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How much to charge for an engagement shoot and wedding?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Marine Paethor, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. Marine Paethor

    Marine Paethor Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2013
    I've been asked to shoot engagement pictures, and eventually wedding pictures for someone I don't know. I've done events, and senior pictures for people, but it's always been for friends or family, so I've never charged anyone. I realize this is kind of a loaded question, because everyone considers their time to be worth something different, but what does everyone think a fair price range for a couple hour engagement shoot, then eventually the wedding? The engagement shoot will be within the next couple of weeks, and the wedding is some time next year. I've Googled it a bit, and like anything, prices range all over. Since I value the thoughts and opinions of this group, I just want to take any ideas I can get from here to try and formulate a good price.

    Thanks for any thoughts or advice you can offer.
  2. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    As you have not previously shot paid events, I would be cautious about how much you charge, as I suspect that expectations would probably increase with your fee. I cannot tell you how many wedding disasters I have read over the years at photo.net's wedding forum, even from experienced photographers, but especially from first timers, and it reminds me why I have absolutely no interest in that kind of stress.

    Good luck,

  3. Yep... it is tough to price things like this especially when new to the game. I've never shot a weeding but was once recommended by a friend to a couple that were getting married because of my previous landscape and misc. photos. Upon asking a friend that shoots weddings what to charge... he reminded me of all the hassle and for each hour shooting would probably be another hour editing. For this reason, he said he recommended I start at $600 and no less for a package with just CD of photos and no prints. So... that is the price I gave them. The couple eventually found a family friend to do it for $400. Oh well.. my feelings weren't hurt and still say I would not do one for less than $600.

    Really though, you have to think what would make it worth it for you. Consider you will have this to add to portfolio and more experience and then consider your time you will have invested and how much equipment you are going to use and then look at what others in your area (your region of the world or US can make a difference on going rate too) and just try to hit something on the lower end of what seems reasonable but still worth your time. :wink:
  4. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    You've shot events? Weddings? Weddings are as much about planning, being prepared, and handling changes / equipment issues. Please don't take this the wrong way but if you are not really ready and prepared to take this step then my advice is don't. Backups, backups and backup.

    I don't really mean to get up on a soap box. But it's a pet peeve for me.

    As for pricing, it you start at a shoot and burn price than breaking out of that range is hard. Any event you get as a referral from a shoot and burn event will be looking for that same price.
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  5. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan

    If you're being paid then you're a 'professional' - so I would look at 'errors and omissions' insurance and speak to someone in your area knowledgeable in the insurance field. "Volunteer" photographers can be sued by the unhappy couple but I think your odds are better of not being sued as a volunteer than they are as a professional. All may be sweetness and light now but if the new Mr. & Mrs. aren't happy with the results when the honeymoon is over it would be smart to limit your liability before agreeing to shoot the event.

    Certainly you'll need a written contract (How many hours? How many locations? What scenes will be photographed? What type of prints? Who retains the copyright? Can you get access the the venue to check the lighting before the shoot? Etc., etc., etc.).

    Loss insurance on equipment?

    Are there local laws on licensing for photographers? Do you need a DBA ("doing business as")? Are there fees associated with that?

    Backup gear? As a pro you'll need to, as far as possible, want to guarantee results; having a flash go down during the event is only an excuse if you're shooting as a pal, not as a pro...

    All of this ratchets the price up (insurance isn't free; legal advice isn't free; backup gear isn't free). Certainly costs can be kept reigned in and not prevent you from shooting (after all, those who shoot weddings full time have business expenses and yet they keep showing up with a camera...) but you need to factor them into your price.

    My opinion? There are only two ways to go - either offer the service for free as a token of your esteem, or bill on an hourly rate that allows you to protect your interests and still make a profit.

    As for the specific price (once you've looked at expenses) I would look at local photographers prices and charge something above the median and below the maximum unless you're looking at making this a test case before getting into the business and are willing to do it for cost this time around. Edit: And as David points out above - breaking out of the 'break even' mode can be difficult; the next couple will want the same deal...:frown:.

    I wish you well!


    • Like Like x 2
  6. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    I had a lot of this in my response and then deleted it and kept it simple. Contracts, DBA, Insurance, backup gear, all required (or should be). Even it the if the couple is OK without it I've worked several places that require a 2,000,000 rider to enter the building. And backups? Well it's been a few years since this but you get the idea. Luckily actually the groom is an EMT and I didn't break any body parts.

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  7. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    $300/hr engagement/portrait session
    3000+/- for a wedding, but I have done quick weddings for friends for $1000.
  8. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
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