Why do photographers cost so much?

It’s the question that many people ask (especially blokes) which is… “Why do photographers cost so much?”.

We’ve also heard many comments over the years such as “Everything with the word ‘Wedding’ attached to it has an extra zero at the end”.

Now these comments have never been directed at us personally, but we’ve certainly heard them said in various settings.

There are many reasons that people charge what they do and while I can’t tell you why other people charge what they charge (that’s not for me to say), I will happily speculate based on our own beliefs.

What I can do for sure is tell how we arrived at the pricing structure we have in place for both our wedding and newborn photography.


18 years in the making

Try to think what you’ve done in the past 18 years. It’s a long time, right?

Well 18 years ago both myself and Shazia were starting our first year at university together. We didn’t study photography at the time (we studied filmmaking) but it was our filmmaking degrees that led us onto the photography path that we’re following today.

Much of who we are, how we shoot, our style and how we visualise everything comes from our filmmaking background, so it could be said that we’ve been on this journey for 18 years.

Over those years we’ve spend countless hours and a huge amount of money investing on ourselves. Our initial degrees, continued training courses (even today), practice shoots, learning new techniques all form the time we invest in ourselves to continually improve as photographers.

If we were employed, our employer would increase our salary as we moved up the career ladder. As owners of our own business, only we can do this so just like in any other career, improvement in skillsets typically correlates with an increase in take home pay.

For us, it’s no different. All the time we’ve invested should and deserves to be rewarded.

Time = Money

Do you know what is more valuable to me than money?


Why? Because money can never buy one second of time.

My time is very valuable to me because however I choose to spend it, I’ll never get it back. We have a lot of time invested in what we do.

Before, during and after weddings, the same for newborn sessions. Running of the business takes up a lot of time. Answering emails, doing admin and the books. Even updating the website and keeping on top of social media is a full time job in itself.

Now don’t get me wrong, we LOVE what we do. We love our jobs and our clients, but it only works for us if we can make it viable and sustainable to do as a living.

If we’re going to give up our time to do a job, we need to make sure we’re happy doing it and just like any job, you need to be making enough money and be valued.

We don’t have bosses or employers to make us feel valued. That comes down to our couples and the people who love what we do. They are our employers in a sense and as such, they’re also the ones who pay us. They’re the ones who we need to make sure are happy (just like a boss) but the key difference with us is that our relationships with our couples is more of a “working together” relationship instead of a “working for” relationship.

Our time that we spend invested in our relationships with our couples is so important to us and as such, it’s important that we’re paid occordingly. Our couples understand that and value it.


Money = Value

The more than someone spends on something, the more they value it. It’s true of anything.

If you’re spending your hard earned money on something, you’re going to value what it’s being spent on. Whether it’s a holiday, meal out, a house, holiday… it’s always the same.

We noticed a big correlation over the years between our pricing going up and how much we’re fed at weddings. The more our prices went up, the more our couples offered to feed us on the wedding day. This is because they truly valued us being there and spending the days with them.

Yes they’d paid us for us to be there, but they’d spent that money knowing how important it was to them and how much it meant to them.




It will ALWAYS cost more than you’d like it to

I don’t believe in things being “too expensive” anymore. Things for me now “cost what they cost”.

Let me explain…

We’d always like to pay less for something given the choice.

If you went to buy a car and had a £5k budget, but saw the car you really wanted for £7k, you’d be wishing it was £5k, because you’d rather spend £5k than £7k. It doesn’t mean you won’t pay the £7k, it just means you’d rather pay £5k.

This works another way too…

Let’s say you were going to buy a new pair of shoes that you’d seen for £100. You’re happy to pay the £100, but when you arrive at the store, they’re on offer for £70. Great!! You’re not going to say “No, I’ll still give you the £100.” You’re going to pay £70 and keep the £30 for yourself because you’ll always prefer to pay less if you can.

Just consider this when looking at wedding photographers (or wedding suppliers in general).

The price will likely always be more than you’d like to pay ideally, but just because you’d rather pay less, that doesn’t mean it’s expensive or “not worth it”. It just means that it’s more than what you thought it was, but the chances are just like that new car you really want, you still find value (and the extra money) to pay for it when you see the value in doing so.


Remember, it’s not just one day

I know you know this but whether it be a wedding or newborn session, it isn’t just one day’s work.

Take a wedding for example. There’s all the prep beforehand to get ready for the day. Then there’s the day of the wedding itself. Typically 10 hours on average. Then it’s onto editing, which can take several days.

It’s the same for newborns. There’s the prep, the photography session, the viewing session and the editing. I know for me, I spend a lot of time editing babies.  There’s so much editing that needs to be done with babies but it’s also one of those things that, if done well, your couples will never know has been done.

Hours in photoshop.

Now this is one of those ‘it is what it is’ situations, but good clients and the right couples know and appreciate the work that goes into creating our beautiful images, even if they don’t know the specifics.


Equipment and costs of doing business. They cost money!

So almost everyone who is self employed will have something called “cost of business”. Essentially, it’s all their costs, added up throughout the year, that are involved in running their business in order to provide you with their services.

  • Cameras
  • Computers
  • Storage
  • Memory cards
  • Utilities
  • Software
  • Accountant
  • Car
  • Insurance
  • Etc etc

Everyone has costs involved in running a business and you’d be very surprised at just how much it costs to run a successful business.

  • Cameras and lenses need to not only be purchased but also serviced every year.
  • Computers, yep we need those to edit our images.
  • Insurance… well we need that or we’re not allowed to work.
  • A car, yep we need one of those to get to weddings and to the studio.
  • Repairs and maintainence? Yep, things break and need replacing.

You get the idea.

The way we work out our cost of business is to add all our costs up for the year, add on a salary for us both that we need to live and that makes up our cost of business.

Then, we decide how many weddings we want to do per year and work out how much we need to charge per wedding to hit that figure.

That, in a nutshell, is how we work out how much to charge. It’s that simple.

So while it may seem like we “cost a lot”. The truth is that this is what it takes for us to going as a business and keep on going.

The cheapest NEVER survive!

Someone told me years ago that if you manage to keep your business running for over three years that you’re considered successful.

The same person told me that most business have to cease trading because of cashflow issues. Let me explain.

In the ten years we’ve been running Choc Chip, we’ve seen many photographers come and go. Many will come in cheap, which seems really attractive to some couples (especially for weddings) as they’re getting a cheap deal, but the only problem with this is that it’s not sustainable as a business.

We’ve seen people take on loads of cheap bookings but they’re not making enough profit, so they take on more bookings to try and make more money, but then they get too busy and can’t keep up. Their customer service falters and they start getting a bad rep. Then before they know it they’re getting so stressed they decide to just give up and cease trading, leaving many couples due to get married without a photographer and out of pocket.



Don’t believe me? It happens all the time, even before covid, but now we get constant enquiries for people looking for last minute photographers becasue their photographers have let them down or gone bust.

You ever heard the saying “pay cheap, pay twice”?

If you haven’t then remember it well. We’ve seen enough and heard enough stories over the years.


You get what you pay for

Another saying that we now live by in every aspect of our lives is the following…

“You get what you pay for”.

This links in heavily to what I was talking about in the last section.  It isn’t always the case and there are exceptions of course, but more often than not, the more you spend on something, the better it will be. This is true of both products and services.

Whether it best quality materials, equipment or simply that more time has been invested in the product or service over the years, it comes back to what I was saying earlier that time = money.

If you want to book a photographer who is an expert in their field, the chances are they’ve reached that point by investing a lot of time in what they do.

The more time they’ve spent, the more money they’ll have spent too and as such, the money money they’ll be charging.



We’ve got bills to pay too, just like folks with “real jobs”

We have a running joke between ourselves (and others) that one day, we’ll have to get real jobs. Now I say this as a joke, of course our jobs are real jobs, but with clients who are doctors, paramedics, scientists and engineers all the way through to folks who work in the service industry (just like we once did)… we often joke that those are real jobs. We just take photos and eat canapés.

The truth is that while I joke about it, some people don’t see us as having real jobs. It may well very be subconscuous but things like asking photographers for discount and trying to barter with photographers over price are all signs that our jobs aren’t taken seriously.

If you were employed, would you take a pay cut for working the same hours? I think not.

We’ve still got bills, mortages, fuel, shopping, food, holidays we want to take… just like regular folks and as such, we need to make a good living too.


We do more than just “take pictures”

We don’t get anyone trying to negotiate on price with us anymore and the reason for that is because the couples who book with us truly value what we do for a living. They truly value the skill and dedication involved and they also value what our photographs will bring to their lives.

For us, capturing those memories for our couples, whether it be a wedding or a newborn baby, those memories will not only last forever but they make people really happy.

The other point to make is that our photographs are also of a very high standard. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of practice and training which I touched upon earlier.

Our clients know that value in what we do and what it’s taken us to get there, even if they don’t know the full story.