Looking for a cheap wedding photographer???

Firstly, this post isn't a rant or a moan (really, it's not), it’s just an airing of my honest and open opinion towards the expectations some couples have when it comes to weddings - specifically the pricing that hard working vendors such as florists, cake makers, photographers, make-up artists, etc. place on their trade.

 I see it all too often:

  •  "looking for a cheap photographer"
  • "I'm on a tight budget, anyone recommend a good florist?"
  • "I need a make-up artist who doesn't ramp the price up when I mention the word wedding"
  • "in need of a basic cake maker"

Now, I do realise everyone has a budget to work within when arranging their wedding, but it should also be noted that getting married is relatively inexpensive (at its most basic it's registrar / church fees), yet having a wedding is quite another thing and can be as grand or low-key as you want it to be.

For starters, a wedding is often described as the most important day in a couples life (i.e. The Big Day), so why, why, why would you start your supplier search for this all important day with a mission to seek the cheapest out there? Surely you should be prioritising what's important to you and looking for the suppliers who provide the best value, identifying those areas you are willing to pay a little extra for and those where you can save some valuable wedding budget.

Admittedly, paying a lot of money isn't going to guarantee a high quality end product or service; however, the thing you have to consider is that all too often, when it comes to weddings the odds are you get what you pay for.

An example specific to photography: if having good quality images / memories of your wedding day is important to you, then before setting a budget, see what local photographers are offering, what price scales they span and how the quality and final product differ, then decide what value and budget you want to allocate to the photography element of your Special Day.

There’s no point setting a budget of £300 for wedding photography and expecting all day coverage, an album and a disc of licenced images – because if someone is offering that then the odds are that the quality of images they produce will be nowhere near someone charging £1000+. Think about it - if the quality was the same as the other £1000+ photographers, then surely they’d be charging £1000+ (why wouldn't they???).

Personally, when I see a posting from someone looking for a cheap photographer for their "Special Day" I tend not to pursue the lead, because in my experience the couples wanting to pay the least are the same ones that will demand the most and take up the most of my time. I'd rather have likeminded couples who like my work enough to pay what I’m asking and place nearly as much interest in their wedding photos as I do, not someone who just wants the cheapest out there for the minimum coverage - there's photographers out there that accommodate that, so I'm happy to let those opportunities pass.

In fact, when I've had couples haggle over pricing or asking me to price match (or out do) a competing photographer, from day one I’ve adopted a policy to refuse to lower my price because all that does is devalue my workand eat into my profit (I run a business at the end of the day, not a charity) as well as highlight to me what's important to the couple - they either like my work and are willing to pay my fee or they don't, it's as simple as that. However, on such occasions, what I do tend to offer couples is discounted extras such as parents’ albums, copyright release, additional coverage, etc as a kind of olive branch (rather than flat out refuse their request).

Looking specifically at my own photography pricing, I set my prices based on my experience, the quality of images I produce, the service I provide and the output I deliver (albums, DVDs, guest signing mounts, etc); additionally there is the cost I place on the time not only to take the photos but to edit them as well (which is time spent away from my family).

Furthermore, once photography reaches a certain price point above the market average, factors outside the hourly rate for taking and editing photos come into play; it enters the realm of artwork and at this point it boils down to what price a couple are will to pay for that photographers work.

Finally, why do photographers, florists, make-up artists charge so much when it comes to weddings? The simple answer is that expectation is so high on a wedding day, this most important day in a couple’s life, that extra effort, skill and pressure are placed upon suppliers to deliver (if not exceed) such expectations to make the couples day special and memorable for all the right reasons.

Florists charge more because it’s a wedding bouquet, not just a bunch of flowers; cake makers charge more because it’s often the wedding reception centrepiece that everyone will look over and remember, not just a sponge cake with some icing; and photographers charge what they do for a wedding because we’re not just getting a few lucky snaps (like Uncle Bob with his £300 “proper camera”), we’re expected to deliver 500-700 images of a consistent quality and look that document the whole day (often with no second chances and done in only one take).


Afterword: If any phrases, analogies or comments in this blog are similar to others posted elsewhere it's purely incidental and most likely from blog posts I've read over the years which have resonated with myself and are not meant to be acts of plagiarism

The wedding of Jessica & Lee: All creatures great and small

A couple of weeks ago I had the great responsibility of capturing the wedding day memories of Jessica and Lee. They booked me around 18 months ago to cover their wedding photography needs, and around 4 months ago we met to do the pre-wedding meet-up and photoshoot; in all honestly, the time has flown by (as I'm sure it has for Jessica and Lee).

Their wedding took place at Rushpool Hall {link} in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a lovely venue I've shot at many times; however, rather annoyingly, I've never had much luck with the weather at this venue to fully do it justice, regardless of the time of year I've been booked for.

I know...a good photographer isn't affected by the weather, and I feel I’ve done a good job in the past at Rushpool Hall when the heavens have opened and the gale force winds have hit, but I've always known the potential this venue has, and just wanted to do have the opportunity to shoot it in favourable conditions.

So, in typical fashion, weather warnings were posted by the Met Office for severe rain and Supercell storm for the night before and the morning of the wedding - which pretty much is what happened, with thunder rumbling at 4:30am the day of the wedding.

However, the wedding fairies showed mercy and the temperature climbed throughout the morning, drying away any wetness on the ground and at around noon the sun made an appearance – it was at this point that I knew it was going to be a good day.

It was a relatively late kick-off for Jessica and Lee’s wedding (3pm), so I arrived just before 1pm to start the pre-bridal preparations in the bridal suite; always my favourite part of the day because it’s so unstructured and the bridal party are usually full of nervous energy. Jessica had the dresses already hanging from the 4-poster bed, which saved me the indignity of trying to hang them up for photos (since I’m vertically challenged somewhat).

The bride’s horse (Lemon is his name) also made an appearance and took some of the limelight from the groom, but was a great prop for some really good photos. There was also a dove release, something I’d not experienced at any weddings previously and relished the challenge of capturing the release. Even the peacocks tried to gate-crash the wedding meal by getting into the conservatory – which gave me a chance to get some close-ups of the elusive creature.

Jessica and Lee have a little girl, Harriet, who was very co-operative on the day and even allowed me to take her off for some stunning portraits which will be a nice surprise for the couple when I show them their final suite of images.

As well as being a special day for Jessica and Lee it was also a special day for Jessica’s parents and grandparents who also share the same wedding anniversary date – 4th July.

While it was warm, there was an occasional breeze, which I’m sure everyone appreciated; although I’ve never drank so much ice-water at a wedding before, it really was that hot.

All in all, it was as close to a perfect day as you can expect (given all the elements at play on a wedding day) and I cannot wait to show them the moments I’ve captured from their special day.