A few questions we’ve been asked a number of times, that we thought we’d turn into a FAQ section.
How soon should I start looking to book a wedding photographer?
To get the photographer you want, the best advice is to start looking early. Summer, from about mid-May starts getting busy for wedding photographers, through to early September. We have had queries two years in advance, but equally also a fair number a few weeks before. If you’re in need of a wedding photographer last minute, due to unforeseen circumstances, it’s worth checking to see if we are free. Just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07824 810 474 and we’ll do all we can to help. If we can’t help we may well know someone who can. We also promise not to charge more just because it’s a ‘late’ booking.
How do I chose a good wedding photographer?
It’s very much a matter of personal choice but some things worth consider are
Firstly – Chose how important photographs of your day are to you both.
When you get married one of things you might do as a couple is talk about what really matters to you both on your wedding day. So for example if it’s important your guests never run out of alcohol, you would adjust your budget for that accordingly. Or if you wanted all local food, you’d equally set a budget accordingly. Photography falls into the same arena. Decide how important it is to you and set a budget that will allow you to get that look, that album, that photo book, that canvas print etc. You can find photographers out there who’ll shoot a wedding from £250 to £3000 and beyond. So – decide how important photography is to you and how much you want to spend and then start looking for someone who falls within your chosen budget.
Secondly – Get one recommended to you.
If you can find photographer through a recommendation, especially if it’s through a friend who you know well, you might be onto a winner. You should still meet them and see how they ‘fit’ with you. You might also find you get a lower price because you had been recommended, though that will entirely depend on the photographer.
Thirdly – Be picky!
Make a list of four or five who’s style of photography you love. Not just like. Love. After all these photos will be with you for the rest of your lives and you’ll be proudly showing them of for years to come. From that long list, create a short list of maybe two or three you want to meet. For these two or three, have a good look through their portfolio on their web site. Google them and see what else you can find out about them. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn or FlickR? – do those social media outlets tell you anything more about them that you like or dislike? Are they on discussion forums or blogs about wedding photography or anything else for that matter? Then meet them, chat to them. Get to know them a little. See if they are on your wavelength when it comes to life in general and then photography and of course weddings. After all – if you chose them you’ll be spending a fair amount of time with them, its probably best you get on with them OK.
Fourthly – Ask , ask, ask…
Use the meeting as a chance to ask any questions you have. Don’t be afraid to ask about how they work, styles they like, if they do any other sort of photography (i.e portraits, commercial work etc) – if they do, ask to see examples. What you’re looking for is someone who you can sync with, trust and hand over the responsibility for photographing you day to, which is a big responsibility for them. You need to be happy they are up to it and that you will be able to have them around on the day without rubbing you up the wrong way.
Lastly – Ask to see more…
Keep in mind that a photographer only has a certain amount of space on their website to display their work, so they will naturally want to show you their best work on that. So – ask them to see an album from a wedding they have shot – or a gallery of photos they offered to a client. This will give you an idea, of not just their best shots, but the average to normal standard of photographs they produce. Our websites features shots from only ever one wedding at a time. We also think if you can see all photos we typically produce for one wedding – it gives you an idea of what you will get from us as the 300 – 400 photograph we might give you, if we are entrusted with photographing your big day. To see a gallery of 300+ photographs from the current selected wedding click here to send us a message and we will reply with a link and a password so you have a good trawl through the kind of shots we typically give a client.
Why can a wedding photographer cost so much?
It’s a good question and to work out an answer involves a little mathematics, combined with a brief thought on what people are prepared to pay for in relation to the ‘artistic’ element to photography.
First the maths…
If we want to try and understand what something costs, it’s a good idea try and understand what the person is charging for. In general a photographer may not break their charges down as below, and in fact they will probably charge more, but we are just using the example to work through how the costs of what a photographer does might be broken down.
We should stress the monetary values used in this example are made up entirely and do not reflect the real world or any photographer we know. Neither do they reflect our pricing.
The figures above relate to an imaginary wedding and an imaginary photographer.
We are using the figures here to try and explain why it might feel that a wedding photographer charges a lot, where in fact they might actually not be – if you work out the mathematics that is. Importantly, it might even give you reason to wonder why someone can quote so cheaply for a wedding and what the outcome of choosing that person to photograph your wedding might be.
- At the top of the figures you can see the coverage of the wedding is 9.5 hours, taking photos from 10am to 730pm.
- The second section down, in purple and green, gives the cost (shown on the left) of £285 for photographing the actual wedding.
If you compare a photographer to say a plumber, or electrician or other skilled professional (though photographers generally don’t charge a call out fee) you might imagine their skills should be charged at something similar – so around £25 – £30 per hour. (£30 pounds per hour is being used in this example)
- The purple and green section on the right then relates to the time the photographer might spend developing the 300 photos for you.
It’s probably the case that most photographer won’t list this as a separate activity (on their invoice) as it can just be confusing to understand. However – if they are shooting digitally (which is probably 99.8% true of most wedding photographers out there these days), they will have to do this bit. It’s the equivalent of what used to be developing photographs in a dark room. Taking the image as shot and making it presentable for your viewing. It might involve touching things up – and by that typically a photographer might remove an unwanted spot for example, smooth a bit of skin, or just crop in to a close-up shot – or simply boosting the details of the wedding dress. In this example there are 300 photos; if it takes 10 hours to process those (at 30 photos an hour), it gives a cost of £250. One of the reasons why a photographer might not charge as much for photographing a wedding is they do not do this bit. They simply load the photos to a disc and give them to you. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you wanted and were expecting when you booked them. However, if you have chosen a photographer who gives more interesting looking photos they will be doing this for a fair number of hours. They will probably spend a fair bit more than two minutes on one photograph.
Back to this example though; so the total this far, as shown on the green area on the right, is £535.
This figure does not however include what a photographer would factor into their charging the costs of running a business – such as the items in blue on the left. A bit like if you buy a chocolate cake from a shop, some of the cost of that cake goes to pay for the lighting, storage and the electricity of the shop. So in reality all these costs are added to the cost of that cake, so that in the end the shop doesn’t make a loss selling it. The same would go for a photographer. They would add to the cost of each wedding a small percentage cost of running their business
We then come to the debate about artistic element.
Remember at the start of this list we talked about choosing a photographer you love? This is where that choice kicks in. It’s also where that photographer will spend more time posing you for interesting shots on the day, they might look for different and interesting locations and they definitely spend more time developing the photographs. For example – you could ask 4 professional photographs to photograph the same child, in the same clothes, in same location with the same camera. One thing you could be sure of is that each photographer would give you a photo of that child that that looked different to the other three’s. Each photographer applies their artistic eye to how they pose the child and then how they develop that photo. They may choose to photograph it on the floor at the same level as the child, or looking up and it, or looking down at it, or putting it next to prop or have it jumping. The possibilities are endless. Then each will chose how they wish to develop that photo – so they may choose to soften the face, pop the colour in the eye, focus a bit of detail in the hair or even just turn the whole photo black and white. Photography becomes more art than anything else at this point… and at this point the photographer produces the image or artistic look that you originally might have chosen him for. What that artistic eye is worth – well I’ve put £100 here. That’s 3 pence a photo – which for photographs you are going to want to love – … is that enough?
So – that grand total is £635.00 which sounds like a lot, but hopefully the above might have gone to some way to explain how it might not actually be… but again it all comes down to the first point in this list. How much does photography matter to you?
You may indeed find yourself wondering at this point what you get for the £250 – £350 that you may see on some wedding photographers’ sites. There are a number of possible reasons for this. One might be they are a new wedding photographer who’s just starting out and their price reflects this. Or it might be, as mentioned just now, that they will give you the photos as shot – with no real editing (or post processing as it’s called). Alternatively they do post processing, but you only get a set number of photos for that initial price. Any other photos you want are then purchased on a photo by photo basis at a rate they will dictate to you. Generally the more you buy the better the deal – but this is where as a business the photographer will make the same or more money than one who charges one price for everything.
What is a RAW file and why don’t I get these from my photographer?
It is normal practice for you to get JPEG version of your photos, if you have gone for electronic copies of your photos. So what is a RAW file? Well – in the steps above we talked about a photographer developing their photos digitally. This is where a RAW file comes in. RAW is the format a good digital SLR camera produces photos in – they are effectively the equivalent of the negatives you get when you use a film SLR camera. A JPEG is produces from a RAW file. These will often be called Hi-Res 300dpi JPEGS, which basically means you can print that photo to as larger size as you wish with little loss of quality.
Why does the photographer own the rights to my wedding photos?
Sometimes you will find on the small print of a contract the photographer mentions RAW files and how much they might cost to buy. This essentially means how much it would cost you to buy the copyright to the photos. The cost you might see quoted will be very high. Essentially because they don’t wish you to have the RAW files as this would also allow you to change every imaginable aspect of the photo – from how bright it is, to what green the grass is to what’s in focus on the photograph. In effect the photographer loses control of the photo (and the artistic eye mentioned earlier) so it is no longer their work really and they will want to be compensated for that.
You’re based in Kent, do you travel to photograph weddings?
As a photographer based in Sevenoaks in Kent, most of our work is in the south east of England. However yes, we do travel and cover the whole of the UK and abroad. We don’t charge any travel costs where the location is within 80 miles of our postcode (TN13 3TH). When we do travel further than this, we charge travel costs at cost (i.e. we don’t add a percentage to the cost we pay for the hotel or train ticket or flight etc.) If we drive beyond the 80 miles, we will agree a reasonable to you figure for that travel distance. We don’t charge a mileage rate.