How much should wedding photography cost?

A guide to understanding UK Wedding Photography Prices

(original text by Louise Bjorling)

Confused with Wedding Photography Prices?

The internet is awash with a huge range of pricing for wedding photography. Award-Winning photographers, with prices in the £5000+ range, and then a photographer providing all day coverage for £400. According to YourPerfectWeddingPhotographer Blog, the average spend on Wedding Photography in the UK is £1520 - but do you spend more or less than that?

The variety of pricing can make it very confusing to be able to compare photographers, and knowing what price bracket to look at. The answer is that there is no single answer!! It all depends on what is important to you. If getting a few shots of the day as mementos is all you really need then the lower priced photographers may be just up your street. If however you want something to capture the spirit of the day with well-crafted artwork that resonates with you as a couple, then you will need to look at a higher price-bracket. 

This guide aims to give an idea of what you can expect from a photographer in each price bracket. It is based on extensive of the wedding market by the original author who has kindly given Nick Church Photography permission to reproduce it.

 Skilled use of lighting, and the highest quality equipment is essential for evening shots like this

Skilled use of lighting, and the highest quality equipment is essential for evening shots like this

Firstly, what is a professional photographer?

That is a very good question. There is no license that photographers need to study exams for to be a professional photographer. For this reason, somebody who buys entry level equipment, maybe took an evening course in photography and photographed a friend’s wedding – or maybe didn’t even take a course – can still set up a web site and claim to be a professional wedding photographer. While somebody who has a background in art or photography, shot many many weddings and created beautiful work will ALSO call him/herself a professional wedding photographer. So there is no clear definition to what will make a photographer professional, there are no rules to it. And since the standard of photographers will fluctuate so much – so will the prices.

The following four areas are the most essential components behind what a wedding photographer will charge – they are the building blocks that make the photographer:

  1. The photographer’s training, skills and professional experience

  2. Their photography business costs and equipment investments

  3. The total time spent on a wedding*

  4. The photographer’s personal style, standing in the industry and the reputation that this has created for him/her

* Post production is a very important factor. If the post-processing is carried out to a high standard, this will add significant time to the job that your photographer is doing for you, add greatly to the quality to your images and therefore affect the price. Not forgetting the time your photographer will spend with you, during the preparations for your wedding and after as well as on the day; phone calls, emails, meetings, viewing sessions, creating online galleries, albums all takes time that must be covered by the fee.

So with these “building blocks” in mind, we can look at what you might be able to expect from the budget that you wish to invest in your wedding photography.

If your budget is £2’500+

If you have set a budget starting at £2’500, you will be able to find a very highly regarded photography from the UK wedding photography industry. The very top-end photographers will probably start even higher for covering your whole day. In other countries, this figure is higher.

With this level of budget you could expect the following:

  • A photographer who has built their style and skill for several years, and therefore could be called 'A brand', as they are likely known for a top-quality body of work. They may have several other photographers and professionals in the industry admiring them, perhaps they have been published in several magazines and won several important photographic awards, and they have a very clear style and sets of skills. Whatever style of wedding, you can trust that they know what they’re doing, and will excel at it.
  • When you go through the portfolio from a photographer at this level, you should be able to see immediately that this photographer stands out from the crowd.
  • Your photographer might include a very high quality album custom designed with your wedding images
  • You can expect a full day cover from morning to evening for this investment. (You could possibly be getting this photographer’s service at a lower price, but that would probably be with a shorter cover, and most likely no album/book)
  • This photographer will be very well trained about the art of photography, and have a great deal of experience of shooting weddings with unique and stunning results. They will be expert at using artificial lighting for night-time and low light shots.
  • These photographers should have the best professional, digital equipment available on the market, with Full-Frame Digital SLR camera bodies, usually two, and a wide selection of professional lenses. Cameras and lenses used on the day could be worth £20-50k. Backup kit will be present should any equipment malfunction on the day. They will posses a large range of lighting equipment and expertise that can be used to take nighttime photographs to a very high quality.
  • The post processing will be top notch at this price level – with professional retoucher or individual image editing made by the photographer with their signature style. Post production from a full day wedding could take your photographer 50 hours.
  • The photographer will have spent time managing the day beforehand, there will be a calm and planned approach to it. They will have a sustainable business and brand that they place huge value in so have insurance, certification and everything else that one might expect from the highest level professionals.

If Your budget is £1’200-£2’500

  • Above all, do your research. With this kind of budget you can find an excellent and professional photographer - there will be a variable level of quality in the marketplace, but you should be able to find one of great quality whose work you really like.
  • The best photographers in this range will have shot many weddings before, have a great technical understanding and give you confidence that they can handle the day professionally and knowledgeably,
  • You might be able to get a renowned photographer from the price bracket above, for a shorter coverage – perhaps half a day on a weekday or during the quiet season.
  • A full day photographer in this price bracket should be a highly professional, who knows where to be throughout the day, can recognize and understand the light and see compositions quickly, and who can show you a portfolio of images from several weddings which convey impact, quality and style.
  • Most photographers on this level will be capturing your wedding with a top end flagship digital SLR from one of the big brands. The lenses used will likely vary, and you should expect a very good quality of lenses to be used at the higher end of this budget. Likewise quality and quantity of lighting equipment may vary in this price range, some will have top of the range kit, some might not be comfortable using flash at all. Again, this is where talking to your photographer and looking at their images is really important.
  • The level and time spent on post production will likely be less than the highest price-bracket, but you will still find photographers that spend 30 hours and more on this part of the shoot. The lower end of this price range will typically spend less on editing and this can usually be seen in their work.
  • They should have the correct insurance for liability and indemnity, but this may vary, and you should ask. The best photographers in this price-range will of course have this in their business model.

If your budget is £700-£1’100

  • More research needed as the quality can vary wildly. 
  • If this is your budget, you can still get a professional photographer. If your photographer only charges about £700 to cover your whole day, he/she might be within their first couple of years of photographing weddings, and so the photographer might still be finding their feet and therefore not have a thorough style. Consistency in style and quality may be varying across your set of photographs, but should generally be ok. But if you pay at least £700, your photographer should have had adequate training and a good few weddings to show you in their portfolio.
  • You could get a more established professional photographer for around £1000, but perhaps the cover of your day will be shorter. (For example, if you want a top wedding photographer, this person might photograph a couple of hrs of your day for about £1000, or other adequate professionals might cover half your day at this rate)

If your budget is £500 or lower

  • If this is your budget then you have to accept that the resulting quality will be limited, especially if you are looking for an all-day package for this price. There may be an element of hit-and-miss, and all the horror-stories on wedding days are from this price bracket, but also there are some really reliable photographers that just don't do lots of editing. So it's very important to meet your photographer. One option is that you find a photographer that can photograph perhaps 2, or 3 hrs for this price. The theory is that you may then get a much higher quality of output, still with the key parts of the day covered. Another option might be a student that knows their way around a camera, but has not much experience, but this does add uncertainty due to lack of experience.

Where does Nick Church Photography sit in this list?

 Developing a known style means your images are recognised

Developing a known style means your images are recognised

 Post-production - day in the digital darkroom to craft something amazing

Post-production - day in the digital darkroom to craft something amazing

This article shows that the decision around wedding photography should probably be based on what value you are giving the photography you select to capture the day. With the average spend in the UK at £1520, then if you want better photography than the average couple then you may be looking at spending more, or if you don't know what all the fuss is about then you can spend less.

Nick Church Photography aims to provide the top level photography quality and also the highest service level possible - right from the top bracket of budget in this article! My brand is based upon this and it is something that I'm proud to have achieved, and recognition from magazines and the industry is fantastic. However, as can be seen from our Packages page, our pricing is very competitive for this level of service, and I am certain that there is no better option for such a quality product. No, we are not the cheapest and I hope this article helps to explain why that is; the photography, business, skills and service that Nick Church Photography provides is aimed at those that place value on capturing their day in the best way possible, and with the pricing arranged as it is, I aim to make selecting me for your wedding day as easy a decision as possible.