you shouldn’t have too many concerns as long as you see plenty of work and like their style and personality.
However, what do you do if you’re looking to spend less than £1000?
Firstly, you should seriously consider choosing a more expensive photographer but just booking them for a smaller portion of the day, if they offer that. Some photographers will do as little as 2 or 3 hours which could be enough for the ceremony and some photos in a local park, for example. It would be better to have less coverage but better photographs than missing entire sections of the day due to problems caused by inexperience.
Secondly, you need to do your homework and that means visiting your preferred photographers. There are two things that every photographer should have and they are professional (PI & PL) insurance and backup equipment (camera body, lenses and flash). I would also want my photographer to backup my photos to at least one other hard disk too. It’s also important to check the quality of their photography equipment so I’d want to see some printed photos at least A4 size in dark locations, like inside churches. Sometimes newer photographers don’t even know that their equipment isn’t capable of producing acceptable results.
Past that, choose someone who seems honest, dependable … and fun!
What are the prices of wedding albums?
Albums, like photographers, are available at different price points for good reason.
Queensberry, who I use, are the “rolls royce” of the wedding album industry. You can expect a Queensberry album to be at the very minimum £400-£500, with most reasonably sized albums costing £700 or more.
A cheaper GraphiStudio or Folio album might be half this cost, or a little more.
There are also album manufacturers who are cheaper still.
As with wedding photography, the price reflects the quality and it is possible, with a cheaper product, the album won’t stand the test of time quite so well.
I hope this article has lifted the lid off the confusing wedding photography pricing system, as well as given you something to work from. Whoever you choose, do your research and compare them with others of similar quality.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!
Good luck with your search and I hope you have a fantastic wedding day!
Quick Questions & Answers
What is the average cost of wedding photography?
Around £1000-£1500 for a full day, without an album. Many spend more though, and many spend less.
How should I price wedding photography?
Typically, spend between 10-15% of your wedding budget on wedding photography, or 20% if photography is particularly important to you
Why does wedding photography cost so much?
It’s hard to explain in just a few lines, but the costs of equipment are huge (over ten thousand pounds worth of kit is in most photographers bags) and quality training is expensive too. We also have to pay for sample albums, websites, advertising, credit card systems, customer management systems and so on. Most of all though, wedding photographers spend between 20 and 50 hours on an single wedding in conversations with couples, the photography itself, post production and sending out the final files.
A magazine or blog said I shouldn’t pay more than “£750″ for photography. Is that right?
Well, it’s up to you. However, magazines and blogs are produced by journalists who don’t really know about photography. It would be like me saying “you shouldn’t pay more than £1.50 for a wedding magazine” when in reality I don’t know anything at all about what quality of magazine that will get me. £750 really is the minimum I would ideally pay for a full day photography, not the maximum.
Are wedding photographers rich if they get paid so much for a days work?
Sadly not… It’s not a single days work to finish a wedding – it usually takes 3 to 5 days total.
Should I negotiate with my preferred wedding photographer?
If your preferred photographer is more expensive, it’s likely for good reason – and I bet you’re not the only one to prefer them. Some photographers may negotiate but photographers who are in demand generally won’t do. In reality, you’re likely to have to decide to pay their rate, or choose someone else.
Why are some wedding photographers more expensive?
More expensive photographers are like more expensive meals – more consistent, higher quality, more artistic, more skilled, produced with better equipment and delivered on better materials. They are likely to notice details that a cheaper photographer wouldn’t even consider, so in theory every photograph should be a bit better.
Should I care about the quality of my wedding photography?
Well, I can’t answer that for you, but rather than assuming a cheaper photographer can do the job, think about how you would feel is you didn’t receive the quality you would like. That may give you an answer to your question.
Should I get my friend to photograph my wedding?
The answer is almost always “no”, unless you have no choice. Firstly, if your friend is not a wedding photographer, the fact that they have a nice camera and take some nice photos is virtually meaningless. Just the speed of a wedding is enough to trip up very experienced photographers. They will likely be confused about what’s coming next and you will likely miss sections of the day.