How Wedding Photographers Get You To Spend More

wedding photographer cost

While researching wedding photographers for my upcoming wedding, I’ve been looking at tons of photography websites and other industry publications, trying to find photographers in my area that are valued in their trade. In doing so, I came across a fascinating online article that literally has me SEETHING.

Photo District News, otherwise known as PDN, is a respected monthly magazine for the “professional photographer,” and apparently for the professional scam artist. They published an article on their website, 14 Ways to Get Your Wedding Clients to Spend More, that details how wedding photographers can basically lie and cheat in order to get more money from us disillusioned brides. I’ve listed out some of their gems, below, and their verbatim reasoning behind each tip:

Offer a basic package with no album to make it easier for clients to book you, then coax them into an album.

“It’s easier [to get clients to commit] to gradual installments than to one big slam up front,” says a wedding photographer who asked not to be identified, for fear of offending clients. Her base package is $5750 for 9 hours of coverage, sans album. “If I started at $7500 or $8000, including an album, I wouldn’t get hired in first place,” she says. As the wedding approaches, she suggests an album, and offers a discount if the client commits to it before the wedding. Most end up committing to a 20 page album. Afterwards, the photographer builds anticipation by talking excitedly about the album and telling clients “you’re going to want more pages.” Clients end up buying 50-60 page albums on average, she says.

Over-design your albums.

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. The idea is that once clients see the album you’ve designed is better than the one they’ve ordered, they won’t be able to resist spending more money than they intended to. The better the photography and design, the more successful it is likely to be.

If a client hasn’t bought an album, get them back into your studio after the wedding to see what their album could look like.

[Photographer Arik] Hoek does that by asking clients to come in to pick up proof prints or a DVD they’ve bought as part of a low-end package. “Don’t ship it. Make them come and get it,” he says.

And one of my personal favorites…

Play on your clients’ natural inclination to spend as much as everyone else.

For instance, Jeff and Julia Woods offer a basic album as part of their packages, but plant a seed in clients’ minds from the outset that they’ll probably want to spend more for a better album because everyone else does.

Now, I’m not going to ONLY point my finger at wedding photographers when it comes to trying to get us brides to pay as much money as we can. Caterers, florists, and venues all play their own part. A friend of mine, who used to work in the restaurant industry, said it was common for restaurants to charge up to 30% more for a catered event if it was a wedding. That’s right…the same amount of food, drinks, service, etc. would be 30% LOWER if, say, it was a birthday party opposed to a wedding. Don’t get me wrong…I understand that a business is a business and they’re there to make a profit. But there’s a big difference between profit and price-gouging.

Have you experienced subtle or even obvious price-gouging from any of your vendors? Did you call them out on it? Let me know in the comments section!

Planning a wedding? Stay on budget and read more about how much wedding photographers cost, how much wedding flowers cost, and how much wedding cakes cost.

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7 Comments

  • Meredith says:

    Dear WGM

    Okay so I understand how you might be annoyed or frustrated by this article in PDN. I am a photographer myself as well as a bride-to-be. First of all these tactics aren’t anything new. Photographers are sales people and they make money on albums and prints. This is no different then a car sales man showing having you test drive the premium model of the car you are interested and then telling you how much each of the extras are in addition to the original price you discussed. It is a common business practice to sell a base price and then add on extras later. If they can afford it they will do it if not they will come back later when then can or they will be happy with what they got in the basic package.

    Also, I have photographed weddings (not for $7000 for 9hrs, that seems crazy to me but everyone’s budget is different) and their is a reason that you pay say $2500 for a photographer for 8 hours of photography. Not only is photographing a wedding hard work. You need to be both quick and creative in addition to being well trained and understanding photography and lighting. Also, there is a lot of additional work your photographer does after the wedding working on your photos. No matter how good a photographer you are their is still downloading, backing up of files, editing, color correction, processing, exporting, archiving and storage of all your images. This usually takes any where from 40-80 hrs to do. On average a photographer shoots 5-10 images a minute x 480 minutes (8 hrs) that is 2400-4800 images to sort through for an 8 hour wedding. This is all with out any album or prints being ordered which requires retouching.

    In addition, a good wedding photographer likely have gone to school and/or taken classes to learn their trade and perfect their art and keep up with trends in the industry by attending seminars and conferences otherwise they would not be able to stay in business. All of these things need to be paid for as well as their normal bills in addition to keeping their equipment working and up to date with technology, plus pay for business and equipment insurance, the list goes on but I think I have made my point. It is not as simple as showing up and clicking a button for 8 hours. There is a lot more involved. I know it seems expensive but in reality when the wedding is over and it is all said and done all you will have left is your wedding photos and a beautiful dress you will likely never wear again.

  • Lilly Rose says:

    I don’t think this is price gouging.. It’s smart business. Professional wedding photographers are trying to make money just like everyone else in the wedding industry. A smart bride will shop within her price range and choose a photography package within her budget. I don’t think it’s crazy that a photographer wants to get a client in the studio to try and upsell. And I doubt it would be a secret that no album was included in the package.

  • TenThouBride says:

    [Choke] [Gasp] $7000-$8000 for photography! I love photography…and it will certainly be a HUGE part of our budget, but $7-$8,000 is way over the top! (At least I think)

    I love that you asked photographers about this because it’s not just speculation “I think they’re doing this….”

    No blame on photographers at all…everyone who charges thousands of dollars can because they’re in demand, they create beautifully unique photos and everything like that…I shop on the WPJA for photojournalists…I thought I was going to be over-paying paying $1500 for a great photographer!

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