Wedding photography is a massive part of your day and is worth investing in so that you can look back on your photos for years to come.
A quick google for wedding photographers in your area will list a vast number of results ranging from suspiciously cheap through to more expensive than your honeymoon!
So how much should you pay and what should you expect in each price range? How do you choose the right photographer? Why is there such a steep range in wedding photography prices?
This guide, newly written for 2020 and looking towards 2021 will cover everything from the average price for wedding photography in the UK, through to the number of different factors that can contribute to the overall cost.
How Do Photographers’ Class Themselves As “Professional Wedding Photographers”?
Well, actually, and somewhat dangerously, anyone with a camera and a website could class themselves as a professional photographer. There are no exams for such a qualification, nor any applicable licence. Anyone could decide to buy a cheap DSLR camera, attend an online or evening course in photography, have photographed a friend’s wedding and then decided to set up a website claiming to be a professional photographer.
As there are no rules, there is no clear definition of what makes someone a professional photographer. As a result, you will see that the quality of photography will fluctuate wildly, and as such, so too will the prices.
How Do I Make Sure I Am Going To Book A Professional Photographer, And What Are The Warning Signs?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but you should keep the following points in mind:
Please do not make your decision based on the images you see on their website. All photographers will always showcase their best work. Ask to see at least three complete wedding albums from start to finish so you can see their consistency. If they are unable to do to this, then look elsewhere.
Their website should list their physical address.
All professional photographers will hold PLI (Public Liability Insurance) and professional indemnity insurance. Ask to see a copy of their certificates.
Carry out an online search for the company name. Again, an established business is likely also to feature on an established known platform such as hitched.co.uk.
Lastly, check out their reviews on Google and potentially on their Facebook page too. Rather than looking at just the number of wedding photography reviews, you should look at the images and public profile information of those that have written them. You can tell a fake review in this scenario when reviews are written from people who ‘live’ in different countries to that of the photographer.
How Does A Photographer Decide On How Much They Will Charge?
Several factors decide on how much a wedding photographer will charge.
1. Professional Experience & Training: Longer-established photographers are often more in demand and can therefore command higher prices.
2. Equipment Investment: Professional quality camera bodies and lenses are not cheap. A professional photographer will probably initially have an outlay of around £12K-£15K. This equipment then needs maintenance and updating every few years.
3. Office Hardware & Software: These costs include software subscriptions to editing software, website hosting costs, domain name renewals and cloud backup subscriptions. For hardware, we need high-speed computers to process through a large number of image and video files. I also use a Network Storage device to backup all photos. This hardware then replicates the pictures across two different hard-drives to ensure that all my clients’ images are safe. These images are also copied into a cloud-hosted backup environment.
4. The Time Spent On Your Wedding: – This isn’t just the day, but also the 30-40 hours spent culling and editing individual images after the event.
5. Advertising & Marketing Costs: Online and printed advertising costs have increased in the last number of years. Facebook used to be a free platform for wedding photographers to advertise itself to you. These days, Pay-Per-Click Ads (PPC) cost around £300 per month. Wedding fayres are also an additional cost. Depending on the exclusivity of the venue, fees can range between £300 to about £1000 per day.
6. Physical Products, Albums & Prints: If a physical wedding album is included in their packages, you should expect this to account for around £400-£500 of their overall cost. It takes time to build and arrange the album and images, send proofs to the client before the album can be ordered and manufactured.
7. Full-Time/Part-Time: A photographer may only work part-time (sometimes known as a ‘weekend warrior’). Their need for an income from photography will be less than that of someone self-employed and working full-time.
8. Geographic location: This can make a huge difference. You may be interested to know that the average photographer fee in the North East is £1110 (according to ‘Your Perfect Wedding Photographer’). Still, in the South West, the price is around £300-£400 higher.
Is Price A Good Indicator Of The Quality Of The Wedding Photographer?
In short, No. The price should not be the only indicator when determining the quality of a wedding photographer. It would be best if you still researched any potential photographer to get an idea of their photography style, cost, personality and such.
Generally speaking, couples could spend much more than the typical average if wedding photos are essential to them if they have their heart set on a specific photographer.
How Much Should I Spend On Professional Wedding Photographer?
It is recommended to spend about 5-10% of your total wedding budget on a wedding photographer. The average price of a wedding photographer in the UK is £1590 (as of 2020).
Ultimately, only you can decide on how important wedding photography is to you.
But My Family Member Owns A Nice Camera – They Could Take The Photos For Us?
You’ve already spent a large amount of time planning your wedding, and it’s not just any day. A professional wedding photographer will capture the day as it unfolds for you to keep for years to come. We know what to look out for and how best to tell the story of your day. A large part of our job is also people management, managing your friends and relatives to be in the right place at the right time. Photographing a wedding is a lot of pressure for someone who has a good camera that isn’t experienced in working with a large group of people. They’ll also likely be very nervous and will probably not enjoy the day due to worrying about messing things up.
So What Should I Expect Pay – What Should I Expect To Receive?
The Wedding Photography Industry is an area where you get what you pay for. I would encourage you to think very carefully before scrimping on those lasting momentoes of your big day. You could subsequently find that a once-in-a-lifetime moment has not been captured.
Photographers within this range are likely to be using a single cheaper camera that was not manufactured to manage the low-light conditions that I see on wedding days. The cost of doing business is much greater than this price point. Hence, photographers in this category are likely to have cut corners and purchased a cheaper camera body and lower quality lenses, or may not even be insured.
£500 – £1000
If this is your budget range, you can still hire a professional wedding photographer for around £700 to cover your whole day. A price lower than £1000 does not mean they aren’t any good. A photographer in this range may be relatively new to the wedding industry or already have a full-time job. Geographic location may also be a factor, as mentioned above.
On a separate note, this is the price point you’d be looking at if you only booked a photographer to cover part of your day.
£1000 – £1500
In this price range, you can often get the same package at as the higher price point if you’re outside of London and choosing a local photographer.
At this range, I would also check what the photographers’ package includes. £1200 may only provide coverage until the end of the speeches or to the first dance.
You should also expect to have your edited images uploaded to an online gallery for you to view as well as a USB included.
£1500 – £2000
This range encompasses the average cost of a wedding photographer. Knowledgeable and dedicated photographers around this price point will know how to cope with any situation that the day throws at them. For example, there may be a sudden downpour forcing you to head inside for your photos, and they would still get the best pictures for you.
You should also expect a pre-wedding consultation in-person or via Zoom to discuss your requirements and how the day will flow. These meetings are also essential for a photographer to know and will help you feel more comfortable around them on the day.
You should expect coverage to start at the bridal preparations through to the first dance.
Again you should also expect to have your edited images uploaded to an online gallery for you to view as well as a USB included. The photographer should also be granting you the rights for personal use to the images so that you can print the photos of your choice with any supplier you choose.
Engagement shoots are likely to be offered within this price range. These are a must as you’ll be more comfortable in front of the camera on your big day and you’ll be more familiar with your photographer.
£2000 – £3000+
For this price, you should expect all of the above plus a bespoke album of your images and even a second shooter. In this range, the photography should stand out from lower-cost suppliers, and this is what you are paying for.
Are There Are Any Hidden Costs We Should Be Aware Of?
Make sure you understand what you’ll receive. Always get a signed contract and ensure you know what you expect to receive in return for what you pay. I’ve learned of one couple who paid £700 for a photographer for coverage up until the first dance. The images were uploaded to a gallery for them to view but had the photographers’ watermark all over them. She then proceeded to charge £6 per image to remove the watermark as the contract was only for taking and editing the photos. It ended up costing them an additional £2000+ to get all of the images without the watermark.
Parking: If the venue has no free parking, you may find that the photographer will ask for an additional fee to cover parking charges.
Travel: My travel expenses are included in my quote. But for a 600-mile round trip, you can expect an additional charge of around £100. This would be for overnight hotel accommodation so that I am close to your venue on the morning of your wedding.
I really hope you’ve found this useful. Let me know of any feedback you may have in the comments below.