How much should you invest in your wedding photography? This is a major question everyone has when they are planning their wedding. What you will invest may depend on a multitude of things. You will hear people say you need to invest 10% of your entire wedding budget into your wedding photography budget, but that doesn’t take into account that everyone has a different total wedding budget and that the cost of wedding photography can vary from place to place. You can spend anywhere from $2000-$20,000. You are probably saying “Wow that’s a wide range” and you’re right. That’s why this question is asked so many times. You are also probably wondering why some photographers are so “expensive” compared to others. I am going to explain what is the typical cost spent in the industry, but first I am going to explain the cost in general.
Why Photographers are priced a certain way
They are a beginner vs they are a professional
Photographers have a passion for art and usually it can start as a hobby. They start out with some basic gear and do not want to invest so much into their gear because they consider it to be a hobby. They may offer to shoot a few weddings in order to build their portfolio because they are thinking about doing it long-term, but once they decide to become a legal professional photographer and pay taxes, they have to raise their rates. Typically, to at least $2000. $2500 is an average starting cost in some small towns. Being a professional usually means buying actual professional gear and those lens can typically cost about $1000-$2000 each. Professional Cameras range from $1000-$4000 each.
They have to pay for expensive gear
A professional usually brings a minimum of a macro lens for details (like for ring shots), a favorite portrait lens, a wide lens, and a lens for close ups of the ceremony. It is becoming more common for professionals to have backups of all their lenses and cameras! So, that is an even greater expense for the photographer.
A wedding photographer usually brings a minimum of two cameras incase one malfunctions (This is rare to occur), but we are prepared.
Also, if the camera malfunctions, it doesn’t mean the photos are lost🙂. I have two memory card slots per camera so that it backs up all the shots onto the other card slot. We also have to often replace our gear as it gets old. So, it isn’t actually a one time investment. Gear insurance helps cover some things, but not everything and if we damage or break our gear at weddings because the floor is slippery or someone bumps into it etc. , our insurance goes up. I personally wouldn’t blame the client for anything like that, but this is one of the things that determines our minimum price.
They are prepared for malfunctions
Lower priced photographers typically aren’t as prepared because they do not charge enough to afford backup camera’s, lenses, memory cards, the cost of replacements, and insurance costs. I can’t judge. I just remember what it was like to be a lower priced photographer. Everybody starts somewhere 🙂, BUT your wedding day is SO important. You don’t want be worried about loosing your photos because “accidents happen.”
I see posts everyday from brides having problems with their photographer and I just want to give them a hug. I just think about how I wish I could have been there for them and magically showed up to take all of their photos they lost. I really wish I had that ability, but the only thing I can do is give them advice through the blog.
What to look out for when choosing a photographer
Taxes and Liability insurance. Believe or not, a large amount of photographers don’t pay taxes or have liability insurance. (I recommend asking them if they do). Typically those are the lower priced photographers that don’t. Liability insurance is important in protecting you and I.
What photographers really make
After imagining the thousands we can spend in gear yearly, 😮 and the taxes taken out, how much would we need to charge to make $40,000 a year? Self employment taxes are 15.3% so, we don’t get to keep all the money we charge.
Without taxes taken out, we could do 3 weddings a month and charge $1,111. A photographer that gives attention to each client and values giving a client a good experience, typically does under 20 weddings a year. The average is 10-15.
If we only did 10-15 weddings a year and charged $1111, we would only make $11,110-$16,665 annually. On average, that is a little over $1000 a month. It would be difficult to survive and pay all our bills (editing software, liability insurance, gear insurance, gallery bills, etc.). We would have to charge at least $3500 to make $40,000 a year, and that is still without taxes being taken out.
Why we only do 20 or less weddings a year
You are probably wondering why we have to do so “little” work. That is a valid question. The reason is because we care about the time spent on each client’s gallery and album. Running a business involves time spent marketing, time spent shooting, time spent on education (We Always continue to educate ourselves), time spent emailing, time spent blogging, building albums, creating podcasts to help our brides, meeting with brides, and lastly, editing takes WEEKS😮. We are always working constantly everyday.
We dedicate long hours of editing time to each wedding. One wedding takes three weeks out of the month to edit. If we had multiple weddings that month, we would have back to back editing to do everyday plus time to market to keep our business afloat and no time to spend with family or friends.
As a photographer who cares so much about each and everyone of my clients, I would never want to rush edit someone’s wedding. I’d rather take my time to put my heart and soul into my art so that it is my best and my client is happy.
Typical prices explained in the industry:
This is what you have been waiting for! haha. These are the average costs for places near me and other popular places.
Washington DC- Average-$3500 – Average high end– $5000
Virginia- Average-$3200 – Average high end– $4900
Delaware- Average-$3000 – Average high end– $4300
Maryland- Average-$3500 – Average high end– $5000
New York City- Average-$3500 – Average high end– $5000
New Jersey- Average-$4700 – Average high end– $6000
North Carolina- Average-$3000 – Average high end– $4500
High End Photographers
These photographers can be higher because of Demand, style, expertise, client experience and all of the above mentioned earlier. If you want to treat yourself and really care about photos, you can hire a high-end photographer for your dream wedding experience. They usually have a starting price anywhere from $3500-$5000. Their biggest package tends to be anywhere from around $6000-$12,000. Some are much higher in certain areas, but these prices are what are most popular.
I hope this is helpful to you! 😊