Working as a wedding photographer is an exciting way to exercise your creative photo skills while also capturing one of the most special days in people’s lives. There are plenty of opportunities within this niche to tailor your business.
If you make the best use of your unique specialties and interests, then you will undoubtedly build a wide customer base.
If you are a new photographer, setting your prices is one of the initial challenges you may face to gain business and grow your portfolio. It can be difficult to assess your skills in relation to other providers in the current market.
For those entering the field of wedding photography and want to know how to determine their fees, we have put together this comprehensive pricing guide just for you.
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Wedding photography is a job that comes with hefty responsibility, but also long-term rewards. If you get into this business, then you’ll bear the responsibility of capturing many couples’ special days, but your ability to snap their beautiful moments will result in extraordinary photos they’ll cherish for years to come.
Specializing in wedding photography means you will take photographs of the stages before, during, and following the actual marriage ceremony. Wedding photographers use creative and innovative ideas to capture unique snapshots that cater to their client’s expectations.
Photographers also will process and produce the final images to provide to the client.
It is vital for wedding photographers to discuss and carefully examine a client’s wishes for their special day, understanding what shots, angles, and backgrounds need to be included in the final wedding album. Wedding days can be chaotic, so anyone working in wedding photography needs to create succinct, beautiful shots around even the most challenging conditions.
Aside from the duties performed on location, anyone who is self-employed in wedding photography must attend to the daily operation of their business. This includes creating contracts for client signatures, marketing their services, attracting new clients, and staying on top of market expectations to cater to client demands.
A wedding photographer must not only be able to capture excellent, unique shots that please their clients, but they additionally must edit, develop and convey the final product to the customer in a timely manner.
There is no specific educational background required to work in wedding photography, but it is helpful to gain all the knowledge and professional insight you can. Many photographers go through post-secondary photography educational programs to enhance their skills and their offerings to clients.
Some clients will prefer to work with a photographer who has an education in the field.
With that being said, in the world of wedding photography, creativity and technological prowess often outweigh educational credentials. Still, it is always a good idea to learn as much as you can about the business, so you can offer the most comprehensive services possible.
Completing an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in photography will prove invaluable in helping you grow your business. Even taking courses in photography styles and techniques will give you a competitive edge.
Besides the creative and technical knowledge required to be a success in wedding photography, you will need to have a certain amount of business acumen to run a thriving venture in this field. You need to possess solid knowledge regarding the financial, marketing, pricing, legal, and contractual aspects of your business.
Copyrighting your photography is essential to protecting your work product.
To run a successful wedding photography business, you must be able to have positive interactions with people. You need to be professional, warm, and understanding, working with families during a very exciting, but often stressful period of wedding preparation.
No wedding photography business is complete without the proper equipment. Having quality cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, and mounts are essential. The more education you possess in the field, the better equipped you will be to navigate the various pieces of equipment needed to serve your purposes.
WEB AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
You need to learn how to create a website and market yourself online to grow your business. Using professional website services to enhance your marketing outreach is a great way to do that. Having a proper website where clients can log in and access their photo samples is key.
As far as software goes, you cannot run your business effectively without using top-of-the-line editing software and technology to fine-tune and enhance your photos. Getting the Adobe Suite or Photoshop can pose quite an investment, but it is worth it several times over for the capability it will give you to develop your photos and produce amazing images.
It’ll even help you salvage a photo that might have been less than great straight out of the camera.
PRICING GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS
EXAMINE YOUR COMPETITORS
The first thing you need to do when figuring out how to set prices for your wedding photography is to examine your competitors in your specific geographic location. Look at the competition and see what those businesses charge for their services.
Make an Excel spreadsheet to record your findings as you conduct opposition research and average out your pricing accordingly. Depending on your knowledge, education, and experience, you can compare your services to those of your competitors and determine whether you should charge at a high level, middle set, or low range on the pricing spectrum.
IDENTIFY YOUR CLIENTELE
Part of creating a booming wedding photography business is deciding which clients you want to serve. Your prices will correlate directly with the clients you are able to attract. If you want to shoot elaborate weddings for top-tier clients, your prices should be higher.
If you are more interested in catering to regular families, then charge a more inexpensive rate. You also may serve a mixture of both and set your price points right in the middle.
There is no right or wrong answer when identifying what clientele you wish to serve. It depends on your preferences and how those fit in with your business goals.
DO SOME CALCULATIONS
As you get started with your wedding photography business, you may find that you need to alter the original prices you set so you can achieve an optimal profit. This is part of the process of trial and error, and it is perfectly normal for beginners.
Take the time to calculate your net gains after spending money on equipment, travel time, client meetings, and other pertinent expenses. You need to set a price that allows for these expenses, while still providing you with a solid profit.
STICK TO AN HOURLY RATE
As a general rule, especially for beginners in wedding photography, stick to an hourly rate rather than an overall project rate. If your photo sessions take longer than expected, there is more work to complete or more expenses than you originally assessed, charging by the hour will enable you to receive a profit — no matter what curveballs are thrown your way.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO OFFER PROMOTIONS
Promotions are a great incentive to grow your wedding photography business and attract new clients, especially when you are a beginner. Plan promotions and deals around the holidays. However, be careful not to offer your services for too little.
The best way to do this is to offer additional photos or session time rather than cutting your actual project fees.
EXAMINE YOUR OBJECTIVE
As a beginner, you need to examine your objective for your business when setting your prices. When you are brand new to the field, your main aim will probably be to bring on as many new clients as you can.
Set your prices accordingly, and as your portfolio and experience grow over time, you can adjust your fees to reflect your enhanced expertise.
CREATE PRICING PACKAGES
A great way to cater to multiple clients without under-cutting your wedding photography business is to create pricing packages that meet a variety of budgetary constraints. If you are just starting out and want to work with a diverse client base, you will probably have customers who can afford to pay more than others.
So as not to reject any new business that comes your way while still turning a substantial profit, create different packages to cater to an assortment of client needs. For example, your fees for 4 hours of services would be less than your fees for a full package offering 6 to 8 hours of photography for an entire ceremony.
When you are just starting out in wedding photography, without experience, you will need to start at a lower price range and work your way up. If you do well and gain more clients, you can close this gap quickly.
Start with a marginal number at which you can still draw a profit and work your way up from there as you build your portfolio.
You do not want to set your prices so low that potential clients do not value your time, nor do you want to set them so high that potential clients balk and run. It’s best to start at a solid rate based on your expertise and education and increase it as you grow a satisfied client base.
Entering the world of wedding photography is an innovative and inspiring venture. You will have the chance to meet a variety of clients on their special days as you capture their special moments and preserve them for a lifetime.
Assess your knowledge and background, examine your competition, identify your goals and hone in on your pricing objectives that best meet the needs of your business and clients alike.