BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Teri F. Inman

What to Charge for First Wedding?

I have recently been asked by a new friend to shoot her wedding in December. She knows that I am an amateur but has seen my work, loves it, and is willing to "take a chance on me". Everyone has to start somewhere, and I feel that for what she is looking for I can do a good job. My question is what to charge her? Do any of you remember what you charged in your early years? Should I phone around to the local photographers to see what the going rate is, then half that? Do I charge by the hour? I also plan on doing some digital manipulation {collages, fading, hand tinting, etc.}. So I need to take my computer work into consideration. Also, do I offer all photos (which turned out}, OR a disk, or both? ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Teri in Canada

To love this question, log in above
10/23/2004 10:32:28 AM

Lori Carpenter
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/31/2004
  Hi Teri ...
My first wedding was a situation where my sister's friend was on a budget, really liked my pictures, and needed a photographer. With my limited knowledge of what was involved, we settled on $300 for 6 hours and 100 4x6's of her choice. She chose to proof all of her images on a CD (this saved me some money), and I had prices set for re-orders for the other sizes. Well, 6 hours ended up being 10 on the day of the wedding and, like you, I did digital work on a lot of the pictures ... so post-wedding was at least 30 hours of work. It didn't cost me any money out of pocket, but I donated soooooo much time that I hadn't figured in to the job.
I gave her the deal because of who she was and the fact I had never photographed a wedding exclusively. Since then, my prices have gone up, as well as my experience and skill. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything ... Despite the stress and all, I loved doing it.

To love this comment, log in above
10/23/2004 12:11:34 PM

Teri F. Inman   Thanks Lori for your most welcome input!! it sounds like you did alot of work for a little bit of money but then again you can`t really put a price on experience!!! Was that 300 US? is so then that would be about 500 canadian, which is the ball park I was thinking. i`m not really sure of her budget..thanks again Lori.....

Teri in Canada

To love this comment, log in above
10/23/2004 12:33:56 PM

Barry Johnston   Well, if it were me, I would take into consideration their financial status for a start. You wouldn't want to lose a friend because you were too expensive, and the experience would be worth a lot to you. Don't be shy; act like you really know what you are doing, and 'take control'.
Hope that helps....

(Western Australia)

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 2:09:20 AM

John Anthony   Hi Teri,

I shot my first wedding back in September. Now, I've been doing lots
of event photography for the last year which has greatly improved my skill level and boosted my confidence. I hope you've done a few events before you venture into a wedding which requires candid and portrait photography skills. I charged $150 for the wedding. I gave her the shots (1180 of them) straight out of the camera (I shot jpg and closely monitored my exposure) on CD. She gave me permission to post some of the photos on my website. Make sure you have 2 camera bodies, at least 2 lenses, 2 flashes and plenty of batteries. If not, rent the extra equipment. You need backup in case your equipment malfunctions. Bring your battery recharger if needed. Also, check out the church and the reception hall before the wedding day and check with the minister about shooting during the ceremony with/without flash. Ask the bride and groom for a shot list to work off of for the formal posed shots. Bottom line: be prepared and have fun. I had a blast, didn't make much money but now have a great reference and shots for my portfolio. Needless to say, I will be charging much, much more for my next wedding. For the record, the average rate in Canada for established wedding photographers is around $250-300/hour and the average photographer shoots around 350-400 shots.

Hope this helps.

John in Canada

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 7:07:42 AM

Jen Hernandez
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/11/2003
All my friends who are just starting out at wedding photography here in Calgary, Ab start at about $500. I wouldn't recommend giving an insane amount of pictures out though. Somewhere around 100, plus family photos, ceremony, reception. Talk to your friends first about how many they are expecting, and then you can sort them and only give them the best! If you overload them with pictures then your best shots are often overlooked. My last wedding ended up with 280 pictures for the entire day even though I shot around 500+. I look at each picture on its own and make sure it can stand alone as a great picture, you don't need to show anything less. Take lots of pictures throughout the day, but only give them the best. Anyways, my two cents. I know its difficult when you're just starting out, feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 9:37:38 AM

Cory Reynolds   Hi Teri .. I have a friend who I help with his weddings and what he does is he charges $400.00 - 500.00 US for 2 - 3 hours of work. But what he does, he picks the best 100 photos, and gets 4 x 6 done and puts them in a albulm for the bride and groom. He puts them on a CD with the 100, plus all the pictures that he takes that day. Then all the bride and groom does is takes it in and pick out what they want. I hope this helps ... Cory

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 2:17:27 PM

Stacey    Hi There :)
I am an amateur myself, but have done about 25 weddings for friends of friends and family for the past year and 1/2. My first 3 weddings I did at cost plus 20% for my time. I did it this way because I was not sure how many rolls of film I would use ect... & I wanted to make sure I covered my costs for sure. It was a good thing I did because I took almost 900 pictures that day :) As you do more and more weddings you will start to get a feel of what pictures you want to take ect... But for me doing It this way for the first 3 weddings boosted my confidence where I could charge a decent fee on my 4th, and be able to present a professional package.
Also, on my first 3 weddings, to help the couples feel more confident in using me, I gave them in the price, a copy of all pictures (that turned out) and the negatives. Every single one of them came back to me for additional work, enlargements, copys and digital alterations etc... which I charged additional for.

Just some tips :) I hope that helps. I have found that every wedding is extremely different, and I have learned something new from everyone I have done so far :)

- Stacey

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 3:47:12 PM

Chad G. Zuber
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/12/2003
  Hi Teri!

I shot my first wedding in May. It was for a friend of a friend. I charged him US$320. I gave him about 245 4x6 photos of the ceremony and reception shot all on 35 mm film. It was about US$175 total for my expenses. I also made a shot list before the wedding to make sure I got every essential shot. I referred to it often during the day. It was about 10 hours of work but I ate well during the reception, plus it was a lot of fun. They loved the photos and he is now contracting me to take some photos of his band. Now I will charge increasingly more money. Check out other photographers websites to get an idea on pricing. You'll be amazed!

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 8:05:20 PM

Donna L. Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/22/2002
  Hi Teri,
I am also starting out in photography.
I have shot 9 weddings now and charge $500.00 - $800 US and give them all the prints that are good (about 200) and the negatives. Many photographers in our area in Calif. are doing it that way so the couple can get enlargements done on their own. Many here change $2000. for the day when they include the negatives but I'm uncomfortable charging that much! My cost is usually about $150.00 plus the cost of an album. I put the best 200 in an album. Many just give the photos in an envelope along with negs. but again I don't feel comfortable doing it this way. It takes time to place them in a album but it makes a much nicer presentation. Each photo has the # on the back so they can get reprints easily. I use a Canon EOS 7 and though I've studied how to shot weddings digitally I prefer film for the time being. I have a list of 100 poses that I have the bride and groom go over when we meet beforehand. I would be happy to send you a copy if you like.....
Hope this helps!
Donna Jones

To love this comment, log in above
10/26/2004 9:19:55 PM

Teri F. Inman   Thankyou sooooooo much Barry, John, Jen, Cory, Stacey, Chad, and Donna. I really appreciate ALL of you taking the time to help me out here. All your input is VERY helpful to me and I am overwhelmed by your willingness to share your knowledge with me. I look forward to applying this to the wedding. Once again Thankyou all so much.....

Teri in Canada

To love this comment, log in above
10/31/2004 4:35:42 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.