How much does a South African Wedding Photographer Cost?

how-much-to-pay-for-a-south-african-wedding-photographer

[Last updated Jan 2013]

When it comes to wedding photography I hear certain comments from brides all the time, I wrote this article to help you if you are about to tie the knot to make an informed decision when selecting a South African Wedding Photographer. We cover costing and how the various “bands” of photographers price themselves;

 

Bride to be – “We had no idea what the cost would be?”

Basically there are 3 “Bands” of photographers, please note by average pricing I mean a middle of the road package that would be booked by most couples. I’ve heard of photographers charging in excess of R70,000 for a wedding. The comments below are merely a reflection of what I have picked up from being in the industry and are designed as a rough guide.

  • Signature top end photographers – Average Package R24000 upward (weekends)

    • Run of the mill is not our “thing” as signature photographers our styles are specific and often unique, we are photographic artists.
    • Our product is a premium one and we spend many hours researching new techniques to further our careers and abilities, we are the difference between luxury cars and family sedans, Jimmy Choo’s and Zoom, 1st Class and Economy.
    • We will go that extra step to get that great picture without a second thought.
    • We spend many hours in post production so that our product is not simply about paying more it carries that signature feel that you hired us for in the first place.
    • We are technically excellent and it does not matter whether its rain or shine, daylight or midnight we’ve been there and we are ready for it.
    • Our output is consistent, we make sure all of the photos we supply are as good as each other, it’s not a case of simply working on the ones we like
    • We have top of the line professional equipment with very expensive lenses designed for low light
    • We have backup gear and are thus prepared in case our equipment breaks.
    • It goes without saying that we are true professionals with excellent people skills
    • We have proven track records with loads of testimonials should you require them
    • We know exactly how weddings work and and if the unforeseen happens like the bouquet does not arrive or a bridesmaid’s button pops off or you are simply just overwhelmed we will be there for you along with your family and friends as though you’ve known us for years.

 

  • Experienced professionals – Average Package R8000-R16000
    • If budget is not as big as you would like but your photos are really important to you then this is what you should expect to pay
    • There are a wide range of styles ranging from creative to capturing the day well with no frills or spills, what you get out of this will be up to your taste and homework.
    • They have years in the industry and taking pictures is their bread and butter
    • Their technical ability is excellent and the know exactly how their equipment works, they will also handle extremes well but not all use external lighting (off camera flash)
    • They are also professional and will handle most situations because they have the wisdom and experience to do so.
    • They also have top of the line gear and are prepared for equipment failure
    • Long lists of testimonials if you need them to
    • These people will get the job done and not let you down

 

  • Beginners – Average Pricing R0-R5000 (yes that’s “0”)
    • Starting out
    • Little to no experience
    • May under deliver at times, and promise what they are unable to manage at their level of expertise
    • While many are simply beginners trying to get more experience you do risk the occasional fly-by-nighters who think this is a quick and easy way to make money
    • Since they are starting out their equipment is mostly consumer level and performs quite well in bright situations with good lighting but falls flat when it gets dark, the average brides room getting ready, church and reception hall
    • Or even worse, excellent equipment that they think will make up for their lack of experience and skill
    • Usually no backup equipment, if their camera or a lens fail that’s your wedding photographer out of the picture so to speak
    • Lack of experience when it comes to handling people, having the confidence to be assertive at the right times
    • It is possible to get lucky! I’ve seen a few people starting out with genuine talent and they will to go all the way, if you are lucky you could end up hiring one of these guys and save a lot of money, if not there is no way you can ever get that day back!
    • If your wedding photography is no “biggie” in your list of priorities then I would say definitely give the beginner a chance, we all started somewhere :-)

The pricing indicated above is a ROUGH guide for the AVERAGE wedding, I have cheaper packages and more expensive packages that differ in albums, prints etc… and so will all the photographers, it depends on what you are after.

More expensive does not mean better, that is for you to decide. I can say that those who are charging in the professional and top end market are usually serious and experienced when it comes to running a business. Try not to forget that getting a great product is not only about pressing a button on a camera, there are many aspects before and after the actual day

If possible always deal with a professional, when all is said and done it really is a huge moment not only in your life but also your closest friends and family :-)

Greg.

33 Responses to How much does a South African Wedding Photographer Cost?

  1. Hi Greg,
    I see where you are coming from in terms of giving brides an idea of what to expect, but I think we need to be careful when putting people into categories like this. I know so many photographers in the R8000-R12000 bracket who are incredible photographic artists with strong signature styles, and who are certainly not ‘run-of-the-mill’. I would hate to see them excluded from the ‘Signature Proffesionals’ category just because they don’t charge R14 000 upwards. Anyway, just a thought. Keep up the good work (I love the image you’ve used in this post). Rebecca x

  2. I agree with Rebecca. I think it’s the line, “if style is not an issue and you simply want your wedding captured” that is the problem. Many people in this price bracket are artistic and creative, and don’t just churn weddings out that look the same, one after the other. But other than that, a nice general guide!

  3. This was not an easy article to write since while I was trying not to stand on anyone’s toes I also wanted to write a useful guide for brides to be. I agree that some of the statements were somewhat general and I’ve now altered them to be more friendly and realistic for my fellow photographers.

    G

  4. I get where you’re coming from Greg. I get the sense that many brides underestimate the photography and videography parts of their budget. Some brides honestly think that you can shoot a wedding for R4000 for 2 people being there all day and all the editing that goes into afterwards. There is a range of prices and (typically) you get what you pay for.

  5. I also get where you are coming from, driving out from the Southern Suburbs can be a quite a long journey to Wedding Land SA (aka Stelbos) and very tiring but it can also be productive, giving you that extra hour to think about things, like this article which is always impeccable written (as you see my spelling is terrible and I didn’t even use the spell checker) for me there is another category called = die kansvatter, the chinggrabber, yes they are out there and they move swiftly in between the price ranges, confusing people or shall I say misleading people into thinking they have experience.

    It’s very easy to make a photos look brilliant, I did that test once where I shot something on my happy snap digital camera and made everyone think it was shot on a 6×6 Hasselblad. On the web everything is a delusion and even out of focus shots can look pin sharp. So some people in the ultra high end signature range should not be there and also some people shooting in the lower price ranges should not be there. Nothing still beats meeting a photographer in person, seeing their work and actually liking the person, what happened to those good ol days??

    What’s more interesting is how quickly some people jump from one price range to another, it took me hard work and almost 10 years to get to where I am and I still see people who started out only 2 or 4 years ago “out ranking” me in price and hosting courses telling other people how to do it… oh wait did I say that out loud now?? :)

  6. Thanks so much Greg, I think what you have changed it to is great – I appreciate that you took the time and thought to do that.
    Have a great season!

  7. Thanks. I think this is as useful for photographers as it is for brides! Most photographers don’t have their prices on their sites, not do they say what equipment they use. It then becomes difficult to suss out where I fit in. This gives me a bit of a better idea! Thanks :)

  8. Great article Greg
    I think it is a great eye opener for the couples that think photographers have to sell their souls.
    It helps the couple see what to expect to pay and what they will get for their budget. One cannot expect to get a limo for the price of s rental car deposit.

  9. Excellent description, and by the way I think you are one the most talented wedding photographers in the country, you are a master of light ,congratulations.

  10. Wow Greg, I love it!
    I think it is a great overview! Especially for a Bride as you say that has no idea what the cost should be! Sometimes I think our clients don’t even realise that there are such things as professional cameras and equipment let alone how much it all costs!

  11. Good Morning,
    I am getting married in April and everything you said made me smile! I know now 110% that the photographer I am using is perfect. But what I would also like to add is, I love photography as a hobby, done a few favours for friends and family by taking pics here and there for them… I would love to do this more seriously (with proper training), but not sure where to begin and I’m a little worried that the market might be “flooded” as it is??? Am I being silly by thinking that way? Thanks ;)

  12. Hi Claire, thanks!

    Becoming a photographer is not simply about taking good pictures, although I have seen some people attempt this career with truly no talent whatsoever. Being a professional photograph is about being reliable, delivering a good product consistently, marketing yourself and my personal worst lots and lots of admin! Yes the market is flooded but my analogy to that is this: Open two McDonald’s outlets right next to each other, one will fail… you need to decide whether you are going to be the one to fail.

    G

  13. Thank you, and agreed :)
    This is not something I’m planning on mastering over night or jumping into on impulse, but just by the quick look I had at some of your photos… they are amazing and this is why I’m thinking long and hard about it, IF I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right, I don’t want to be the one to fail.
    Thanks again for the advice.

  14. As someone with not much money looking for a wedding photographer I have found this to be very useful even though I’m reading it almost two years later. Thanks.

  15. I have done a couple of weddings, but REALLY want to advance in my skill. Its great how you have seperated the levels and standerds out there. There are too many people out there who do not know the kind of work that goes into this field. Sadly, I deal with a lot of people who believe that the photographers and videographers are the last part of their budget.
    Thanks

  16. As a wedding videographer I can definiely say that photographers get all the glory! Brides are generally “happy” to fork out thousands of Rands for a good wedding photographer but are not prepared to do the same for a good videographer. Sadly, plenty of brides don’t even consider having a wedding video. There simply isn’t a great deal of value given to a wedding videos. I’ve often heard photographers I’ve worked with at weddings complain bitterly that they are so stressed from work overload that they can’t wait for the wedding season to be over. My heart really bleeds for them, NOT! They’re earning on average upward of R8000 per wedding and they’re complaining…how dare they! They should try make a living from doing wedding videos and see hard it is to earn enough. I love doing wedding videos, and I get about 90% of my bookings via word of mouth, so I’m doing something right, but I have no doubt that I could be making much more money switching to wedding photography.

  17. Greg,
    which catogorie do you fall under?? love your photos. you are probably fully booked for the year?

  18. In general I agree with Rebecca but also a very sensitive issue.
    I would also say it also depends on the area or market you are situated in. You have to work and price within your market analysis

  19. Hi Lisa-marie, I’m definitely a signature photographer… or at least I try to be ;-) Not for the sake of it but certainly to be as unique as I can ;-)

  20. Jonathan, I have done wedding videos I know exactly what it’s all about. Yes the photographers do get more recognition and I’ve often tried to figure out what it is about stills vs video that seems to be carry more worth. The only conclusion I’ve come up with is that it has to do with “instant gratification” a video sequence requires time if even a few seconds to decipher, whereas a still picture tells a story in a split second… even if that story is totally imagined (and very often is) … that’s the best I can come up with. I chose photography in the end because it just suited me better. It is what it is… change to photography or accept this is part of the way it works… perhaps it will change someday but for now there it is.

  21. Thanks Greg this is very informative, I am heading in a direction where I hope to get into wedding photography, and slowly building my experience and skill level not to mention my equipment level to where I feel comfortable to join the mob, I am shooting my nieces wedding in December and I am quietly crapping myself at the thought. I know I have a very artistic flare and a knack of capturing the unusual, and have been complimented by many for the pictures I have taken at weddings (not as the photographer). When I do get the guts to charge for an event it will be when I know I am not going to ruin someones beautiful day just to make a quick buck.

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