You’re in the midst of planning your wedding. You’ve dedicated Saturday mornings for 'wedmin’. Your partner has started asking “Can we please talk about something else?" Which is a good sign that you’ve got some big things sorted already.
You’ve booked your dream venue and your wedding photographer is next on your list…
Having a professional wedding photographer is important to you. You’ve already got a Pinterest board dedicated to images that you love and have been screen-grabbing wedding photos from Instagram for months. You know what you like and what you don't and will be meeting with a potential photographer beforehand. You will know straight away if you connect with your wedding photographer, which is essential and it will allow you to not only go over all the fun details but more importantly, ask us any burning questions but here’s the thing, you probably won’t…
You’ll ask us important stuff like if we are insured and what happens if it rains on your wedding day but sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing to ask those questions about wedding photography that you really want to know. So I’m here today, to get those awkward questions out in the open and answer totally honestly, to the best of my knowledge from over 20 years experience in the business.
So what are those juicy questions? I hear you ask, let’s get right to it…
1. Why is wedding photography so expensive?
It can seem that when you’re planning a wedding that everything you’re booking can come with a few extra 0s added to the price tag and wedding photography is no exception. Why? It's just for one day right? The truth is, that it’s never just one day, not for any of your wedding suppliers.
The preparation that your wedding photographer will put in for your wedding will be extensive. It can take months, sometimes years of preparation. Client meetings, venue visits, liaising with suppliers, mood boarding, lighting and technical research, planning and testing, hire, maintenance and purchasing of equipment, courses and education to better our skills are all examples of things that a photographer is doing in preparation to give you the best service they can and that's before your wedding day has even happened.
Your actual wedding day is usually celebrated on just one day but after your wedding, it can translate into a whole month's worth of work for your wedding photographer in terms of editing, retouching and design work. If you break it down to an hourly basis then you will see on average most wedding photographers are making a living but working really hard for it. It is definitely, in my opinion one of the best and most rewarding jobs in the world but it’s no surprise that we are all pretty broken at the end of the wedding season and have an industry term 'wedding hangover' for the level of mental and physical exhaustion we feel after a wedding.
2. Why do wedding photographer’s prices vary so much?
In my experience, photographer’s prices vary depending on the level of experience, services offered, time, physical products that they provide and the suppliers they use. This can include many things that we use behind the scenes to run our business that you would never have even thought about such as website and design, marketing, album suppliers, even our packaging and courier service. I would rather use my chosen wedding album company that charges me a premium and know that my client’s wedding album will last them a lifetime, than charge less and supply a lower quality version that my clients will feel disappointed with after a couple of years, when it starts fading or looking a bit tatty. A photographer's actual costs will be reflected in their prices and therefore, if you pick a luxury priced photography service, you should expect a top notch experience and products in return. This is not to suggest that a budget priced photographer will do a sub standard job, just that the high costs of certain things are naturally reflected in our price lists.
3. On your website, you say you 'Only shoot a limited number per year', is this just a sales trick to get me to book?
Of course we want you to book us, any wedding photographer would be telling porkies if they said they didn't want you to feel a sense of urgency to get in touch but I would say honestly, the limited capacity is true.
Contrary to our over enthusiasm and a misguided self belief that an extra energy bar and a constant stream of caffeine will get us through 50 weddings each year without fading, we quickly realise that we are not machines! Most wedding photographers are small businesses and operate as sole traders or in very small teams. Unless you have the luxury of working with a large team where you can rotate the photographers, it generally means that to be able to put our absolute all into a wedding, we can only shoot a limited number every year. You can spot the physical evidence of a busy wedding season when you hear photographers complaining about suffering ‘claw hand’ having burn marks around their necks from camera straps and a dent/spot on their noses where they have been resting the camera! Funny but true. We call it our war wounds! Seriously though, we want to be energetic, wholly involved and enthusiastic so we set a realistic limit to be able to do so.
4. I generally don’t like having my photo taken, how can you guarantee I won’t hate myself in my wedding photos?
It’s not that you don’t look good in front of the camera, it’s just that you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.
Yes, of course everyone has better angles and flattering lighting and a creative shot can help to make anyone look lovely but the trick here is to try and get to know your wedding photographer so that you build trust and feel more comfortable.
Building great relationships with my clients is THE priority for me. That’s why it is so important that we click when we first meet (excuse the terrible pun).
By the time your wedding comes around, you should have met or spoken with your photographer a few times and spent time planning together, bounced lots of ideas around and be feeling confident.
I would highly encourage couples to have an engagement, couple or family shoot with your photographer before your wedding as it gives you a taster of how it will feel and should eliminate all the unnecessary fear. If you come away from your shoot feeling like it was a horrible experience and hate the photos, then choose another photographer! Your photographer should make you look and more importantly feel good.
5. I’m spending a small fortune on my wedding day and don't want to spend hours away from my guests or my party. How will we fit in a time for photos and prevent my fear of missing out?
In order to banish 'FOMO', you must plan and dedicate some specific time for your wedding portraits and group shots. The thing that will make you feel like your missing out is the feeling of lack of control if you don’t have a plan. The unknown timings will make you feel anxious and stop you from enjoying what might be the only time of your wedding day that you get to spend together without your guests.
In my experience, I would suggest you have at least an hour and a half dedicated specifically to photography, 45 mins for group shots if you want them and 45mins for couple portraits. It’s also really important to have some of your wedding team on hand to help organise your guests for group shots. It makes the process so much quicker, smoother and more enjoyable for everyone. Of course, your wedding photographer should be open to requests and suggestions and grab opportune moments for lots of lovely natural shots. I work with my clients to ensure that we all feel confident that we can balance the timings for photos so I can capture what I need for you and you feel like you haven’t missed out on any of the fun.
If you don’t want anything 'posed' at all, then this is absolutely fine, do not be afraid to say. It’s all about communication and it is so important to us that you have the maximum amount of fun on your wedding day. It’s your day, no one else's so enjoy it!
6. How do I know if you’re the right photographer for me?'
Of course, check out out our reviews and testimonials and see what past clients are saying but the most important thing is finding that connection. Connection is key. I get 90% of my clients through recommendations, I love recommendations as it generally means that they are similar minded people to a couple I already know, have photographed and connected really well with, so that’s a great start. Your wedding photography will be an ongoing partnership of creativity and communication and it is essential that you feel comfortable and that you click with your photographer.
I always recommend meeting your photographer in person, and together as a couple or if that’s not possible, at least have a long conversation with them. You’ll just know. From the best client meetings, I come away feeling like I want them to be my new friends and quite often, just that happens!
So that’s it lovely people. The top six awkward questions that you are too shy to ask your wedding photographer, all asked and answered as honestly as I can. I hope you have found this helpful. Feel free to share this with anyone that’s getting married as they may just find this useful and if you have any other burning questions that I may have missed, please feel free to send them my way, Jen x