Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive | Part 1 | Introduction

Dolla Dolla Bills, Ya’ll

There is a common misconception that Wedding Photographers are “rollin’ in the dough.” To be honest, I can see how people would come to that conclusion.  It may look as if we spend 8-10 hours actually working a wedding day, charge anywhere from $2,000-$4,000+ and just pocket the cash! Talk about a dream job, right? One of my most asked questions from clients, friends and family is, “Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive?”

Expense, Equipment, Education & Experience

In this 5-part series, I’m going to discuss the 4 E’s of Wedding Photography pricing: Expenses, Equipment, Education, and Experience. These are the main categories that add value to a Wedding Photographer and the determining factor for why they cost what they do. All Wedding Photographers price themselves differently, and you should ask yourself why one is cheaper and one more expensive. Is one brand new and the other a seasoned veteran? Is one paying taxes and the other not? Does one have a day job, and the other shoot full-time?

Before writing off a more expensive photographer, consider this: Are their prices actually expensive? And if so – compared to what? Other wedding vendors?  Other photographers? Also, consider the difference between not wanting to spend money on your wedding photography and not having money to spend.  Only you know your budget.  I may be a bit biased, but what are the only things you get to keep from your fabulous day? Your groom, your dress, and your photos! So I will always recommend budgeting a little more for your dream photographer.

I may be a bit biased, but what are the only things you get to keep from your fabulous day? Your groom, your dress, and your photos!

As with any large purchase, I always suggest researching before buying. Wedding Photography pricing is so varied and depends on many factors, and in this 5-part blog series, “Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive,” I’m talking all about things that influence why photographers charge what they do.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Photographer

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your Wedding Photographer.  Things such as, are you looking at a Luxury Wedding Photographer, maybe a Fine Art Wedding Photographer, or just a Wedding Photographer who creates beautiful images? Many amazing photographers work really hard to separate themselves from the masses, they produce beautiful work, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and beautiful, high-quality products.  However, sometimes “Luxury” and “Fine Art” are just self-given titles that allow the photographer to charge more.  

Film, Digital or Hybrid

Does the photographer shoot film, or digital or both?  Film and hybrid photographers often charge double what a digital photographer charges, simply because their costs are so much higher!  Did you know that it usually costs a film photographer around $2.00 just to click the shutter button? That doesn’t even include lab processing or printing!  

Workflow and Location

Other things to keep in mind are that every photographer’s processes, procedures, and workflows will vary. How much time and money are they re-investing into each couple? Also, where the photographer is located will hugely impact pricing. For example, if I lived 100 miles east of where I currently do, I could only charge half of what I do… but if I lived 100 miles north, I could charge double.

Amature or Professional

You may think that it matters if the photographer is full-time, or part-time.  I can tell you it doesn’t. Some of the best Wedding Photographers I know have day jobs.  For others, Wedding Photography is their only source of income. A more important question to ask would be, “Does the Wedding Photographer run a legitimate business, or is it Uncle Bob/Brittany from college with a nice camera but little to no experience?”

Of course, Bob and Brittany are not going to charge as much as a legitimate photographer with a business license who pays taxes.  But they also may not provide the experience and quality that the professional does. Do the interns in your office get paid as much as the executives? I didn’t think so.

The Cost of Running my Wedding Photography Business

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down my business for you… and it makes me really, really uncomfortable. Like really uncomfortable. But I BELIEVE in the importance of client education, so I’m doing it for the greater good. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Because my wedding pricing is listed publically on my website, this series will mostly cover my expenses. What does it cost to actually run my business, and am I just pocketing thousands of dollars in cash every Saturday? Over the next few weeks I’ll discuss the following:

I have my business priced at a point that I feel best represents my education, experience, equipment, and location. Other photographers will be different. I have booked weddings at a price higher than I’m currently charging, and lower than I’m currently charging. However, right now, I feel I’m in a good spot.

This series is meant to inform my future potential couples, or other couples who think Wedding Photography is so expensive.

January 17, 2020