Photographers often find themselves having to justify why they charge what they charge. It’s a common misconception that their days starts when they arrive at a wedding and ends when they leave. I thought I’d give a rundown on my typical wedding activity.
1. Receive initial enquiry by call, e-mail etc.:
-This involves checking my calendar for conflicts, verifying the wedding details and location and
the couple’s specific requirements. If it’s a big complex wedding, I may also need to check
availability of an assistant.
-Respond to the enquiry and deal with any additional questions.
2. Meet the couple
-This involves preparing the album samples and other demonstration products, ensuring any
slideshows are up to date
-preparing a contract in case the couple decide to hire me during the meeting
-preparing a range of options that match any requirements they might have, including pricing anything out of the ordinary.
-If the initial meeting does not result in the signing of the contract, the couple may wish to meet again.
-preparing a formal quote, invoicing the couple, processing the payment and providing a receipt. This may involve trips to the bank to deposit cash or cheques.
3. The pre wedding meeting
-This normally takes place a few weeks before the wedding and allows me to discuss any specific requirements, go over any changes that might have cropped up.
-Sometimes this might also include a brief photoshoot to get the couple more comfortable in front of the camera.
-This is also normally when the balance of the fee is settled. This involves a further invoice, payment and receipt, along with the consequent trip to the bank for any cash or cheque payments.
-At this stage I would order the DVD case that would accompany any proof disk.
4. The Preparation
-A few nights before the wedding I need to prepare all my equipment, ensure that I have all my batteries charges, memory cards clear, main and spare cameras checked. If I am providing a studio/photo booth at the wedding then this equipment also needs cleaning.
-Ensure I have a suit dry cleaned and ready for the day.
5. The Wedding
-Wedding coverage can vary, sometimes it may involve a trip to the bride’s house for getting ready shots, sometimes I will be there for just before the ceremony. I usually have safety pins, tissues and a reassuring word or two on hand for the getting ready shots.
- The end of the day may also vary, sometimes couples may only want a few pictures after the ceremony, cover of the reception, speeches and first dance or cover until the very end of the night. Thankfully most couples have had enough of photos shortly after that first dance though.
- Travel to and from the various venues for the wedding varies as well, depending on locations. ---Start to finish could be as long as 14 hours or as short as 3 or 4.
-If food hasn’t been arranged I need to arrange food and snacks to see me through the long day.
6. Locking myself in a dark room
-Not all the photographs taken will be perfect, people blink, pull faces or are distracted. I work through the many photographs taken and whittle out the poor shots.
-After this initial winnowing process I am left with the remaining images. I must then eliminate any images which are identical (where I took two or more shots to be sure I got it right). I also need to straighten some horizons, do some basic photo editing and enhancements to some of the images.
-The final proof images are then ready for publication. They are recorded to two disks, which are printed specifically for that wedding. A proof book is ordered from the supplier with the various images.
All this can take between 1 and 3 days of work depending on the number of images taken and length of coverage.
Once the proof book is received back from the lab, it must be checked for quality and assembled with the Disks and case for presentation to the bride and groom.
7. Meeting the married couple
-I will usually present the proofs in person, to ensure that the couple are happy with the resulting images, provide advice on the best way to view and handle the images and answer any questions they might have about albums, photobooks, prints etc.
The next steps only happen if there’s an album or prints involved. I handle albums separately and they are charged separately from the main wedding package, to give the couple more flexibility in their wedding package design. Some photographers will incorpoate albums and prints into their packages.
8. The Album/Photobook
-There’s usually some communication back and forth as the couple decide on the type of album they want and the selection of images they choose. This may take place over several days or weeks, depending o n the couple’s priorities.
-The initial album design is presented for approval. Though this can be the final step, some changes may be requested and further review required. It can take me about half a day to a day to design a final wedding album. At this stage as well there may be some specific editing requirements for particular pictures (removing blemishes, colour effects_. This may add a further day to the design process.
-The album is invoiced and payment receipted.
- The album is then ordered and the order must be tracked to ensure prompt handling by the album manufacturer. The type of album, size of album and cover options selected all effect the cost of the album ordered. Once delivered, the album must be checked for quality.
-The album is then usually delivered by hand at a further face to face meeting. If the couple are from outside the area, the album might be posted which requires a trip to the post office again.
9. Prints and other stuff
-There may be orders for individual prints, canvasses, wall prints and other products. Each of these orders needs to be managed, invoiced, receipted and delivered. This is often done along with the album order, but can be done separately.
So that’s the wedding itself, to which we have to add some other odds and ends of day to day life:
-Petrol and car maintenance to make sure I get to the ceremony on time.
-Insurance to make sure that I am covered while providing the service I provide and also to insure my photography equipment.
-My cameras and other equipment require periodic maintenance, such as camera cleaning or minor repairs.
-My equipment also needs replacement as it reaches a point where reliability might be an issue.
-My computers also need regular upgrades or replacement to keep the storage of images secure and ensure I can ensure that my productivity is not hindered by older systems. I use both a desktop PC and laptop to be able to present electronic slideshows and work on the move. I also use a file server to act as backup and storage for my image files.
-Software-as new software becomes available or existing software is upgraded I must invest in this to ensure that my workflow remains fluid and efficient.
-Consumables such as batteries, bulbs for my studio lights, cleaning cloths etc.
-A small supply of suits for weddings and formal ceremonies and consequent dry cleaning.
-Advertising and marketing to promote the wedding business and draw in new clients. This can include placing adverts in magazines, attending wedding fairs or networking with other wedding suppliers.
-Business cards, stationery and all the usual paraphernalia of business life.
-Education to improve my skills. This may be through 1 day workshops or other training.
-Time spent reviewing wedding trends, magazines etc. to keep up to date and offer couples the widest range of options for their day.
-Tax (enough said!) and National Insurance.
There’s probably a lot more in this area that hasn’t occurred to me just now, but I think you get the idea. This is for me. Some other photographer who has a studio will have additional overheads to consider or one who has long term assistants that they must treat as full time or part time employees.
So yes, wedding photography can be an expensive option for couples. The measure of worth is in the photos that you get as a result. Bear in mind as well that it is a seasonal business, with the majority of weddings still over Spring and summer and it would be unlikely that I would have a wedding every week of the year.
And if you look at all the above and think, “That’s all very well, but how much do you actually charge?” Well, get in touch and I’ll be happy to photograph your wedding!