Many years ago when shooting weddings I and most other photographers would arrive at the bride's house an hour before the ceremony and be finished just after arriving at the reception to take the posed cake cutting shot. There were no informal/reportage images, it was all formal and we'd walk away with our medium format Bronica's, Hasselblads, Metz flashguns and tripods with 5 or 6 rolls of 120 film having shot maybe 60-80 images.

 

Then it was waiting a few days for films to be processed before we actually saw results. I wonder how many photographers would join the industry if we were still shooting on film? Not as many I would think.

I was a latecomer to digital photography making the change from film in 2009...reluctantly. I really didn't like the quality of digital images back then, lack of details, washed out colours, basically digital images back then didn't compete with film.

As digital cameras became the norm and affordable the number of wedding photographers dramatically grew, photography had become affordable particularly as film was no longer required. Naturally the approach changed, photographers who were used to using medium format on a tripod now had DSLR's in their hands so the style changed to a far more journalistic approach and because there were no film and printing costs to consider, the amount of photos being taken at a wedding increased, now instead of 60 shots we were starting to take hundreds and now thousands.

New photographers were starting to undercut established professionals but the thing that was changing most was the amount of time spent shooting at weddings began to increase, not only were photographers going to the bride's house they were also going to the groom as well. The big change however was photographers now staying on to cover the evening reception.

There was no problem with all of this happening, photography styles were adapting to suit a different generation and a more relaxed approach certainly made for a wider variety of shots. It was a welcome and much needed change. The problem was that photographers weren't charging for staying the extra hours and that's where I feel the industry has shot itself in the foot.

For my own business I charge an additional £250.00 for a photographer to stay until the first dance, couples have the option of having coverage until the start of the wedding breakfast or it can be extended to cover through to the first dance, but this extra coverage is always priced separately. Personally I've never found this to be an issue, if a bride and groom like your service and it's reasonably priced they will see the value of paying extra.

Sometimes it's best not to offer everything you possibly can in your packages in the hope that by offering the earth it will attract new bookings. If all photographers charged separately for the evening it would benefit all of us. How many other trades wouldn't charge extra to stay for an additional few hours, particularly on a Saturday night?

As I've already said things change and photographers are now offering even more of their time for little return.....say hello to the free 'Pre-Wedding Shoot'!

Now with a pre-shoot I'm sure some photographers do make money, but others seem to be willing to go off for a few hours and end up giving a free print making no money. A lot of photographers are adding pre-shoots as it seems to add value to their packages, it does add value but not necessarily for the photographer.

So with a pre-shoot and evening coverage lets say that's an average of an extra 7 hours photography, plus the additional editing time. If you're charging for all of that then fine, if you're not charging extra for the additional hours of work it doesn't quite add up and it's not good for the industry long term.

I know we all like to go the extra mile and provide extra work without charging, as you know it's providing a good service but there is a line here that too many are crossing.

If you feel you're in that situation why not revisit your packages and work out if the hours you're working are justified, if not, try a gradual increase in your prices. Don't worry about what your competitors are doing, as long as you feel confident with your prices that's absolutely fine.