Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive | Part 3 | Gear & Equipment

While I’ve only been a professional photographer for just over a year, I’ve been a self-proclaimed “amateur photographer” since 2008. From 2008 until 2018 I shot on a beginner DSLR, with a very inexpensive 50mm f/1.4 lens. But since deciding to become professional, I’ve spent most of my money purchasing my photography gear and equipment! And I’m STILL not done! Today I’m talking about a really big, and really obvious expense for Wedding Photographers, gear, and equipment!

In the future I’ll write a whole series showing “What’s in my Bag(s),” but for now, we’re just tackling the money side of things.

A Side Note… and a Warning

While I don’t’ currently follow the Dave Ramsey method, I used to! And if there is one Dave principle that you should engrain in your brain, it’s this: DO NOT go into debt in order to make money. If you’re thinking of becoming a Wedding Photographer, do not go into debt in order to buy a bunch of gear and equipment in order to get started.

If you’re just here to learn more about Why Wedding Photography is so Expensive, please continue to read on.

Photography Gear & Equipment

While an amateur photographer can create a beautiful image with an inexpensive camera body and one standard lens, most professionals have spent years building their collection of gear… and for good reason. Technology just gets better and better, and the price just continues to get higher. Most DSLR professionals use a camera body with a full-frame sensor. Most have multiple prime lenses, in order to achieve certain looks, sharpness in their images. Most professional photographers have had to learn flash, and have multiple accessories, and other things that are necessary to run our business.

Today, I’m listing out EVERYTHING I own that I use in my photography business. Not all of this is necessary, especially at first, but I use everything, and as I’ve said, I’ve been “collecting” for a few years. Once again, I’m not listing specifics as far as brand names, because that’s not important.

Please remember, this is what I use for my business, other photographers will be different.

Photography Bags

Rolling Suitcase for Camera Gear$300.00
Camera Shoulder Bag (Styling Kit)$60.00
Shaving Kit (Emergency Kit)$12.00
Shoulder Sac (for Quickly Changing Lenses)$180.00

Camera Body & Lenses

As far as lenses go, I don’t have the “top of the line lenses.” I use some name brand lenses and some off-brand. I was able to purchase all of the lenses I need for a wedding, for roughly half the price, because I went with the off-brand.

Camera Body$2,500.00
Backup Camera Body$2,500.00
50mm Lens (the old one I used for 10 years)$400.00
35mm Lens$700.00
50mm Lens$950.00
85mm Lens$1,200.00
100mm Lens$700.00
24-70mm Lens$1,600.00
70-200mm Lens$1,800.00

Computers & Storage

I have a lot of external hard drives. They are my insurance. I back up EVERY image I take to two external hard drives and to the cloud, just in case. I rarely use my travel hard drive, but I have it just in case.

Laptop Computer$2,400.00
6TB External Harddrive$150.00
Backup 6TB External Harddrive$150.00
1TB Travel External Harddrive$130.00

Flashes & Flash Accessories

Again, I purchased an off-brand of my flashes. They were about 1/3 of the price of the name brand. They work well and get the job done. However, I only use flash if I have to (typically during wedding receptions). I use my reflectors all of the time to bounce light onto my subject.

(2) Flash Speedlights & Wireless Transmitter$350.00
(2) Light Stands$200.00
(2) Speedlight Bracket Mounts$15.00
(2) Studio Flash Umbrellas$17.00
Flash Diffuser Starter Kit100.00
6-in-1 Reflector Kit$140.00
Mini Reflector (for details)FREE
(found at the beach)

Camera Accessories & Gear

Accessories. I can never have enough it seems. Most digital photographers go through memory cards and batteries like water! My camera body has 2 card slots (1 SDXC and 1 CF) which most professionals need. Again, this is for insurance. What happens when one card goes faulty? We need backups. Also, flashes suck the life out of batteries, so I buy rechargeable ones, and keep about 32 AA batteries in my bag at all times.

(10) SDXC Memory Cards$200.00
(10) Compact Flas (CF) Memory Cards$690.00
SDXC Memory Card Wallet$20.00
CF Memory Card Wallet$17.00
Dual CF/SDXC Memory Card Wallet (for full cards)$17.00
Case for All Memory Card Wallets $20.00
Dual Slot Memory Card Reader$23.00
(4) Camera Batteries$252.00
(2) Camera Battery Chargers$108.00
(32) Rechargeable AA Batteries (for Flashes)$63.00
(4) AA Battery Chargers$72.00
(4) Battery Wallet 8-Slot AA Battery Wallet$40.00
4-Slot DSLR Bat$18.00
Bag for All Batteries/Accessories$25.00
Hands-Free Camera Harness$67.00
Lens Cleaning Kit$30.00
Lens Wipes$7.00
Quick Release Head for Tripod$30.00
Rain Protector for Camera & Lens$40.00

Wedding Day Styling Kit

Do you ever see images of wedding invitations, beautifully styled? Or wedding rings in a beautiful velvet box, surrounded by ribbons & florals? Most of the time, all of those styling items were brought to the wedding by the photographer. My kit is still relatively small, but I bring it to every wedding! I also bring hangars to photograph the bridal gown & bridesmaids dresses… because plastic store hangars will never be cute.

19×26 Ivory & Oatmeal Styling Mat$108.00
19×26 Blush & Blue Styling Mat$108.00
19×26 Gray & Sage Styling Mat$108.00
(3) Velvet Ring Boxes$156.00
(10) Wax Seals$10.00
(4) Silk Ribbons & Wooden Spools$22.00
(2) Silk Gauze Table Runners$15.00
(2) Ceramic Ring Dishes$18.00
White Wooden “Bride” Hanger$25.00
(8) White Wooden Bridesmaids Hangers$10.00
(20) Assorted Vintage Stamps$40.00
(3) Command Hooks$14.00
(3) Garment Styling Hook$10.00
Sticky Tack$6.00
Jewelry Cleaner$5.00

Emergency & Personal Kit

The very first time I 2nd shot for another photographer at a wedding, the bride got car-sick. The second time, the groom’s pant buckle broke (it wasn’t a button, it was a full-on metal contraption), and the third time I was the 2nd shooter at a wedding, a button popped off of the groom’s suit jacket. Because my husband is “Mr. Prepper,” we keep an emergency kit in each of our cars. ON these three occasions, I was able to “save the day” with Zofran, a leatherman’s tool, and a travel sewing kit! It inspired me to create my Emergency Kit, and I now take it to every wedding, whether I’m the primary photographer or the 2nd shooter.

This is also the bag where I keep the snacks, water and my “cocktail hour” Dr. Pepper I bring to each wedding.

Step Stool$15.00
Leatherman’s Tool$25.00
Travel Sewing KitFree from
Crochet Hook$7.00
White Chalk$2.00
Tide Pen$4.00
Safety Pins$1.00
Fashion Tape (skin & clothing tape)$12.00
Hair Spray$1.00
Clear Nail Polish $1.00
Super Glue$1.00
Emergency Medicine Kit (Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin, Ibuprofen)$5.00
Bobby Pins$1.00
Pony Tail Holders$1.00
Travel Lint Roller$1.00
Spray Deodorant$3.00
Travel Aquaphor$3.00
Rain Poncho$1.00
Business Cards$35.o00
Insulated Water Bottle$42.00
(2) Apple Sauce Pouches
(1) Trail Mix or Nuts
(2) String Cheese
(1) Apple
(1) Protein BarBar
(1) Dr. Pepper

Well, I think that covers it. Everything I use in my business as a Wedding and Portrait Photographer.

I have to admit, my biggest fear when writing this series of blog posts, was the reaction I might get from potential clients. Specifically, “I’m not paying that much so you can buy a new lens to play with…” Am I being ridiculous? People understand that the equipment is expensive, right?

Think about all of the equipment you use every day at your place of business. Now imagine you had to pay for all of it. In my business, I’m the only employee. There is no boss, no owner supplying me with my computer or anything else I need to do my job. It’s just me. If my camera breaks or needs to be serviced, I’m the only one around to pay for it.

San Diego wedding photographer looking at camera

January 28, 2020