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How much to charge for a wedding

saqibzulsaqibzul Member
edited August 2012 in wedding photography
I am looking for help in determining how much I should charge for a wedding photography assignment. I am expecting around 8 hours of shooting time with 300 or so final images. No album just DVD. I will go in with a second shooter. I have already done their Jack and Jill for free with around 2 hours of photography time and 75 finalized/edited pictures. Google says I should ask around $1000, but just wanted to run by you experienced folks, specially since I have never charged before and my portfolio only has two clients so far, both of which were free.



  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2012
    Well personally, if you think your work is up to a reasonable standard, you don't want to undercut yourself, as once you start low, you will find it harder later on to raise prices, especially if you are recommended by word of mouth as most are when starting out.

    300 images, that sounds a bit low for 8 hours plus with a second shooter, I would have thought in the 1200+ range with around 600-800 range edited as opposed to only 75 edited images, that is certainly low as client will feel paying $1000 for 75 images would be a bit steep, regardless of how long you are there and how long the editing takes; but that's up to you.

    Don't cut yourself short with taking images, you can always cull, but if you did not take them in the first place, you have nothing to work with.

    Digital: it's free to shoot; then trash unwanted ones.

    If I do a disc, I edit all the images, fully, [apart from tests, no good ones] and 'give' that to them [I have already built in around $500 to allow that in my pricing structure] and very rarely is that below the 700+ images range unless they hire me only for ceremony and location shooting [5 hours minimum] which happens sometimes, even then I would have around the 400+ mark to give.

    Also, if doing a disc only, get a proper disc case/cover, and print 5x7s to go beneath the sleeves, front and back, to make it look professional and don't just give one disc, give 4; 2 for couple and 1 each for parents, they will love the extra touch.

    PLUS I also print 6 10x8 prints for them [you choose images], that way they can see the 5x7 disc covers and 10x8 prints first up, instead of just a plain disc.

    Get printable discs, print a photo on the disc or at least wording if you have a printer capable, much more professional then just using a permanent pen marker, looks very dodgy.

    Are you paying your 2nd shooter? Allow for that.

    Personally the $1000 mark is neither below nor above $1000 [psychologically speaking] if you know what I mean; charge either $975 or $1495.

    This is how I supply my covers images below. Sample of front and back, the front being Part 1 since I had too many images to fit on 1 disc, I also put borders on them, just a little extra.


  • I'm all with Trev...

    Broadly speaking there are so many ways and aspects that one can use the determine how much you charge, from components that you use to build your hourly rate (or sessions) to the products that you provide.

    But some people also consider where they are and the local market condition... sometimes it can be so simple, sometimes it can be so complicated...
  • saqibzulsaqibzul Member
    edited August 2012
    Thanks for your feedback; you brought good points to the table, specially the one about charging low and getting stuck with that. That is the main reason I decided not to charge for the two assignments. For this event, I want to charge reasonable, but since everything is dependent on the package, prevailing market rate and your own skill level/expertise, its hard to factor in on an exact amount. One thing is for sure it is about 8 hours of shooting, with 300-500+ finalized shortlisted proofs. I shot about 900 pics over the weekend for a party and could have provided 700 as proofs, but the way I like to work, I want the best of the best to reach the client. So I provided 200 or so after multi-iteration shortlisting cycles. I am thinking if I can be around 300-600 final (photographers selection) for the event in question, the couple would be happy. I decided this based on the couple's requirement, they do not want to shortlist. According to them, everything I choose no matter how many should be fine, (as many as possible).

    I love the idea about the printed DVD and prints. Do you use a service provider or do it yourself, also do you just copy the JPGs or do something extra like a digital album etc. The couple's requirement is a DVD with files on it, but I will based on your suggestion do a printed DVD with a couple of best selected 8*10s and 5*7s

    I will be doing this with a second shooter, he does not want compensation, but wants prints to use on his site. I may have to rent and provide him gear.

    By and large If I factor in gear rental and cost of shortlisting 2000 images and doing digital work on 500+ or so images, $975 is probably a break even amount.
    Is it possible to look at a photographers work and say, yes, he should not be charging more than that for this package. If that is the case, I can send the URL for the two events I have done.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2012
    What I supply on DVD is the following folders, how I name and what they contain:

    1] 5x7 DISC COVERS [the covers we discussed to slip into the DVD case] In case they like and wanted to print again.

    2] 5x7 PRINTS [100-140 selected: this is if they wanted me to choose a shortlist of the best so saves them from going through all the files if choosing images for album; I do this only if they choose a package which contains such selection, charging of course, since just selecting and then even re-sizing down to around 5x7 and then cropping takes quite a while, up to 2 hours, and that's even using a re-sizing action set, you would be surprised.

    They still of course can go through the 'Spares' - see # 4 below - to choose, but 99% of images I end up getting listed from client for album are chosen from my original selection.

    3] ORIGINAL MASTERS: [This contains the edited original files of the 5x7 cropped ones so they still get the full res in addition to the 5x7 ones]

    4] SPARES NOT PRINTED: [This contains the remainder of the files, full res that were not printed in any way, fully edited.

    5] 10x8 PRINTS: [Obviously the 10x8 prints I did up for them]

    6] EFFECTS: [I also do up some effects, even calling B&W effects, maybe around 20 of the best images which I put in there, ranging from tones, glows, etc. I created over the years]

    Re the 'break-even' point, that would be correct, so you need to be aware, otherwise you are not making money.
    saqibzul said: Is it possible to look at a photographers work and say, yes, he should not be charging more than that for this package. If that is the case, I can send the URL for the two events I have done.
    That's subjective, I've seen some totally shithouse images in portfolios [in my opinion] and the photographer charges whatever he/she wants and people pay.

    Human nature, if it's expensive enough, the 'better the photographer/product must be' still works.

    So you need to be quite sure first up of what you can achieve or not.

    Things I do: Shoot, Edit, Create Disc Covers, Design my own Albums [control freak]; Print my own DVD Discs.

    Things I outsource: Local lab for Disc Only Packages with just Covers and 10x8 printed, they are very good actually;
    Pro lab for full 5x7 shortlist, 10x8s and any other larger size in Metallic or specialised paper, BWs, Pearl Lustre, etc.;
    Albums are printed [from my own laid out spreads] and assembled by Pro company;
    Canvasses; Ice Images; Translucent Acrylic Prints, etc.


  • The client wants to spend $400+ for the event. I'm perplexed what kind of package would work for that. Perhaps3 hours with 100-200 images on a DIY CD.
    Other option is to negotiate. Any pointers?
    Appreciate all the help so far.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    $400+ . . . + what, that could be $500-900.

    For $400 to me that would be like 45 minutes and around 100 images, no prints at all, just disc. I charge more than that for just a family session [with disc].

    Never fall for the 'give what you shoot' and they will edit, because a complete balls-up could be made then when others see the images and ask who shot it, the client will have no hesitation in telling them your name. So you could be potentially be your own worst enemy if they do a bad job on editing what you shot.

    I only had an offer the other day of $600 for 3 hours and give them the original files, and they would supply the CF cards, since 'she has been learning Photoshop for the past 6 weeks [huh! ya kiddin' me]; when I told them I shot in RAW, they merely had a blank look on their faces and since I would never just do a jpeg 'shoot and burn' I had to decline.
  • Hi Saqib

    I always hear this question...

    It really up to , If you just looking to boost your portfolio then I say go for it . It will be a good lesson for you. Unfortunately its lesson you can only learn from experience.

    I started out like you......... After shooting a few wedding I quickly came to learn what was worth it and what to walk away from.

    My experience is that these types of weddings a not worth the hassle. Its better to second shoot or assist with someone to gain the experience , even its free so you can get a sense of whats really involved in shooting a wedding.

    Plus don't forget that if they are only willing to invest $400 they have very little respect for you has a photographer.... and results are normally disappointing.

    Lou Recine
    Matrix Photography
  • I dont put the pricing on my website. It does two things, it eliminates bargain hunters and two it forces the potential bride to call and speak to me about what they need. That way I can customize a package just for them, and hear their budget on other things they needed or bought already. I rarely charge under $1,000 because for every hour that you shoot digital, you spend two editing. I usually break even, and besides, its fun and my life doesnt depend on photography. I have a day job. So I have the luxury of being flexible with pricing. But $1,000 is a bare minimum I say.

    Joshua Westbrook
    Pixelus Photography
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