This blog should be useful to all wedding photographers whether you are just starting out or are relatively experienced. It should help provide some guidelines and ways to think about pricing structures. I am currently a wedding photographer in Windsor, Berkshire, however these rules should be universal and not limited to a region.
As a warning, there is generally no hard and fast rule for what price you should set yourself as, and ultimately the price you charge should be largely dependent on how much you are comfortable to do it for. However I may be able to give you reasons to charge a low to free price, given there is more value in getting bookings when you start out, as the pay off is having the stock photos other then payment. However I will get onto that later.
Supply and demand
One of the most important principles in economics is supply and demand. In plain terms, the lower the supply the higher the price you can demand. The inverse applies for demand. The greater demand the higher the price you can demand.
Luckily for you, wedding photography is an industry with a continuing demand all year around with some peaks within the summer months.
The supply will largely be defined by the area that you live in. As I live near London, there is a lot of photographers. However, there are plenty of weddings as well given the population density of the area.
So long as you get your price right you should always be able to find work.
Regional and Competitor Pricing
One thing that you need to consider is what your competitors are doing. As an established photographer, say someone who has done over 30 weddings, I generally find in my area that these people can start at £1,500 for a full days work (10 hours).
Although this is not always going to be the case it is worth finding out how much everyone is charging in order to gauge how much you should be. What is crucial is knowing that at £1,500 and lower, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, it could mjust mean they have worked with more clients. Which does improve confidence, however it is really on the photographer to keep trying to improve.
When you start charging over the £2,200 range this is when you start to see a real difference in the quality of work.
Trial and error
What I found when I started pricing my services it wasn’t something I got right first time. The customer is always right – and if they don’t think you are worthy of your services they are not going to book you. This may mean that you are cheaper than all the competition and you are still not getting bookings. If this is the case it may mean that you have to lower your prices even more.
Pricing your image
So starting out as a wedding photographer you are always going to be concerned that you are being perceived as a new photographer. Now this is actually the case. However if the client associates you being new as you being inexperienced then they are not going to book you.
One factor of appearing new is pricing yourself too cheap. People have the effect of expecting a certain quality if they see a very low price. This is a catch 22 since you have to price yourself low in order to get bookings, however by pricing yourself low will give you the image of inexperience.
One thing I can say is there is a market for everyone. There will be people who can only afford £400, and for that price you will be getting a relatively new photographer
One way to encourage new sales without having to lower your prices dramatically is to offer free services, primarily a free engagement shoot. This acts a good strategy for a number of reasons for the new photographer. It firstly allows you to build a portfolio, meet clients and also creates a familiarity with the client which will hopefully encourage you to book afterwards.
Scaling and increasing your pricing
One thing is for sure, once you start adding more and more and more wedding to your collection you can start to add more and more pounds to your price. However it takes work. You need to ensure that although you are charging a low price for the service, you need to be delievering high quality images.
Thinking to the future
Focus on where you want to get to in your photography and what you want to be charging. It may take time and hard work but you should be able to get there. As long as you have a solid plan to get better with every shoot you do, focusing on marginal gains and constantly challenging yourself you should reach your goal.
Focus on Quality
My last point I want to discuss is Quality. No matter what industry you consider, if you have a product or service with an undeniable quality, you will have customers. Always focus on Quality. Focus on how you can elevate every picture and wedding you shoot to the next level. It doesn’t matter if you are charging £500 or £5,000, how can you improve.
This is even more relevant at the lower end of the spectrum. Say you are charging £500. This doesn’t mean that you aim to provide a service that justifies this low payment. You should be aiming to send this couple an album that a £1,500 photographer would take. Go all out. Spend more time there on the wedding day then what they have contracted you to do. Spend twice as long on the editing then you usually would. Elivate your game. Because only when you start doing this and evidencing this on your website you will never get to a point when you will be able to charge this much.
Yes there will be some reward in just having a lot of different brides on your website as it will make you look established, and this will probably be sufficient up to the £1,000 range. However you shoul be doing more than this. Read all the material you can on how to work with different lighting, taking pictures in dark areas, editing pictures – what ever it takes. You not only need to evidence to the client that, no matter what the surrounding, you will be able to take a great image, but if they book you in a superb location, you can deliver a superb image.