So, you’ve been searching around for the perfect photographer to capture the wedding of your dreams. I mean, you can’t just have a wedding full of #weddinggoals without it being captured, right? And then you come across the price tag… “what?! Why is wedding photography SO expensive??” you thought to yourself as your dream photographs started to fade away.
Well, first, let me start off by saying you can totally get your dream photos! There’s definitely a price range among photographers – some charge $2000 or less while others charge upwards of $10,000. But, still… why are they so expensive? Taking photos seems pretty easy, I mean we take them with our phones all the time right? Well… it’s a little more in depth than that! These are the real reasons why wedding photographers are so expensive.
Years of experience and knowledge
Alright, let’s start with the obvious. A photographer who’s been doing wedding photography professionally for 5 years is going to be much more skilled than one just starting out. They’ll have more knowledge of their gear, how to edit their photos, and how to store everything properly so your images don’t get lost. Now, this isn’t to say that a person just starting out in photography is bad… but let’s face it, they honestly won’t know as much as someone who’s been doing it for years. And the more experience and knowledge one has, the more they can and will charge.
Professional gear is expensive!
Professional photography equipment isn’t cheap, ya’ll! The camera bodies (not including the lens) we shoot on alone cost at least $2,500 each. Professional lenses cost anywhere from $950 to $1900+… just to give you a better idea, here’s what we’d consider to be the bare minimum of professional equipment a photographer should have for a wedding:
- 1 professional camera body ($2500)
- 1 professional prime lens (a lens that doesn’t zoom) ($950+)
- 1 professional zoom lens ($1400-1900+)
- 3-4 memory cards ($68)
- 2-3 batteries ($70)
- 1 laptop for editing ($2000+)
And this doesn’t include business items and services, such as a client management software, online galleries, website, editing software, insurance, etc. So, yeah, running a business alone has a lot of costs to it, and the cost of professional photography equipment is a big investment, but 100% worth it to capture all the special moments and details at your wedding!
Photographers who are serious will continually invest in new equipment so that you have the BEST photos. Plus, we count our styling kit that we use to take gorgeous details of your invitation suite, rings, etc. as gear and we continually invest in our styling kit to create beautiful photos of the bridal details.
Photographers work for themselves
Us photographers work for ourselves, which means a few things. For one, we need to be able to make enough to support ourselves. We need food, a place to live, health insurance, utilities, etc.
Which brings me to my second point – the money you invest in photography doesn’t all go to the photographer… a portion goes to taxes and an accountant to make sure we’re financially sound; a portion goes to saving up for new gear so we’re always up to date; a portion goes to marketing so we can continue finding amazing clients to love and serve; a portion goes to all the business expenses that go along with the cost of doing business; a portion goes towards education so we can continue to grow and improve our craft; and then we get what’s left over. So, while it may seem like photographers get a nice paycheck, in reality we get only a portion of the investment you make.
Which is why…
The price you see isn’t arbitrary
You may look at a photographer’s investment, see the $2500 or $3000+ price and think they just pulled that number out of the air (honestly, before we created our own business I didn’t know how people came up with their pricing, so I totally get it!), but that’s simply not true. Photographers take into account all the costs of doing business and the cost of photographing a wedding when they calculate their price. They take into account their knowledge and experience as well. The price they come up with is carefully calculated, and they often raise their price as they gain more experience and knowledge.
A lot more goes into photography than just taking photos
You may have had the thought of something like “Wow, $5000 is a lot for just one day of taking photos.” But, to be honest, there’s a lot more involved in it than just taking photos the day of your wedding. Photographers spend quite a bit of time replying to emails, creating timelines, and educating their clients so that their clients know what they need to do in order to get those Style Me Pretty type of photos.
And obviously, there’s the editing that goes on after the wedding day is over. Photographers cull, meaning they go through every photo they take (which is usually thousands), select the best ones, edit them to all be consistent and perfect, do any special editing in photoshop (like getting rid of distractions), saving all the images in a format that’s easy for you to download and print, and then upload them all to an online gallery. The culling and editing part takes several hours, days or even weeks to complete.
(Related: Why We Edit Light and Airy vs Dark and Moody)
So, you may wonder “well, I’ll just ask my photographer for the Raw files. That way they don’t have to edit the photos and I’ll get a cheaper rate.” I get it. This seems like a great way to help your photographer out by having them do less work and get a better rate for professional photos. The problem with this is that pretty much all photographers won’t (and shouldn’t) give up their Raw files because, for one thing, images in a raw format don’t always open properly unless you use a specific program like Lightroom or Photoshop. Secondly, most photographers have a style and that style coincides with their brand. If they let you edit the images they take, it would be a misrepresentation of their brand and work. This is the major reason why photographers won’t hand you the Raw files. It’s like asking an artist to hand over their sketches without adding shades or colors to it so you can put your own colors on it.
And with all of this together, these are the real reasons wedding photography is so expensive. We really hope this helps to give you more understanding as to what all goes into photography, both cost-wise and business-wise! We always love to education our couples and while we’ve been lucky to not be questioned on our pricing, we know it is a very popular question amongst brides, so we hope this helps!
Matlock and Kelly