Wedding Photography pricing is one of those problems with no correct answer.
The country where you work, your own target market and the expectations of that market all have an influence on the answer.
But what is your local market?
Have you defined it yourself?
For example have you ever asked yourself the following questions:-
- Who is your target bride / groom?
- What type of wedding venues do you want to work in?
- How many weddings are you comfortable shooting per year?
- Do you want to photograph weddings throughout the year or take an extended break at some point?
- If you were looking for a new job with a salary rise, what would be your salary aspirations?
That last question is a particularly important point.
Self employed people need to cover so many things on their own: their basic working salary; they need to earn enough to cover holiday periods; they need to cover their own pension arrangements (you are doing that aren’t you!); they need to ensure they cover the tax bills; enough funds to re-invest in new equipment as they require it; and they need enough savings for a rainy day.
So if we were to put the Profession of Wedding Photography into a Salary box – where would you put it?
Would it be a low-paid manual worker?
Would it be country-specific “average wage” earning role?
Would it match other professions and skilled roles and be above-average?
Would it be Senior-Management level?
Would it be higher?
As an aside, I’d love it if you would actually leave an honest answer in the comments below – you can use an anonymous name if you prefer.
But here’s the thing.
Your answer probably says two things about you:-
1. Your own attitude to how you value your profession
2. Your own attitude to your own dreams and aspirations
Number 1 affects all of us.
Number 2 is personal and everyone has their own goals here.
But both say a lot of how we value our industry and what we expect to get out from it.
My original question in the title of this article was:-
At what stage do you price yourself out of your local Wedding Photography market?
What would your answer be for your market?
£1500 / $2000?
£2500 / $3250?
£5000 / $6500?
£10000 / $13000?
HOW ABOUT LESS!
You see, you can never really price yourself OUT of a market by raising your prices.
But you CAN price yourself OUT of a market by LOWERING your prices.
Now at this point some of you are probably thinking, WTF?
Well, you see, primarily the weddings you shoot determine the market you will work in. The wedding venues you show in your portfolio and the word of mouth referrals all stem from those same weddings.
So if you shoot cheap weddings, you will work in a cheap market and you will work in cheap venues.
Of course there are exceptions to any rule, but typically market dynamics work along those lines.
On a Facebook Wedding Photography Training Group I came across a debate over whether someone should shoot a full wedding for £375. The person was relatively new to the market, but normally priced themselves a bit higher, so like many of us seem to do, decided to throw his business decision to the Facebook Boardroom.
The answers of course said a lot about our industry:-
“Yes, just do it”
“Where’s the harm, it’s midweek after all”
“It’s a quick £375 in your pocket.”
Now I am paraphrasing, as I don’t want to post specfic answers here to protect the innocent (or is it guilty 😉 )
BUT…. I’m sure you get the jist of it – most answering the thread felt that it was okay.
But here’s why (IMHO) it’s NOT.
It’s your future.
It’s your industry.
It determines how hard you are expected to work for the rest of your photography career and determines how much time you have available to spend with your family.
I responded to the thread pointing out that, as this was a teaching group, perhaps being someone with a little bit more experience in the industry I could add my tuppence worth.
I posted an extract from our Light Blue Software Wedding Shoots report for this year.
Over a three month period from April to June this year we photographed 12 weddings – we had a couple of double headers so we had two weekends off in April and two weekends off in June, but basically it averages around one wedding a week. That’s one edit, one wedding of wear and tear on my cameras and my body.
The gross earnings were £32,180 or an average of £2,681 per wedding.
Now I am not a “great” wedding photographer – I’m a decent wedding photographer, but no better than most of you.
I’m not working in a well-to-do area, I’m bang in the middle of Central Scotland.
I’m also saying that that is in no way High-End wedding prices – there will be loads of you charging a lot more than this. and Let’s face it, if you really want to be a high-end wedding photographer, stick another zero on the end of those prices.
What I am saying is that for my area that market is easily achievable.
AND HERE’S THE BEST BIT – In my local area (i.e. Scotland) I’m one of only a few who pitch to that price point – the majority all pitch to a price point of below a £1000.
So from a competition point of view, I have LESS competition.
“But it’s easier to book cheaper weddings!”
So let’s go back to our £375 wedding? Lot’s of them about aren’t they?
Well to achieve £32,180 gross earnings in three months our £375 wedding photographer would need to do the following:-
- Shoot 86 weddings in 12 weeks
- That’s actually just over 7 weddings a week. Hmmmmm.
- That’s 86 wedding edits he/she would have to do.
- That’s 86 wedding meetings / emails / follow-ups
- That’s 86 weddings he had to actually WIN AND BOOK.
I had just 12.
- Just 12 Weddings I had to WIN and BOOK
- Just 12 weddings that I had to edit
- Etc Etc Etc
I hope you get the point.
So what is easier? 12 Weddings or 86? Booking a £2,681 per wedding or a £375 wedding?
I know what I would prefer!