Post # 1
Hi I am a wedding photographer in the LA area wondering if you brides could share your photography budgets for 2009 and 2010. Also, what would you expect for that money meaning time, negatives?, album? Finally does quality matter that much, or just having a decent recording enough. I’m trying to figure out how I can be profitable and still be in a budget that works to fill my calendar. My biggest problem is it costs me 481.00 a day to open my door that is my cost of doing business with insurance, equipment, overhead, taxes, licenses, and a employees.
I’m sure most people don’t realize what it costs to be a business person not that they care but I was wondering what you brides and grooms have budgeted…
Post # 3
I think your 1200-3500 is too large a range. I think you are going to find that most people fit this one. Me personally i did not want to go over 3000 and that was with album, all printing rights, and unlimited time. I ended up going out of LA/OC and went with a SD based photographer. She is up and coming but her images are what i was looking for. I also found that not many photographers would work with what i wanted/needed in terms of pricing.
Post # 4
I’m more than twice $3500 so I didn’t check a box (I’m not getting married in LA but my photographer is from there). I think you’ll find that many photographers’ packages start around $3K (though if I were to hire someone starting out I’d expect to pay a little less or get a few extras thrown in). From the photographers I talked to, around $3-3.5K tends to include 8-10 hours of coverage and complete rights (for personal use) to the high-res digital images (it varies whether they offer to include detailed photoshop editing beforehand, but most will at least do some basic color-balancing). I don’t think I spoke to anyone who included an album at this price. I found that buying a somewhat more expensive package that included the album meant that you had to pay a la carte for high-res copies of images, they usually included a proofs CD though. The most expensive packages (which ranged from $8-11K) usually included 8 or 10 hours, an album, a couple of enlargements, and the high res images. I think having an a la carte price list for enlargements and albums is very helpful.
Also, FYI, I was v. annoyed at how much extra photographers charge for the high-res images since they really don’t require any extra work (I do understand that it reduces their ability to sell some of the extras like enlargements, but if you’re buying any sort of album you’re already getting the most expensive extra). I’m very happy with the package I have worked out with my photographer, but part of the reason I’m so happy with him is that I feel he was pretty reasonable in working with me to include the high-res images. Of course you’ll have to do your own accounting for what makes sense, but I think that even if you have to raise your packages a couple hundred to include the high-res images with all of them it might really attract many more people (or at least it certainly would have attracted me).
Oh and for me quality and style was the most important factor in picking a photographer. I was very picky and I wanted someone who could capture emotions candidly, used light incredibly, and generally was able to pick up the details I might not otherwise point out.
Post # 5
I agree with fizics, my price range isn’t accurately reflected in the poll.
But I will say that photography is art. For a very talented artist, I was willing to pay more… but how much I’d be willing to pay is totally contigent on how amazing I thought the particular photographer’s art was.
For some photographers, I wouldn’t feel like I was getting a bargain with $1000 dollar package, and with some (like mine) I’d be willing to pay a premium. (I won’t say how much!)
Post # 6
I agree with doctorgirl that the amount I’m willing to pay directly correlates to the talent of the photographer. We were hoping to spend about $2500 on wedding photography (not in LA, but in another major city) and ended up spending $3100 because we love the photographer’s work. We’ll just cut back somewhere else to make the budget work. However, another photographer we met with was very close to our original budget, yet we felt her work just wasn’t right for us. A lot of it is personal preference — whether the photographer’s eye matches what the couple is looking for — but I’d never pay thousands of dollars for something I considered "average" photography.
My opinion on pricing is that it has shifted a lot between the old film days and the new digital days. Whereas photographers used to get a significant amount of income from the prints, that’s not what most people want anymore, and I think most photography packages reflect this. The bulk of the cost seems to be for time and talent now, rather than physical product. So, you should consider how much you’re worth per hour, incorporating a premium for the digital negatives, and base pricing on that. So, hypothetically, if it takes you an average of three hours to edit the photos you take in one hour of shooting, and you feel you’re worth $100 per hour, you should be charging the couple $400 for each hour you cover. Extra services and albums add to the price.
From there, the market will dictate whether your talent is worth what you think it is. If you’re only booking one wedding a month when you want three or four, you’re probably priced too high. On the other hand, if you have more work than you can handle, you’re probably considered a "steal" for your cost and could afford to raise it a bit.
This is a business like any other, and it really doesn’t matter to the consumer what your overhead is, if you’re not selling the kind of product they want. If you don’t feel that your business is as successful as you’d like, you’ll have to either find ways to lower your overhead, improve the quality of your product, and/or adjust the target market for your product. I think this is pretty basic business and I have no idea what your photography actually looks like, so I’m not saying anything (good or bad) about your photography specifically — just to answer your question from an impartial perspective.
Post # 7
Hi thank you for your replies thus far, last year was a lost year for me due to sickness/illness so I’m sort of starting over. I was under the impression everyone needed to be super cheap.
I’m glad you brides understand the quality aspect it’s super refreshing…
thank you David
Post # 8
Well, with the economy being what it is, people will probably ask you to negotiate…but I think a good starting point would be to find other photographers with a similar style to yours, and see what their prices are. I know that my photographer belongs to an informal association, so maybe you could see if there’s something like this in LA. If there are some other photographers around who you trust, they would probably be a great resource on pricing, packages, trends, etc. Good luck!
Post # 9
I wanted to add that I consider myself very fortunate that I have a large budget for photography. If it were more restricted I probably would have still hired the same photographer (well, his being OOT might not have made sense, but otherwise I would have) and simply forgone the professional album and some of the other extras I’m getting. I think you’ll find that for most people (or at least almost everyone I’ve talked to) quality will be the overall driver in their decision…and they’ll probably just skimp on some of the extras to get the quality they want in the budget they have (okay, well at least I would).
Post # 10
I definitely agree with HL, FizicsGirl, and Doctorgirl in that I will shell out more $$ for better photos. I would NOT hire a photographer whose work was just ‘okay’ regardless of how affordable the rate is.
When I was looking at photographers, I also found that pretty much everyone I looked at included the digital negatives with their packages. For me, that was a must. Albums were a nice bonus, but not a necessity…
To add to the budget poll, most of the people I know (myself included) fall above the $3500 figure. And I’m not saying I’m having a super-expensive wedding, just that photography is really important to me and the way I divided my overall budget reflects that.
Post # 11
Like many budget brides, I looked for a package that included everything, high res images and album, for under $3,000.
Post # 12
i’m a budget bride too. i am looking for a package that 8-10 hours of coverage with 2 photogs and personal printing rights. The cheapest i can find right now is $3200 without an album so i’m still looking around because i would like to at least get an album for that!
Post # 13
My budget was more than $3500 but I checked that box. My package was $5250 but I got a 30% discount off that. Included an engagement session with an 8×10 framed picture, all day photography with 2 photographers, a 12×14 magazine style album, a DVD of all wedding day images in high-res and 2 mini parent albums
Post # 14
I think it’s extremely rare to find a wedding photographer for under $2000. I have blocked about $5k for photos.
Post # 15
I searched high and low and it’s nearly impossible to find a professional wedding photographer who charges less than $1200 for one shooter, 6 hours, 1 location, and the clients develops the pictures and puts together the albums themselves. And the fees go up from there. Maybe you could find someone on Craigslist who is just starting out and trying to build a portfolio for under $1200, but I would worry that they might flake out and/or not realize how much work it is and how tiring it is.
(I’m in San Diego, but I can’t imagine LA pricing is much different.)
Post # 16
Photos are one of the most important parts of the wedding to me as they are what will help you remember the day. Therfore, we are willing to pay for a photographer we found who is amazing and well known. His rate of $1,500 per hour. That includes all of the photos on a cd and about a third of them retouched.
That being said I think most people just want nice photos and don’t really know the techincal aspects of a good photo. I think my standards are different because I’m in the fashion industry and my FI has a passion for photography. Most brides decide what part of the wedding is most important to them and put the money into those areas. Since we appreciate art, we want to put the money into the photos and location.
My friend who comes from an extremely weathly family just wants the record of the day so she isn’t spending the money on photos. She hired someone off of craigslist for around $2300 which includes the full day of wedding pictures, a second photographer, and the engagement photos.
With the costs of running your business, you might be able to attract brides who are willing to spend more money if you invest in your website. In my research I’ve seen photogs who charge up to 30K a day and they have amazing websites who would attract the type of couples who can afford it. I know how much work and money it takes to do what you are doing so to be able to attract that customer would give you more time to do more quality photos instead of doing a ton of weddings just to make ends meet. Good luck to you!