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01/15/2009 09:32:31 PM · #1
I may not have the best equipment, I might not have the most experience, but I believe in general I have a pretty solid body of work. Not a lot of it found at DPC, but on samanthabarnum.com.

My boyfriend's sister is getting married, and her fiance has asked me for a quote on pricing. I told him I could cut him a deal because I see them all the time and consider them friends. Apparently, he has gotten rates being $400-$600, and asked if I'd do the wedding for $350. He hasn't told me exactly what the other packages include, but it seems to me that the price is more important than the pictures or quality.

I think $350 for shooting the whole day, which I would, is a bit absurd and low. Because I know them and would go even if I wasn't shooting it, I know they'd ask me to take this picture and that picture all night, which I'd be more than happy to do--but for the prices anyone else would give him, they wouldn't, they'd be gone at their time limit. Not to mention all the post-processing work I know I'd do.

Now, what do you think a decent rate would be for a whole day of shooting? I don't want to sell myself short, and if he ends up choosing someone else, that's okay if he's going for inexpensiveness over quality. I do, however, want to bring myself into the running and yet not grossly sell myself short.

Any suggestions?
01/15/2009 09:55:06 PM · #2
GOOD FOR YOU! A photographer that puts real value in her work from the start. Seriously, stick to your guns. Look at other photographers rates IN YOUR AREA, and dont count on people from all over the world. Your market is different than mine and everyone elses. I can say that there probably arent to many markets out there that are that low, so shop around. call other studios. If you have to, pretend its you getting married and ask their rates. THEN build your quote. Just because you are friends, family friends, whatever, doesnt mean you have to be cheap either.
01/16/2009 08:56:05 AM · #3
How good are you? Average? Better? Do you suck?

If the average wedding photog in your area gets $1500 for a shoot and burn and you're average, then ask for $1500. When he balks, and he will, tell him you'd rather come as a guest than work at his wedding.

See, so many people assume that having no experience means charging less and that's WRONG. I've worked for a lot of companies over my lifetime and while there were times I was paid less as a newbie, the company never charged less.

Go out to eat - new cook, new waitress, even a new restaurant - the prices are not any lower. If you don't 'trust' the new restaurant then you don't go there. If the food is bad or service sucks you ask for discount afterwards.

People will spend money on what they value. You may not buy a $65,000 car, $2000 handbag, $4 cup of coffee, but lots of people do. It's the same for photography - i've booked a wedding for 50% more than my average at a country club and they're not having any type of DJ or band - to them the photography is important the DJ isn't.

Point being, photography's not important to him. No matter how good your photos are, he's gonna think he overpaid. Many a long time pro won't shoot a wedding for a family or friend at all - too many bad things come out of it.

Two more facts for you to consider. BRIDE magazine recomends on their wedding budget planner that the reception cost 50% of the wedding and photo/video 10%. So where is there reception? How many guests? Call the place and ask how much per meal. Do the math and you'll get a ballpark on their budget. It really sucks to be at a wedding and realise the limo, the cake, the favors all cost more than the photographer, when the day afte the wedding the pictures is all they've got.

Second, nationwide, the average for a wedding photographer was $1956.
01/16/2009 09:07:43 AM · #4
I do weddings for free.

As long as I only have to show up for the reception, there's an open bar, and I'm not responsible for any deliverables!
;-D
01/16/2009 02:39:47 PM · #5
For free, fine.
All you need to do is be seen having a drink and someone amongst the 150-200 guests will say "No wonder the pics are bad, the photographer was drunk!"
01/17/2009 03:58:47 PM · #6
Originally posted by sammigurl:

My boyfriend's sister is getting married, and her fiance has asked me for a quote on pricing. I told him I could cut him a deal because I see them all the time and consider them friends. Apparently, he has gotten rates being $400-$600, and asked if I'd do the wedding for $350. He hasn't told me exactly what the other packages include, but it seems to me that the price is more important than the pictures or quality.


Is the wedding in Toronto? There's no way he'll get anything good in that market for $400-$600, so he's either pulling your leg or not looking at photographers with the same abilities that you have. Have you shot any weddings before? I didn't notice anything in your portfolio. You obviously have talent, though, so as long as you're prepared you should be earning 4 figures. That's not to say you can't give them a bit of a discount, but make sure they know what you're worth, and that the discount is for being family/friends. If you shoot the wedding for $1200 after a 40% discount, they need to KNOW you're worth $2000.

Message edited by author 2009-01-17 16:00:31.
01/17/2009 04:25:20 PM · #7
I actually tend to disagree with the general opinion. The first two weddings I photographed I worked as a second shooter for just $100 the first time and $200 the second time, and the very first wedding I photographed as the lead (and only) photographer I just charged $250. The value was not in the money for me, the value was in learning the business without the extreme pressure of knowing you've just charged $1,000 + without having any experience in this field. Weddings are not something you can repeat, and they can't really be compared to the food serving industry where if you mess up someone's order you can get it right the second time. You should really have some experience with them before you charge the big bucks. Even though I considered myself a proficient photographer when I started wedding photography, I made major mistakes my first few weddings. Do you have an idea which lens to use during the processional and recessionals? I didn't. Do you know when to use your wide angle during the ceremony and when to use your telephoto and get those close ups? I didn't. And my images showed that.

Now that I've done about ten weddings I'm feeling much more comfortable charging more, but I'm still keeping my prices relatively low because bottom line is I've found that I absolutely love wedding photography and I want to do as much of it as I can and learn as fast as I can so that I can become the best wedding photographer possible and make a serious career out of it.

Seems like this would be a great opportunity to start to learn for you, if you're willing to do it for the experience. That's just my two cents.
01/17/2009 06:59:27 PM · #8
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

For free, fine.
All you need to do is be seen having a drink and someone amongst the 150-200 guests will say "No wonder the pics are bad, the photographer was drunk!"

Speak for yourself. :-P
01/17/2009 07:19:38 PM · #9
A friend of the family was married early this month at christmas they said they werent going too pay for a photographer to do there album instead they were using a family member seem too me that there wedding wasnt so important enough to cherish some lasting memories of the day.

Message edited by author 2009-01-17 19:19:56.
01/17/2009 07:39:30 PM · #10
Originally posted by toddster45:

A friend of the family was married early this month at christmas they said they werent going too pay for a photographer to do there album instead they were using a family member seem too me that there wedding wasnt so important enough to cherish some lasting memories of the day.

My wife and I were married long before I had an interest in photography at all. We were of the same mindset and hired some guy for about $500. It's a damn shame. :-(

ETA, we both have REALLY regretted it ever since. :-(

Message edited by author 2009-01-17 19:40:39.
01/17/2009 08:19:25 PM · #11
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Originally posted by toddster45:

A friend of the family was married early this month at christmas they said they werent going too pay for a photographer to do there album instead they were using a family member seem too me that there wedding wasnt so important enough to cherish some lasting memories of the day.

My wife and I were married long before I had an interest in photography at all. We were of the same mindset and hired some guy for about $500. It's a damn shame. :-(

ETA, we both have REALLY regretted it ever since. :-(


Slippy i have seen some lovely wedding shot from DPCers here if only people knew how brillant and beautiful they come out there worth there weight in gold.
01/17/2009 08:58:55 PM · #12
Originally posted by Breeee123:

I actually tend to disagree with the general opinion. The first two weddings I photographed I worked as a second shooter for just $100 the first time and $200 the second time, and the very first wedding I photographed as the lead (and only) photographer I just charged $250. The value was not in the money for me, the value was in learning the business without the extreme pressure of knowing you've just charged $1,000 + without having any experience in this field. Weddings are not something you can repeat, and they can't really be compared to the food serving industry where if you mess up someone's order you can get it right the second time. You should really have some experience with them before you charge the big bucks. Even though I considered myself a proficient photographer when I started wedding photography, I made major mistakes my first few weddings. Do you have an idea which lens to use during the processional and recessionals? I didn't. Do you know when to use your wide angle during the ceremony and when to use your telephoto and get those close ups? I didn't. And my images showed that.

Now that I've done about ten weddings I'm feeling much more comfortable charging more, but I'm still keeping my prices relatively low because bottom line is I've found that I absolutely love wedding photography and I want to do as much of it as I can and learn as fast as I can so that I can become the best wedding photographer possible and make a serious career out of it.

Seems like this would be a great opportunity to start to learn for you, if you're willing to do it for the experience. That's just my two cents.


I agree, if this is your first wedding shoot i really think you should charge a low price. I've never shot anything in my entire life for pay so i can't really help you. But I agree with Bree.
01/17/2009 09:54:03 PM · #13
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

For free, fine.
All you need to do is be seen having a drink and someone amongst the 150-200 guests will say "No wonder the pics are bad, the photographer was drunk!"

Speak for yourself. :-P


Way too many other vendors see weddings as a free drunk. Once video guy told me as much - he brings 2 guys to shoot so he can just drink the free booze.
At another wedding the DJ got so drunk it was damned embarrassing - he staggered onto the floor wtih mic in hand (and a bottle of beer in the other) for the garter/boquet and he slurred every word he said, got the grooms name wrong...not a good scene.

The last wedding I booked was a gimme- I've shot a couple of her friends weddings. The senior I shot today is the daughter of a bridesmaid from a wedding 18 months ago. I got 2 other seniors this year from wedding guests.

If I want to drink I can wait till after work and go someplace else and I can afford to pay for my liquor.

Preception and reputation are everything in this business.
01/17/2009 09:59:38 PM · #14
This is how I handled my second wedding:

Same situation your in, with a friend. I would do the wedding for free, but it would be a shoot and burn. For me the experience was important and building my portfolio was as well. Onto of that, there were going to be plenty of 'yet to be married' couples at the wedding who would see this later on. I made sure they understood that they are just pictures on a DVD, nothing more. I said "That's a 1200USD gift from me to you." Before receiving their DVD I sent an email with a before and after picture of the kind of processing I could JUST IN CASE they change their minds. When they got the DVD they decided "We want an album, some prints etc." At which point I pulled out your price list and knocked off the 1200 USD I normally did would charge for a shoot and burn. At that point I made about 1500USD. In the end, both were extremely happy because they got a 2700USD package for just 1500USD and that meant they passed my business card onto others. Now I have 3 more weddings in March.

I don't do it full-time, but when I do get asked to do a wedding I have to compare it to what I would normally be making as a wedding minister that day (Since that's my job). I've passed on work, I've been the second photographer and the main photographer.

In the end, you have to be happy as well. If it's a very close friend getting married I would help find a good photographer rather than be the photographer.
01/17/2009 10:52:52 PM · #15
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

For free, fine.
All you need to do is be seen having a drink and someone amongst the 150-200 guests will say "No wonder the pics are bad, the photographer was drunk!"

Speak for yourself. :-P


Way too many other vendors see weddings as a free drunk. Once video guy told me as much - he brings 2 guys to shoot so he can just drink the free booze.
At another wedding the DJ got so drunk it was damned embarrassing - he staggered onto the floor wtih mic in hand (and a bottle of beer in the other) for the garter/boquet and he slurred every word he said, got the grooms name wrong...not a good scene.

The last wedding I booked was a gimme- I've shot a couple of her friends weddings. The senior I shot today is the daughter of a bridesmaid from a wedding 18 months ago. I got 2 other seniors this year from wedding guests.

If I want to drink I can wait till after work and go someplace else and I can afford to pay for my liquor.

Preception and reputation are everything in this business.

Speak for yourself. :-P
01/18/2009 02:22:31 AM · #16
Originally posted by Breeee123:

I actually tend to disagree with the general opinion. The first two weddings I photographed I worked as a second shooter for just $100 the first time and $200 the second time, and the very first wedding I photographed as the lead (and only) photographer I just charged $250. The value was not in the money for me, the value was in learning the business without the extreme pressure of knowing you've just charged $1,000 + without having any experience in this field.


If someone charges next to nothing and totally blows it, do you think the bride and groom are going to care that they only paid $250 instead of $2500 or $10000? They will still be pissed off, and they'll still give you a terrible reference to everyone they see for the next 3 months.

Originally posted by Breeee123:

Weddings are not something you can repeat.


Exactly. That's why preparation is everything. Air traffic controllers get paid big bucks not because their jobs are particularly hard, but because of the stress, decision-making, and training that goes into their job so that they don't cause a crash with fatalities in 3 or 4 figures. Same goes for photography. By the time someone does their first wedding, they should be sufficiently educated and prepared that notwithstanding some huge catastrophe, things go relatively as planned. For this, they deserve due compensation.

If you plan on shooting a wedding with low monetary income and only experience to gain, perhaps you should take out some friends or family and do a mock wedding. That's one of many ways I've prepared for the business. Also, observe the little details of a wedding when you're sitting in the aisle, not at your first wedding shoot. If you're waiting until that low-paying, experience-adding wedding to discover when those special, fleeting moments will occur, you'll probably miss them.
01/18/2009 04:22:32 PM · #17
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

For free, fine.
All you need to do is be seen having a drink and someone amongst the 150-200 guests will say "No wonder the pics are bad, the photographer was drunk!"

Speak for yourself. :-P


Way too many other vendors see weddings as a free drunk. Once video guy told me as much - he brings 2 guys to shoot so he can just drink the free booze.
At another wedding the DJ got so drunk it was damned embarrassing - he staggered onto the floor wtih mic in hand (and a bottle of beer in the other) for the garter/boquet and he slurred every word he said, got the grooms name wrong...not a good scene.

The last wedding I booked was a gimme- I've shot a couple of her friends weddings. The senior I shot today is the daughter of a bridesmaid from a wedding 18 months ago. I got 2 other seniors this year from wedding guests.

If I want to drink I can wait till after work and go someplace else and I can afford to pay for my liquor.

Preception and reputation are everything in this business.


I feel the same way..last wedding the bride and groom wanted me to have a drink the entire
reception, at the end of the night, we had a shot. I did not charge much, but I charged.

I also believe in having a 1 drink limit at any work event. More is NEVER a good idea. Some
people may have a drunk in the family and may hold it against you if you have a few...people
usually suck and are very judgmental, if you are shooting, it is your rep.......

but smoking pot at the wedding is ok, just tell them it makes you artsy.....(I call it
un-level, but they do not need to know that! ;) JK )

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01/18/2009 04:40:06 PM · #18
some people get picky too - "I'm paying for the drinks for the guests, not the vendors". One venue I go to regularly will not serve alcohol to the vendors (DJ, photo, video, etc). Of course if the B or G insists then it's different, but it makes sense to me.

I did grab a shot as I was leaving the last wedding - there were leftovers from the money dance and MOH was a former bride of mine and she insisted I have one so they don't go to waste :P

This is her before the money dance

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Message edited by author 2009-01-18 16:40:46.
01/18/2009 06:41:49 PM · #19
Originally posted by geoffb:

Originally posted by sammigurl:

My boyfriend's sister is getting married, and her fiance has asked me for a quote on pricing. I told him I could cut him a deal because I see them all the time and consider them friends. Apparently, he has gotten rates being $400-$600, and asked if I'd do the wedding for $350. He hasn't told me exactly what the other packages include, but it seems to me that the price is more important than the pictures or quality.


Is the wedding in Toronto? There's no way he'll get anything good in that market for $400-$600, so he's either pulling your leg or not looking at photographers with the same abilities that you have. Have you shot any weddings before? I didn't notice anything in your portfolio. You obviously have talent, though, so as long as you're prepared you should be earning 4 figures. That's not to say you can't give them a bit of a discount, but make sure they know what you're worth, and that the discount is for being family/friends. If you shoot the wedding for $1200 after a 40% discount, they need to KNOW you're worth $2000.


The wedding is in Woodbridge, though any photographer they would get would probably be pricing based on the Toronto area, I think. I thought the same thing when he told me what he said he was getting in rates.

I've never shot a wedding before, no, but since it's in 2010, I'd be probably very prepared by that point and with a lot more experience under my belt. I've been working on my career and by 2010 I should be a very, very competent photographer. I don't want to give him a low price now and then be selling myself and my skills at that point vastly short.
01/18/2009 07:15:14 PM · #20
Originally posted by sammigurl:

I don't want to give him a low price now and then be selling myself and my skills at that point vastly short.


Very good. It sounds like you already know what you're worth, and that you'll make an appropriate decision.
01/18/2009 07:52:43 PM · #21
I charge $2500 NZD. This is the going rate around here for photographers and since i'm new on the scene, this is what I charge. My work is much better than my competitions but i'm happy with the price.

It includes the full days shoot, a formal shoot with bride/groom, a photo book of the pics (made by Blurb) and 5 8x12 prints.

If people wanna pay less, they'll get less but I think i know what i'm doing and if you know what you're doing charge accordingly.

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