I'm Joelle, an international Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer based in St. Joseph, MI. I'm also an educator and Photo Editor for photographers interested in growing their business and living life more.
Photo by: Nicole Balsamo Photography
Weddings take a lot of effort, time, and money. It’s no secret that things add up fast when you’re planning your big day, and I know that wedding photography is no exception on this. A lot of couples wonder why wedding photography is so expensive and I want to take a moment to help you understand why.
To start with, let me first say that each photographer has their own expenses that they need to account for in order to make ends meet. For that reason, (as well as our experience level) photographer’s prices may vary from each other. However, there are some key factors that will hopefully help explain why we need to charge so much.
Having photography insurance is a must! Things happen – sometimes we trip up the stairs from exhaustion and break a lens (true story), or equipment may get stolen. Having insurance in place ensures that we will still be able to cover your day with the necessary equipment in case something happens. Insurance alone can range anywhere between $500-1,000 depending on the coverage we need and the value of our equipment. However, it’s well worth it in order to keep things running smoothly for you on your big day!!
Owning quality cameras & lenses add up quickly. To give you an idea of what I mean, the cameras/lenses that I currently own add up to over $10,000. That’s a lot of money! That doesn’t account for other equipment that can be necessary for your wedding day such as: flashes, reflectors, tripods, SD cards, external hard drives, or camera batteries (to name a few).
There are also instances when we might need to reserve additional lenses or other equipment for select occasions. For example, occasionally I need to rent a lens that will allow me to stand in the back of a ceremony/reception, so that I’m not being intrusive, and it will zoom in far enough for me to capture a close-up shot of your best man performing his toast. This lens in particular is valued at about $1,900 if you buy it. Renting is much more cost-effective in comparison – at around $100 – but if I’m renting it for multiple weddings throughout the year then it adds up fast.
On a similar note, us wedding photographers prefer to have back-up equipment in place just in case a camera body malfunctions or a lens breaks. I personally have a back-up camera body and a variety of lenses that I bring with me so that if, God-forbid, anything happened to my equipment on your wedding day then I would still have the right equipment to capture your day. Chances are, you’d never know that something happened. Because I have a back-up plan in place, things will still go according to plan and you’ll never know the difference! Wedding photographers prefer to prepare for the worst because…things happen. The better prepared we are; the better experience you’ll have.
Time is money
Our time is incredibly valuable. Not only the time that we spend creating beautiful family photos or capturing the candid moments during your day, but also the time that goes into editing your images afterwards. Editing takes hours to complete (especially if we’re perfectionists!) We need to make sure that the edits are consistent and that can take time to complete. We also take time before your wedding day to scout out locations that will produce the best lighting & backdrops for your family photos, bridal party photos, and couple photos. Location scouting in and of itself can take anywhere between 2-4 hours, depending on the couple’s preferences. Photographing a wedding day ranges anywhere between 6-12 hours, and editing itself can take up to 30 hours to complete. We put in the time because we want you to have nothing but the best, but it comes at a price (which is well worth it, I believe).
For those of us who travel a lot for weddings, those expenses add up quickly as well. Whether it’s paying for gas when you’re driving somewhere, tolls & parking fees in the city; or the cost of a round-trip flight, lodging, rental cars, and food if we’re traveling to another state. Those are all things that need to be accounted for when planning a trip.
The Software Programs We Use
There are many programs that we need access to in order to produce the best product & experience for you. Many of us use editing presets to produce gorgeous photographs for you, and you can’t get good presets for free. On top of that, we need a paid subscription to Lightroom & Photoshop in order to actually edit your images.
Another example is the online gallery services we use to send you your final images. Having a gallery service in place ensures that you are able to access and download your images easily. The online gallery service that I personally use also provides a cloud back-up storage for all of your images, and gives you life-time access so that you can download your images anytime. I love that feature!
Our industry is constantly changing and improving. By making it a priority to continue learning, that means that we’re in turn able to better serve you! A great photographer is constantly educating themselves on the latest equipment, editing strategies, how to create an amazing experience for you, and so much more. We can learn the bare minimum by reading articles but if we really want to improve, then attending a workshop or conference will be the best option. These are expensive but well worth it!! We often leave workshops feeling more inspired than ever and equipped with tools that will serve you better. This is especially good for you because it means that we are willing to continue learning how to give you the best possible outcome that we can.
Experience Levels & Geographical Location
Experience also plays a big part in how much a wedding photographer may charge. The more experienced you are, the more popular in demand you become.
Another factor in pricing may be geologically based. Photographers based in cities will most likely have higher rates, whereas photographers based in rural areas may be at a slightly lower price point (but not always).
I know that’s a lot of information to take in, but I hope that it helps break things down for you! It’s easy to get sticker shock when you see a wedding photographer’s prices for their collections, but don’t let that discourage you. Instead, just know that it’s for good reason and it means that we have your best interest in mind. It’s true that you get what you pay for, and if you want a great wedding photographer then I would strongly encourage you to be prepared to spend anywhere between $2,000 – $6,000.
Remember, out of everything that you book for your wedding day, the things that will last the longest are your photographs and video. Speaking from personal experience, hiring a professional photographer for our wedding day was the best hire we made. Having those images to look back on weeks later was so special! Wedding days absolutely fly by and your photographer will be capturing moments that you may not even be aware of. And when you see them later? You’ll be so glad that you hired them.
Did you enjoy this post? You might also like these!
Are you engaged? Congratulations!! I’d love to celebrate with you! If you’re planning a Friday or Sunday wedding, email me at JoelleElizabethPhotography@gmail.com for the details!