Pricing your wedding photography business is not an easy task. In fact, even established photographers with years of experience in the business still find themselves tweaking and adjusting their price list. So don’t get disheartened if you don’t get it right the first time.
The first step in setting your prices is to determine who your ideal customer is. Once you’ve identified your target market, setting your prices become easier. You now have a better idea of their typical wedding budgets and how much they are most likely to pay a wedding photographer. If you are targeting the upper middle class couples, you know that their wedding budgets are bigger and that you can charge significantly higher.
Also check what other wedding photographers area cost, and what they offer for their price points (this can be as easy as going to their websites). Many wedding photographers charge anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for engagement photo shoots, and $1,500 to $15,000 for wedding shoots.
Factors Affecting Your Pricing
The amount you can charge as a wedding photographer depends on a number of factors, including your experience, professionalism, service and quality. Your price also depends on your cost structure: you need to have a clear idea of the costs incurred for each product or service you offer, and calculate the profitability of each item.
Here are key number of factors to consider when pricing your wedding photography services, such as:
- Years of experience as a wedding photographer = experience determines how much a photographer should cost. A new wedding photographer should not expect to be able to charge premium fees compared to one who has already built a solid reputation in the business.
- Qualifications of the photographer = this includes certifications received, awards and recognition, competitions won, even books published, and accolades received. Indicate if you have been named as top wedding photojournalist by a renowned magazine, featured in the media such as NBC Nightline as a trendsetter in wedding photography, or whether your work has appeared in top bridal magazines such as Modern Bride, among others.
- Quality of portfolio = Create the best portfolio you can with high quality images; even if you are a new photographer, you may be able to get away charging clients more if your images are impressive and stunning.
- Location = photographers in big cities such as New York can charge a higher rate than wedding photographers in rural areas
- Target clients = if you are well-connected and able to attract the upper crust clientele, you may be able to charge premium fees
- Allotted Time = a full-day coverage of the wedding will have a different rate compared to 4 hours during the wedding. Add in the time you will spend planning, editing the photos, preparing the album, interacting with clients, and others.
- Items/services included in the wedding package = carefully choose items to be included in the package that will make it more valuable to the wedding couple without taking a hit in terms of profitability of your business
- Number of photographers to be used for the wedding = the price will be higher if you will be using additional photographers to make sure that there are two or more perspectives to capture the day’s precious moments
- Market demand = You can adjust your price depending on the season (price during summer may be higher than winter) and the number of clients you have: you can set it higher if your schedule is fully booked and you really do not want to accept any new clients; and lower your price if the business is not doing as well.
- Recommendations = If other wedding vendors are recommending your services to their clients, it becomes easier to justify higher prices
More than the cost and markup, however, you need to focus on selling the value of what you offer that is both fair for you and the customer. After all, the wedding photography business is all about the “perceived value” of what the photographer can offer.
Strive to ensure that the customer is completely satisfied and convinced that they got their money’s worth. The quality of your service will dictate the price that the customers will be willing to pay.
Ways of Pricing a Wedding Photography Business
There are two ways to set your price as a wedding photographer:
- Wedding packages, where services and products are bundled together.
- A la carte, where there’s a base price for coverage and customers add extra for upsells such as album.
There are pros and cons to each approach, so experiment to find the pricing strategy that may work for you.
For the a la carte pricing model, customers can pick and choose exactly the options they want. If the customer only wants eight hours on the wedding day without DVDs or albums, then they can choose only that option. Good for the customers, but not necessarily good for you as a business owner. You may be losing the opportunity to earn more profits from upsells such as albums.
Most wedding photographers create wedding packages, giving tiered level of services and products for each price point. Bundling services through wedding packages allows for simplicity in pricing, without the line-by-line selling that you will do in a la carte pricing to convince customers to order particular items. Plus, it allows you to focus on selling the perceived total value of the package, including the features the customers may not have ordered in a la carte pricing.
One disadvantage when you offer wedding packages is that your packages may be badly designed, and that customers are not purchasing your more profitable packages. Or you may be giving away the entire kitchen sink, so to speak, because you are losing money from bundling items that would net more profit if purchased separately and outside of a wedding package.
The key is to find the right pricing model that allows you to maximize the potential revenue you can generate from each wedding and not leave anything out of the table. Experiment with the right pricing model for your wedding photography business.
Tips on Pricing Your Wedding Packages
If you choose to sell wedding packages, keep the number of packages you offer small. Don’t offer 20 packages especially if there’s no clear differentiating value for each. Limit the number of packages to 3, with 4 at the most, with a base package, followed by middle and high.
Keep the packages simple, and don’t throw anything and everything in your packages. You don’t want a situation where your customers will negotiate with you to bring down the price if they remove the parent album or guest album from the package. In this business, you will meet all kinds of people and there will be those who will nickel-and-dime your invoice in an attempt to bring the cost down to what the customer considers as “reasonable.”
One wedding photographer offers 3 packages, then a la carte pricing for add-ons or enhancements. This way, he is able to simplify his package while making sure that he is not leaving anything on the table should the customer decide to get other products or services. The enhancements he offers include different type of albums (guest book, gift albums, etc), quality of the albums, print packs, canvas portraits, even additional hours to be purchased.
In selecting the items that you will put in a package, it is important to know the profitability of these items and how bundling it in a package will affect how you are able to maximize profits from the product. For your business. what product or service gives the biggest profit margin? Most likely that will be the album. Now, do you want to include in the wedding package a 30-page 10×10 album? Or will you be missing out upsell opportunities, especially if the customer wants a 62-page 15×10 flush-mounted album with premium cover? Should you offer the album a la carte as enhancements, or should you simply include “album credits” that the customer can use when purchasing the album? These are the kinds of questions you need to consider when deciding on what products you should include in the wedding package.
When selling your wedding packages, clearly state the cost of the package and be sure that the client understands what they will be getting from the different packages. Specify what each package contains: the number of hours of service, number of photographers, number and quality of digital images they will receive, delivery methods (Internet, DVD, etc), and other items included. Explain the differences between each package.
If the customer will need additional time beyond the package they purchased, let them know about your policies for overtime fee (if any). Explain to them what could possibly account for overtime based on your past experiences to help them choose the right package for them based on what they want to achieve. Let them know how they can purchase additional hours.
Other Pricing Considerations
There are a number of other things that you need to consider in terms of pricing such as:
Determine how you will cost engagement sessions. Some wedding photographers offer complimentary engagement session if the couple purchases a full day package.
If you do destination weddings, be sure to determine the price that you will charge, which includes travel and hotel costs. Some wedding photographers charge for 3 nights in the hotel to allow them to research and familiarize themselves with the destination area in order to find suitable locations for photo shoots.
When creating albums for customers, specify how many revisions they are allowed to make for free, and what is the fee you will charge for any revisions beyond that. You need to make sure that the customers understand that there’s a fee involved after the 2nd revision, if that is the allowed number of revisions.
Decide how you will price the occasional multi-day weddings. This type of wedding may be more suitable for a quote rather than a wedding package.
It is important that you sit down with the customer and explain what is included in the wedding package. Specify everything in the signed contract. This will prevent any conflicts and disagreements when they receive an invoice for excess charges when they pick up their wedding albums, wedding enlargements etc.
Recommended Books on How to Price Your Wedding Photography Business:
- Start a Successful Photography Business in 34 Days: Actionable steps to plan a portrait or wedding photography business, develop a brand, launch a website, write a marketing plan & more.
- Profitable Wedding Photography
- Photography Business Secrets: The Savvy Photographer’s Guide to Sales, Marketing, and More
- Wedding Photography: Building a Profitable Pricing Strategy (Professional Photography Series)
- The Successful Wedding Photographer