Flying First Class :: The Value of Premium Wedding Photography

Exploring The True Value of Premium Wedding Photography

If you have ever wondered how wedding photographers get away with charging what they do then you need to read this.

This article originally began life as a sales pitch to explain why I charged more than others for my wedding photography services.

My goal was to demonstrate why it was worth spending more on me and my services over the other guy who charges less.

The further I got into planning the pitch, the more I came to realise that the other guy’s approach to pricing is just as valid as my own.

I ended up deciding that it was best to do some proper research into the true value of wedding photography.

My big revelation was how wedding photography pricing is actually quite similar in many ways to airline fares.

Airlines and Wedding Suppliers

I know that plane ticket pricing is a sore subject for all of those who feel ripped off by the airlines.

The thing is, many people feel the same way about wedding suppliers.

It’s a common feeling amongst those trying to plan their own wedding that suppliers whack up their prices once they find out you are planning a wedding.

Both industries are also unfairly judged over the concept of charging more at peak season.

I have school age kids so I feel the pain of the summer holiday price hike.

As much as it pains me to admit, I also understand the economic concepts behind supply and demand.

Flying First Class

Both industries have similar distinction between first class and economy class, albeit the airlines are more upfront about the difference.

I have touched on this concept before, so if you have read my article Wedding Photography Prices Explained then you know what I am getting at here.

When you fly First Class on an airline the benefits are clear.

You get a bigger, more comfortable seat.

The meal is much better.

You board the plane before the economy folk.

Still, you won’t get to your destination any quicker.

The idea is that you will have a more pleasant experience and should arrive feeling much better than you did if you had been jammed in the back rubbing knees with the other travellers.

First Class Wedding Photography

The basic concept is similar to the airlines.

Whether you go for a ‘first class’ wedding photographer or not you should still get a decent set of photos of your wedding.

It’s all about the experience.

Disclaimer time!

Please keep in mind that I am generalising, and remember that judging a wedding photographer based on their price alone is an absolutely terrible idea.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s look at the difference between going First Class and Economy when it comes to choosing your wedding photographer.

Economy pricing relies on high volume.

Much like the airlines who pack in as many economy passengers as they can, cheaper wedding photographers have to book more weddings in order to make a decent living.

The numbers add up.  Look at a photographer who charges 750 per wedding, which is a pretty average price in the budget market.

I don’t want to bore you with the ins and outs of running a wedding business so let’s assume that to make an fair living, a self employed wedding photographer needs to turn over about 50k per year to come out with an average salary once the expenses are covered.

So, 50,000 at 750 per wedding is 53 weddings per year, one every week of the year.

High Volume Wedding Photography

Since most photographers are human they will be tempted to work towards a more than an average income.

As such they will look to pack as many weddings into their year as they possibly can.

Now, this is what I was originally going to say was a bad thing.

I now think it’s fine, so long as you understand that there are limitations inherent in this business model.

A photographer who covers upwards of 50 weddings per year needs to put restrictions in place on each job, otherwise they won’t be able to cope.

At 750 per wedding there isn’t enough to justify the expense of outsourcing editing photos meaning they will need to edit every wedding themselves.

That means when they are not photographing weddings they will be spending all their time editing about 100,000 photos every year!

They will need to make sure they don’t spend too much time on each wedding.  Therefore your photos will likely not get as much attention as they would if your photographer were doing fewer weddings in a year.

A Bigger Slice of the Pie

Going back to our airline analogy, if you want a bigger seat and more attention, you have to pay the premium and buy a First Class ticket.

The same is true with wedding photographers.

If you want more of their time you have to pay them more.

A photographer who charges 1,500 per wedding only needs to do 25 weddings per year to earn the same ‘average’ turnover as their 750 per wedding counterpart.

If that same photographer still decides to book 50 weddings then they will have the headroom to outsource some of the editing should they feel they are overwhelmed.

Why Both Approaches Are Fine

Some people fly economy because they simply cannot afford a first class ticket.

Others don’t think it’s worth the extra cost just to get an improved experience.

This is why the ‘economy’ wedding photographer market plays such a vital role in the wedding industry.

Ultimately, if for whatever reason you don’t want a premium wedding photographer then there are still options available to you.

For others, wedding photos deserve more care and attention, and it is those people who value the time and professionalism offered by the first class photographers.

A Real World Example

Since I’m a wedding photographer myself I might as well use myself as a case study.

I despise economy airlines.

Actually, to be specific, I hate the ‘hidden extras’ approach to pricing.

Yes, I still use cheap airlines when I need to hop across to another country, but I do so with gritted teeth.

The idea that I pay the advertised price for a ticket, only to find out that I need to pay more for ‘extras’ later.  I put ‘extras’ into quote marks because these are all options that I feel should be included in the price, like a seat number and checked luggage.

So when it comes to running my own business, I cater for those who think the same way I do.

Yes the initial price may not be so competitive.

The point is that there are no hidden extras.

You get what you signed up for.  So the ‘premium’ you are paying for is actually peace of mind.

For example, if it takes me a little longer to edit your photos than usual then so be it.  I won’t charge you for that extra time, nor will I cut short the editing time.  You’ll get the best possible photos from me, whatever it takes.

I can afford to do that because I take on fewer weddings per year.

Make sense?

I know that was a lot to take in.

Economics is not the most thrilling of topics.

If you have any questions or think I’m wrong please do let me know.

You can leave a comment below or get in touch via my contact page.

Oh and if you are wondering, yes, I took all the photos on this page :-).

Speak soon,

James

James Morgan

James is a professional wedding photographer based in Sheffield. He loves taking photos of people, tinkering with computers, real ale and red wine, and of course his family.
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