Why Is Wedding Photography So Expensive?

Why is wedding photography so blooming expensive? That’s a question that many brides and grooms here in Cumbria and across the UK ask when they start looking to hire their photographer and are often shocked at the costs. I’ve actually once heard someone say that when suppliers hear the word ‘wedding’ they start adding hundreds to the bill! But is that really the case? Do suppliers and photographers really bump up the costs for weddings?

Let’s just address one issue here and now that really can be a problem. The Photography industry in the UK is mostly unregulated. That means that anyone (and I really mean anyone) can buy a camera and say hey, I’m a photographer. There is no requirement to pass exams or even display a basic level of competency in order to label yourself as photographer. That leaves it up to you…the bride, groom, planner to decide who you hire and be sure that you know what you are getting. Tricky huh?

I should say at this point that many, many fantastic photographers in the industry taught themselves. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  However the ones who bite off more than they can chew /run before they can walk…you get the idea…can end up on shows like Judge Rinder when the bride gets upset because her special day was ruined as her photos are all blurry and she is now out £200 for her wedding photos.

I can tell you now, a professional photographer will NOT photograph your wedding without being absolutely certain that they can deliver. And that is where knowledge and experience are king!

So let’s dive in to what goes in to photographing a wedding because photography is so much more than owning an expensive camera and taking a decent photo!

You’ve spent months (maybe years) thinking about and planning your wedding day. Whether it’s a big event with many guests or a smaller more intimate family affair you’ve probably thought about nothing much else for the last few months. Dress, flowers, seating arrangements (oh goodness, the seating arrangements, let’s not go there), suits, gifts, bridesmaids, speeches, venues…the list is endless right? So when it comes to the day you hope and pray that everything comes together and you get to enjoy it. For the love of God please, please enjoy your day!!

And that is where the wedding photographer comes in. We are there to capture everything that you spent the last months planning. All the detail, all the love, the emotions, the laughter and tears, the candids and everything in between. Your wedding photographer on the day will more than likely work a 12+ hour day travelling to the event, getting there early to get organised and start capturing the preparations before the ceremony and then be with you right through to the evening celebrations.

But your photographer has been preparing for the day too. Long before you booked them they were marketing their business on multiple platforms, perhaps attending wedding fairs, completing business training (many creatives are not business minded and I speak from experience here). They were attending networking events to understand the industry and make connections with suppliers. They were searching for and purchasing insurance to cover public liability and professional indemnity and all of their expensive gear. They were taking legal advice and purchasing contracts to protect both themselves and you. They were creating or hiring someone to create a website.

And let’s back up a little more… before you found them wherever you found them they were honing their craft. Learning and practicing their skills, researching cameras and equipment, then purchasing and learning how to use them. They were studying light and posing, attending workshops and styled shoots, making mistakes to learn from so that, God forbid, they don’t learn them on your day. They might have created an office space and all the expense that goes with that.

They were purchasing editing software and learning how to use it. Spending time developing their editing and finding their ‘style’ that you have just seen on Instagram and have fallen in love with.

So now you have found them and you’re loving their style and they need to spend time with you making a connection, ensuring you’re a good fit and finding everything out about the plans. Brilliant, they love your bubbly personality and you love their sense of humour and it’s all good.  You’re booked and you can’t wait to make the memories.  Your photographer continues to plan… If they haven’t shot at your venue before they will probably visit beforehand to check it out, find the best locations for shooting, find where the light will be at different times of the day, find beautiful areas to place you for the best images. They might spend time speaking with the venue, the planner, the florist etc. getting up to speed with how the day will run.

You might have had pre-wedding portrait session before the day which helps to get you used to being photographed and develops the relationship with your photographer.

Days before the event your photographer will be getting their gear ready, charging batteries, testing cameras (even though they have paid to have them serviced), checking and packing memory cards, charging their laptop and packing everything for the day. And then checking and rechecking that they have everything. Many times over!

On the day your photographer will most likely have a bare minimum of 2 professional cameras with fancy lenses on each. Multiple memory cards and batteries, perhaps flashgun/s and a tripod. Depending on your photographer’s style of shooting they may have professional lighting with stands and soft boxes. They will probably have a laptop with them to back up your precious photos while you are tucking into the wedding breakfast. And they will be with you every step of the way on the day, most likely hiding in plain sight and guiding you towards the best light all while fighting for space from uncle Bob (who dabbles in photography) and trying not to intrude too much on the celebrations.

With the party in full swing your photographer will slip away into the night to make their way home and get absolutely everything uploaded off the memory cards and backed up to their computer and hard drives to keep them safe before they are able to get to sleep. Some photographers promise a ‘sneak peek’ and so will edit a few images immediately and get them to you so you can see what’s to come. Over the next few weeks, hours and hours will be spent culling and editing your images, usually hundreds of images depending on how long the day was. And while AI is creeping into the editing part for many busy photographers they still need adjustments and checks to make sure absolutely every image is edited and produced to their style and standards of quality. Depending on how busy your photographer is this could take anything from a week to 2 months and beyond.

The next stage is getting the images to you however this was agreed. They are usually uploaded to a site where you can view and download them all but often discussions/meetings are to be had about prints and wall art and then orders to be placed. There may be photos to be chosen for an album and an album designed and ordered. There are so many options.

The important thing to remember is that when the flowers have all wilted, the dress is hanging in the wardrobe, the cake has been eaten and the guests have all gone back to their day to day lives the one thing you have left of the day along with your memories are your images. With hope they will transport you back to that day so you not only remember how it all looked but also how it felt.

And that is a precious gift. The investment you make in your photographer will stay with you for the rest of your days. And you only get one chance to get it right. Choose wisely. 

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