A question many people ask (or at least think!) is: "Why is wedding photography so expensive?!" And I get it, really! Before I was a photographer, I wondered the same thing! I understand that most brides are on a tight budget, as I was, and they're looking to cut costs wherever they can. So this blog is my attempt to try and explain why wedding photography tends to be expensive and why I think it's SO worth the expense!
1. There are Many Expenses Involved in Running a Business
Before owning my own business, I had no idea how many expenses are involved in running a business. I have so much more respect for small businesses now that I understand how many things they are balancing! Here are a few of the expenses I have:
Expenses Associated with One Wedding:
-Meals for client meetings/travel
-Wooden USB, prints, and wedding package materials and postage
Other Business Expenses:
-Equipment (thousands spent every year...I have $10,000+ worth of equipment that is always growing!)
-Equipment insurance (average $500/year)
-Computer & external hard drives
-Education and workshops
...and the list goes on!
Believe it or not, the IRS typically takes 30%+ of our income! In normal jobs, your employer pays half of the tax and you pay the other half. But when you're self employed, you pay all of the tax! So that typically amounts to at least 30%.
3. Time is Money
Many people think, "Man! Photographers are making bank! I mean they charge $2500* and they only work 8 hours!" In order to clear up that misconception (which you already know isn't totally true because of the taxes and business expenses that are already taken out of that $2500), let me break down the time I typically spend one wedding for you:
*Please note: I chose $2500 as an average amount that low-mid range photographers may charge. These numbers do not necessarily reflect what I charge.
- Initial client emailing, phone calls, and/or coffee/lunch/dinner meeting, preparing the contract and invoice: estimated 4 hours
- Engagement session: estimated 3 hours (usually 1.5 with the couple, .5 to arrive early and check out the location, 1 for driving)
- Total post-processing time to upload the session, back it up, cull, edit, export, upload to the online gallery, and blog: 6 hours
- Continued client communication throughout time leading up to wedding: estimated 2 hours
- Social media posting between the engagement session and wedding: estimated 1 hour
- Build final timeline for wedding day: estimated 1 hour
- Assorted administrative stuff (e.g. send out final invoice, contact other vendors, etc.): estimated 2 hours
- Wedding day: estimated 12 hours (8-9 official, 1 to be there early, and 2, on average, for driving)
- Total post-processing time for wedding to import, cull, edit, export images, load them to online gallery and organize in gallery: estimated 30 hours
- Blog wedding: estimated 2 hours
- Submit wedding for publication: estimated 2 hours
- Social media following the wedding: estimated 1 hour
- Send images to wedding vendors: estimated 1 hour
- Continued client communication following the wedding: estimated 1 hour
TOTAL ESTIMATED HOURS: 68 hours
That's right, a photographer most likely spends an average of 68 hours on every wedding! That's a week and a half of full time work! Time is one of most valuable assets. Time is time spent away from our family and friends and time is something we can never get back. Time is valuable!
So, let's take that $2500 average profit made from one wedding that I mentioned above. Let's say after expenses and taxes a photographer theoretically take home $1250. That means that after a photographer's 68 hours of work, they're making $18/hour (VERY different than the $300+/hour price tag some people may assume photographers make).
4. If They Book Your Wedding, They Probably Can't Book Another Wedding
Another thing to keep in mind is that if a photographer books your wedding and something happens or you have to cancel for some reason, it's highly likely they will not be able to book another wedding because most couples book their wedding photographer 6 months-2 years out. That is why almost all photographers require a non-refundable deposit (usually 50%) to book their services. your wedding is cancelled, that 50% will offset some of the costs they'll still be loosing.
Why I think wedding photography is worth the expensive for a talented, professional, and personable photographer:
1. Tangible Memories are Extremely Important
In my opinion, your wedding photography is one of the most important aspects of your day because it is one of the few (or may the only) tangible reminders you'll have of your day once it's over. Your wedding pictures are something you'll look back on and cherish for years and years to come. I think that makes them incredible valuable and important and so they should be an aspect of your day that you invest in and prioritize.
2. You Get What You Pay For
Often, I think that people can assume that all photographers are created equal and so they should just book whoever is cheapest. However, like most things in life, you typically get what you pay for with photography! In my opinion, it is important to not only preserve your most cherished memories, but also to have someone who can capture them in a beautiful, artistic way. When a photographer charges more, it is likely because they are in demand, they have experience, and they have better equipment. Most photographers, at least in the early years of their businesses, raise their prices a little after every few weddings they book (or maybe after each year). That is because their experience, equipment, and talent continue to grow.
Many people think that if a photographer has expensive equipment, it makes them a great photographer, While equipment is very important, that is only part of what makes someone a talented photographer! Being able to find light and composition, pose subjects, and work with people in order to make them comfortable so they can capture natural, candid expressions are a HUGE part of the quality of photographs. Really equipment is only half of what's involved in getting a beautiful photograph and light, composition, and posing are just as (if not more) important.
3. Your Photographer Impacts Your Wedding Experience
In addition to paying for beautiful pictures, you also want to pay for an amazing experience! From the very beginning you want to have a relationship with a photographer who is professional, hard working, and enjoyable to be around! Having your pictures taken can be awkward and so it's important to have a wedding photographer who you communicate well with and who makes you comfortable. You'll probably be with your wedding photographer more than almost any other vendor (or even any other person for that matter!) on your wedding day and so it's important to be with someone who you enjoy being around! In addition, it's also important that your photographer is able to work with your friends and family, handle stress and pressure, and respond calmly in difficult or unexpected moments (because there's likely to be a few unexpected moments during every wedding!). For me, it was so important to have a photographer who I enjoyed being around and who I felt would be professional and capable to capture my wedding day.
I hope this post has better helped you understand all of the financial aspects that are involved in running a wedding photography business and why wedding photographers are worth the investment! As always, I would love to hear your feedback so please leave comments and questions below!