Today I’m pulling back the curtain and taking you behind the scenes a bit into the world of wedding photography! First let me just say, my goal with this post is NOT to say what you should or shouldn’t be paying for a wedding photographer. Because I understand that that is going to look different person to person and place to place. My goal is simply to educate you on what all goes into wedding photography so that you can have a full understanding of what you are paying for. Because regardless of your budget or where you live, what you are paying your wedding photographer is NEVER just covering the 8-10 hours they are at your event. Let’s dive into what goes into just ONE wedding.
- Wedding Day. Obviously this includes the hours of your actual wedding. But, even if you only hired the photographer for 8 hours of coverage, they are probably putting in closer to 12 hours of work that day when you factor in equipment prep, travel, and backing up your images after the wedding.
- Consultations and Emails. We are typically doing an initial consultation and a final consultation. In between, there’s hours of back and forth emailing.
- Engagement Session. Most wedding photographers include an engagement session at no additional cost (for many reasons; one being it’s INCREDIBLY beneficial to have had that ‘practice’ in front of the camera before your wedding). That’s another roughly 12 hours of work when you factor everything in.
- Timeline Prep. Even if you’re working with a planner, your photographer is spending at least an hour putting together a photography timeline for you to ensure we have time for all the photos you want.
- Site Visits and Location Scouting. Unless we’ve already worked at your venue and know the portrait options very well, we are likely spending 2-3 hours to walk through the space and scout photo spots in advance of your big day.
- Second Shooter. In many cases your package includes a second shooter to help ensure no moment goes un-captured. Well, those second shooters aren’t working for free! Depending on a number of factors, somewhere in the $200-600 range is probably being paid for their services.
- Editing. This is going to vary photographer to photographer. My weddings are currently delivered 4 weeks after the date. And yes, obviously, not every second of the 4 weeks is spent editing since we are typically juggling several weddings/sessions at once, on top of normal business activities. I typically spend at least an hour per hour of wedding coverage.
- Gallery Uploads. Y’all. This was probably the thing that surprised me the most when I got into this field. For every wedding, it takes me a FULL work day to prep your folders and upload your high-res gallery for final delivery.
- Blogging/Social Media Posting. Everyone likes seeing sneak peeks of their wedding. If your photographer is a blogger or uses social media to show sneak peeks, you can factor in a solid 2 hours for all of that.
In addition to those 50ish hours spent per 8-hour wedding, photographers have a number of costs that have to be covered to remain in business. These costs are spread equally across all weddings:
- Taxes. Yeah, Uncle Sam takes our money too 😉
- Insurance and Equipment Upkeep. If you’re hiring a true professional, that photographer has to maintain liability insurance. In fact, many of the venues you get married at won’t even allow photographers to work there without insurance, so there’s not really any getting around it even if we wanted to! On top of that, in order to keep our gear in pristine condition so we can give you the best results, we have to service our equipment yearly.
- Business Expenses. Service fees, advertising costs, credit card processing fees, annual business renewals, etc. A lot goes into this category and it adds up quick!
I was going to a finish up with a little math exercise to put everything into perspective for you, BUT Retrospect Images already did a fabulous job doing that (plus math was never my passion). So if you’re interested in seeing a rough breakdown of what the take home pay ACTUALLY is when all is said and done, head over here and take a peek!
I hope this was helpful for you in understanding why wedding photography is often priced the way it is. There’s SO much more to this job than meets the eye, but I truly love it and love that I have this incredible opportunity to serve so many wonderful couples at such an exciting time in their lives.