Starting a Wedding Photography Business

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The business of Wedding Photography

OK, so you want to be a wedding photographer and can take nice photos in challenging conditions. What next?

If you’re very new to wedding photography, you might want to watch my video first to catch a few of the basics.

Wedding photography is a business

Much as we love photography – and I really do love the feeling of producing a set of photos that the couple will love – in order to be able to do that over the long term you need to make money from your wedding photography.

At the very basic level, wedding photography is like any other business:

Profit = Turnover – Costs

Where Profit is what you can take out of the business, Turnover is every penny you get in and Costs are the things your business needs to pay for.

You need to produce enough Profit after tax to live. So, taking it one step further to your own income:

Income = Profit – Tax

Income

So, let’s say that you need £26k to live on (you can choose this figure depending on the living you require – but this is the average salary at the moment). Taking tax into account, your profit would therefore need to be at least £35k.

Profit…!

Profit is the amount of money which you can legitimately take out of your business. In wedding photography you can achieve £35k per year in many ways:

One wedding for £35,000
Two weddings for £17,500
Ten weddings for £3,500
Fifty weddings for £700
Two hundred wedding for £175
Where wedding photography differs from a standard business is in the amount of wedding you can do per year. There are 52 weeks and most people get married on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so the maximum number of weddings you can do per year is around 150. Then you have to consider your poor body: doing 150 weddings will certainly be tiring and hard to achieve in terms of sales. Let’s say 70 is a realistic absolute maximum then (although most photographers do 20 to 40).

The market also provides some realistic minimums and maximums that you can charge for a wedding – with most people charging between £200 and £3,500 depending on their product, quality and experience level. So your realistic options are further reduced:

70 weddings at £35,000/70 = £500 per wedding
50 weddings at £35,000/50 = £700 per wedding
30 weddings at £35,000/30 = £1150 per wedding
20 weddings at £35,000/20 = £1750 per wedding
10 weddings at £35,000/10 = £3500 per wedding
You need to decide where your product is right now compared with the market average and therefore how many weddings you need to book. Very few photographers can start at the higher end of this charging scale, so you’re likely going to need to work your way up – with many starting around £500 for a day.

You should also be aware that this is an average price – some weddings will provide more income and some will provide less. This means that, if you are doing 20 weddings at £1750 per wedding, you probably need to achieve between £1500 and £2000 income.

Let’s move forward with 30 weddings at £1150 average income per wedding, but you can decide where your product sits on this scale.

Costs

Very important for your business is the costs, and this is the bit that many photographers forget to consider. Typically, a photographer has the following costs:

Marketing: logo & branding, website, SEO, pay-per-click, wedding directories, wedding fayres, magazine adverts Sales: sample products, possibly a studio to work from
Equipment: replacement bodies (most are rated for 200k shutter clicks), new lenses, new lighting, breakages General business: insurance, accountant
Costs per wedding: travel, albums, digital storage, DVDs
The amount you need to spend on these will vary from product to product, but I’ve put down some reasonable average estimates:

Website & branding: £1000 (one off cost)
Marketing: £160 x 30 weddings = £5,000
Sales: £1,000 (I’ve not included a studio)
Equipment: £2,000
General business: £500
Costs per wedding: £400 x...
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