A common question I see on wedding planning message boards is how much to tip your vendors. I’m not an expert on tipping etiquette, so I’m just going to give you a photographer’s view on tipping photographers.
The most common advice seems to be that you don’t have to tip a business owner, and most photographers own their own business. I think this makes sense. Business owners should be charging enough that they don’t need tips to earn a living, so you don’t have to tip them. However, many small business owners are struggling and tips are definitely appreciated. If you feel like your photographer went above and beyond and would like to tip them for it, then please do. I don’t think the amount matters. Most people tip me $100-$300, but tipping at all is rare and not expected.
Tip The Second Photographer
I’ve seen some people say to not tip the business owner, but to tip the second shooter since they’re an employee. Most second shooters are not actually employees. They’re usually a partner or subcontractor and are typically paid well. Second shooters are usually paid $20-$50 per hour and up, depending on skill level and how much the main photographer is getting paid. If someone just tipped my second shooter and not me, I’d feel pretty insulted, since they often make more per hour than I do. If you tip the primary photographer, then tipping the second shooter is extra sweet of you. Most primaries will share their tip with the second anyway.
Since tipping isn’t financially necessary or generally expected, here are some other ways to thank your photographer if you think they did an amazing job.
Leave a Review
Online reviews help with booking new clients, which is important to keep our businesses running. Reading a great review about my business makes me feel really good too. Ask them what the best sites are to leave a review or just leave one at one or more of these popular places: Facebook page, Google, Wedding Wire, or Yelp.
Talk about Them
Just as helpful as reviews, or more, is sharing their work and name with your friends. Post some of the photos on your social media and give credit to your photographer (tag their account or leave a link to their website). Whenever your friends are planning a wedding, recommend your photographer to them. Word of mouth is extremely important to our businesses.
Send a Gift or Card
As an alternative to a monetary tip, you can send them a small gift in the mail or even just a heartfelt handwritten card. These don’t have to be expensive, but the gesture itself is sweet and meaningful. By the way, everyone loves gifts of food. Ok, at least I do.
Buy an album or some prints. Let your photos live on outside your computer. They’ll be great to pass down to your children and grandchildren. The profit from prints and products is just as good as a tip, even if they require more work from the photographer. I love to know that people are enjoying their photos in tangible form. You can also share a link to the online gallery, if your photographer provides you with one, so that your guests can buy some prints for themselves.
As wedding vendors, we know that weddings are expensive and we don’t expect anything beyond our usual fees. All of the above things are a huge bonus and I’m always grateful for clients that show their appreciation in any way.