I'm a wedding, elopement, and engagement photographer specializing in storytelling and true to life photography!
Ever wonder “Why is Wedding Photography Expensive?” As a wedding photographer, I hear these things often. “Wedding photographers are so expensive, and I don’t know why?” Or, “Wedding photographers charge more when they hear the word wedding, so just tell them you’re having an event!” Another one I hear is, “I’m looking for a wedding photographer for about 10 to 12 hours of coverage, but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”
I wanted to break this down in an educational way instead of ranting about why these questions can sometimes rub photographers the wrong way.
I want to start by saying that everyone has a budget, and everyone’s budget differs! This is okay, no one should judge another person for having a higher or lower budget than others. Everyone has different priorities when it comes to where they spend their money.
I’m a little biased about wedding photography, but from a neutral perspective, your wedding photos are the one thing that will last forever. Your wedding flowers will die (unfortunately), the food will be eaten, the drinks will be drunk, and you can’t live at your wedding venue. This isn’t to say that these details aren’t important, because THEY ARE. But you’ll want the best photos to remember your wedding day. To show your children and your grandchildren. Your wedding photos visually preserve all your wedding details and your most precious moments.
I will say the cheaper option usually means less experience and not the best gear. This can mean not great quality images, missed moments, and a photographer who doesn’t feel confident behind the camera. I’m not saying you should go into debt booking your wedding vendors! However, if someone is charging less than $1000 for 10 hours of wedding coverage, that might be a red flag. Make sure you see their portfolio or a previous wedding they’ve photographed. Sign a contract. Ask how they back up their images.
Let’s dive into busting this myth. I’m a part of several Facebook groups with brides and wedding vendors, and one thing I read often is that photographers immediately charge more when they hear the word wedding. This just isn’t true. Yes, there are some vendors that do charge more for weddings, and this can be for numerous reasons. Weddings require more, whether it’s a different product, more time, or a different level of customer service. A lot goes into this, and I won’t unpack it all here.
I will speak for myself here, but whether a couple is inquiring about a wedding, an engagement party, or a family is inquiring about event coverage, I offer the same rates across the board depending on hours of coverage. I’ll go more in-depth on this in just a bit!
I’ll start with this advice- book a photographer who runs a legal business! This is important. This protects you and them. We all know someone with a camera, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we should “hire” them to document the most important day of our lives. This can be controversial, I know, but here’s why I say this.
As a legal business, photographers have a lot of business expenses besides the obvious ones you think about (like cameras, lenses, computers, etc.)
I operate as an LLC, which means I pay taxes. On top of taxes, I have business insurance, which is needed. Most wedding venues require me to have insurance and submit this to them before your wedding day. If I didn’t have this, then that would be an issue. Also, if my gear were to be stolen before your wedding, my insurance protects me so I can still arrive at your wedding with all the equipment I need.
I always find it interesting to hear what different businesses have as expenses, so here are just a few of mine!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of wedding photography. I’ve heard more uncles than I can count- say to me when shooting a wedding, “You sure make a lot of money for clicking a button!” OOOF now if that were only the case! When I talk to others about being a wedding photographer, they’re surprised to hear I spend about 5% of my time behind the camera. Before starting in the wedding industry, I knew a lot of work went on behind the scenes. But compared to what I did as a family photographer, it is drastically more work. This is not knocking family photographers in the slightest bit!!! Logistically, there’s just more time that goes into weddings.
Before the wedding, a lot of prep goes into it, and this goes for every vendor! So what does a wedding photographer do before the wedding? I’ll speak about my process and what goes into it. I’m obviously responding to emails, texts, and phone calls with my couples. I send out guides, we have an engagement session, I send out an in-depth questionnaire, and I read over the responses to help me build their custom shot list and timeline. Once I get the detailed shot list and timeline sent over, I’ll send it to the wedding coordinator or planner (if the couple has one), and my couple. Once I’ve sent that, if they have a second photographer, I will chat with them and loop them in on all the details. I send them the timeline, their own shot list that I create, all the addresses they need, etc. The day before the wedding, I prep all my gear, format all the SD cards I’ll need, charge my camera and flash batteries, and pack things (like ribbons, ring boxes, ring dishes, etc.) for flat lays.
During the wedding, I’m obviously behind the camera the entire time and shooting. Experienced wedding photographers are hands-on, well organized, and help keep things on track and moving. We calm nerves, we hype you up, we’re there to fluff trains, make sure your bouquets are facing the right direction, and we’re capturing all the big and small moments. Most couples book me for 8 to 10 hours of wedding photography coverage. Included in the wedding day is travel time, wedding photographers usually serve a larger area than where they live. My travel is typically around an hour to an hour and a half to most wedding venues from my home.
After the wedding is when the most extensive amount of time is put into a wedding. For every hour of wedding photography shot on the wedding day it usually takes me about 3 to 4 hours to edit. Before the editing even begins I import all the images onto an external hard drive to back up your images, then I start going through all the thousands of images and selecting which ones will make the cut to be edited. I take out all the ones I know you won’t want; the ones with eyes closed, group photos with one person yawning, etc. This usually takes me 3 to 4 hours, sometimes more depending on how many SD cards I need to go through, if there was a second shooter, and how many hours of I ended up shooting for.
All my galleries get passed through Lightroom AND Photoshop, I make sure that all blemishes are removed, I make final detailed edits, and then I import your photos into your gallery for them to be delivered to you. For a 10 hour wedding, on average it takes me about 40 hours to complete after your wedding!
To learn more about what I offer as a photographer, inquire here! I would love to chat with you all about your wedding day plans!