Charging a Fee for Wedding Photography

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Dale Webler, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. Dale Webler

    Dale Webler Guest

    What are the key variables to consider when developing a price to charge for
    a wedding shoot? Obviously consumable materials, outsourcing (cost to
    develop digital images - I'll be using a digital camera - Nikon 70s), any
    rental equipment to be used (lighting), labor for production and post
    production are all factors. Basically your cost to shoot and produce the
    pictures on photo print media plus a profit. I'm sure I've oversimplified.
    Are there any other items to consider? Also how does one factor in
    chargiing for experience vs inexperience? Thanks for any feedback.
    Dale Webler, Mar 6, 2007
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  2. Dale Webler

    Cats Guest

    I suspect you need to find out what your competitors are charging for
    particular packages and pitch your prices in a similar range. If you
    charge a lot less people will remember the phrase 'you get what you
    pay for', if you charge a lot more they will decide they can get what
    they want cheaper. Then you need to work out if you can make a living
    from those fees....
    Cats, Mar 6, 2007
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  3. Dale Webler

    editor Guest

    Avoid wedding photography. A neighbor of mine sidelined in it - and
    constantly couldn't get paid, ending up with a small lot of used cars
    he took in satisfaction of unpaid bills. Wedding photos aren't like
    boats; you can't repo them and sell them if the bill never gets paid.

    No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
    editor, Mar 6, 2007
  4. Dale Webler

    Celcius Guest

    Hi Dale!
    First of all, sorry for sending my answer directly to you. I must have hit
    the wrong key.
    I know a photo reporter who does weddings for $1000 CAD.
    For the price, he hands out all the photos on CD's, unretouched.
    His son assists him. He works with 3 cameras (high end Canons), has a number
    of slave-flashes (2 or 3 if I recall) as well as background sheets and extra
    From my small experience (3 wedding photog. for family members - not
    charging any fee), going in with a single camera is a sure way to having
    unresolved problems and maybe a law suit to boot if you charge for it.
    As a wedding photog for family, I always refused to do it initially, saying
    I wasn't a pro. The understanding was to take "candid shots" of people to
    remember the wedding by. Of course, I did much better and everyone was very
    happy. What do you want more than 100 + good shots, all Photoshopped,
    cropped 4x6, with the best of them cropped 8x10 and 5x7 when you don't pay a
    Charging a fee complicates matters much more ;-)
    My .02
    Celcius, Mar 6, 2007
  5. If you don't know how much to charge, perhaps you should be doing
    something else.
    Randall Ainsworth, Mar 6, 2007
  6. Dale Webler

    Gerald Place Guest

    There are few other variables, only your hourly rate, but bear in mind all
    the post-event work. I certainly wouldn't hand over unedited work, for

    Have a look at a few pro web sites and see why the good ones charge what
    they do. Has the bride seen samples of your work?

    Gerald Place, Mar 6, 2007
  7. Dale Webler

    Pat Guest

    Hi Randall. That's not the answer I expected from you. I expected
    something evem more cynical, such as "You should charge the same
    amount as you charged for the last wedding you shot".

    Keep up the good work.
    Pat, Mar 6, 2007
  8. Dale Webler

    AustinMN Guest

    I shot a grand total of 5 weddings about 20 years ago. At the time, I
    thought I was going to go into weddign photography full-time.

    The first one was a long-time friend; the wedding was on an extremely
    low budget, and the agreement was that 1) this was my wedding gift to
    them and 2) I would have model releases from every member of the
    wedding party and could use any shots I chose in advertizing/
    portfolio. The releases were the only thing I got out of it. The
    photos were thechnically excellent, but...this was an extreme budget
    wedding, and it didn't matter what I did, it looked it. Cheap dress
    (looked dirty), very cheap tux (threadbare in places), etc. Except
    for some facial portraits of the bride/groom, they were useless to
    me. Bride was thrilled with results.

    The second was another friend, and another budget. This time, I did
    it at cost (and hoped for a few shots to add to the portfolio). It
    looked better at first, but I had to deal with Uncle Ned. Uncle Ned
    knew how the shots were supposed to be taken. Uncle Ned insisted on
    posing bride & groom. Uncle Ned was getting the groom to laugh (the
    groom's Uncle), but was getting the bride more and more upset, and it
    showed. When I asked (politely) for Uncle Ned to back off, he became
    indignant (and continued his behavior). When I suggested that the
    bride had hired me, not him, he yelled "What's that supposed to mean?"
    and several people stood up...from that point on, getting a single
    member of the wedding party to look happy was a real challenge. I was
    not pleased with the results, but the bride appeared to be. I don't
    give a rip what Uncle Ned thought.

    The third was (IMO) the best. Like many couples just starting out,
    money was tight. They made payments, but the last payment was two
    years after the wedding.

    In the fourth, I only got the deposit.

    In the fifth, I was not supposed to be doing the main photography, I
    just asked if I could "shadow" the hired photographers (I asked both
    the couple _and_ the photographers). By then, I had pretty much
    decided I was not going to shoot another wedding. This father-
    daughter team was a relative of the bride's, and they had clearly been
    doing weddings for years. They did both the still and the video. The
    video was excellent.

    Nobody ever saw the stills. Aparently, in the stormy history of this
    family, that was the plan from the beginning - the father of this team
    held a grudge against the bride's father. They said the photography
    would be their wedding present to the couple. Who's going to turn
    that down? The couple received the proofs, made their selections, and
    sent them back. And waited. They contacted this relatve, and he said
    "They're coming." After a year, they called again. This time, he
    said, "Tell your Dad we're even."

    The bride had noticed how much film I had gone through, and the couple
    gave me a call. On the verge of tears, she asked if it was possible
    to get an album made. They had very little money. I had them come
    over, and we went through my prints, identifying each shot they were
    interested in by negative number, then I did something I had never
    done before, nor will I do again. I gave them my negatives.

    People who make a living shooting weddings give up most of their
    weekends. They are expected to do $$$ favors for friends and family.
    They are expected to shoot hundreds of perfectly posed photos in 15
    minutes. They are supposed to deal with Uncle Ned -- even after he's
    had a few -- and a few more -- without anyone getting people upset.
    The photographer is supposed to be nearly invisible, allowing the
    wedding to flow while always being in the right place at the right
    time. He has to be ready for camera/flash failure. I have seen
    photographers called on to M/C, cheaufer (sp), babysit, and monitor
    the booze. I have seen them blamed for family feudes, lost film, the
    bride being late for the wedding, the bridal couple being late for the
    reception, the bar tab being too high, and more.

    Will all this happen to you? Probably not. Most weddings are not
    horror stories like these. Will some of it? Bet your life on it.
    Build the grief factor into your price.

    AustinMN, Mar 6, 2007
  9. Dale Webler

    Rebus Guest

    Well you've sold it on me Austin - When do i start!! :)

    Blimey, I can see why you don't want to do Weddings... I have done some
    candids at friends and relatives weddings, and as you say they expect it all
    for nothing!
    Rebus, Mar 6, 2007
  10. Dale Webler

    Ric Trexell Guest

    Dale: This statement jumps out at me, I don't know if a Nikon 70 is called
    a 70s or if you are refering to plural. I wouldn't think of doing a wedding
    with out two of everything. I have only done a few weddings, both still and
    video. I did them for friends and the last one was only because they
    couldn't afford a pro. My shots came out good to great and the bride was
    satisfied but I really only charged about $10 per hour. I really have not
    had many problems except at a Catholic wedding the service was at something
    like 6pm and the evening service was at 7. So I had about 20 minutes to do
    what I would have liked to have done in 45. Before digital was an everyday
    situation, on one the brides trailer home burned down so all the negatives
    were lost. Only two 5X7 shots of the couple that were made for the parents
    survived because they were in the parents houses. Remember that in a
    wedding shoot, you have everything to lose and little to gain. If the
    camera didn't work right or you dropped it down the stairs, you are toast.
    If the shots came out great, you are not a great photographer, you just have
    one of those fancy cameras that always take good pictures. Other than that,
    have fun. Ric in Wisconsin.
    Ric Trexell, Mar 7, 2007
  11. Sorry to disappoint. Must have been an off day here.

    Fact is, there are far too many amateurs photographing weddings who
    should be doing something else.
    Randall Ainsworth, Mar 7, 2007
  12. Dale Webler

    ssim Guest

    Ain't that the truth. I wouldn't mind so much if they would charge a
    reasonable rate so that those of us that are trying to make a living
    doing this can do just that.
    ssim, Mar 7, 2007
  13. Dale Webler

    Dale Webler Guest

    It's a D70s. Sorry for the typo. Thinking of renting a similar camera with
    70-200 mm and have it available for special shots and just is case of
    failure in main camera.
    Dale Webler, Mar 7, 2007
  14. Dale Webler

    Dale Webler Guest

    Ok. After reading all of the post (thanks to all), I forgot to add in the
    cost of psychoanalysis before (why am I doing this?) and after (why did I do
    this?) the shoot :)
    Dale Webler, Mar 7, 2007
  15. Dale Webler

    Dale Webler Guest

    After reading all of the reply posts (thanks to all), I now know I forgot to
    add in the cost of a psychoanalyst before (why am I doing this?) and after
    (why did I do this?) the shoot :).
    Dale Webler, Mar 7, 2007
  16. Dale Webler

    UC Guest

    Another fucking moron wants to be a wedding photographer. Go **** a
    UC, Mar 7, 2007
  17. Dale Webler

    Gerald Place Guest

    I seem to remember when I started out in photography (and yes I do
    photograph weddings, and no, I am not a moron) there were no fora like this
    to discuss anything and life was pretty lonely. Why not share some advice
    with a good grace, for we all had to begint somewhere. Anyone who doesn't
    really have the skills will crash and burn anyway, but advice rather than
    vituperation might be more help.

    Gerald Place
    Gerald Place, Mar 7, 2007
  18. Dale Webler

    editor Guest

    Seriously, I'd like any rough estimate of how many moonlighters -
    like my neighbor - who moonlight at wedding photography from their
    middle-class jobs even break even, at least in terms of getting paid
    in terms of cash and not used cars like he accumulated from clients
    who never paid cash.

    No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
    editor, Mar 7, 2007
  19. And you people think that I'm rude. Unfortunately, I have to agree with
    him this time.
    Randall Ainsworth, Mar 8, 2007
  20. Crashing and burning at the most important event in someone's life is
    not a good idea.
    Randall Ainsworth, Mar 8, 2007
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