My one hope for sharing this post is to humbly explain why wedding photography costs as much as it does without tearing anyone, photographer or client, down! There is a lot that goes into photography. And it’s my hope and goal that by sharing this post, I’m able to educate you all a little bit about why.
Budgets are real – I understand! I’m in the middle of getting married myself, and my fiance and I have a budget. We didn’t even have a huge budget for wedding photography, so I completely understand. When people budget out for weddings, photography usually isn’t high up on the list. This post isn’t written to put you down AT ALL. It’s to encourage you! If you can’t afford one wedding photographer, IT’S OKAY. Just ask them to send you a list of photographers that you can afford! As a bride myself, I reached out to a ton of photographers I couldn’t afford. But photographers who aren’t as expensive as other photographers doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it. Now, I’m not saying go with a photographer who agrees to shoot your wedding for $300, because photography is a worthwhile investment! It’s the only thing that tangibly lasts beyond the wedding day. However, it’s okay to have a budget!
Yes wedding photography is a HUGE investment. But it is one worth making! As a bride myself, the only thing that I wanted to splurge on on our wedding day was the photography! My fiance and I literally reworked our entire budget to afford a good photographer, who knows exactly what they’re doing! And we can’t wait for Meghan to photograph our wedding! However, if something else is more of a priority for you for your wedding day, your dress, venue, flowers, etc. then do what is best for you and your fiance.
However, if you’re genuinely curious about why photographers cost so much, then this post is for you! There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into owning a business. When it’s broken down, being a photographer is not easy money.
The Beginning Process
- When a client inquiries, they send their initial email. I respond within 24 hours as promised. The email is a customized template that took me around an hour plus to design. I also send them my pricing guide which took about three to four hours to create.
- When the client responds, we throw a party! Then we set up a consultation phone call or coffee shop date to meet up. This takes about an hour of prep work to set up paperwork before the meeting, and about half an hour after the meeting to type up all the notes.
The actual cost
There’s a lot that goes into taking photos. And most of it is the equipment! Below, I’ve listed all the equipment that I use, and other photographers use, and how much they each cost.
- Full Frame camera (or two. Like most photographers, I have a backup camera) – $900-$2000
- I have 5 professional level lenses – each lens runs between $600 – $1500
- SD Cards (I have 18!) – $25-$50 for each
- External Hard drives (I have three, but purchase one every year) – $110 each
- External Flash (I have 1, most photographers have two or even three) – $65-$150 each
- Styling Details (include ribbons, trays, flat lays, ring boxes, etc.) – $100-$700 for everything
- Polarizers, ND Filters and UV Filters (I have several UV filters for each lens) – $25-$110 a filter
- Camera Bags (I have 4. A backpack, two side bags, and a small duffle bag) – $60-$400 a bag
- Extra Camera batteries – $50+ each
- Light Stands
- Reflectors – $30+ a piece
- Travel Changing rooms – $50
Extra equipment: a mac laptop and desktop computer – $1000+ each
Yearly Costs (fixed)
- My website (Showit Subscription) – $400
- Adobe Subscription – $20 a month
- Google subscription for extra space
- Online Gallery (Passgallery) – Around $200 a year
- Honeybook Client portal Subscription – $400 a year
- Repairing and cleaning camera supplies – around $100-$400 a year
- Subscriptions to publishers (like Two Bright Lights) – $100 a year
- Office supplies
- Online marketing
Costs per wedding
- Second Photographer (second shooter) Fees – between $100-$300 a wedding
- Client gifts – I usually spend between $50-$150 on each of my couples because I love to foster an environment of encouragement between my couples and I!
- Costs of albums – Albums can get pricey, and they run between $50-$400 depending on which album choice my couple decides on.
- Gas to and from the wedding
- Shipping costs for products, gear and albums
- EDITING. Most photographers, myself included, spend weeks editing your photos! I spend about two hours a night editing a wedding until it is finished. When you calculate out the cost of the wedding, with how many hours we spend editing, as well as time and correspondence before and after the wedding, you’ll realize that it comes to about $5 an hour for us.
- The biggest cost is buying all the equipment! When we start out, we have to buy all the equipment to start out with because we usually don’t have anything.
Each photographer pays different types of taxes. Some pay taxes quarterly or yearly, and it’s based off of the state that we live it.
At the end of the day, I usually walk away with between 50%-70% profit from what I actually charge. This is why photographer’s costs change and go up each year! You have to look individually at what each photographer spends money on in their business, and what they charge. The margin is very small.
So there you have it! Hopefully this gives you a little better understanding of why wedding photography is so expensive!