Wedding photographers: how much should you REALLY charge?

There is almost no limit to how expensive a wedding package can be, and it’s equally surprising how much professional wedding photographers are undercut by the so-called ‘weekend-warriors’ who charge a pittance and skimp on vital prerequisites such as insurance.

So how do you set a price that is just right? We’ve asked two professional wedding photographers how they’ve priced their packages and which factors they’ve taken into account.

Wedding photographers: how much should you REALLY charge?

Mark Seymour is an award-winning wedding photographer based in Berkshire. He has photographed weddings for over 20 years.

Q: How do you sell your wedding packages?

A: I have a brochure which I show all my prospective clients. I take them through all the slides, with images on each page and some words telling them what they’ll get. At the end there is one slide full of black and white images, one with colour and then at the end, there is a slide with the price.

I tend to close the sale on the day, but it’s very important that they get some time to themselves – otherwise they haven’t got a chance to discuss what they think of me. So at the end of the presentation I’ll tell them that I have to nip to the loo or go and find something else to show them, and then when I come back, I tend to close the sale. Around 50 per cent close on the day.

The price I show, £1,595, is for the digital package, because that’s the main one we sell. The client gets control of all the images, they’re all edited by me and you get coverage from the bridal preparation until the first dance – with an asterix added there because we assume that the first dance is within an hour of the end of reception.

The client gets a gallery to share with their friends, it’s password controlled so it’s up to them who they share it with. They also get a slideshow with images and music from their first dance. Then we give the client a crystal heart-shaped USB stick with the images and we emphasise our outstanding customer service – I’m available to talk to the client anytime they need me. Sometimes we sell an album afterwards, but that’s not as popular as it used to be.

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Q: Are there any types of weddings that you charge more for?

A: Jewish weddings tend to last a lot longer so for that reason we charge more for them. At a Christian wedding I normally leave after the first dance, whereas I’m often there until after midnight at Jewish weddings.

Q: How long do you spend on a wedding, from the first point of contact and including all the editing afterwards?

A: Generally, whatever time we spend at the wedding, you can double – at least – to get an idea of the total time spent. The thing that takes the most time is the editing of the images.

Q: What factors did you take into account when setting your price?

A: I kind of put a finger in the air; the market has changed immensely over the last ten years and the price has dropped – we’re probably charging less now than we were ten years ago. There are so many photographers in the market and probably fewer weddings, but the requirements of the clients are greater.

Ten years ago you didn’t do bridal preparations and you rarely did the first dance. Now it’s prerequisite. Also, back then you could sell the disk afterwards, whereas now, everyone wants a disc and they feel that it’s their images so of course they should have them.

I think the price you charge depends on the level of photographer you are; I’ve looked at my contemporaries and the people who I’m perceived to compete with. Then I’ve asked myself what I want and what I’m comfortable asking for, and that’s how I’ve arrived at a price.

Q: Do people ever try to get discounts?

A: They do, and sometimes, if it’s a date that is coming up very soon, we’ll look at giving a discount. But not if it’s a booking for August that is made six months in advance.

Q: What are the signs you should be raising your prices?

A: The economic situation – if people are starting to feel good and are ready to spend more. And the number of bookings you’re actually getting; you have to go with the market forces.

To see Mark Seymour’s work, visit: http://markseymourphotography.co.uk or go to Vimeo to see an example of his slideshows: http://vimeo.com/84294651

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