Why Do I Feel Like I Am Getting Ripped Off By Wedding Photography Prices

January 21, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

A primary misconception about wedding photographers is that they are TOO Expensive. $1000 is a cheap photographer for a wedding and some charge $4000-9000. That may be more than the cost of the car you are driving. I'd be lucky to get $1k out of mine!  Photography prices vary depending on the region, but regardless of your local market you probably feel liked you are getting ripped off, right?

My first assumption is the cost of the photography is based on the length of coverage. So, if I pay my photographer $2000 for the day and they are with me 8 hours ($2000/8 hours = $250 per hour), then they are getting rich at $250 an hour, right?

Not at all. 

3 things go into the cost of wedding photography.

1. Time. The time my photographer is at the wedding is the tip of the iceberg. For an 8 hour wedding your photographer will take no less than 2000 images. Each of those images has to be examined up close looking for details such as pristine clarity in the focus, where all the family members are looking, etc. We all see those images on Facebook where the whole image is blurry, well that's not a professional photographer. Taking in focus images, then editing those images to artistic perfection takes lots of time.

On average one wedding = 30 plus hours of editing. If your photographer spent only 60 seconds per image to decide to keep the image and edit it and then complete that editing, it would require 33 1/2 hours of editing time. Uploading the finished product of 800 photos to the website for review takes another 4 hours, the time in consults and communication with the bride is another 4-6 hours, traveling to and from the wedding. So let's look at the break down:

  • 8 hours at wedding (x 2 photographers = 16 hours)
  • 30 hours editing
  • 4 hours uploading and backing up your photos
  • 3 hours preparing, loading/unloading and cleaning gear
  • 4 hours in consultations, emails, phone calls
  • 2 hours traveling to and from the wedding
  • 10 hours creating slideshow of the photos, Facebook uploads, and social media galleries

Total 71 hours or $28.16 an hour (but out of that comes other costs).


2. Equipment. My neighbor at the cookout last Friday took photos on the camera she got on Craigslist's for $400; My camera that I carry at each wedding is $5000. Each year upgrades and maintenance cost at least that much more. Professional photographers, in order to get those great images arrive at your wedding with $30,000 - $50,000 in equipment in their bag. The equip goes well beyond the camera gear, it includes lighting, memory cards, specialized computers and software for editing.

3. Business Expenses. This stuff is boring even to photographers, so let's move quickly. The insurance for that equipment and for business liability (which many venues require a minimum of $1 million business liability), as well as taxes are all part of the hidden cost that a professional photographer must cover. Oh, let's not forget website hosting, business cards, well you get the point. See told ya this part was boring...


So why am I feeling ripped off by wedding photography prices? Because weddings are expensive, and wedding photography is expensive.

When it is all over, the thing helps me know whether all that I spent was worth it is that I can look back on the photographs from the wedding and see that beauty preserved for a lifetime. The flowers are pretty, the Prime Rib? Melt-in-your-mouth!!! But I won't remember that 10 years from now without the photos. The photos are what give everything else its value.

So the question is, will my photographer capture the most important details, the memories, the romance, the emotions of the Day? 

If I spent Thousands of dollars on the wedding only to look back and see that the images are orange, blurry and incomplete; or if it took me months to get my images from my photographer; will I feel ripped off? You bet I will!!! I want value for my money, but the value of preserving the memories of my wedding day: Priceless!  










In the end isn't the photography the most important expense of my wedding? 




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