Frequently Asked Questions
The FAQ’s table below is there to give you all kinds of honesty and info over what is involved in truly professional photography, why certain things are the way they are, what you should be getting from your wedding photography, and what to look for to ensure you are getting good value for money.
Let me start by getting you to think about one counter question……How comes that wedding photographer is so cheap? And that is a hugely valid question to ask, let me explain.
As much as nearly every wedding photographer will claim that they are doing it for the love of it, the love of it will not pay the bills for the business or the house, the kids, the car unless it is charged at the right level.
So what is the right level and why are there some who will charge £250 for a whole day yet there are some who will want £1500 for the same thing?
Well, that in many respects is a hard one to answer specifically because each and every person in this industry is different and will have different lifestyles, outlooks, expences, budgets, so all I can do is explain what I face in my day to day running of my business and then ask you how does someone doing if for £250 manage it unless they are not doing the job properly.
My full day charge at the moment is £875 and on average that accounts for 5 hours work prior to the wedding in meetings, venue checks and admin. On the day I will spend 10 to 11 hours shooting. After the wedding I will then have about 500 images to edit, that if done properly, will account for as much as 25 hours worth of editing. So that’s 40 to 41 hours of work to service a full day.
That means I’m on £21.87 an hour…..woah, thats a nice rate, but is it?
To get your attention in the first place I have had to advertise. Whilst it would be great to only use free advertising like Facebook I can’t rely on it to generate enough business to support what we need. So I do wedding fairs, of which I do about 8-10 per year, most of which cost me about £160 each depending on the actual wedding fair but as much as £260 for the most popular one. I also run this website which has cost me money to create and it means I have a monthly fee to pay my hosting company to keep it running and a yearly fee to keep my domain names. I also have to spend out on advertising stationary, like business cards & leaflets and whilst I could use a cheapy firm creating cheapy products like that printing company that are always on the adverts on the telly (Used once for wafer thin business cards that were awful & door signs that went flaky and started peeling after 6 months) but as I want my products to last and show a bit of class I use decent printers, but they cost a bit more to use. Add to this the fact I have to create and pay for new sample products each year so you can see my latest work in print and to see what products I can supply. All in all that means my advertising costs come in at about £1500 to £1750 per year.
To get to those meetings and the venue checks ahead of the wedding I’ve had to jump in my car and use diesel, that’ll have cost £10-£20 on average. To get to and from your wedding it’s going to cost me some fuel as well and that obviously depends on how far it is from my home in Horley. Also, to be able to run that car to allow me to get to a from everything it needs an MOT and insurance, I know everyone else with a car has to pay these as well but they have to play part in my budget.
Then there is the purchase cost and maintenance of my equipment. My main choice of gear to bring to your wedding will be my Nikon D610, Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR MKII, Nikon SB-800 Flashgun, 2x Nikon SB-700 Flashguns, Phottix Radio Triggers, 3 different types of softbox, and then a good number of professional rated memory cards, of which the combine cost of that lot comes in at just on £8500. Every now and then something will need fixing, the last being a Sigma 70-200 I had that needed a new auto focus motor that cost £130. If you wanted to hire that lot for your wedding for a family member or friend, who is a budding photographer, to use then you would be looking at about £400-£500 expenditure…..and then they would have to learn how to use it all.
On top of that is my studio costs, editing software costs for Lightroom & Photoshop, and insurance costs that cover the gear, the properties I list for studio and home, public liability and professional indemnities.
When you then take all those expences, that directly benefit your big day, into account, that hourly rate dwindles quite quickly to somewhere more like £10-11 per hour. What also needs to be thought of is all the hours that have been spent learning how to take pictures, good pictures at that, as it’s not as simple as just hitting a button. I have spent many hours learning what I do, far to many to recall in fact and although I realise that hasn’t actually created a financial cost as such, it is still a time investment in your big day because you benefit directly with my camera skills and know how and get the high quality images at the end of it all, because of what I have learned over the years. So there is a skill factor that is being paid for. My artistic output has a value, but how do you value such a thing.
I personally have no idea and there is no calculator that can work that one out for us, but, I tend to make a comparison that most of us will be able to relate to. When you take your car to an independent garage, so not a VW or Merc or Ford main garage, but a true independent and have just a simple oil change, that mechanic commands about £45 an hour in labour to basically jack up your car, undo one sump nut, drain the oil, replace the sump nut, undo and replace the oil filter, fill it back up with oil and bingo, you’re good to go. So how and where do you value your wedding images against the value you place on your cars upkeep. These are images from one of the most special and important days of your life. Images that if they turn out wrong or bad can’t be replaced or re-done.
One other thing that has to be taken into account is the fact that weddings are seasonal, and there are only so many I can do throughout the summer, but, the flip side of that is there are very few weddings to shoot from Oct to March, and so part of what I earn through the summer has to help me, us, survive the winter months as well, because if I can’t survive or justify my costs at any-time of the year then I simply won’t be able to continue in this business.
So I honestly ask you, how can a photographer do a full day wedding for £250 if they have all the above to take into account and are running a proper, true, legit photography business…..or are they doing the job wrong, not giving you the service you think you are paying for, cutting corners and simply going back to their real day job on Monday morning instead of paying proper attention to your images via the editing that they should be doing, when all they’ve really done is made some nice pocket money from your big day with their cheap equipment, that isn’t insured and doesn’t have the correct back up of gear, and god forbid should they suffer a malfunction of a piece of equipment on your wedding day meaning they can’t capture any images from there on in.
I realise this may sound like I’m being bitter about those who operate cheaper, I’m really not, I’m being very open and very realistic. I have nothing to lose or gain by telling you all this. The one person who can gain from this information is you. If you still believe that I cost to much, or you simply don’t have the budget to spend (and I fully realise everyone has a budget to work to, no matter how big or small) that you should be incredibly careful and considered in your approach to choosing who you use to shoot your very special big day because there are some out there who simply want to take advantage of the fact they can earn some extra dosh without a care in the world for your images and that is what worries me the most. If I am not the photographer for you, that is perfectly fine, but I would much rather see you use a true professional who will take care of your images and someone who has true pride in their work because you will benefit from it when you get your images back.
Personally my prices aren’t inflated because of the word “Wedding”, in fact my hourly rate basically remains the same. My minimum studio portrait rate is £85 per hour, times that by the 10-11 hours spent on a wedding and that’s £850 to £935, and my charge for the full day is £875. I’m priced to be competitive with other local top class photographers and yet to try and remain within the budget of most people and still be able to survive in business and life.
I truly hope this goes some way into to showing you it’s no where near as simple as paying £875 and then me turning up and just pressing a button. If you need to know more, or have a specific question about budgets/prices then please do get in touch as I’d love to be able to discuss things further with you.
Its a great chance to get to know me and see what I’m about and you’ll instantly see why I had to use the word passion in my business name.
Honestly though, meeting is important as you’ll need to know you like that person and can work with them for a long time because a full day wedding is a long day to be with someone who turns out to be not your kind of person.
I shoot weddings mainly on a Friday and Saturday, but there are also a few Sundays and Mondays to. With virtually all of those weddings I will have invested about 45 hours of work per wedding, with pre wedding meetings, venue checks, the 11 hours shooting on the day and the 25 odd hours of editing afterwards, along with the fuel costs and the fact I usually have about £8500’s worth of gear with me that I have invested in and need to maintain to be able to shoot your big day.
I still invest all that time and still use all that gear and still use all my expertise to shoot your big day even though your date might be in October to March or on a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.
It might sound harsh, and that’s really not my intention, but I have to be honest here and say I still have to live off of what I earn whereby I have to house, clothe and feed my kids just the same as everyone else and we have to work to a budget to. The thing is I’ve yet to find a bank manager who will let me have a discount on my mortgage because the payment date falls on a Tuesday, and Tesco won’t let me have half price food for my kids because I went shopping at midnight…..though I wish they both would!
Having said all that, I do have a special offers page where something might crop up for winter weddings, or early bookings for weddings that are a couple of years away, so go check it out just in case.
If the wedding ceremony is about 2pm then I will look to start with the girls at about 10am. From there on in I will capture the details of the day, like the dress, shoes, flowers etc etc as well as the girls getting ready. Then I will look to capture the boys, where ever they happen to be, be it at home, the hotel, the venue, or dare I say it……..the pub!
After that it is usually back to the girls to capture some bridal portraits as well as the bride departing for the church or venue. I then race ahead of the bridal car to capture your arrival. It’s then onto capturing the ceremony as it happens, then the signing of the register and the happy couple exiting the wedding venue.
After the ceremony we capture the group shots followed by the bride/groom portrait session. Your entrance into your reception venue is next followed by the speeches and the cutting of the cake. Whilst your venue is then transformed from the wedding breakfast to the evening party we then have the opportunity to do another bride/groom portrait session. The bonus with this session is that with it being later in the day we will probably have better light to work with and there might also be a sunset to incorporate into the images. After this it’s onto the first dance and a bit of the party.
All the way through the day I will also have my eyes open for any candid shot opportunities and as a result I will have loads of natural images of your guests enjoying your big day.
As the first dance is usually somewhere around 8:15pm my finish time is generally 8:30pm but this of course is totally dependent on what you’ve had planned for the day and how the timings have run.
5 group shots = 10 mins
10 group shots = 20 mins
15 group shots = 30 mins
20 group shots = 40 mins
These are purely approximate, but are influenced by the number of guests you have present. If you have 200 guests then it could take a lot longer than stated as organising numbers as large as that can be hard work with people disappearing off to the loo’s or the bar, whereas if you have a guest list of 40 people or less, getting through the group shots can be quicker as it’ll be far easier to manage.
The bride/groom portrait session can be anywhere between 20-40 minutes, but if there is a chance we could also do a second bride/groom portrait session at around sunset time then we need not spend as long on the first portrait session.
Don’t forget to account for any journey time that may be needed to get you from the wedding venue to your reception venue.
Wedding Only = 100-200 images
Half Day = 200-300 images
Three Quarter Day = 300-400 images
Full Day = 400-500 images
This is of course approximate and can be dependent on such things like the number of group shots required and more importantly the weather. On a day with fab weather the image numbers will be at the higher end of the scale, whereas on a day where it rains heavily or blows a gale and we are restricted to being inside then image numbers tend to fall towards the lower end of the estimation scale.
The coverage package you go for will determine what product output you get, so choose a package to suit the product you would like to receive from download, USB or Albums, where you have the option to have one, two or all three of them.
After your images are edited you can then go on to your online gallery where you can gain access to products or prints and ordering one or some of those if you wish, and their prices are totally dependent on what the product is, its size and the print amounts.
Firstly, what I give you is what is called Print Rights. You will have full print rights, and that is limited to the wedding couple and their immediate family only, being Mum’s Dad’s, Grandparents. No one else beyond them has any right to the images without purchasing downloads or physical prints.
Secondly, the images I take are my sole assets. I have nothing else that I own or have created within the line of my work that I can make a living from, other than selling my camera gear, but then my business would last very long if I did that. I have to protect my assets and potential income by retaining the copyright. Each image I take has a value, and that value can be vastly different for different uses. For example, I once found an image of mine in a magazine that was used without permission by the magazine. It was given to them by the person who had the shoot with me. I enquired with the magazine as to how they got it and what their protocols were in relation to copyright only to find they went straight to the person who gave them the image.
I was then faced with my client saying she wasn’t paid for the story and that it was all a good will thing, but, I can’t make a living on good will, the bank won’t accept good will gesture vouchers against my mortgage, and the part that was completely forgotten or not thought about was the fact that the magazine were only using the story to sell their magazine make them more money….that’s alright then, they won’t go under, but the artist who took the image can get by with nothing, not even a credit (and credits sadly don’t pay the bills either)
Not owning the copyright won’t stop you from being able to print and show the images, so it’s no bad thing to you at all, but any photographer who offers to give “Full Copyright” is either not a full time professional, not showing much worth for his or her work, or plainly not aware of the potential implications and losses to themselves.
Beyond that I would have to work out an additional fee based on the mileage and time it would take to get to where ever it was you needed me to be. If the distance was that big that it would make it unsafe for me to shoot a full day and travel there and back in one hit then I would have to look into accommodation for at least one night as well. This would be added to the travel cost, but I would be more than happy if it was something as simple as a Travelodge at £30 per night, I wouldn’t expect to be put up in the Ritz, though it would be nice!
I do not charge VAT on top as my income levels don’t hit the VAT threshold.
The only time a price might change is if you change your requirements, and that can be increasing or decreasing your coverage, or adding or taking away products. Though products can not be cancelled once they have been ordered and sent/uploaded to my print company and no refund on them can be given. However, should there be a genuine issue with the quality of the album/book/print, not including any accidental damage after it has passed my own quality check and has left my possession, I can take things further with my print company to ensure a favourable outcome in terms of a reissue of the product or potentially a refund.
My contract currently states it will be no more than 14 weeks but this is a big safety net should I become seriously booked up with something like a wedding on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday two weeks on the trot. My edit queue would be far longer than normal and so the wait time could extend to 14 weeks for the last of those weddings.
At this moment in time I think the longest wait anyone has ever had from me is about 10 weeks to get their images.
I then ask you a few simple questions about the kind of design you like, for example a clean plain coloured background, or using some of your images as backgrounds to the pages etc
Once I have those answers I can design it and once it is done, usually around 7 working days, I can send you a link to an online proofer for your to review. If there is something about it that is not quite right for you then just use the speech bubble feature to tell me what it is and we can get it sorted. Once you are happy with each page you can mark them as approved with a tick on each page, but before you do please be 100% sure you are happy because as soon as you give the green light to send it to print its then that I have to charge you for it, because once it’s uploaded for print there is no backing out, or changing the design, or refunds (Unless a quality issue occurs)
Once the uploaded order has been accepted the turn around time to get it back to me is usually 21 working days. I will then check it over to ensure I am 100% happy with it’s quality and then I will arrange to get it to you.
I to am camera shy, it’s why I hide behind the camera! Seriously, I’ve never been too keen on it so I understand where you are coming from. The thing to realise is that it’s more to do with the relationship you have with your photographer than the relationship you have with their camera.
What I mean by this is we as a family went and had a portrait session with another local photographer in Horley, and that photographer made the session so comfortable by being natural, being fun, having a laugh, getting involved, taking our minds off any formality or fear and allowing the real us to come though……that is what will happen by the time we get to the bride/groom portrait session.
We will have worked together through the morning to the point where I will have calmed your nervousness of the camera and effectively made you feel more at home with me being there, to the point where through your service you’ll not be conscious of me being there at all, so by the time we get to the portrait session our relationship will have reached a very comfortable level and the fun I introduce will make it an easy portrait session.
They may not be the most entertaining, stand out, glamorous, show piece images from your big day but they play an important role as those formal, traditional set of images can play a huge part in remembering who was present at your big day, because even though we hate to think of it, as time go by things change, and sadly people move away, and somewhere down the line pass away.
It’s that part of our own wedding album that we tend to cherish the most, seeing our grandparents again, who have that look of total pride in their eyes, but whom are sadly no longer with us.
These group shots are down to your own choice. I can give you a standard list of shots to work from, but if any are irrelevant then simply take them out, or if there are some you’d like to add then put them in.
The standard list is (And yes they all include the bride and groom) :-
Bride and Groom and……….
Both Sets Of Parents,
Both Sets Of Grandparents,
Both Sets Of Siblings,
Best Man Ushers Pageboys,
Maid Of Honour Bridesmaids Flowergirls,
Like I say, you choose whats relevant to you and add to it as you please, but I do advise to keep the list to about 15 images just because of the timescale it can take to get these shots done, though if you want more, we do more 🙂
I have a number of lenses, all of which are of a professional level giving me the ability to get very creative with the depth of field, those shots you see where the images are nicely blurred out in the background.
I have, at this moment in time, three flashguns. One will sit on top of the camera for most of the day, though will only get used at certain points of the day, but they play a more important role through the bride/groom portraiture where I like to get creative using off camera flash blending ambient light with artificial light, just like you see in my sunset shots.
Please, please, please do ask each and every photographer you enquire with what camera they use and what back up camera they have, and don’t be shy of asking because you really should know for piece of mind that your photographer has invested correctly in your wedding images.
The reason they should have two cameras is really quite simple and important. Camera’s, like cars, have moving parts. Cameras, like cars, can be cheap or expensive, but that expensive BMW, Mercedes or Jaguar can still, and will, break down on you somewhere down the line. The same applies to our cameras. I might have high quality, high priced camera’s but the shutters in them will break at some point, usually in and around the area of 150,000 shutter movements in my pro gear, but when it does I will have another camera at my side that is of equally high quality so I can carry on regardless.
If your chosen photographer only has one camera, avoid them as it is a big risk. If that one and only camera breaks as you walk down the aisle then that’s where your photography coverage will end.
Just to add, if they tell you what cameras they use and after checking them at www.dpreview.com it turns out they are a camera that is rated as being Entry Level or lets say under £750 then you can add to your concerns over their actual investment in your big day, because cameras such as that don’t have the build quality that will see them last as long as 150,000 shutter actuations, so they potentially will break sooner. Plus the image quality these cameras have in dark places at high ISO’s is far inferior to what the professional cameras can achieve and as such the quality of your photos could be severely reduced.
I have pro levels of Public Liability and Indemnities. Both are hugely important. Should an accident happen due to me or my gear then you, your guests and your venue is covered.
I have to say I haven’t ever yet needed to use my insurance, not even to claim damage to any of my gear, but it’s very reassuring to know its there.
However, there are technical aspects to images that give big clues as to whether the photographer involved is using the right gear and indeed in the right way.
Take for example the shots taken in a church at the wedding ceremony. Are they all black and white, are the grainy and noisy and lacking in clarity and crispness, and in general look to have a quality issue. That could very well be because the camera used does not have good high ISO qualities and so can’t work well in dark churches, leaving the images lacking in quality and then the photographer concerned employs the old trick of converting them to black and white which improves them.
Another thing to look for is shadows on walls when the photo’s are taken indoors. Very normally most places have big white ceilings, and these act very nicely as reflectors, and so I will point my flashgun up and bounce it off the ceiling and that banishes those awful shadows. So what does having those shadows mean? The photographer involved doesn’t have a flashgun and is only using the pop up flash, and therefore is not equipped properly to shoot a wedding, or, if they do have a flashgun they are not using it in the best way to get the best images possible. There is a little saying applicable to photographers like that “All the gear, and no idea!”
One other thing to look for. Obvious distractions that could be partially taken away from your focus by using a shallow depth of field, like an image of a bride and groom and their bridal car, and yet the high street behind them is fully in focus, well with the use of a professional lens it can be blurred out. Or obvious distractions that can be fully removed using photoshop, like fire exit signs or toilet signs, that adorn most venues and will be dotted around somewhere near the groom and best man whilst they are doing their speeches.
At the end of the day, these are just a few guidelines of things to look out for but in the main use our own likes/dislikes to figure out if the portfolio on show is one you like or not and if you have doubts then maybe that photographer is not the one for you.
Reason being is that most photographers websites and portfolios will pretty much only show their stand out, show piece images to tempt you in with the stunning shots. My website is no different at all, and why wouldn’t I want to show you my best work?
Yet throughout the whole day there will be many different images taken of many different parts of the day. So why don’t we photographers show them all? It’s simply because there would be far to many images to show and there is half a chance you’ll have had enough of looking through them by image number 62. It’s also because a lot of the images we take are candids of the guests, and whilst they might be technically great and a really good photo, they won’t necessarily have the same emotional impact on you as they will do with the bride and groom of the actual wedding involved because they are not images of your family and friends.
What I would be more than happy to do is organise a time for you to drop into my studio and have a look through as many weddings as you like to see exactly what is taken throughout the course of the day, and that although I have my stunning images, my run of the mill standard images are also high quality, well exposed and as creative as they can be.
So what’s the bonus of having a second photographer and what’s the deal?
The bonus in having a second “Tog” is that through the morning preps one tog will stay with the girls whilst one stays with the boys. Through the ceremony one tog can be at the front and one can be at the back, meaning you get two angles. Whilst I’m shooting the group shots the 2nd tog can be getting close in candids of the guests whilst they are lined up, and it just means you have a more extensive coverage of your big day.
When it comes to the second photographer I can offer a couple of services. The first is a paid service which is £200. The photographer hired in to shoot with me will be a professional just like myself. They will be someone I trust to do the job as well as I do. So how will they do it for just £200. Its because they don’t do all the ground work before the wedding and they don’t edit the images after, I get that privilege.
The second service is a free service, but, they will be someone who wants to learn how to be a wedding photographer, a keen amateur at best. Whilst this may be cost effective there are no guarantees that they will actually get any decent images. One negative with the freebie second tog is that because want to learn there is a small chance that they will be asking me questions about what I am doing, if they are doing the right things etc and ideally that’s not what I want or need as I need to be concentrating 100% on doing a job for you, not teaching them.
My advice is always the same. If you really do like the idea of 100% complete coverage of your big day then that £200 charge for a 2nd full professional is a small fee to ensure you have 2 full professionals photographing your big day.