UK wedding photography pricing can be really confusing and as a couple about to make one of life’s bigger financial commitments, you are going to want to know your way around what those numbers actually represent!
I’ve broken UK wedding photography pricing down into 4 straightforward categories that broadly show you what, in my opinion, you can expect to get for your money based on a full day’s coverage (around 8 hours). As a general rule of thumb, a realistic figure to have in mind when allocating funds to your photography is around 10% of your overall budget.
Shooting a wedding requires a very specific set of skills above and beyond the technical, including as a minimum, the ability to work in all conditions, knowing how to use the equipment in different and fast changing lighting situations and working quickly, efficiently and unobtrusively, when required, within what can often be a tight schedule.
1. Student/Keen Amateur/Weekend Warrior £0 – £350
Where you will find them
Free online local advert listings, colleges/universities, camera clubs, friend and family hobbyists.
We’ve all got to start somewhere right, and there are bound to be some hidden gems out there if you are prepared to do your research. That said, photographers who fall in to this category will probably have limited to no skill shooting weddings but should have an eye for composition and a reasonable understanding of how the camera works – you’ve got a problem if they can only shoot in auto mode!
Investment in equipment, again, will probably be quite limited but at the very least expect the photographer to have an entry level digital camera, kit lense and off camera flashgun. That pop up, on board flash just won’t cut the mustard in low light settings from distance, and the photos will be blurry. The photographer should be using, at the absolute bare minimum, a 16GB memory card especially if you are expecting to have lots of photos to look at afterwards. Do bear in mind also that if any of the equipment fails, and there is no back up kit, then there will also be no record of your day after that (except maybe a few snaps from your friend’s iphones or point and shoots).
On the day
Managing expectations is key. Don’t assume that there will be a schedule for the day or back up plan if it is wet, for instance. If you are using a friend or family member who is shooting for nothing, have you agreed in advance what you want covered? If they are part guest, part photographer, you’re going to want to make sure they’ve bagged those all important shots before downing tools and heading for the free bar!
Will your images be backed up? Will they be edited in any way or will you just get a USB stick of unedited files? And when can you expect to have them back? A photographer in this category probably won’t yet have a professional website or client gallery from where you can preview your final set of photos, or options for professional printing and albums.
What the photos look like is not particularly important to you, you just want a record of the day and are not too fussed if it all goes wrong and you only end up with a few good shots. You’re prepared to spend time on your wedding day making sure the photographer has covered what you have asked them to, helping them keep things on track.
2. New Professional £400 – £900
Where you will find them
Own website, online directories, wedding blogs, print adverts in wedding magazines, local wedding fairs, word of mouth recommendations.
Photographers who fall into the lower end of this category are very often professional photographers looking to move into shooting weddings and wanting to build their portfolios, or, those just starting up in business. They may have recently completed several courses, an internship second shooting at weddings for an experienced wedding photographer, or obtained a professional/educational qualification. Both will have limited experience shooting weddings, with maybe only one or two under their belts as the primary shooter, but should have a good working knowledge of the camera and good eye for composition.
Those at the higher end of this category will probably be one or two years into their business, with a couple of seasons worth of weddings on the books. This means that they should now have a portfolio of work and full day weddings for you to look at, not just a selection of ‘hero’ shots, unrepresentative of the overall quality of their work across an eight hour wedding. They will most definitely be finding their feet now, but a specific style, level of creativity and more advanced skills will still be developing.
Expect the photographer to have invested in at least a mid range digital camera and a selection of lenses (that they actually know how to use and when!) An off camera flashgun is a must as should be some back up kit and multiple memory cards.
On the day
There should be a schedule in place for the day and back up plan for wet weather (inexperience here, could throw a spanner in the works!) The photographer should be able to organise group photos if required and work competently to the plan.
You should expect your images to be backed up and a full set of high resolution, edited images on a USB stick within a few weeks of your wedding. The photographer at the higher end of this category will usually have a client gallery set up from where you and your guests can preview the photos from the day, purchase prints or download individual files and there should be an option to purchase a professional album.
You want professional photos but aren’t too worried if they are not particularly creative and some might be blurred or out of focus, especially in low light situations (during the first dance or ceremony if you are marrying in a dark church for example, where flash might not be permitted).
3. Professional with Experience £1000 – £2500
Where you will find them
Own website, online directories, wedding blogs, print adverts in wedding magazines, local and national wedding fairs and shows, word of mouth recommendations, preferred suppliers at local venues.
With this budget you can expect to book an excellent and skilled professional with at least three years experience in the field and many weddings in the bag. A wedding photographer at this level is highly creative and quick to see unique and interesting compositions, understand different lighting situations and demonstrate this ability by way of a consistent portfolio of work in a signature style. At the higher end of this price bracket your photographer may well be bringing specialist skills to the party such as painting with light, off camera flash techniques and the ability to work skilfully with a professional film camera.
Your photographer will be using a top of the range, full frame, digital camera usually with two memory card slots so that if in the unlikely event one were to fail, the other would continue recording. Professional lenses, able to cope in low light situations, and flash equipment will make up the rest of his or her kit bag, along with backups and multiple memory cards. It should be a given that the photographer at this level is fully insured.
On the day
The photographer will have worked with you on the schedule for the day and will have already visited or worked at the venue in some cases. They will be able to advise on the best plan of action, making suggestions and time for extra special photos – like at sunset when the light is soft and golden – and creative group and couple shots if requested. Bad weather won’t phase a professional at this level and a back up plan will be quickly implemented.
Images will be backed up and a full set of high resolution, fully edited images in the photographer’s signature style on a custom branded USB stick should be received, beautifully packaged, within a few weeks of the wedding. Images can be previewed via a dedicated client gallery from where prints can be purchased or digital files downloaded. There will be an option to purchase across a range of professional albums and possibly a print framing service that takes all the hassle out of you having to do it yourself, meaning that you can get your most favourite photos up on your walls where they can be properly seen!
You understand the value of excellent wedding photography and want a creative, authentic and lasting record of your day in your chosen photographer’s signature style. You want a complete, fuss free, service from first contact to final delivery of your images.
4. High End Experienced Professional £2600+
Where you will find them
Own website, luxury wedding blogs and print publications, luxury national wedding shows, personal recommendations from other high send suppliers within the industry, on the books of exclusive wedding planners.
Photographers in this category are truly at the very top of their game with many years experience fine tuning their signature style, skill and brand. They will be well know within the industry, likely to have won awards several times over and shoot at high end, destination weddings all over the world. Bookings will be exclusive and limited.
This photographer, will be using the best digital and/or film equipment on the market and accompanying professional lenses. He or she may even use a digital medium format camera that takes image quality all the way up to 11! 😉
On the day
Expect this photographer to have a dedicated team assisting them on the day. Every need will be catered for and meticulously planned to ensure that the day goes off without any hitches. Time will be plentiful to achieve beautifully considered portraits and capture high end details.
Images will be professionally retouched, individually edited and presented in a high quality custom designed album with all options covered and customised to suit your post wedding image requirements.
You want a high end and fully customised service (and have an unlimited budget!)
A final piece of great advice to consider:
Everyone deserves to have a truly fantastic record of their day. I can’t stress enough how much I’d urge you to spend as much money as you are able to in order to get the very best photographer that you can afford. It’s only usually after the wedding when the ‘not so great photos’ come back and are the only lasting memory of the day, that most couples really wish they’d thought about this in a bit more detail. And by then it’s too late. Check out this post here about what to take into consideration if you are having a friend shoot your wedding.
Still unsure about what photographer would be a good match for you? Take the quiz here 🙂