how much to pay for wedding photography

Wedding Advice: How to ask for a discount on wedding photography by Camera & Kit

You have found a photographer whose work is to die for, you must simply have them, you LOVE their work, but they are a wee bit out of your budget, so how should you proceed? Is there etiquette when it comes to asking for a discount on wedding photography?   My first response to that is pay what they are asking for, not many people value creative services and that saddens me so when you find a photographer you love,  honour that crazy photographic passion and creative eye with paying their set rate, a lot of photographers struggle with setting a price point, I am no exception but there is no harm or shame in asking for a discount, right?  I mean, come on! It's a wedding, they are very expensive to organise, surely the fact that we're in love and want the world to know about it warrants asking for a discount?

Ha!  That really depends on who you ask. I'm not much of a price negotiator, which sucks when you're buying a car. I know how much work goes into shooting a wedding so I don't dare ask for a discount on any creative service, loyalty to my fellow artisans.  My suggestion is to proceed delicately and with polite caution, creativity is all about passion, let's not have this passion manifest as anger at a poorly worded discount request. 

So,  as a somewhat seasoned wedding photographer who has seen heard and witnessed it all before, this is how NOT to ask for and expect a discount and I'll follow that up with how to ask for a discount.

  • You can stay for a party afterwards, enjoy the free food and wine, so what do you think?
  • The guy down the street does it for half price, so ...?
  • I will allow you to use our photos in your portfolio if you give us a discount?
  • Our wedding date is offseason or on a weekday so you probably appreciate the cash flow, right?
  • If you don't offer a discount we will go somewhere else? 
  • We don't need the photos edited, just shoot and burn.
  • You're a female photographer,  I expect to pay you less than a man!  (True story, this was actually said to me)

So, if all the above are a no-no when it comes to asking for a discount, how can we ask for a discount?  I am asked for discounts many times, sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no. It's not personal, it's business.  Sometimes it's as simple as saying yes, creating a bespoke package other times if the client’s budget is too low to be able to guarantee a certain level of quality, I honestly say so and decline to work on their wedding and point them in the direction of someone within their budgetary constraints.

Here are my suggestions for asking for a discount ...

  • Be polite, I cannot overstate this enough.  Any aggressiveness and you will shoot yourself in the foot.
  • Don't come from a position of entitlement, just because other suppliers do, does not mean the photographer will. There is a difference between demanding and asking.
  • Don't assume off season work is discounted, photographing a wedding in winter can involve a whole set of different skills and issues.
  • Be honest about why you are asking for a discount and avoid what I mentioned above in the how not to ask for a discount.  Don't bully your photographer into financial submission, that is hardly going to inspire creativity, instead be honest. Say that you have budgetary constraints to work within and ask if there any room to negotiate on price and take it from there.
  • Be prepared to offer something in return, like paying the full amount upfront in exchange for a discount, make it worthwhile to your photographer.
  • Having a destination wedding, then ask if your wedding photographer has shot there before, if not this may be a time to roll out the portfolio line but I stress about politeness.
  • Rather than ask for money off an existing package, as the photographer if a bespoke package can be put together to meet your financial constraints.

Next time Wedding advice:  The best blog for wedding photography (according to a wedding photographer)