How much does a wedding photographer cost?
It's one of the most searched terms in google (in our industry.) I've been thinking about writing this article for awhile now - something about that statistic on the search term really piqued my interest. And it isn't just Halifax or Nova Scotia - it's the most searched term in North America and Europe when we are talking wedding photography. It made me think: are we all that convoluted in our pricing? Is it really so confusing? So I did some of my own research.
I searched google myself to see what would come up
I had to - what kind of information was out there to be gained? Was it regionally dependent? Was there a clear threshold between professional and amateur or did the price kind of blend in with no clear definition. The results were helpful for our own insight:
A wedding photographer costs this much:
- $0500 - Amateur or Beginner
- $1000 - Established Amateur
- $2000 - Semiprofessional
- $3000 - Professional
Costs of Wedding Photographers in Nova Scotia
During my research I found a lot of similarities with the amateur or beginner wedding photographer - all of them had little or no portfolio. I remember starting out and charging very low prices to photograph weddings - it makes sense. Who would want to hire someone if they didn't even have an example of their work? The risk is on the client and for this they end up paying a stipend compared to what they would pay for a professional. There is some advantages to hiring a complete amateur over a professional - overall cost being the most obvious. You might just be surprised; consider this: everyone has to start somewhere. The professionals of today were amateurs at one point. Although the quality will never be near a professional level you may get a diamond in the rough and be pleasantly surprised. You can expect to find these photographers through your local online free classifieds. Here in Halifax that is Kijiji elsewhere in Canada and the USA it could be craigslist or Kijiji as well. Most professionals won't go near free classifieds for this reason - the cost of being associated with amateurs is just not worth the free exposure.
The semiprofessional photographer offers a great alternative to the full blown professional. These are photographers who also hold full time employment in an entirely different industry. You may find that they are also an accountant, nurse, or court clerk. They enjoy photographing weddings because it allows them to spend time doing their hobby as well as making extra money. Typically these photographers will have a developed portfolio and the quality of what you see online could be outstanding. Sounds great, right? Well, it can be. There are some cons to choosing a semiprofessional wedding photographer over a professional. While their portfolio may look beautiful you may find that their final product - that is what is delivered to the client - is nowhere near the quality that was expected. Here's why: Take enough photos and you are going to get a winner. Sure, you've got to know what you are doing to a degree but it all comes down to a numbers game. As a photographer if you have a complete portfolio of beautiful wedding photos why would you charge as much as a full blown amateur? Yes, the overall quality of the final product should be leaps and bounds above what you could expect from an amateur but you still run the risk of feeling a little... hollow - when you get your final product. You might think, "I was hoping for better getting ready photos, these all seem a little dull." You can expect to find semiprofessionals with a Facebook and/or Instagram presence. Their website should be finely tuned and rival any professionals. They probably are not paying for advertisements so don't expect to find them with a google search (think page 3, 4 or further back.) If you are on a tight budget but you really want great wedding photographs this may be the photographer for you.
The top of their class. The quintessential, bonafide, real deal. These people have committed to the lifestyle. They made a decision to forgo every weekend from April to October (who wants a Saturday off in the Summer anyway?) They live for the photograph. The photograph. You know the shot, that one with the perfect golden light, the well executed back light with some off camera flash? Getting 'that shot' is what makes these people tick. They have a constant feeling of "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?" A kind of only as good as your last shot kind of thing going on. It's like any art form, they want to continue to improve - never really satisfied with the quality of their work (no matter how awesome it is.) These people charge significantly more than their counterparts but you can be certain you are going to get a polished, beautiful delivery of the final product. To them the photographs are only one piece of the wedding cake. Professional wedding photographers are most likely also: Professional post processors, professional social media managers, professional secretaries and professional time managers. It's more than just photography.
It's all about your priorities... and budget
Some people absolutely want beautiful wedding photos to remember their wedding by. It's so important to them they are willing to cut guests and choose a smaller venue. While these are surefire ways to free up some cash in your wedding budget; if you are looking for a really memorable wedding you should think twice about giving up your awesome venue.
Beautiful venues & beautiful decor = beautiful photos
It makes sense but it isn't something most people consider when booking a wedding photographer. Sure, a professional is going to do a really really great job but if your wedding lacks the decor or the venue isn't the greatest it's going to show up in the photos. For couples on a budget I always recommend DIY decor and an outdoor wedding. Some of the most beautiful wedding's I've captured have taken place outside - in a backyard or under the canopy of a forest. Nothing beats DIY done right.
Some people don't really care about wedding photos
That's ok too. Some people would rather provide a really awesome experience for their guests or spend their money on a honeymoon. There is no right or wrong answer for everyone - each wedding is unique.
Bottom line: Do what's best for you
As a professional wedding photographer we get it. Seriously. You won't hurt our feelings (or any other pro's I'm sure) if you hire an amateur or a semi-pro. What does hurt my feelings is hearing about a couple who didn't get the wedding photos they had hoped for because they didn't do their research. If you're hiring professionals you're prrettty safe. I mean that you can put a lot of your trust in google reviews and facebook reviews. As any trade these businesses are built on their reputations - they only got to the top because they have been so good for so long. If you are booking someone from Kijiji or all they have is a Facebook page you should definitely do your research. You could find some amazing photographers here, but if they haven't been around long enough to become established checking their history could only be a good idea.
Style has a lot to do with it
We all have taste. What I think is beautiful you might not think is that great. It's important to connect with a photographer that is in line with your style. Never try and get a photographer to try and get in line with yours. We all shoot in our own way - even in a relatively small city like Halifax you'll find many amazing photographers all with their own unique style. Only one thing left to do:
Have an incredible wedding!
Enjoy it. The day goes by in a blink so you need to make sure you enjoy every last moment. The more 'in the moment' you are the better the photos will be. Better photos means happier couples.