Weddings are supposed to be beautiful, heart warming, and memorable. They aren't supposed to bankrupt you. From personal experience, we know that the challenges of budgeting and planning a wedding can be overwhelming and can suck the joy out of what should be a fun and exhilarating experience. The wedding industry is just that, an industry. Some couples love the pomp and circumstance surrounding the wedding planning process but many couples simply want to celebrate a major life milestone without breaking the bank. We were one such couple.
What shocked us more than anything while planning our own wedding was the typical cost for photography. In Victoria BC a half day of coverage is on average $2500 - $3500. A full day will cost you $6000 or more! We couldn't afford this, but if we wanted a professional photographer to capture our special day it looked like we didn't have any alternatives. Relying on friends and family to capture the day can backfire and result in resentment if everything doesn't go according to plan.
So why is wedding photography so expensive? Must it be? Given our passion for photography, we asked ourselves: could we offer affordable wedding photography packages for couples in Victoria? The seed of an idea planted itself in our minds, and the rest is history. We started our photography business with the goal of providing affordable wedding photography for Victoria BC couples.
Before we get into how we can keep our costs down without compromising quality, we should look at why wedding photography costs more than other types of photos.
What makes weddings different from other shoots?
- Only one chance to get it right: Unlike more casual photo shoots, weddings require photographers to be alert at all times to ensure that key moments are captured, and often from multiple angles. Because there are no redos, there is a lot of pressure to get it right. Having a second photographer with extra gear is absolutely critical to ensure every special moment is captured, and to help combat the risk of technological failures.
- Spontaneous and unpredictable: Even the most highly choreographed weddings can have their hiccups or include moments of spontaneity - it's what makes weddings so interesting to capture. Photographers, even when not "on the clock", are always on the look out for these intimate, emotional treasures. If you miss a special moment it can't be replicated.
- High emotions and high expectations: Couples always have high expectations for their wedding photos. Emotions can run high on the wedding day. This can create a very demanding and stressful atmosphere for photographers who are trying to respond to every request and create the best possible love story for their clients. After all, photographers are just a different type of story teller, ones that use images rather than words.
- Technically challenging: The (often) multiple venues, changing light conditions throughout the day, large groups of moving people and combination of indoor and outdoor settings requires an experienced and confident professional. The photographer needs to be able to quickly react to changing conditions, ensuring top quality for every shot.
How to minimize wedding photography costs
- Price is NOT proportional to quality: Simple economics suggest that as price goes up demand goes down. However, for some industries the opposite is true, such as the fashion industry, the wine industry, or the flower industry. In these industries, it's not the product but the status associated with the product that is desired. People want to be perceived in a certain way so they buy the product that helps fit that lifestyle. It's no coincidence that these industries are all associated with the wedding industry. Wedding photography seems to fit the same patterns, and like those other industries, cost does not equal quality. Do not assume that paying more for your wedding photos will increase the value of the services you receive. Instead, wedding photographers should be assessed based on whether you like their photography style, personalities, flexibility, professionalism, and whatever else is important to you!
- Quality over quantity: We find that most couples don't have a clear understanding of what they are looking for, and so they make the mistake of thinking more is better. While this is a natural response to uncertainty, it's important to critically think about how many photos you will actually look at. Do you really need 1000 photos for an 8 hour day? To put that in perspective, that's over 2 photos per minute. More photos = more editing time = more money. Reducing photo numbers is by far the best cost-reducing strategy since most of a photographer's time is spent sorting and editing photos.
- Focus on the essentials: Which aspects of your wedding are most important to you? Perhaps you don't really need coverage while you are getting ready or during dinner. While it is becoming less and less common, consider whether you want a package that includes physical prints since it's a lot more cost effective to take digital images and get them printed yourself. Consider whether the extras being bundled together and offered to you for "free" are important to you because they aren't really free, they are just not optional.
We at Starfish Photography focus on quality over quantity, customization and affordability. We don't push you to buy more than what you need and want because we understand that our role is to help you create memories rather than debt.