LUXE FOR LESS: WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
You’ve fallen for the most dreamy images, romantic portraits and beautifully captured details, and then you get in touch with the photographer who created them only to find their rates are WAY over your budget. Let’s face it, spending a couple of grand on a photographer when your w-day costs are mounting up (and you haven’t even spent a penny on those designer wedding shoes/bridesmaids robes/luxury favours yet) can be a bit of a shock!
There’s no doubt this subject is a tricky and often controversial one to tackle… as a luxe wedding blogger who features some of the industry’s finest photographers, of course I’d love you all to splash out on the Jose Villa‘s and Elizabeth Messina‘s of this world. In fact, as a reader of B.LOVED I’m sure photography is super important to you too! I don’t want to to spend more than you can afford, and I am certainly not advocating w-day debt, but I do know that there’s more to good wedding photography than meets the eye and I hope (with a little help from our favourite photographers) we can help bust a few myths on the cost of wedding photography and help make an informed decision on whoever you ultimately decide to book!
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
First things first, and I really can’t stress this one enough. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard from brides who are disappointed with their wedding photography. After you’ve spent all that money on the perfect dress, flowers and details, not to mention been through all of those once-in-a-lifetime moments the only thing left are memories and photos. And trust me, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to know there is NOTHING that can be done to re-capture those memories Sure, you can have a romantic couple or anniversary shoot after the big day, but it’s not really the same now is it?
The majority of these couples have relied on a friend / relative / long-lost cousin who is handy with a DSLR to capture their day. At best they receive a set of unedited images which capture the spirit of the day… at worst a selection of wonky, blurry photographs that may as well been taken by your three-year old niece. Unless you’re lucky enough to have friend who is an established, respected, and professional wedding photographer then I strongly urge you NOT to go this route.
Wedding photographers are a talented bunch, not only are they there to shoot your wedding but they are also great time keepers, advisors, peace keepers, group negotiators and wedding experts who will do everything they can to make sure your day not just looks the best, but is the best it can be. They are dedicated to capturing every detail, and won’t miss an important moment because they nipped to the loo, or were waiting at the bar for a cheeky drink!
But with photography packages costing anything from a few hundred pounds to well into the thousands, how are you meant to know what you should be spending? As with anything in this industry, you get what you pay for. As a rule of thumb, the amount couples spend on their wedding photography is around 10% of the total wedding budget, or around £2000.
How much?! Well, pro level equipment costs serious money!!! B.LOVED Contributor and luxury wedding photographer Sarah Hannam spends around £2000 minimum on her camera bodies – and you need a back up in case there’s a problem. Add top of the line pro level lenses – which cost well over a thousand pounds your photographer needs several which all needs to be serviced regularly to keep it in tip-top condition too! Professional photographers invest in their gear because they want to provide the best service and results to their clients.
A photographer is not charging for just one day’s work either (a complaint we so often hear!). Not only do they spend time meeting and liaising with clients, marketing and promoting their business, insuring all that expensive equipment, as well as attending regular training, workshops and industry events – not to mention the endless hours spent on editing to make your images perfect, you can see how quickly the costs add up!!
Certainly at the £2,000-3,000 level you are going to be booking an experienced professional, who’s work is respected and admired in the industry, who probably has features in all the top bridal press, and is of a similar standard to the photographers we feature on B.LOVED. We’re not saying there aren’t talented photographers out there for less (there SO are) but they may be a little less experienced or even hold down a full-time job during the week (meaning less time for meetings and editing!) so remember to factor that in to your value-for-money calculation.
BOOK IN ADVANCE
The very best money-saving tip I can give you is to book a photographer as soon as you’ve secured your date. Prices go up once, or sometimes even twice, a year so booking 12+ months in advance can secure you a really great deal! For example, couples booking B.LOVED Contributor Plenty to Declare could save up to £300 by booking now for a 2017 wedding!
REDUCE THE HOURS
If capturing the bridal preparations, group shots and after-party aren’t important to you, then why waste precious pennies on an 8 or 10 hour photography package? Most photographers will offer different levels of coverage – so if all that’s important to you is the ceremony pick a shorter package covering the ceremony and couple portraits! It’s also worth asking if your photographer works with an assistant, if the wedding day is straightforward and the size relatively small you may be able to forgo this extra cost saving around £450.
SCRAP THE ENGAGEMENT SHOOT
I love a good engagement shoot. It’s a great opportunity for you to get to know your photographer and get some practise in front of the camera in a more relaxed environment, not to mention capturing some pretty pics of that newly-engaged glow and sparkling ring! But if budgets are tight then spending a couple of £100 on an engagement shoot (plus the costs of any prints or albums you might want too) is probably one step too far. You’d be far better saving your cash for a longer wedding day package, or a few extra details (for your photographer to capture, of course!).
DIGITAL vs FILM
Film photography has become a popular choice for couples over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. The soft, luminous images are perfect for telling the story of a wedding full of romance and pretty details. It’s also timeless, which means hopefully it’s not just a current trend but a medium we’ll see being used to capture weddings for years to come.
Beautiful, but it is expensive! Film photographers are still relatively few in numbers, the cost of film and processing is high, not to mention the pressure – where a digital photographer can click away until each shot is captured perfectly, a film photographer has to get it right in just one or two shots to avoid costing you a small fortune in cellulose! Claire Graham, a hybrid photographer and regular B.LOVED contributor shoots both film and digital to maintain a balance between the luxury feel of film and cost.
PRESS PAUSE ON PRINTS & ALBUMS
I’m a big advocate of printing images, especially your wedding photos! What’s the point in hiding those precious memories away on a USB or hard drive when they can displayed in frames or on canvas in your home, or preserved in an album to be returned to time and time again? But when budgets are tight, this is one area where you can make big savings.
Professional prints cost anything from £2 upwards, and the cost of a leather-bound album can soar into the thousands, but most photographers will offer an option to have your edited images sent in digital format only, ready for you to share with family and friends or have printed at a later date.
Bowtie & Belle Photography and Amanda Karen Photography both offer their couples the option to make their budgets go further by opting for a package without an album and asking their guests to contribute to this very special momento in place of a traditional wedding gift.
If that option doesn’t take your fancy, many of B.LOVED photographer Catharine Noble‘s couples decide to treat themselves as a First Anniversary gift (for which the traditional gift aptly happens to be paper), just be sure to use a professional printer such as Folio (for high quality prints) or Artifact Uprising (for luxurious hardback albums) so all of your photographer’s beautifully edited images stay beautiful!