Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Not all customers realise just what goes into Wedding Photography

"Why does it cost so much"?

This is a question that crops up a lot in photography (mainly wedding photography) once the client receives a quote. It's also probably the same in most professional businesses. 

It is understandable that people want to get a good deal, we all do, it's the nature of the beast. But do people Really understand what goes in to Wedding Photography or any photo-shoot for that matter?. Customers don't always want the 'Whole Hog' wedding shoot from preparations right through to cutting the cake, which makes an average wedding photo-shoot about 4 hours long. 

Most people don't see the real picture (pardon the pun) and often think "Why am I paying so much for just 4 hours of someone taking some photo's when I can buy a throw-away camera or a bunch of them from the shop for a couple of quid"? 

Here are a few factors that not many people take into account:

Digital camera equipment nowadays can be considerably expensive, especially when you take into account all the extra equipment, software & TIME we need in order to do the job properly and create photography art as we call it, after all that's what it is. It's a Professional Photographer working with 'models' (clients), props and locations (in church, outside church, in the park, at the venue), visualising how he sees an image or a potential shot and creating that shot, over and over and over again, in different locations, with different models (bridesmaids, best man, guests etc). But it doesn't end there, as people assume it does, the person to person work on the day as I said could be 4 hours, that's just the start. 

Much of the cost that a professional photographer quotes for creating his 'photographic art' isn't the leg work on the day, although that in itself isn't easy, it is down to a few things: time, equipment costs, artistic vision and knowledge, reputation & expertise and obviously the financial cost of running a legitimate business.

When looking for a professional photographer to capture your special day, it is very rare that you would find one that lives in the same village/town as you, therefore the photographer has to travel. He/she has to travel to the church/register office and then travel to the venue, then home again. 

Below is a typical scenario or breakdown of a professional photographers time when covering a wedding. In this scenario the photographer is travelling 1 hour from where he is based to the wedding location:

  • Wedding prep time, (equipment checks, backup checks, vehicle checks) - 30 mins - 1 hour.
  • 1 hour travel time to wedding.
  • 15-30 mins prep time at clients home.
  • 4-12 hours at the wedding photographing clients & family/friends.
  • 15-30 mins travel time from church/register office to venue.
  • 1 hour + or - 15-30 mins travel home after wedding.
  • 30-45 mins uploading images from digital cards to computer.
  • 30-45 mins time spent backing up original images for security.
  • 12-24 hours professional editing time to present a diverse gallery of professionally edited images to the client.
  • 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering.
  • 2-3 hours on average with client ordering images.
  • 1 hour final sort through and ordering images.
  • 30 mins-1 hour prep time for delivery.
  • 30 mins - 1 hour getting order shipped.
  • Any additional phone time for additional orders, queries, shipment issues/questions.
So, In the above example the typical time spent working for a client can vary from 18 hours to 30 hours depending on what level of service or package the photographer is providing. This is TIME dedicated to only One client. As it shows, the client isn't just paying for the wedding shoot, you are paying for the time and effort and artistic input that the photographer has to use to give the client the final result that they are expecting.

It does actually put things into perspective when you think; Clients buy/rent dresses & suits that they are only going to wear that one day and we know that they don't come cheap, because of the quality of the materials used, the artistic input that the dress/suit maker used, the TIME spent to draw/design the dress or suit, clients spend a fair whack on food, whether it's a full on sit down meal or buffet, champagne, wine etc which is only used and eaten in that one day (ok some might take 'doggy bags' home), disco's aren't cheap and are just used on that day/evening. 

People can't seem to grasp that Really the photography or the end product is probably the most important part of the day, because you won't just have them for one day and then never to be seen again, they are with you forever and probably passed down generations to come.

Equipment costs:

Going back to the photographers equipment, his livelihood as it were. A good high quality camera, lenses needed for the day, tripods, speedlights, batteries, memory cards, camera bags, computer setup and the software used to edit the images to a professional standard (usually Lightroom and Photoshop) can set a photographer back £10,000 - £30,000+. A good quality portrait lens typically costs between £900-£2000. A high quality zoom lens could cost anywhere between £1200 and £4000+. A computer setup with all the programs and software needed to do the job could cost £2000 - £6000. 

Then there's photo-lab costs. A decent photographer will know that a high quality photolab (and were not talking about the standard ones on the high street where joe blogs takes his holiday snaps to be developed or Mrs Smith takes her kids to get their passport photo's done. Professional photographers use professional photo-labs, it is integral to their business and they typically use one or two, sometimes three in order to give the client some scope of choice when it comes to wedding albums. 

Because professional photo-labs are dedicated to the professional photographer, they do cost a considerable amount more than the basic high street photo shops. I could go on for ages about costs because it seems never ending, but I guess it's the same for any SME (Small to Medium Business) in this day and age. There are the costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage, petrol, advertising/marketing, association/professional bodies subscription which is very important to some photographers as it tells the potential client that they are serious in what they do, costs of sample pieces like albums, memory sticks, wedding fairs and so it goes on and on.

Below is a pie chart that shows a 'guesstimate' percentage of what a photographer does, these figures would fluctuate slightly but it just gives you an idea really:

I think I covered everything and have given an insight in what we do. This Blog I put together isn't a rant I wanted to get off my chest, I'm not that kind of person, it is literally to give an interesting (well I hope it was interesting) look or idea in what entails the role of a Wedding Photographer and hopefully give potential Brides & Grooms some peace of mind that actually, you're not being ripped off, or over charged, in most cases anyway.

Thanks for reading

Stuart. R.

Stuart Reeve Photography