Can you negotiate photographer's prices?

posted 5 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 3
484 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

@Lily_of_the_valley:  It’s honestly very rude.  Why do you rate special consideration over her other clients?  Why should she include extras or give you a discount?  It’s basically saying “we like you, but we think you’re worth X amount, instead of what you’re charging which is too high.”  This is not always true, but often clients that expect me to give them extras for no reason are the ones that will turn into problem clients in other areas, so it’s a red flag for me as a photographer, in addition to being rude. 

Here’s what you CAN do:  Tell her she’s a bit at the top of your budget, and ask if you can work out a payment plan.  Where you will pay the FULL amount, but over time.  Many photogs are willing to agree to this.  Otherwise, you need to go with her standard rates, and if you want to save money, just book her for less time. 

If she offers to cut down her price on her own (or even agrees to it), THAT’S a serious red flag for you as the client.  Think of it this way:  if she’s a talented, busy photographer, why would she want to offer to work for less for you, instead of just waiting to be hired by someone that will pay what she’s asking?  If she feels the need to hang onto you as a client by cutting her price, that says to me that she’s desparate for clients… and you have to wonder why that would be.  Not a good sign.

The only exception to this at all is if your wedding is on an off day (ie not Saturday) or an off time (a sunrise ceremony).  Then photogs might be willing to cut you a discount.  But then again, they might not, because it depends on the area, and Friday/Sunday destination weddings and sunrise ceremonies are probably much more common, so that may not apply in your case.

Post # 4
1000 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

@Lily_of_the_valley:  Well, you already asked if there was any flexibility and she offered to customize a package you could afford. If she were willing to offer a discount, she would have done so already, so I wouldn’t push it and risk her suddenly becoming “booked for your date” which photographers who don’t want to deal with clients who don’t respect their prices often do.

Just because some photographers discount doesn’t mean you should expect it from other, more successful photographers. In fact, as SeApril said, those who aren’t willing to discount or only discount 10% or less (pre-established discounts you would know if you were eligible for) are often in the highest demand. Usually if you apply for a discount the photographer will tell you right away.

For example, we don’t have Friday/Sunday wedding discounts because all our dates our popular. And we dont have morning wedding discounts because when a client books us, they usually haven’t scheduled their day yet and we need to be available all day in case they want getting ready photos. Trying to work two weddings in one day is just irresponsible IMO, so a date is a date. We do however, have a small military and law-enforcement discount, which we also might offer if we really want to shoot that client’s venue. We don’t give them out just because a client asks for one, and usually find it insulting when they do.

Post # 5
2375 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

What I’ve done when speaking with photographers is go in and say ‘this is my budget, these things are more important for me, and this is the timeframe, what can we do?’  And no, I don’t get a discount, but what I got was a way to maximize what I was getting for my money based on what was most important to me.  We’re spending extra time on the family formal pictures, but that means I won’t have pictures from the last hour and a half – two hours of the reception.  The family pictures were more important to us, so that’s where we’re focusing the time and still staying in budget.

Post # 6
344 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’d be very scared of the photographer who’d be willing to give you extras AND a discount. She’s already tried to work with you on getting in your price range. That’s the most any photographer who is in demand and worth their salt will do!:) Why do I want to earn less? 

Post # 7
979 posts
Busy bee

I don’t go flexible on my pricing for wedding photography. There are a TON of overhead costs besides paying my assistant and the products included in the package.  I’d try to settle for less time.  

Post # 8
3692 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

They only break I got from my photographer was that because my wedding was so small, she was willing to charge me what she would for a normal photo shoot instead of her higher wedding prices.  I still paid $550 per hour for two hours (including a CD with digitally retouched pictures and the rights to use the images as I wish).

Post # 9
257 posts
Helper bee

When I first contacted my photographer for pricing, she said that her packages run around $1700-$2200 for 8+ hours of shooting, prints, etc etc. I told her we only need her for 4 hours, I’d prefer no prints but all images on a CD, we have no bridal party (so that eliminates a good portion of the “posed” shots), and it’s a morning wedding, so she would be on her way home (or to another event!) by 2pm instead of 11pm. I asked if, given all these details, should would be able to do it for $1000. She said yes.

I think that in today’s economy, while brides are just trying to save a little money, vendors are just trying to get a little business. I have found that if I am honest with my vendors about my budget from the start, and willing to be realistic in my expectations, it is easy to come to an agreement that suits both parties.

I don’t think it is rude to ask for a discount, IF you have a reason. If you are just asking to reduce rates because you are you, then that might be a bit pushy.

Post # 10
340 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

ALthough I’m still an amateur photographer, a friend of mine tried getting me to give her a half off family photoshoot and I said no, and we didn’t do the shoot. Personally, I find it offensive, because we create rates that we feel reflect our work (usually, there can be some that are ridiculous prices!). I think if they offered discounts for off-season weddings or something, it would be listed on their site, or they’d say “book between this date and this date and receive a free (type of shoot here)”.

Post # 11
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I think wedding photographers are unlikely to negotiate on prices right off the bat. Most I’ve met had a set price list that encompassed pretty much everything you could think of. That being said, they often threw in extras without asking, such as staying an extra hour (because they really wanted to capture a specific shot) or giving you extra color-processed photos. For example, my package with my boudoir photographer was supposed to only include about half the photos but then she gave me all of them on the disc as a special surprise. I didn’t ask for it and I certainly didn’t expect it. Likewise, my wedding photographer put together a cute little slideshow I could share with friends/family post-wedding and that was never brought up as part of the package. It was just something cute and fun he did as an extra that we didn’t ask for.

If you do want to negotiate with vendors, I would suggest taking the route of asking them what they would recommend cutting out because you are on a budget rather than asking for a blatant discount or free stuff. In my experience, our vendors that did negotiate often discounted things I was otherwise going to cut out because they wanted to ensure a great event for me. For example, I was going to reduce the number of uplights but my lighting crew offered throw in the few extras I needed for free.

Post # 12
2457 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I think it’s SUPER rude to ask someone to give YOU a discount just because you want one, but not everyone else. Working with someone on what fits your budget, and their schedule, sure – but they put their prices up for a reason – because that’s how much they charge. 

Post # 13
5271 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2009

It doesn’t hurt to ask, and I think proposing a negotiation is not rude at all, as long as it makes sense. For example, you can’t just say “can you give us a discount” for no reason at all. But if your package quote includes a bridal session, you can ask “if I opt out of the bridal session, can you adjust the price?” 

For us, we didn’t want engagement pics and our photographer discounted our rate because we didn’t want that piece of the package. 

Or you can negotiate a package, say the initial package was only the wedding, but you want engagement and bridal – you can propose that if you do all three for x discounted amount. 

Post # 14
58 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

It’s not rude.

Ask nicely. Maybe offer to pay a larger deposit? Also, don’t ask for extras just to get more. Ask for things you actually want if she isn’t going to reduce the base rate. 

I think it is ridiculous that people suggest on these boards that it is rude. As far as you know, this photographer isn’t booked that day. If you simply walk away b/c she is slightly out of your budget, you both could lose– you settle for a lesser photographer and she may not book the date. If she gives you a little break, then you both win. I would rather have that option if I were her than simply have clients walk away.


Post # 15
514 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

A few photographers offered us a discount (witout us asking) for a couple of reasons:


1. Because our wedding was on a Friday

2. Because our booking was relatively close to our wedding date (in the wedding world)

3. They love our venue


BUT… that being said, when I mentioned this to my favorite photographer who is out of our price range her response was:

1. Friday weddings are not that uncommon


2. She has no problem filling up her calendar at her prices so it isn’t worth it to her.


She was honest, and we moved on. That being said, I have not asked for a discount from anyone else because she made me feel pretty silly, but I have let photographers know our budge and asked if they can create something that works for us. I’m like you, though, and don’t really want to give any of our “wishlist” up… so…. we are making it work to go with a slightly more expensive photographer than what we wanted to pay for.

Post # 16
484 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

@09bmlaw:  Whether it’s rude or not is all in how it’s presented.  Most people that have posted in this thread have said that asking the photog what they might be able to cut from their package to work with the bride’s budget is NOT rude.  What IS rude is basically saying… “Eh, that price is too high for me, but how about you give it to me for less?  Is that cool?  Ok it’s not too high but I deserve more stuff for that price.  How about a free extra shoot too?”  Um, yeah that’s pretty ridiculous. 

Established successful photographers have set prices and policies for a reason.  They can’t just go giving out random discounts and including free stuff. They’d never be able to turn a profit.  Just because that photog has the date free now doesn’t mean she’s so desperate to book it that it’s time to start giving out discounts to keep clients.  If she is that desperate, there is a problem.  And it looks like OP’s wedding is a Saturday a year from now.  No way that photog is going offer a huge discount on that.  If she is established/talented at all, she can be pretty confident that she will book that date.

As for offering to pay a larger deposit… you might be able to do that, if you put it nicely.  My photographer gave us a 10% discount for paying in full up front.  That is about the most you can expect.  And the photog will probably mention that if it’s something they normally offer.  If they don’t have a policy of doing it, you can’t expect them to make an exception just for you personally for no reason.

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