How much does wedding photography cost?
Why does my wedding photographer cost so much?
This is a popular topic because unlike pizza or a snickers bar, photographers come in a range of pricing. To really understand what you can expect to pay, or what you are even paying for, you have to know what it is a wedding photographer really does. Here, we will go over some of the things that go into wedding photography and what you can expect to pay for this service.
You are getting married, and finding out all of the costs that go into that can be somewhat overwhelming. It is important to first establish a budget and try your best to stick to it. In doing so, we often suggest breaking down that budget by each line item you will need to be budgeting for. There are super cool apps and websites like Wedding Wire that make this job easy. No real accounting knowledge required! The top three costs are usually venue, catering, and then photography. Keep that in mind when you are allocating portions of your overall budget to each item.
Photography specifically is much more than just hiring someone with a camera to take photos at your wedding. You may think you are just paying for your photographer to come and work for 6-10 hours on your big day. However, there is so much more that goes into photographing a wedding than you will see, and understanding this is crucial. You see, there is no other vendor that will work as hard on the day of your wedding and weeks to follow than your photographer. So let's look at a typical role of the photographer once you hire them to shoot your wedding.
Booking process: Sometimes clients just click with their photographer and this is a really simple part of the process. But most of the time, this is a long and time consuming vetting process to determine if they are the perfect fit for you. There are countless emails, calls, messages, texts, phone conversations, and in person meet ups that happen before the final decision is made to book them. These hours are time that the photographer is already investing into your wedding day, and sometimes those hours pay off in the end and you book! But sometimes, they put in all that time and the client picks another photographer or completely ghosts them. Either way, this is time spent.
Engagement shoot: Most wedding packages come with a complimentary engagement shoot. This is important because it gives you an opportunity to get to know your photographer, and them to get to know you. It is like a rehearsal for how the wedding day will go. They should spend time making you comfortable with them and in front of the camera. All in all this process takes an hour or so to do and you will be on your way. But the photographers job does not end there. They have to transfer all those images onto their computer, save them in multiple locations (hard drive, cloud storage, as well as in their editing programs) to be sure the files are safe and will not be lost or corrupted. Then, hours are spend going through each image and picking the best ones to use in your gallery. Once the images are chosen, each one is meticulously edited to be perfect. Which can take hours or days depending on the lighting, location, and other factors. All in all from the shoot itself to the final edited photos arriving in your gallery it is about 8 hours. Which does not even include travel time to and from the shoot, uploading into the gallery, social media posting and cross posting, and then blogging of your session.
The Wedding Day: On the actual day of your wedding, your photographer will be starting their day preparing their equipment. Cleaning and calibrating all the lenses and cameras to be sure they are working perfectly. They will be gathering up their bags and lighting equipment and loading everything into their car. Then they will be mapping out your location and making their way to your wedding which could be 15 minutes away, or 6 hours away. Travel time is a big aspect of being a photographer and most will spend hours in the car on a wedding day. Once they arrive at your wedding they will scope out the entire location and set up lighting equipment where needed. They will also find the perfect locations for photos as well as the best spots to stand during times like your ceremony, and dancing at the reception. Location, location, location. It matters so much and so many factors go into the spot your photographer chooses to stand. Anyways, this preparation is usually (for u anyways) not paid time. This is time we arrive earlier than our scheduled time to make sure we get this important step out of the way before all of the shooting starts. Once we begin shooting, we do not stop until the day is done. Usually 8 hours for a standard wedding day. 8 hours of running, planning, posing, making everyone comfortable, thinking quickly on our feet, and carrying heavy equipment in our hands and on our backs. All in all, your actual wedding day takes the full day for us to complete. For a 6-8 hour wedding, our work day is really more like 12-14 hours.
Post Wedding: After the wedding day is done, your photographer is busy working still. We have to repeat the process we did with your engagement photos x100. Downloading, saving, transferring, copying, adding, and uploading 3,000 or more images from all our memory cards. Plus the one from the second shooter as well. All of these get processed the same day as your wedding or the next morning so we can be sure that every file is saved, backed up, and safely stored in multiple locations. This is how we can be sure your wedding photos will not be lost due to electronic failure, because that is one day you can NEVER get back. So we take it really seriously. Once all the images are stored the culling begins. Going through hours and hours of images to select the best ones for your gallery. Then editing them which takes weeks for a wedding. All in all I would say 50-80 hours of post wedding work is done with these images before you receive the gallery. All of those hours you have not seen us, but we have been hard at work on your gallery!
All in all I would give the average wedding about 80 hours in total time from start to finish.
Now, those 80 hours are not the only factor when considering photography costs for a wedding. There is also all of the business expenses we have, but I am not going to bore you with those items. It is a costly profession, that I will tell you. But I do want to bring light to a few key areas for you to know about.
Business licensing, taxes, and insurance. These are items that will help you identify which photographers are professionals and which ones are just doing this as a hobby and charging you for it. A photographer that is professional is paying for all of these things. That is why some photographers are cheap, and some have much higher prices. You will always be able to find someone to shoot your wedding for $1,000 (or less!). But be warned, those photographers are most likely not a legitimate business. At prices so low they are not paying taxes (which is illegal btw), or covering themselves (or you!) with insurance. Which means if your photographer decides to leave the country and not give you the images, there is not much you can do. Did you know that most venues require your photographer to carry insurance? Imagine your photographer showing up to your venue on your wedding day and not being able to produce their insurance proof? They will be told they are not allowed to photograph there, and you will be left without a photographer. Running a professional photography business is not cheap, and neither is good photography. When it comes to hiring a professional photographer, you most certainly get what you pay for.
When it comes to pricing for wedding photography it really is hard to define for all of these reasons and more. A lot also has to do with your area. If you are hiring a pro based in Boston, expect to pay more than you would when hiring one from the Southern Vermont area. Generally speaking, you can