Why does wedding photography cost so much in Ireland?

Weddings are an expensive business!

It’s true, weddings can be expensive (see our Irish wedding cost calculator 2021); wedding photography costs are just one element.  The reality is that wedding photography is an optional choice for each wedding couple.  A no-frills wedding isn’t actually that much and everything else over and above the basics is an optional luxury.  Relatively speaking, whilst wedding costs in general are far from cheap, you will pay much more elsewhere.  That said, for many couples, their wedding is one of the few occasions in life when they choose to spend more and enjoy the luxury.   

Why does wedding photography cost so much?

I must admit to being a little surprised when people ask this question.   A quick Google search for a professional Cork wedding photographer shows an average Cork wedding photographer cost as being upwards of €1,600. The actual price you pay for your wedding photography depends on the time of year and print collection that you may be looking for.  However, you wouldn’t have to look very far to find Cork photographers offering a full day service for much less than half this amount.  So it is possible to get someone to turn up and photograph your wedding for well under the established professional rate.   If you are evaluating the cost of a wedding photographer or comparing wedding photographers, it’s critical that you choose a provider that matches your expectations.  In fact one of my earlier blogs  explains why it’s perfectly possible that you don’t need a wedding photographer at your wedding at all.  

But for now… let’s assume for now that you’ve decided you definitely do want a wedding photographer.

What do you want from your wedding photography?

Your wedding photography is one of the few items you keep from your big day and will be able to cherish forever.  In fact, I like to imagine that our wedding album collections are gifts to future generations.  When you compare your wedding photography cost to that of other ‘one day only’ elements such as your gown, ceremony costs and reception, your wedding photography is definitely a worthwhile investment.  Your photography is going to be around for a long time, but what do you actually want from it?

It is useful to give this some thought as it can  be the determining factor in terms of your budget choices.   If your wedding photography is simply not that important to you, now or in the future, why bother?  On the other hand, if you are convinced that your wedding photography does matter to you, questions like ‘ what is actually available within our budget?’ will help you when faced with 101 photography options

So what are the costs involved in delivering your service?

The time leading up to your event

My time investment in your day starts from our first meeting.   I deliver the best possible wedding photography for every single client by:

  • developing a good understanding of what the wedding couple wants.  This is often an iterative process with couples who may not necessarily know what they want.  As a minimum, it will involve chatting through a series of questions and subsequent ideas, but can also include pre-wedding shoots or short sessions to help a nervous couple feel relaxed in front of the camera.
  • confirming that I have the technical skills, specific experience, and suitable equipment to deliver everything that is required.   You don’t have to explore very far to discover that wedding photography can encompass one or more quite distinct photography genres. Couples’ preferences determine which of the skill genres are most appropriate.   Reportage or documentary wedding photography has some attraction for both photographers and couples, but it’s much more powerful when it is combined with some subtle choreography. The majority of my wedding clients don’t want to be conscious of choreography happening , but some opt for a heavily choreographed approach; some venture even further towards a full lifestyle, or even a fashion photography style.   There’s no right or wrong approach – it depends on the couple, but each will achieve something quite distinct.  
  • being fully prepared for the unique aspects of each wedding; understanding any important family dynamics and being flexible around your wedding day schedule is part of this.  This might involve me visiting your venue, liaising with your other providers or officials to get the necessary permissions and authorities related to your photography service.

On your big day

The day before your event I will spend time checking equipment, charging batteries, and packing gear.  On the day itself, I will have allowed for unforeseen delays so that I always arrive in good time.   It goes without saying, that the wedding shoot itself is intense!  I’ll be on my feet for many hours and adapting to events as they unfold, but ultimately making sure I maximise all the planned as well as impromptu photography opportunities will make all the difference to your wedding photography.

After your event

Depending on your wedding photography requirements, I may take many hundreds or even thousands of images.  Photographic editing is intensive!  The time involved in downloading, backing up and editing your photographs would typically be between two and three times the duration of the actual shoot..  This is before any special or creative edits required for the album or wedding art design process. 

I only supply wedding albums and presentation products made by Graphistudio.  They are certainly not the cheapest, but they are the best I’ve ever experienced.  Aside from the range of choice that is available, I have absolute confidence in the quality of these wedding albums.  Over decades, the materials and the print quality will stand the test of time, no matter how many pairs of hands they have passed through.

The cost of running a professional wedding photography business

Estimates for salary potential of a professional photographer vary.  Payscale.com peg the median salary at between €25k – €28k depending on whether you are a Cork wedding photographer or a Dublin wedding photographer; the Central Statistics Office come up with an average figure closer to €49k.  This is a higher average, but a reasonable salary for most qualified professionals with a decade or more of experience. At best, this would provide a photographer with a gross rate of under €30 an hour including all benefits.  So what is your ‘so expensive‘ wedding photography price tag actually paying for?

Equipment, consumables & software

Professional wedding photography equipment does not come cheap.  Whilst there are really great cheaper cameras out there (look at the newest iPhone cameras for example!),  you definitely get what you pay for.  I will typically use more than 3 different cameras and maybe 5 different lenses at each wedding.  You will not necessarily end up with inadequate photographs by using a photographer with a narrower range of photography skills and/or using reasonable quality all-round camera, as long as they meet your personal requirements. Aside from the initial outlay of equipment, this needs to be replaced fairly frequently.   Any technical failure during a wedding would be an absolute disaster, so some of my well used gear is perfectly adequate for our studio work, but would have no place in my wedding service. Similarly consumables like memory cards are retired from my wedding photography work long before they could be expected to start developing faults.

Many wedding photographers put a limit on how long your photographs are available to you, for ordering or building an album.  I like to give my wedding clients as long as they like to build their album; this means your full sized images are stored, backed up long term.  I use professional grade software to catalogue and edit your images.   There’s a big quality difference between the most and least expensive options for software and data storage, but this is not an area that I am prepared to cut corners on. 

Training, accreditation and insurance to name but a few business costs

I’m fully accredited by multiple professional bodies.  This means that my work has undergone independent assessment and that I am required to adhere to the professional standards of each membership body.   The opportunity to regularly and actively engage with a wide network of other professional photographers is invaluable.  Techniques, equipment and styles evolve continuously – being formally qualified is one thing, but if I’m going to stay ahead in my field and deliver the best to my clients, this means undertaking regular training and mentoring delivered by qualified professionals.

Insurance is a key indicator of business professionalism; some levels are statutory and others are a requirement of professional bodies.  If any service provider cannot demonstrate that they meet required or recommended insurance requirements, it should ring alarm bells.

Studio space

One reason I decided to open my Kenmare studio back in 2015 was to create a special customer experience.   Whilst everything can be done online, I love talking chatting with couples in the run up to their wedding.  They are always welcome to drop in and browse through wedding albums and swatches or chat through wedding photography ideas.  Many couple view their wedding photographs online due to time or distance constraints, but viewing them on the big screen in the studio can be a lovely experience (we provide tissues!)  

The studio is a great focal point for past couples to drop in too; there’s nothing I like more than the opportunity to capture families growing through the years!  So yes – the studio comes with overheads, but in terms of the customer experience I want, it’s worth the investment. 

In conclusion

The budget you choose to apportion to the photography of your wedding is a choice for you both.  There are budget options available – plenty of hobbyists or part-time pros can take nice enough photographs.  If you are confident you’ll get something that fits your requirements, why pay more?

If your wedding photography is important to you, or you have particular expectations then minimum cost options may not live up to their promise.   If a photographer is going to charge you well below the going rate, you’d be well advised to explore the reasons for that before committing yourself.  If the offer seems too good to be true, it may well be a sign that you might not get what you expect.

Book a no-obligation wedding photography consultation

Our wedding photography pricing and packages are both transparent and flexible to make sure you get more of what you want!  

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer that will work with you to get what you want on a budget you can afford, jump right in and drop us an enquiry below.  

Fully qualified and professionally accredited

Nick Cavanagh is qualified and accredited by both the Federation of European Photographers and the British Institute of Professional Photography.  We uphold the values and standards of these professional bodies in everything we do.

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