Wedding Photography pricing UK
Wedding photography is a totally unregulated profession – anyone can claim to be a wedding photographer, and the only person who sets the price is the wedding photographer themself.
There are generally three schools of thought when it comes to wedding photography pricing.
- Charge based on their skills and experience
- Charge the going rate
- Charge as much as they can get
I have very strong opinions on the second and third methods, and plenty of other wedding photographers have strong opposing opinions!
Some experienced photographers get annoyed when new wedding photographers show up in the business and charge budget rates. They feel like it devalues the whole industry. They think – If someone can hire a cheap wedding photographer for £500 for a whole day, why would anyone choose a £1500 wedding photographer. I think this is nonsense. An experienced wedding photographer is worth the extra investment and couples getting married know this.
The society of wedding and portrait photographers is a society that encourages high professional standards and ethics in wedding photography. Not all wedding photographers are members, but professional members have been vetted by experienced members of the society. By choosing a wedding photographer on this list you may be increasing your chances of hiring a reliable professional, but their prices will probably be higher as a result.
What angers me is when a new and inexperienced photographer sets up their website and starts charging £1500 for a full day simply because that is what everyone else charges. I think this is a very dangerous thing to do – although it isn’t always right, people instinctively judge quality based on price. If a couple finds a wedding photographer with a pricing of £1500 or over, they will assume this photographer has a certain level of experience, skills, and professionalism – so when a new photographer chooses this method of pricing it can have a long-lasting, and devastating impact on the couple who are getting married.
How much is experience worth in wedding photography?
It is very difficult to judge experience.
If you use the number of years a wedding photographer has been working as a way to judge their experience there are a few potential flaws.
One photographer may have been the in house wedding photographer for a certain venue for 10 years. They are undoubtedly experienced at dealing with a wide variety of guests, and they know exactly how a wedding will generally flow. They will also be very proficient at choosing the best settings on their camera and be experienced at processing photos.
However, if they have only photographed at that one venue, they may not be experienced at thinking on their feet when it comes to finding new places to pose couples or how to deal with difficult lighting situations that were not predicted. They may also have no experience dealing with long, gruelling shifts – some weddings are all on one site and the venue provide a lovely meal and place for the photographer to eat. Some weddings are over 12 hours at multiple venues and the only opportunity to have a snack or drink for the entire day is in the car while dashing between venues.
Years don’t necessarily equate to experience in wedding photography.
Two photographers may have 1 year of experience. Photographer A has photographed 30 weddings all across the country, and photographer B has photographed only 5 weddings. Clearly, photographer A will have gained more experience much faster that photographer B.
If you are looking for an experienced photographer (who can justify charging the higher end of pricing), aim for one who has photographed at least 30 weddings at a variety of venues in all seasons.
Not every wedding photographer grows through experience
Everyone has different personalities – some of us are driven to constantly improve and learn, others think – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I have been a wedding photographer for 10 years, and even now I can see my skills developing from one year to the next.
What about natural wedding photography skills?
Some photographers got into the job of wedding photography because they love people and photography, some started because they saw it as a money-making opportunity. Some are naturally artistic and others have to learn rules to make sure they achieve satisfactory results.
Photographic skill is absolutely essential if you want stunning wedding photos – but this alone is not enough to guarantee good results. Never pay a premium for someone who has amazing natural abilities if they have no experience of photographing weddings. Weddings are totally different from fine art portrait shoots, or styled wedding photoshoots.
What is included in a wedding photography package?
When comparing wedding photography prices it is important to compare like for like. Some photographers will always work as a team, some always include an album or a pre-wedding photoshoot. The best way to compare pricing is to look at the hourly price for a digital-only service (because most photographers offer this) – even if that isn’t what you will ultimately book.
- Pre-wedding shoot / engagement photography
- Printed products and albums
- Second photographer
- Midweek and off-season discounts
How much should you budget for your wedding photography in UK?
The standard answer to this question is at least 10% of your wedding budget – but I think this is a very impersonal way to decide what you can, and what you want to spend on something that is very personal.
For some people art and photography is a very important part of their life – their homes are covered in beautiful photos, and they have albums full of holiday photos. Some people haven’t had a single photo printed since photos became more digital. These two people undoubtedly will value photography differently.
As a good rule though, you should think of wedding photography as an investment. You have only one chance to capture the photos that you will be able to look at for the rest of your life. Paying extra for experience may not guarantee better photos, but it will increase the chance that you end up with the photos you want. More reliable equipment, better storage and back-ups, experience to deal with problems – this is like insurance. You only really know how valuable insurance is until something goes wrong. When deciding your budget, try imagining your self in 20 years looking back to this decision. How much would you be willing to spend in 20 years to see photos of your wedding day? Now multiply that by every time in your life that you may want to see those photos again.
How much does a wedding photographer charge per hour?
I’d say that as a very rough estimate of average prices (so don’t take this too seriously) UK wedding photographers charge £150 per hour for a digital-only service.
This varies a lot – often the admin and travel time for a 10-hour wedding is the same as for a 3-hour wedding, so you may not be able to book a wedding photographer at £150 per hour for a 3-hour wedding even if they would happily photograph a 10-hour wedding for £1500.
What costs does a wedding photographer have?
The actual wedding day is a very small proportion of the work done by a wedding photographer.
They have to account for their overheads and business time: equipment costs, insurance, advertising, website maintenance, computer software, admin, personal development and training. Then for each wedding, there are travel costs, parking, sometimes accommodation, days of processing, postage or hosting of the photos.
They also have to account for the fact that there are only about 8 wedding days (Saturdays in July and August) that are in the highest demand, and then the rest of the year there is more competition, so they can’t always rely on year-round work.
How to get the best value from wedding photography (reduce time)
If you really have a limited budget, but you value photography highly and don’t like the idea of risking hiring an inexperienced photographer the responsibility of capturing your day – the best option is to reduce the length of time you hire your photographer for.
An inexperienced photographer may charge £500 for 10 hours, while a more reliable and better-skilled photographer may charge £500 for 2 hours. Having 2 hours of stunning photos and then the rest of the day captured by guests on their phones can be a much better solution than opting for a day full of substandard photos for the same price.
Are you looking for a wedding photographer?
Hi – My name is Emma and I’m an experienced, full-time, professional wedding photographer in York. I run Happy Otter Photography which is a wedding photography service designed for couples who don’t really enjoy posing but want beautiful photos of themselves and their loved ones enjoying the wedding day.