Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive? | Part 2 | Fixed Business Expenses

Professional or Amature

I mentioned in Part 1 of the Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive series that one of the most important things to consider when hiring a Wedding Photographer is deciding if you want a professional or an amateur. Before 2019, I was an amateur. I had a nice camera, I took photos, I delivered them, and I made some good money from it. However, I didn’t have a suitcase full of equipment, any fixed business expenses, and I wasn’t an actual business… yet.

In the Spring of 2019, I decided to become a legitimate business. I wanted to be taken seriously, and I knew eventually I would become a full-time Wedding Photographer. So these steps were necessary. I registered Morgan Dove Photography as an LLC, got a Tax ID number, purchased Small Business Insurance, opened a business banking account, and worked hard to customize my workflows and streamline my client experience. I wanted to separate myself out from hobbyists and amateurs and become an actual, full-time, professional Wedding Photographer.

What it costs to run a business

In the Parts 2-5 of this series, I’m going to be diving deep into the ins and outs of my business. Because I am an official business, with official bills to pay, I charge more than an amateur photographer would. I also charge less than many other more seasoned photographers. Keep in mind, I am a legitimate small business owner. If I was just someone with a nice camera, trying to earn extra money, things would be different. I can’t speak for them and how they run their business. The point of this series is to educate potential clients on why I’m priced the way I am, and why I don’t just get to pocket $3,000 for an 8+ hour workday.

Ready? Deep Breath in. Let it out.

I’m talking to myself.

This is uncomfortable. This is vulnerability at peak status. OK keep reading.

Start-up Expenses

Just like any business start-up, a Wedding Photographer has lots of expenses to get our businesses up and running. I’m not talking about buying a bunch of fancy equipment, or even budget equipment… I’ll talk about that in Part 3. I’m just talking about the amount of money it costs to in order to become a legitimate business. As I mentioned above, I had to pay to become legal. Think about this. If you decided to open a restaurant, how much would you have to spend, before you could even purchase food to sell? That’s what I’m talking about. Here’s a quick look at my start-up expenses:

Business License, Tax ID # & Operating Agreement$199.00
Legal compliance$280.00/year
California Filing Fees$420.00

Yearly Business Expenses

On top of starting my business, I have fixed expenses I have to pay every month just to keep my business running. As I mentioned, I don’t have a day job, this is it for me, so if I don’t book weddings or portraits, and can’t pay these bills, then MDP closes its doors. I’ve divided these expenses into two categories: Yearly Business Expenses and Yearly Backend Expenses. These are the things I pay for every year in order to “stay legal.”

Small Business Insurance $550.00/year
Personal Articles Insurance$500/year
Accounting Software$144.00/year
Quarterly Tax AccountantFREE (My brother is my CPA)
Canon Professional Services$100.00/year

Yearly Backend Expenses

My backend business expenses are for the tools I need to run my business. Again, this does not include my equipment, but rather, the software I use daily so that Morgan Dove Photography can exist. While I pay for these things monthly, I put the total cost for the year, just to keep everything streamlined. I also didn’t mention specific names of software… If you’re curious, I’m working on putting together a Tools & Gear page for my website.

Studio Software (Contracts, Invoices, Galleries, Sales)$360.00/year
Image Culling Software$127.50
Editing Software$120.00/year
Custom Website Domain$15.00/year
Website Hosting$488.00/year
Blog Setup & Hosting$20.00/year
Email Services w/ Custom Email Address$120.00/year
Cloud Backup Services$72.00/year

Marketing & Advertising Expenses

While I advertise my business primarily by word-of-mouth referrals, the nature of my business requires I have an online presence. The following are the programs that give me an online presence as well as the programs I use to create educational & marketing material for my clients.

Bridal Guide Magazine Design Software$252.00/year
PDF Document Drafting & Editing Software$180.00/year
Social Media Planning & Scheduling App$108.00/year
Submission for Publication Membership$180.00/year
Blog Image Collage & Optimization Software$49.00
Fine Art Album Design Software$205.00

Total Business Expenses

In case you haven’t been keeping track, it costs me $5,463.00 each year just to run my business! That means that in order to break-even I have to book two weddings just to pay my business-bills! Again, these expenses don’t include any gear, session expenses, extras, or a paycheck for myself!

The next time you wonder, “Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive?” just consider this list… and remember that’s it is only a fraction of what it costs to run a small (but legitimate) Wedding Photography business. For more of this series, be sure to check out the following:

why is wedding photography so expensive? a wedding photographer breaks down business expenses showing how much it costs to run a wedding photography business

January 18, 2020