A wedding budget is one thing many brides consider when starting to plan their weddings. Like a shopping for a new car or planning a vacation, most of us have a predetermined amount (budget) they are considering to spend on something. If you are one of the lucky ones, who don’t have worry about a wedding budget limitation: Well. Congratulations! This article might not be relevant for you then.
For the rest of the brides, who do have a wedding budget and are determined to fit into it, here are few thoughts on why not all wedding photographers advertise their prices. It is one of the most common complains I have heard from brides and widely discussed online, so decided to summarize my experience into this blog article.
So back to the question: Why Wedding Photographers Hide Their Prices?
Before we dive into the reasons why the prices for wedding photography might not be easy to find and understand, let’s first take a look at what a bride looking to understand how much a wedding photographer might cost, could find out on her own. There are basically three most likely outcomes:
#1: Zero Information: Some wedding photographers don’t list any prices on their websites. Nothing related to prices at all. If a bride is lucky, she might stumble upon few sentences as: “Your wedding is unique and we would like to ensure you would receive the best service possible. Contact us for further pricing information … etc”.
#2: Some Information But Not All: Other photographers might have listed a starting service fee and explanation of how a package can be customized to tailor the bride’s needs. Items as prints, albums, second photographer, etc can be added to the starting price as one see fit but no pricing for these items is provided. The pricing info available would look like: “Wedding packages starting at $3,500 (this will vary from photographer to photographer). Contact us for detailed pricing information … etc”.
#3: Comprehensive Pricing: The last group of wedding photographers provide detailed information not only about the service fee and the complete wedding photography package, but details on all included items or services. This would be example: second photographer, prints, photo retouching, high-resolution images, digital images, etc.
So now that we know what a bride can expect to find online, let’s analyze why a wedding photographer would opt for choice #1, #2 or #3 and talk about the pros and cons for each approach. Hopefully that would help you to understand some of the reasoning and answer the main question we started with: Why Wedding Photographers Hide Their Prices?
#1: No Prices or Whatsoever Pricing Information Exist:
Why you might ask?
Well, the reason is that these photographers consider themselves the most sought ones, the cream of the crop, among all wedding photographers. Because the demand for their services is so high, they think clients would pay any price for their services and as the money are not an issue for these types of clients, why bother to list prices in the first place. Most of these photographers (well respected and established professionals indeed) have built their reputation of masters of the wedding photography business and don’t take on any client. So if they can pick and choose their clients, and would be a privilege for the client to book their services, so they can name their own price too.
Word of caution here: It also, could be that you are lured into a wedding photography scam. To learn more about protecting yourself from fraudulent wedding photographers, consider reading How To Avoid Wedding Photography Scams
Pros: Unless you are dealing with a wedding photographer who just launched its website and hasn’t posted any prices yet, you, like a bride, would already know enough about the photographer’s style, reputation and have the money to afford it. You would get an amazing wedding images to remind you of your wedding day and bragging rights of having hired a famous wedding photographer.
Cons: Not everyone can afford to hire a photographer who can name its own price. It also might get you a while to hear back from the photographer or not hear back at all. He or she is busy working with other affluent clients and even if you can afford it, you might have to book way in advance to get your date or consider getting married next year.
#2: Starting Prices Available But the Entire Wedding Photography Package is a Mystery That Needs To Be Unraveled:
This scenario is somehow better than #1 but still doesn’t answer our bride’s question: Can I afford this wedding photographer and are his/her services within my budget? To find the pricing, a bride has to email, call or leave a voice message for the photographer and hope to receive a prompt response. To make things worst, the response on “How much a such and such package would cost me?” question, might not be what she expects: an easy to understand price tag.
Why? There are many reasons, but the most common one I have heard, after speaking with brides and fellow wedding photographers, is: The wedding photographer who doesn’t provide complete pricing information but only a starting price, would first try to find out the date and name of the wedding venue.
And you guested it right: high demand, creates shortage and therefore justifies higher prices. Not all wedding dates and venues are created equal. Some wedding dates are more popular than others because of the weather pattern, relatives availability, religious and ethnic reasons. So are the venues. Many are simply more are expensive than others. So if many seek to book the same wedding date and the bride can afford to spend more than $20,000 on a venue, that speaks to the total amount of bride’s wedding budget.
And so these wedding photographers are simply adjusting their prices according to the demand for the wedding date and the overall wedding budget. Think of it like a floating pricing. The more budget the bride has, the more they charge. What would be the target price you might think? Well, let’s say it is between 10-15% of the wedding budget. So once these photographers figure out the total wedding budget, it’s simply a matter of calculating 15% of this amount and naming it as wedding photography package price.
Well, I can feel how some of you might have their brains exploding right now and getting their blood pressure raising. Some might be even ready to scream: This is an outrage! It feels like, me spending more than 6 hours in a car dealership, dealing with sleazy salesman who was trying to extract as much money as he could for my new car. I hate being taken advantage of. It feels like I am begging someone to answer a simple question: How much would it cost?
Well, I don’t blame you. You have the right to feel this way and most of you after not even considering option #1 and being completely outraged by option #2, now hope there is an option #3 to calm down your nerves. Well, you are in luck because option #3 does exists and might provide the answer to your question: It this wedding photographer for my budget or not?
But let’s first review the pros and cons of option #2 before we move down to option #3.
Pros: At least, you have a starting point to qualify the photographer, although as you heart might be telling you this might be a trap to get you into the door only to find out latter than the “add-on’s” quickly add up and make the overall package not affordable. You will at least get some idea about the pricing and something is better than nothing. You can continue to inquire for the rest of the information and get a chance to communicate with the photographer, therefore understanding how fast it responds to information requests, how detailed is, how it communicates: verbally or in written form, etc.
Cons: The final price might be miles apart from the listed starting price, so you might be wasting your time with this photographer. You might also have to spend an additional time and further questioning before getting to know the final price. It will for sure, delay you getting the answer to the question: Can I afford this photographer or Not? and if you are on a hurry to make a decision or don’t like to be interrogated before seeing to the price tag, you might be better off to consider option #3 instead.
So, don’t get depressed. There is a hope. So let’s jump to option #3 and see what it is all about.
#3: Not Only the Entire Wedding Package Price Information is Available But Also All the Services Are Listed in Great Details:
There are photographers who are listing the pricing and detailing their services on their websites. These wedding photographers understand how valuable your time is. They themselves, feel that price and services offered should be easy to find and understand as walking into a store and reading the price label. Or like shopping online where everything has easy to see and understand price. They believe that in today’s information age one should not have to call, text or email to get a price for a service.
These photographers also understand that answering their client’s questions before they even ask them is simply matter of great customer service. A bride visiting their website, doesn’t have to struggle into finding the information she is looking for. After all, anticipating client’s needs and providing answers before any questions arises, it is what clients want. To see an example of detailed pricing for wedding and other portrait photography sessions, take a look at Trifon Anguelov Photography Pricing
Pros: Pricing and services information is available at first sight. No need to waste time for inquiries and communication back and forth before qualifying a photographer for the wedding budget. Knowing everything about the pricing and services makes it easy to make a decision. You will not feel like taken advantage of or have post-wedding remorse when finding out other clients paid less for the same photographer and same coverage. And if the pricing is straightforward to get hold of and understand, so would be your experience dealing with the photographer.
Cons: Well, I cannot think of any. In today’s instant gratification society and information age, it does make sense to see an easy to understand price of almost anything.
I hope this information was useful for brides to understand some of the reasons why some wedding photographers don’t post the prices for their packages and services. As with everything in life, there is no uniform truth, neither this does apply to all wedding photographers. Nor it is a rule you should follow 100%. Having or not having wedding services pricing available is also not a measure of wedding photographer skills or the quality of images he or she can deliver. So keep these considerations in mind and apply your own judgement when selecting a wedding photographer.
For additional information to help you plan your wedding day, make sure to read my Wedding Photography FAQ Guide.
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About the Author:
Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Wedding and Events photography business based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can follow him on social media by checking on the social links in the top right side block.