Why are wedding photographers so expensive?

Everyone wants to remember their special wedding day. Therefore, home videos and low-quality photographs on a camera phone won’t cut it; this is why most couples will opt for a professional wedding photographer to document their special day. However, many are faced with one question and ask is ‘Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive?’.

Weddings can be so expensive, with the venue, the food, the clothes, the decorations, the DJ or band; the list goes on and on. Add the photographer’s cost on top of the list, and it can feel overwhelming, and it will make you wonder why wedding photography costs so much. We’re here to break it down from a photographer’s perspective so you can understand all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

So are wedding photographers expensive? Only if you think they are, but let’s try and understand the value of what you are paying for and how they are also affordable, and what is involved.

The Expense Of A Wedding Photographer

The price charged by wedding photographers can range hugely, and many charges into the thousands for a full day of shooting; however, they are necessary for any wedding day. Wedding days are the most important day in many of our lives, and the risk of not having the photos you dreamed of runs high unless you have professional taking care of them.

Not only do wedding photographers take staged photographs of the wedding party and guests, but many also offer a full day of shooting which involves everything from photos of the bridal makeup and hair being done right until the last person leaves the wedding reception. Furthermore, photographers’ work is not done when the day is over as they then have the responsibility of choosing the best quality photos and making any edits to those that need them.

With such pressure on professionals to capture every perfect photograph, it is somewhat understandable that wedding photographers are so expensive when considering the sheer amount of equipment required.

They need one camera and lenses, tripods, memory cards, batteries, a different camera for this, the other camera for that and camera equipment is not often easily affordable with many wedding photographers’ kit reaching a cost of well into the thousands of pounds. With all this expensive kit, you also need public liability insurance that most venues require before allowing you to work on their premises, again another considerable expense.

That is just the camera, what about editing your photos? A rugged laptop or PC is needed, software to edit the images, back up hard drives, so nothing is lost, USB pens and online storage to supply your photos, all these costs add up.

With everything there is time, you are not just paying for the wedding photographer to attend our wedding for 6-12 hours, and that is it, they will spend time making sure all they have all the equipment set up for your wedding, they may go and recce your venue to ensure they know the best places for some beautiful photos, then after the wedding, transferring images, backing them all up, and then editing them and creating albums that you fall in love with.

Additionally, wedding photographers have immense pressure placed upon them; one wrong click or one faulty piece of equipment and the hundreds of wedding photographs you have been waiting for are gone, and the fault lies solely with the wedding photographer themselves, you are paying for the experience.

Why Do Wedding Photographers Charge So Much?

The key is to understand what you are paying for. There is a lot more to photography than most people think; it’s not as simple as turning up to a location, pressing a button & handing the images over. There is a considerable amount of behind the scenes hours that take place after a shoot is complete. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?

Photography Is More Than An Expensive CameraWhy are wedding photographers so expensive?

As you can see, there is a large amount of money spent on having the right equipment for the job, and also a large amount of time that goes into it all, but there is more to the job and capturing your perfect wedding day than just the camera and all the gadgets, these are only tools.

There are a skill and an art that has been developed, learnt and honed by the photographer over many years, you can give all the same equipment to someone who has little professional experience, and they may take one or two nice shots. Still, a professional photographer with years of experience will take a whole album worth of stunning images that tell a story. This is what you are paying for. Someone with years of experience, someone you can trust.

Wedding photography isn’t just a purchase; your wedding dress is a purchase, you shall wear it once, and that is all; your wedding flowers are a purchase; after a few days, they shall wilt, and that will be that. However, your wedding photography is an investment.

Your wedding photos are a story of your perfect day; they will capture the day’s emotion, your beautiful fresh flowers, your stunning white dress; your wedding album will hold all those memories and moments forever that you can share with friends, family and grandchildren.

Time

The amount of time a wedding photographer spends on wedding factors into why wedding photography costs so much. The time spent can be broken down into four categories: client meetings, pre-wedding day preparation, the wedding day, and editing.

Client Meetings

The client meeting is more than just the initial interview between the couple and the photographer to see if they’re a fit for one another. There will be subsequent meetings to update the photographer on the planning process and discuss the wedding day timeline. A good wedding photographer will periodically check in with their couple to see if everything is going well and if they have any questions. Sometimes these meetings can be done via video chat, but sometimes they require the photographer to travel away from their home to meet with the couple. This process takes a few hours.

Pre-Wedding Day Preparation

The pre-wedding day preparation also factors into why wedding photography costs so much. If the wedding package includes an engagement shoot, a photographer must account for travelling time, photographing the couple, and editing the photos. There is often location scouting involved to find the best spot for the bridal party photos on the wedding day, especially if the venue is a new one for the photographer. There may be a dress rehearsal for the photographer to attend. Your photographer might even be looking online for inspiration via new angles to try shooting from or for a fresh take on a photo they’ve shot dozens of times. They need to prepare and pack their gear, and they need to run through the shots mentally they plan on taking. This will take your photographer another 7-10 hours, depending on the length of the engagement shoot.

Wedding Day

The wedding day is likely 7-10 hours long, plus the photographer’s drive too and from home. Some weddings may require the photographer to travel long distances. It is not uncommon for photographers to travel 2-3 hours one way from their hometown to cover a wedding. Sometimes photographers will fly across the country or even overseas for a wedding, in which case the photographer uses about two days of their time to get to and photograph the wedding. Travel time has to be incorporated into a photographer’s cost of doing business. If there is a second photographer involved, that person has to be paid as well. You’re suddenly getting the equivalent of 16 hours of work when your 8-hour wedding package includes two photographers.

Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

Editing

Why are wedding photographers so expensive?

Finally, editing is probably the most time-consuming aspect of a wedding. Editing is one of the reasons why wedding photography costs so much. Your photographer could take dozens of photos seconds apart to avoid missing a particular moment, or they might be much more selective with each shot they take. So a wedding photographer can choose anywhere between 50-300 photos per hour, for an 8-hour wedding, that could be approximately 2400 photos. Your photographer needs to cull these photos: separate the best photos from the average or sub-par ones. The time varies depending on the photographer, but it would probably take 3-4 hours to cull the images for an 8-hour wedding.

We are editing raw photographs to create the final images (maybe 2 to 3 hours editing for everyone spent shooting, but everyone’s different). This is a tremendous amount of time because an 8-hour wedding can mean days of editing (fitting the task in, in between business-related tasks and new leads that we need to take care of).

The actual editing process takes much longer and is an even more significant factor in why wedding photography cost so much. The photographer can sometimes apply a specific editor preset to multiple photos at once. They will then go through each picture individually to manually adjust them to give the image the perfect final look. Expect this process to take another 8-24 hours. Plus, your photographer will probably leave your photos for some days before coming back with fresh eyes to correct any overlooked imperfections before sending you your shots.

If we’re counting hours, your photographer has spent 24 hours of their time on the various aspects of one wedding at the very minimum. This doesn’t even include the time needed to create a wedding album. Now you might be wondering why your photographer takes so many weeks to send you the photos after your wedding.

Remember, your photographer has other weddings to photograph; they may also have different types of photoshoots to attend, more client meetings, other client photos to edit, and their own family life. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.

Responsibility

A wedding photographer has a severe responsibility of capturing your photos as this is your special day. 

Education

Photographers spend a lot of time and money on their education and ongoing training. There are all sorts of workshops, courses, and conferences that many invest in to ensure they are up to date in their skills, knowledge, and photography trends/advances.

Learning and researching the ever-growing software that helps photographers with their workflows is continually evolving and requires time, energy, trial & error to keep up to date and maintain maximum efficiency.

Photographers want to produce a product that you will be proud to share with family and friends. This takes years of training and practice as all hours are spent in post-production, which is reflected in the price. 

Backing up

After your wedding, storage cards are bought specifically for your wedding data costs to store. Most photographers will carry this cost for at least seven years, so you have a backup if the worst happens.

Time

Photographers spend on average 40 hours on every wedding. The majority of time is paid after the wedding – the tedious process of editing the photography and videos takes more time, weeks and months after the marriage has long passed.

Travel

Photographers generally have to travel to your wedding locations (usually 2-5 spots per wedding, depending on your plans). Think about it. The place of one person, the other’s location, the ceremony spot, the reception venue, then perhaps one or two different locations to shoot your portrait sessions.

It’s common to have a large radius within which photographers don’t charge for travel, so it is customary to drive hours to and from a wedding. Sometimes a job will require a pre-visit to scope out locations.

Designing

Designing marketing materials, logos, websites and branding, albums, choosing which images to print for you and putting together your online gallery takes time and skill, too. 

Meetings

Although I’m sure you’re lovely, and meeting up with you is a joy, a photographer likes to be paid to attend meetings, just like everyone else. 

We are having meetings, phone calls and dealing with client emails. Weddings are high-touch, and typically hundreds of emails are exchanged, not to mention texts, phone calls and meetings. Each client relationship might be active for 24 months, from answering initial questions and setting the engagement shoot until after the wedding album’s delivery.

Venue visits

Generally speaking, a photographer checks out a venue and looks around for some right spots for shots of you, your partner and your bridal party before the wedding day. Unless, of course, they’ve been there before and know all the best spots to go.

Insurance

Generally, most wedding vendors spend a substantial amount on insurance if their gear is damaged during your wedding day or in issue, anything else unexpected happens.

It’s Incredibly Hard To Turn A Profit As A Wedding Photographer 

Why are wedding photographers so expensive?

It takes a tremendous amount of time, skill, financial cost, risk, and a little sprinkling of luck to make it a full-time wedding photographer (or even as a viable side hustle). Making money on wedding photography is hard. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.

Scaling Up Doesn’t Lead To Effortless Profit Increases

Some photography businesses scale up to increase their profits. However, this also brings enormous risks. Entrusting the biggest day of someone’s life to an independent contractor (because virtually no photography business can afford staff photographers employed full-time) is incredibly risky. What if they don’t show up? Get a better offer? Book their client? 

Plus, it is still only the business owner and maybe a small admin team that has to deal with all the actual business and client management sides. That means even the business owner commits to: 

  • Being on call 24/7 to respond to client inquiries the minute they hit the inbox with a personal, not automated, message.
  • Doing meetings and phone calls evenings and weekends when clients are not at work.
  • Dealing with independent contractors’ turnover and their training, image review and scrambling to find someone if they fail to show up to a wedding.

Either way, it’s fraught with risk, pressure and high stakes. Still, we give up a considerable amount to take on these liabilities – our summer months, every Saturday in summer in a good season, plus those evenings and weekends to talk to clients. 

So before you purchase your flowers, cake and dress, remember that saving a little on each of those will make for an even better investment in your wedding photos.

If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Like most things, you get what you pay for, so find an experienced wedding photographer that you value and that you trust to capture your special day; you only get one chance.