So we recently wrote an article about how much wedding photographers charge (and I’ll grab some content from that for this article) but it got me thinking about the other side of the coin – how much do photographers make?
I’m going to dive into potential earnings for photographers.
It’ll also roughly cover some ideas on things you need to think about when charging for your wedding photography services.
We train and mentor alot of wedding photographers and keeping an eye on the amount of hours spent per booking is something we all struggle with, so it’s something we try to keep track of.
Looking at our business, every single wedding we photograph has a workload that looks something like this:
- Meetings, Emails and Phone Calls Before booking – 2 hours
- Meetings Emails and Phone Calls after booking – 2 hours
- Engagement Session – 3 hours
- Editing the engagement session – 2 hours
- Venue scouting, either in person or using the internet – 2 hours
- The Actual Wedding – 10hrs
- Editing the wedding – 10hrs
- Delivering the wedding – 1hr
- Designing an Album – 3hrs
That represents quite a conservative estimate of where the time goes, but having personally shot weddings that lasted more that 15 hours and having had couples that required a lot more nurturing, I can confidently say it’s usually a lot more.
So in total, a single wedding requires a minimum of 35 hours investment of time.
This calculation also doesn’t factor in time spent on clients that don’t book.
300+ enquiries a year, even conservatively saying you spend 10 minutes per enquiry, is 50 hours.
Often it’s much higher, and some enquiries require meetings and still don’t book.
Then we consider rescheduled meetings and engagement sessions, work spend on additional editing, extra meetings, networking with vendors – all the little things add up.
Hi, I’m Simon
Photography is an incredible career and one I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed for close to two decades.
When I’m not photographing incredible weddings and events, I love helping other photographers build successful brands and offer the best service for their clients.
Wherever you’re looking to take your business, I can help you get there. Whether you’re starting out, you’ve lost direction or you need more enquiries, we can work together through the issues holding you back.
For mentoring, 1:1 guidance & speaking opportunities drop me a message – email@example.com
How much to charge as a wedding photographer?
Say you want to make an reasonably average wage of £35,000 a year… and you want to shoot 25 weddings a year?
You need to charge £1400 per wedding.
Ok, maybe you want to work less? Lets say you’d rather do 15 weddings a year (Understandable – they’re hard work!)
You need to charge £2333 per wedding.
Ok you’re not afraid to work every weekend, shooting 52 weddings a year and doing it for less than the competition… of course, say bye to your family and social life…but…
You can get away with charging £670ish per wedding.
I’d never recommend the latter, and if you put in the amount of additional work we do for each wedding…
Your hourly rate would be £1.92 an hour. I know people that make it work, but it doesn’t lend itself to delivering a high quality product.
Also, the above calculations don’t factor in taxes or any costs of doing business. But that’s a whole different article.
So how much does a photographer make?
I know wedding photographers that make anything from £15,000 to £150,000 per year, with most full time established professionals, lying in the £35,000-55,000 range.
It’s a reasonable salary and there are lots of benefits to the work besides money:
- Flexible hours (during the week at least!)
- Creative expression
- Interesting work (meeting lots of people!)
- Potential for growth
- Good community
But there are draw backs to the job, such as:
- A lack of stability
- Potentially more difficult to prove earnings for mortgages etc.
- A huge amount of pressure – the memories of a day that families have invested hugely into are your responsibility!
- Anti-social working hours (say bye to weekends!)
- Vulnerability to injury/illness affecting earnings
Wedding Photographers and the VAT Threshold
A large percentage of wedding photographers are able to make an annual salary approaching the UK VAT threshold of £85,000. Many chose to stay just below this threshold as Wedding Photographers are unable to claim very much back if they do have to pay VAT.
Unlike other industries where materials cost a lot and you might have a lot of outgoings and expenses for each job, wedding photography is heavily focused on an investment in time and skill, as opposed to materials. Yes, you may purchase equipment, but that usually will be infrequent.
Some rough maths shows that a wedding photographer who earns £90,000 and thus has just crossed the VAT threshold, would have to pay an additional 20% to the HMRC in VAT – around £18,000. This is on top of their existing income tax obligations. Reducing their take home pay down considerably.
Essentially, you would need to earn around £120,000 to compensate for the additional VAT obligation – and assuming a profit of £2000 per wedding, you would need to take on an extra 17 weddings a year. A huge increase in both workload and time – for very little benefit.
TDLR For Journalists writing articles about Wedding Photography Salary UK
I regularly get asked for quotes from journalists on the salary of UK wedding photographers and I’m more than happy to offer one in exchange for credit by way of a link.
A typical UK wedding photographer salary is in the £35-50k range. Some range up to around £80k and stay beneath the VAT threshold. Some part time wedding photographers charge a lot less and work another full time job alongside photography. They often make £10-20k a year.
Studios with associate shooters covering high end Luxury Weddings may turnover millions in revenue and pay their photographers £50-75k, or on a per wedding basis depending on skill and experience.
Want help with your business?
Wherever you’re looking to take your business, I can help you get there.
Whether you’re starting out and struggling with setting your rates, maybe you’re more established and you’ve lost direction and want an honest opinion of where to focus your efforts or you need more enquiries and want help with SEO/marketing, we can work together through the issues holding you back.
For mentoring & 1:1 guidance, drop me a message – firstname.lastname@example.org