Wedding photography isn't cheap, that's a given. But why exactly is it that wedding photography costs so much? Some may think that just because the word 'wedding' is in the job description that photographers feel that they are entitled to charge a rather large amount. That's not quite true though. It's also easy to fall under the misconception that a wedding photographer earns a small fortune because most couples and guests tend to only see wedding photographers during 6-12 hour period they are booked on the wedding day. In reality, there is actually a lot more work which goes on behind the scenes prior and post-wedding day. Another factor which needs to be taken into account is that in order to run a successful business, wedding photographers also have many other expenses that they need to keep in mind. Let me explain..
The Process - Why exactly wedding photography costs so much
The moment a wedding photographer receives an inquiry from a potential client is when the work commences. Many will overlook the admin side of photography and simply disregard it. But the fact is, there is quite a large amount of work in simply responding to emails, questions and price inquiries. It's fair to assume that most couples will send off at least 2-3 separate inquiries to different photographers. Some couples may even request to meet up with their potential wedding photographer over coffee or a drink before booking. Following the emails, phone calls and meetings, sometimes we will get the booking and other times we won't. This time still needs to be accounted for and adds to the total wedding photography costs.
Organising The Timeline
Once a booking comes in, a wedding photographer will then begin the process of working with the client to figure out a timeline for their wedding day. This can sometimes fall under the job title of a wedding planner, but more often than not your photographer will be the one who picks up the reins here. We do this for two reasons. Firstly, because we spend the largest amount of time with the couple during their wedding day. Secondly, because often the quality of our job can partially depend on light (where and when it looks good). So we need to work closely with the couple to make sure everything will look as good as humanly possible and fit in with the other events that take place on the day.
Research & Planning
Now that the timeline is sorted and we have a greater understanding of what the client hopes to achieve within their wedding photography, we can begin the process of research. If we are shooting in a new area/venue which is unfamiliar to us or the couple would like photography in a location that we haven't been before, we need to do our research. This will usually involve a combination of research on the internet and maybe even a visit out to the site. This is all done so that when the wedding takes place, we are prepared, organised and know exactly what we want to shoot. This research will also give us a general idea for how the photos are going to turn out.
Unfortunately, a wedding photographer hasn't finished their research just yet, what if it rains? We also need to be prepared for every kind of scenario. This means that we also need to find an acceptable location for photography should the weather not go in our favour.
For the most part, we are now organised and ready for the wedding. But as the day draws closer we need to make sure all our gear and equipment is good to go. This involves double checking that all images on memory cards are back up and catalogued before deleting. Charging numerous batteries so that our cameras will last an entire day. Packing and organising equipment bags.
The day you have been waiting for has officially arrived - your wedding day. The amount of time we spend here will really depend on how long you have booked your photographer for. A wedding photography booking can be anywhere from 6-12 hours with 9-10 being the most common. These hours don't take into account the time it takes your photographer to get from home to your venue. If it's 1.5 hours each way, then that's an additional 3 hours your photographer will spend in transit. Travel is one of many components of the wedding day which can be overlooked.
Editing & Post processing
You're official married and your wedding day is now all but a beautiful memory. But your wedding photographers job isn't complete just yet. We now need to sort through thousands of images, find the best shots and edit anywhere from 700 - 1000 images. This can take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours depending on your wedding photographers experience and how efficient they are. An additional hour should also be taken into account for the time it takes us to put your keepsake box together with all your beautiful memories.
Inquiry & admin - 2 Hours
Coffee meeting - 1 hour
Timeline prep - 1 hour
Research - 2 hours
Equipment prep - 1 hour
Wedding day coverage - 10 hours
Travel - 3 hours
Editing & post processing - 20 hours
Preparing Keepsake - 1 hour
As you can see, a wedding photographer will spend on average around 41 hours on a single wedding. That still looks pretty good for a wedding photographer in terms of what they charge. Except we haven't taken into account any of our business or equipment expenses and any quiet periods we may experience.
Equipment & Business Expenses
Just like any business, a wedding photographer also needs to keep these expenses in mind. In order for a wedding photographer to perform their job efficiently and to a high standard these wedding photography costs can't be overlooked.
Keeping up to date with equipment is one of the wedding photographers greatest expenses. Professional cameras and lenses aren't cheap. All professional wedding photographers will also shoot with two cameras at a minimum. Some may even have a third nearby. This is so that in the event one should break we always have a second camera on hand. If you want a photographer who is using top of the line equipment and the newest models to take your wedding photos than this equipment needs to be updated roughly every two years. Along with cameras and lenses, there are also speed lights, memory cards, tripods, bags and other various pieces of equipment which need to be considered.
On top of our cameras and lenses, we also have computers, monitors, and storage devices used to edit and store all those precious memories. As technology continues to advance, this equipment will also need to be updated every couple of years. Another piece of equipment involved in our daily wedding photography costs is our vehicle, this also needs to be maintained. Our vehicle must be incredibly reliable. I don't believe an excuse of "Sorry I'm late, I broke down" would fly on a wedding day.
Repairs and Servicing
The equipment which is listed above will also need to be serviced and maintained. The gear of a wedding photographer can often cop a bit of abuse considering that we are always in a hurry to get from A to B in order to get the shot. This means that our equipment needs to be serviced frequently so that it stays in optimal working condition.
First and foremost we need our equipment insured. Should the unfortunate event occur where something were to break, get lost or stolen we would be covered. We also need to have public liability insurance in the unlikely event of an accident involving a guest where we are at fault. For example, we don't want nana to trip over a tripod injuring herself only to find out that we are liable and don't have cover. Another insurance that also needs to be accounted for is our motor vehicle insurance.
Programs and Software
Programs and software are monthly expenses that wedding photographers have to also take into account. These are relatively small expenses compared to some but they do add up quickly when you need multiple programs for different areas of your business. Everything from invoicing to editing and delivery will require a program.
Advertising & Marketing
If you're hiring a professional full-time photographer who shoots weddings frequently and relies solely on wedding photography as their main source of income, then advertising will need to be included in their business expenses. The benefit of using a photographer who shoots full time is that they will have a lot more experience than a photographer who only shoots weddings as a side gig. Advertising and marketing may not be relevant wedding photography costs for a photographer who shoots part-time.
Products & Packaging
From the props a photographer may take to a wedding through to packaging those beautiful keepsake boxes. These are all added wedding photography costs that a photographer will need to account for. A keepsake box may be the only physical product a couple receives if they don't purchase an album or print. Most wedding photographers will spare no expense when it comes to impressing you with this as it will sum up their brand and maybe the final impression they leave on you.
Why Do Wedding Photography Costs (Quotes) Vary From Photographer to Photographer?
You may now have a slightly better understanding of why wedding photography costs so much, what goes into it and how much work is involved. It goes without saying that weddings are expensive. It's understandable that some couples may be on a tight budget when it comes to their wedding photography. After receiving a few quotes, you may be curious as to how there can be so much variation in price between different wedding photographers. It may also lead you to question - How can some wedding photographers afford to charge a much smaller amount compared to others? There may be a few varying reasons as to why this is.
The reasons a wedding photographer may charge less:
- The quality of the wedding photographers work may not be as high as others, so the photographer has to charge much less in order to get potential clients through the door.
- The wedding photographer that you have inquired with may be in the process of building their portfolio. This means that they may not have the experience and knowledge that other wedding photographers do.
- The photographer may not shoot weddings very often and doesn't know how to run a photography business correctly. This could also mean they have a full-time job and only shoot weddings part-time.
- Did you approach a company whose primary goal is to shoot a large number of weddings with little focus on quality? This won't be a personalised experience and the photographer you get may not end up being the one you spoke with. The photographer's experience could also be questionable in this circumstance.
There would definitely be some exceptions to these points however in our opinion, it's not worth the risk. A wedding day is a once in a lifetime event which is why you shouldn't cut costs and leave capturing these memories to chance. It can be a stretch trying to afford the wedding photography costs for the photographer you really want. It will be worth it in the long run though. Wedding photography is an investment, it will appreciate in value in years to come. Imagine how you would feel at the end of your wedding day if you were disappointed with your wedding photos.. All because you didn't stretch your budget for photography that little bit further.
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For those who are new to my website and may not be familiar with myself or my work, I'm Richard, the owner & wedding photographer behind Lonely Hunter Weddings. If you have landed here because you are in search of a wedding photographer then it could very well be fate! Or maybe it's not? Either way, I would love the opportunity to discuss your wedding day with you and the possibility of coming on board as your wedding photographer. If you would like to chat, find out more about my services or would like a copy of my pricing and packages then I welcome you to get in touch by filling out the contact form below.
Alternatively if you would like to view some of my work (real weddings), that can be done HERE.