Why is wedding photography so expensive?
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of couples asking me why wedding photography prices are so expensive.
While it may seem like wedding photographers live an amazing life by charging through the roof for
a day of work, it’s hardly the case.
It goes without saying that weddings are a costly affair.
From the venue to the caterer to the wedding favors, the tab just keeps getting higher, and it often
seems that wedding photographers are charging a large chunk of that tab. But have you ever thought
why wedding photography prices are so high? It’s because of the associated costs of being a wedding
Being a good photographer is an expensive investment. Sure, you can find cheap wedding photographers
out there, but they’re cheap because they’ve possible cut corners on equipment, and insurance. Or
they’re just plain stupid (you hired cheap and stupid?) So let’s take a look at what goes into a
photographer’s overhead that adds up to the final cost of your wedding photographer.
Labour costs. This one is pretty standard across all industries. A photographer’s work doesn’t
end when your wedding does. After the 8-16 hours they’ve put in working (on a Saturday or Sunday,
no less) at your nuptials, the photographer spends hours and hours editing your images so you get
a wide array of perfect photographs by which to remember your day. Its not uncommon to work a full
3-4 days editing a wedding. Their time is even more valuable when you factor in the limited number
of weekends in a year there are for a photographer to work.
Staff salaries. If you book a photographer that comes with assistants or second photographers,
your cost is going to be higher. In return for getting more images from various places on your day,
your photographer is going to have to pay those assistants and edit the additional photos.
Equipment. The pieces of equipment a photographer carries around is not your typical point-and-shoot.
High-end lenses and bodies average around $3000 each. Photographers also carry back-up equipment in
case their primary equipment fails, which adds to the cost of the wedding photography prices.
In case your photographer is living in the Jurassic period and hasn’t switched over to digital (
there are a few out there, somewhere), you also have to factor in the cost of film. Good wedding
photographers easily can bring over $20,000 worth of equipment to shoot your wedding. Add in the
prices of computers and editing programs like photoshop ( you did buy it right?) and costs begin
Insurance. Because cameras and equipment cost so much, photographers are smart to insure them.
Just in case your drunk (who your mom insisted on inviting) cousin Jimmy decides he wants to spray
champagne all over the wedding photographer’s equipment for a joke.
Advertising. In that same vein, photographers also have to spend money on other types of advertising
such as ads in the newspaper, business cards and brochures. Basically how you found them.
Photo extras. If you knew how much albums cost you’d have a heart attack. Albums are extraordinarily
expensive and are often added into the wedding photography prices. Don’t forget the time it takes to
design them as well.
Education. The more educated a photographer is, the better techniques and specializations will be
used while shooting a wedding. As everything else, that education comes at a cost through instructors,
college degrees, extra classes and seminars, etc. Intangibles such as expertise aren’t easy to measure
monetarily, although we try!
Travel. This one can easily be a deciding factor if the photographer only breaks even on a wedding.
Some locations have very expensive accommodation and flights. Not that we mind travelling to an island
location to shoot your day. Personally I rarely add additional travel costs to my quotes unless its
going to cost me more to get there.
So while you may be asking, “why does photographer X cost so much more than photographer Y?” the
answer might be: Photographer X has spent more money developing his or her business into a
full-fledged photography service, which ends up costing more money than an inexperienced
photographer who moonlights part time on the weekend. Then again there are those of us who
try hard to balance the cost to you with the volume of weddings we book. A $6000 wedding
photographer may only book two weddings a month, whereas a similar package with me costs $1599 and
I book 6 a month.
….And those Porsches we drive up to your wedding in just don’t pay for themselves now do they? :-)
Image by: unknown source