Why Shoot Weddings?
Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions that encompass everything that is wonderful about the relationship shared between a certain
man and woman. There are many, many wedding days that end up exactly like that, but the exact opposite is also known to happen. No matter what type of wedding it is, good or bad, it is the job of the photographer to capture the beauty of the day with style and grace. For some, this is easy but for most it is a stressful job filled with dark churches and blown out noonday skies. So why do them? Why put yourself through this magnitude of stress? Well, some do it strictly for the money. Photographing weddings is one of the most lucrative jobs a photographer can get. Others do it to share in the love and excitement of a wedding day and the money is a big bonus. If you are thinking of photographing weddings, you may want to take the time to consider why you want to shoot them. That kind of perspective will help you when considering other important aspect of your business like pricing.
Deciding on Services
Before deciding on how much you will want to charge for a wedding, you will have to take a few other things into consideration. The most
important of these is having a detailed list of the services you wish to provide. Most photographers offer three to five different package deals and in many regions this has become an industry norm. What you need to think about is what your packages will offer. How many hours will you be available for shooting on the wedding day? Will you include digital negatives or prints, or both? Will you offer a design for thank you cards or a custom coffee table book? Knowing what extras you are going to include in your packages, and how much extra effort each thing will take, will help you create a price list that will accurate reflect the amount of money you wish to make per project and per hour.
Sizing up the Competition
Understanding your competition’s prices will not only help you understand your market but will help you decide what extras are expected in
area. As an example, in my city, wedding photographers are expected to provide full res digital negatives with their premium packages or have them available for an extra fee. When checking out the competition there are three things to take into account: product (what exactly is being offered), skill (how do you stack up?) and price point (your area’s market).
Most of this is covered in the previous section but understanding what is being offered in your area and what is expected of you is very important.
Understanding your skill level, and coupling that with how much experience you have, is the first part of your price-list equation. You will then want to check out a bunch of local wedding photographers and find out what they charge versus their skill level. This will help you understand where you will fit in as a new wedding photographer in your region.
Now that you understand what products will attract clientele and you have a good understand of what your competition is charging, it is time to think about what kind of weddings you want to shoot, the extravagant, expensive wedding or the low budget backyard wedding. Each have their own pros and cons. The extravagant wedding will pay more, no doubt about it, but you will most likely be shooting from 8 am until the very last minutes of the reception and expected to provide over a thousand photos of above average quality. If you are one hundred percent confident that you can provide that and you have a portfolio to back it up, then you may want to consider charging a premium for your services. In the beginning most photographers can’t provide premium services and will take what jobs they can get to make ends meet. Just remember that just because you may be forced to photograph a backyard wedding for a few hundred dollars does not mean that this is the market you should shoot for, unless this is the market you want to shoot. Your price-point should reflect what you can offer to your market and it should change from year to year as your portfolio grows and as you become a better wedding photographer.
Extras and The Final Price List
Just because you create a list of packages does not mean your clients may not want more. A couple might book you for four hours of shooting
on the wedding day but then decide that they would like to keep you for an extra hour the day of the wedding, or they may like a photo so much they want to use it for their thank you cards and want you to have them printed. Extra things like this will crop up all the time and you will want to be prepared for them. You will want to have a price for each extra including shooting time and post processing time.
Having a list of extra costs should complete your price list of packages and services and cater to every little thing your clients may want! Now that your price list is complete you will want to move on to making a marketing strategy, building a website, getting business cards and all the other exciting things that go with building a wedding photography business.