Brides-to-be, are you engaged to the man or woman of your dreams and starting to budget for your beautiful Scottish wedding? You might have started researching photographers online and you want to know why professional wedding photographers are so expensive? I’ve been photographing weddings in Angus, Dundee and Perth for over 4 years and I see this question in Facebook wedding groups on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. I know that weddings are a big investment, not just financially but emotionally too, and you really want to pick the right photographer so you can look back on your day with beautiful photos that make your heart sing, that you’re proud to hang on your living room walls, not photos that make you cry because you can’t see the detail in your stunning dress. In this article I’m going to address the issue of pricing so that you can decide if a professional wedding photographer really is worth investing in.
Why is professional wedding photography in Scotland so expensive?
In January 2017 Scottish Wedding Directory announced the results of the Scottish Wedding Census 2016. Over 1,900 newlyweds and engaged couples were surveyed and the average cost of a wedding in Scotland in 2015/16 was £29,904. Yip, this is just an average cost so some couples spent a lot less and others spent a lot more. I’m going to dive right in and in my experience there are 4 key questions you need to consider when looking at the cost of professional wedding photography.
1. How experienced is your wedding photographer?
When you’re planning your big day you will spend countless hours putting all your focus and energy into one day to make sure that it’s perfect and everything matches just the way you want it. You’ve got the stunning venue with beautiful gardens and Tipple in a Tuk Tuk on hand with Prosecco on tap for your guests. The day whizzes by in a flash and when it’s all over you want to have amazing photos to pour over so you can keep your memories alive. And that’s where an amazing photographer comes in, to capture the essence of your day so you can remember all the fun times with all of your favourite people (and maybe 1 or 2 not-so favourites that you had to invite to please your Mum).
So here’s the thing. There are 3 types of wedding photographer and it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you.
Uncle Bob: starting from £0
Uncle Bob could be your actual Uncle or maybe he is a friend that has a decent camera. You think because he has a good camera that you’ll be guaranteed perfect photos. Think again. A camera is only as good as its user. It’s kinda like going out for the best meal you’ve ever had in your life and then asking the waiter what oven the chef used. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Uncle Bob may have an amazing camera but he possibly hasn’t photographed any other weddings. However, if he used to be a full-time pro and wants to help you out, then Bob really is your Uncle! Job’s a good un!
Uncle Bob may charge you pennies or he may give you a freebie because you’re family. He probably won’t have a back-up camera and likely won’t be able to give you a gorgeous bespoke wedding album.
Weekend warrior: starting from £400
The weekend warrior could be like me years ago before I launched my business full time. I had a full-time job Monday – Friday and started my photography business by working at the weekends, some of which included photographing weddings. I wasn’t experienced at that stage and charged accordingly for it, at that point around £400 and gave my clients their images on a disc or USB. I didn’t do wedding albums then but I do now. I’d expect the weekend warrior to have a second camera to use but not all will.
The weekend warrior will typically charge a lot less than a full-time professional photographer but if they do have a lot of weddings under their belt and consistently produce fantastic results they could be perfect for you.
Full-time professional: starting from £500
The full-time professional photographer could only photograph weddings and do 30 – 40 a year. Or they could be like me now and also teach photography or perhaps they have a photography studio and wedding photography is one of their services. Regardless of whether a full-time photographer does 15 or 50 weddings a year you need to see samples of their work which includes full wedding galleries so you can decide if you like their style and their work blows you away. You don’t want just to see an album of best-bits from lots of weddings. I’d expect a full-time professional to have two cameras as standard.
For a full-time professional photographer the price varies hugely with basic packages starting anywhere from £500 – £3,000. Personally I don’t think any professional wedding photographer should charge as little as £500 but you will see these prices.
Regardless of the type of wedding photographer you go for what matters is that they know how to handle challenging lighting e.g. dark venues and blazing sunshine. They should have a plan for photographing the two of you no matter what the weather and they should build great relationships with the other suppliers so that they’re sticking to the strict timescales of the day for all suppliers. You don’t want to have to pay extra for your beautiful vintage car because your photographer didn’t know how long you had the car booked for. All these things come with experience.
2. How much does it cost to run a wedding photography business?
Wedding photographers do have expenses and while I’m not going to give you an actual cost of doing business it might surprise you to hear that it runs into thousands every year with professional camera gear costing thousands alone.
What’s important for you to know is that your photographer has the appropriate insurance in place. Every professional wedding photographer should have professional indemnity insurance as well as public liability insurance. If they don’t then there should be big alarm bells ringing in your ears.
You should also expect your wedding photographer to be a member of a professional photography body such as The Guild of Wedding Photographers which commits photographers to providing their customers with the highest standards of service as well as giving the photographers access to training and mentoring opportunities too.
What you pay for your wedding photographer will depend on many factors including the photographer’s expenses, location and sometimes the time of year if you’re not getting married in peak wedding season. If your photographer isn’t running a photography studio, their overheads may be far less so that may be reflected in the price you pay too.
3. Does your wedding photographer only work on the day of your wedding?
You book me for your wedding, I rock up on the day, take lots of photos and my job is done. You think you’re just paying for the day and it seems like a lot of money for just one day, right? That is the biggest myth about wedding photographers and I’m going to burst that little bubble right now.
Any seasoned professional worth their salt will have a carefully thought out workflow that involves many more hours than the time they’re photographing your wedding. From the initial meeting or Skype call that you have I know in my case that’s just the start of the time involved. I always visit the venue in advance to see where the light will be around the time of your wedding and when it’s time for the photos after your wedding to make sure that I choose the best locations and make the most of the natural light. Even if I’ve photographed at the venue before, the position of the sun changes all throughout the year and it’s my job to make sure I know the best places.
After your wedding I spend a lot of time going through all your wedding photos (typically 1200 – 1500 for a full day) and picking out the best ones to perfect with my editing process. Then I’ll prepare your wedding gallery on my website so you can relive the day over and over again whenever you want. If you choose a package with a wedding album it takes time to design that too. So if you think you’re just paying for one day, you’re really not.
4. How do you want to remember your wedding?
We live in the digital age and many couples are happy with a USB package so they can keep their photos on their laptop, share them with their friends and family and show them off on Facebook. But even if you opt to have your images on a USB, do you want them on a mass-produced USB stick with “wedding memories” printed on it or do you want your USB personalised with your names on it in a beautiful presentation box which matches the colour scheme of your wedding? It’s all in the detail.
It’s all good and well having digital images to print out and share with your friends but is that enough? Do you want a stunning fine-art album that is printed by an award-winning professional photography supplier right here in Scotland with mini duplicates for both sets of parents too?
It’s not just an album. With each turn of the page you’re seeing the story of your day unfold, all the tears and laughter on every single page. It has all the feels! Is that what you want? Because if it is, then make sure that your wedding photographer has access to Loxley Colour’s gorgeous Bellissimo albums.
Are wedding photographers expensive? You decide!
At the end of the day, only you can make the decision that is right for you. For me photos are like a sensation for the mind. Much like when you smell a certain perfume and it reminds you of your Mum or you listen to a song and it takes you back to your teens, photos are great at triggering your favourite memories, making sure you never forget how you felt right in that moment, even if it was 10 or 20 years ago.
You spend months and months planning your wedding and getting everything just perfect for your big day. There’s your stunning dress, your beautiful flowers, your venue looks amazing, not to mention all your favourite friends and family are right there with you to celebrate. With the average bride spending £1,389 on their dress (according to the Scottish Wedding Census 2016) which you wear for one day, just how much are a lifetime of memories worth to you?
But are wedding photographers expensive or are they a luxury worth every single penny? Jump into the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think.
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