Here we go again; another damning article by a prevalent journalistic source to spoil and upset the dreams of engaged couples everywhere. I believe it was the BBC that last wrote an entirely negative piece about the cost of weddings and the ‘rip-off suppliers’ that make up the industry, but the Guardian have trumped them with this latest offering: Guardian Article
Whilst I daydream about owning a property in Monaco and driving around in a Range Rover Sport, in reality I know that these things come at a price higher than I can afford and I am willing to accept that. So why should the creation of something as potentially big as a wedding be any different? Would you pop to a local restaurant and pay for dinner and drinks for 80 of your friends and expect it not to be a costly affair? Like anything in life, as a consumer you have to make an informed decision on what you can afford to spend, and work to a budget.
In the wedding industry, when marrying within your local area you’ll likely meet a variety of independent business owners who work day and night, not only to create your dream wedding cake/photo album/video/dress/flowers, etc, but who also have to sell, market, manage, promote, advertise, travel, blog, network, budget, plan, administrate, and more just to keep their business running and ultimately, pay the bills and afford to live; the same reason any one of us goes out to work.
I recently blogged about a series of posts I will be bringing to you that will aim to give you a REAL insight into the tasks and work your chosen suppliers should and will be putting into your wedding day, and the value you place on everything that is entailed in their role might help those of you planning a wedding better understand how the price you are quoted is put together.
Now is the time to kick off this series and give you an honest account of what we wedding professionals get up to in the planning of your big day, how this makes up the prices we charge, helping you to make informed decisions on the creation of your wedding.
The first in this blog series about the everyday tasks of your wedding suppliers focuses on the all-important Photographer. Whether it’s just a few memorable snap shots or a full scale album you’re looking for, it’s fair to say that most engaged couples want to incorporate photography into their wedding day one way or another.
With wedding photography, you need to strongly consider your needs and desires for what you want to achieve. Choosing a Photographer can be hard; you’ll be spoilt for choice as there are so many to choose from, and in addition to ensuring your budget isn’t stretched beyond all comprehension you also need to know your Photographer is capable of the vision you have in mind. Photographers vary in style and technique so looking at price alone won’t always be the answer.
Bearing this in mind comes the age old question – how much does, or should a Photographer cost? Many couples are somewhat surprised when their research into Wedding Photographers brings up quotes that far exceed their initial expectations. For a good Photographer, you can expect a fair chunk of your budget to be used for this service, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re paying a hefty price for just a few printed snaps.
I chatted to Martin Price of Martin Price Photography and Steve Vaughan of SSVPhotography to gain an insight into their ‘wedding task timeline’, from initial enquiry to beyond the big day, and find out exactly what is entailed in their work and how this creates the price you’ll pay.
What is the first thing you do when you’ve received a new enquiry?
Martin: “A couple needs to select the wedding photographer who is right for them. This means the way that the photographer works on the day, how he/she processes the images they have taken, the type of products that they offer and of course the price that they charge for their service.
I like to ensure that potential clients get all of the information they need to help them decide if I might be the one for them. Following an initial enquiry I will send a copy of my brochure. This contains a selection of my photos, details of how I work, the packages I offer and their prices. This information is also on my website”.
Steve: “We make contact, and try and arrange an initial meeting. We have pride in our price and product, and have no issues with sharing prices”.
Do you meet couples that have enquired? Is there a charge for this initial consultation?
Martin: “I prefer to meet couples before they book whenever possible. It gives them a chance to find out more about me and how I work. They can also look at my sample albums so they can view large numbers of images from single weddings. This demonstrates the consistency of my work as well as the gorgeous album products that I offer. We can also discuss in detail any specific concerns or requirements that they have for the photography of their special day”.
Steve: “Always, if a serious enquiry, and no charge. We now meet them at the pub we own!”.
It has always been apparent to me that Photographers must face a fair amount of expense in terms of equipment requirements and maintenance, but what I found out after talking to Martin and Steve was pretty surprising. For both Photographers, the costs involved in running and continually developing their businesses to stay competitive and attractive to couples were astonishing. They included:
– £10,000 – £15,000 worth of camera equipment, including back up equipment to ensure no wedding day disappointments
– Computers, anti virus software, image editing software
– Regular training from industry leaders, short courses, online training and conferences
– Business and equipment insurances, membership of trade associations, equipment leasing, telephones, broadband, website development and hosting, bank charges, marketing and advertising and annual government fees.
Each costing thousands.
It can be hard to envisage the daily tasks and work of a Wedding Photographer as much of it is completed ‘behind the scenes’. Your engagement shoot and wedding day are simply a small snippet of what your Photographer gets up to in their timeline tasks of an average wedding. The below might give you an insight into what else you can expect and the hours spent working on just one wedding:
How do you justify the price you charge for each wedding? What does this price reflect for the couple?
Martin: “The price I charge reflects my many years of photographic experience, the investments I have made in training and equipment and the time I need to spend on each wedding to provide this level and quality of service”.
Steve: “Between us (Steve and his wife and business partner Sam), we have over 30 years of photographic experience, plus many years of customer service skills built up working in senior positions for big companies before going full time with SSVPhotography”.
What do you like and dislike about working in the wedding industry?
Martin: “I really do love photographing weddings. They are always such happy occasions and everyone is pleased to be there. No two weddings are the same and as a photographer you never know exactly what is going to happen next. So you never think you’re just mass producing something you’ve done many times before.
I always love seeing couples faces as they see their images or wedding album for the first time. It’s so satisfying to have created something that you know they are going to treasure for the rest of their lives!
I’m occasionally disappointed by the restrictions placed on me during the ceremony by the vicar or registrar. I know these are generally based on their previous experience of intrusive behaviour by a small number of photographers. How are they to know that I’m always so conscious of my impact during the ceremony? But I still find it very frustrating when told to just stand there and not move for the duration of the service, or in a few rare cases that no photography at all is allowed during the ceremony”.
Steve: “That’s easy! The greatest thrill is seeing the look on the face of our couples when they open their wedding album for the first time. It’s also great to work with so many local and high quality wedding professionals in the Bicester and Oxfordshire area.
I’m not so keen on the way all photographer’s get lumped into one category. We are documentary wedding photographers, and our approach, and our images, are completely different from a more traditional group shot photographer. It’s important to give couple a choice. Oh, and the people who decide that, having spent 400 quid or so on a camera, are now wedding photographers, because they have a “nice camera”. I have a really nice and expensive set of golf clubs, but I am still a lousy player….”
The Guardian article fueled a fire for me as a hard working wedding industry supplier, and I am keen to provide Brides and Grooms with a balanced viewpoint on the costs and financial realities of planning a wedding, versus the work that goes into supplying the services you desired and what you can expect to get out of such a fee.
When you select a reputable, experienced and trustworthy supplier to assist in the creation of your wedding, the price you pay will reflect this. That is not to say, however, that your dream wedding is unattainable, simply that you may have to be creative, flexible and willing to adapt to what your budget will allow. The Guardian’s article failed to mention that there are an absolute multitude of different ways you can plan, create and enjoy the wedding of your dreams without being ripped off at every turn. There is no need to get into debt or get upset about not getting what you want, when it is available to you in different ways. I have worked with Brides on budget weddings who’ve hired me to ensure they achieve their dream day affordably, as well as Brides to whom a tight budget isn’t as great an issue. What both achieve with a bit of imagination, some good research and well chosen suppliers, is the wedding they each desire and a day that is remembered positively by all involved.
Steve made an important point at the end of our discussion which I whole-heartedly agree with:
“I would encourage all Brides and Grooms to be to have a clear idea of what they want from their wedding photographer(s). We are not all the same! Do they want an album, or just a USB stick, for example? And do they want a photographer that will take them away on the day for a long time, whilst their guests are waiting, or would they prefer a more relaxed, natural approach. At SSVPhotography, we pride ourselves in interfering as little as possible on the day. We are there to record it, not control it, and we guarantee the photos you like the most from us are the ones you didn’t know we took. Its important to recognise the different types of photographers out there, many of which are excellent, but that quality does not come cheap. A professional wedding photographer has many £1000’s worth of equipment for a reason, and lots of fixed costs, and will also take a lot of time after the wedding editing and preparing top quality images”.
Martin Price Photography – 07549 173345 – www.martinpricephotography.co.uk – email@example.com
SSVPhotography – 01865 226255 – www.ssvphotography.co.uk – firstname.lastname@example.org
Read our next installment ‘Tasks in the Life of The Wedding Supplier: The Wedding Cake Maker here.