If you are reading this, then you might be planning your wedding or helping out a friend so let me say congratulations! We write these blogs to help inform you about the industry's practices and how to hire the right vendor.
Firstly let's talk about what is the average cost of a wedding photographer. This is based on three things:
Now that we know this, it's also important to note that you don't want to hire an average photographer. You need the best photographer for your needs and wants. One thing to remember is you want to hire someone that you are in love with their work, and that makes you confident that they will provide quality work. The wedding photographer will be at your side for most of the wedding day, and you want to be able to hold a conversation and feel comfortable around them.
Knowing this puts you in the correct mindset. Let's break down the cost of wedding photography by experience and what you should expect:
BRAND NEW: $0-500 | They have never shot a wedding before.
What to expect: This is a coin toss when it comes to what to expect. You might happen to get lucky and find someone that is naturally good at photography. Yet they don't have the wedding experience, so they won't be able to pose you and give you the needed confidence for pictures. You will miss a ton of things you will want to see years from now. Their gear is entry-level, and they won't be familiar with handling different lighting situations.
ENTRY-LEVEL: $500-1500 | They have probably shot a few weddings but don't have a specific shooting or editing style.
What to expect: You could look at one of their past weddings to get a clue on how your pictures will look. They might still be learning how to pose clients and make them feel at ease in front of the camera.
ENTHUSIAST: $2000-3000 | Most likely has some demand but isn't booked out for years in advance. ( might offer different types of photography besides just weddings).
What to expect: This photographer probably has good quality gear and has invested in some education. They will have a minimal portfolio for you to see their previous work.
PROFESSIONAL: $4000-5000 | This person's full-time profession is wedding photography. They have shot somewhere between 20-40 weddings.
What to expect: They are locally known for their work and have a specific style of shooting and editing their pictures. They will learn your needs, ask what you expect from your photographer, and deliver incredibly high-quality images.
LUXURY: $5000 and more... | Very well established and in high demand, probably booked out for years.
What to expect: Solid, consistent work that can be easily identified, they can handle high-profile events, and will make you feel very comfortable in front of the camera. They will offer the highest quality albums and spend time getting to know you personally.
What should I spend on wedding photos?
To oversimplify this answer, you can spend between nothing to upwards of $20,000. It used to be that your wedding budget for photography should be 10-15% of your overall budget. But it would help if you focused on the importance of capturing your memories and the experience that the correct photographer will offer. This does not mention the additional budget for wedding videography, which differs from photography.
Now back to photography, you want someone that has actual photography skills. This means they can adapt to any situation, shoot in any location, and make it look amazing. A professional photographer also has the right business skills. This is important because you and the photographer are in a pickle if your photographer is not profiting and goes out of business.
Do wedding photographers overcharge?
To put it simply, no. Photographers charge what the customer is willing to pay for their work; otherwise, they would be out of business. To the regular person, a photographer's work is just showing the day of and taking pictures. The truth is that there is a lot more work behind closed doors. First, there are the pre-event preparations, batteries need to be charged, all the equipment needs to be prepared for the wedding day, the wedding day schedule needs to be looked over, and if there isn't one most of the time, photographers will help you come up with one.
Editing photos takes a significant amount of time and specialized software. Also, it is worth mentioning that the way these photos are delivered via a website, USB, or any other form also takes time and money.
We hope this article helps you have an inside look behind the scenes at what it takes to run a photography business and capture all the special moments while being affordable and providing a fantastic experience. Stay tuned for our recommended vendors' blog post and wedding videography breakdowns.