Do you need to tip your photographer?
This is a question I often get and see others asking online, especially as we get into wedding season. For many people, their wedding is the first time they've hired a photographer, and they're not sure what the standard is. These days, it seems that everyone expects a tip for their service, so is the same true for photographers?
In general, the answer is no. A tip is never expected, though it's always appreciated. This is especially true if the photographer is the owner of their business. For example, if you were to hire me for your wedding photography (I do wedding, portrait, and boudoir photography in Seattle and beyond), I wouldn't be expecting a tip because I'm the one setting the prices in the first place, and I don't take tips into account when I do so.
While it's never expected, it is a very thoughtful gesture if the photographer went above and beyond for you. It's also helpful for newer photographers who may be undercharging for their services while they build their portfolio, or for associates and second photographers who are shooting for another business. Once again, it's not an expectation, but it is always nice to receive.
How to Tip
If you do want to tip them, how do you go about doing it? That will depend on your photographer and their systems for accepting payment. Some will have it built in as an option in whatever software they use for invoicing. Cash on the day of the wedding or photoshoot is always an easy way to do it. Because you're often still in contact after the event while they process your photos, you can also just ask what would work best for them.
As for the amount to send, that's really up to you. As I said, it's not expected, so whatever you want to give is the right amount.
What if you want to tip your photographer for their fantastic work, but you can't afford to do so? There are many things you can do for your photographer to show your appreciation that can be just as meaningful, if not more so, than some extra cash.
Write a review
Whether it's on Google, Zola, or even a thoughtfully-written email with glowing words they can put on their website, a 5-star review can really boost a photographer's mood and their business.
Refer a friend
Word-of-mouth can be the most effective and cheapest form of advertising, so go ahead and tell everyone about what a great experience you had.
Bring them coffee
Or whatever their beverage of choice is. Technically this is a monetary tip because drinks cost money, but it's a relatively inexpensive but thoughtful gesture to get them a little treat.
Tag them on Instagram
If you end up posting some of the photos from your wedding/session online, don't forget to tag your photographer! It's like referring a friend, but even easier.