How Much Do Photographers Cost?
How much do photographers cost? This is something that get’s asked a lot, and that I wanted to cover from my point of view. For the ease of things I’ll only be talking about wedding photography in this article – but some of these concepts will apply to other types of photography as well. I also live in Louisville Kentucky, and work nationwide. My pricing generally reflects a travel fee because of that. Kentucky weddings are generally less.
How much a wedding photographer costs is a question that comes up often within forums and social media. It’s one of the top keywords that’s googled by prospective clients when they start searching for a photographer, and it’s a question that comes up almost immediately when they do inquire. Pricing is important. Not only to us photographers but also to the people paying us (you).
We have to be able to support ourselves and our families with our work, and as artists that can sometimes be hard to get across to others. For some reason within our society the culture around artists is that if we enjoy what we do then why are we being paid? This is an attitude that I, and many of my photography friends have encountered over the years. It makes us feel less valued by certain people. In retrospect we’ve also had clients praise us, pay us more, and even tip us. All in all it comes down to what YOU value when it comes to your wedding.
When it comes down to it weddings are a luxury and the cost of vendors associated with weddings can be quite high. There might be a price tag shock when reaching out to certain vendors because people outside of the wedding industry really don’t know what to expect when inquiring, and that’s ok. I’m here to walk you through at least the cost of photography.
I am not going to be getting into the cost of my gear because in my opinion I CHOOSE what I use for my business. It’s not on my clients to “pay for” and I would feel icky raising my prices just because I decided to buy more expensive equipment. My Cost of doing business or CODB is high. For most photographers it is, but there are a lot of other (and more important) reasons as to why we charge what we do.
Experience as a wedding photographer is one of the things that most affects the cost. I charge more because I’ve been in the industry for a good chunk of time and I’ve photographed over 150 weddings. My experience throughout the years has taught me how to handle some really stressful situations that can occur at weddings. Photographers are basically with the couple and their parties for the entire day. Experienced photographers know how to read the room, handle different emotions (because they can be all over the place on a wedding day), handle the failures of other vendors within a certain scope, deal with criticism, deal with breakdowns, deal with difficult family members or wedding party members, not to mention all of the technical aspects we learn. There is so much that we learn to do over the years that is invaluable that keeps a wedding day running smoothly. That’s why the most experienced photographers may be a few thousand dollars more.
Typically (with travel – because most of my work has been destination based) I start at $3500 for 6 hours of coverage. When I first started photographing weddings I would do the same amount of coverage for $1500. Over the past 8 years my pricing has gone up significantly as my experience has grown.
Another aspect of experience is the technical side of things. It takes time to TRULY know your camera. To learn the ins and outs of settings and to be able to adjust on the fly. This is all part of learning photography and while new photographers are increasingly talented with what they present, they may be a bit slower on getting their settings right or not know how to photograph a certain situation. Not to fear they all learn and from my past experience walking into situations we may not be used to definitely helps us grow quicker. With that being said you definitely would pay less for the newer photographer vs. the person who can change their settings without moving their eye from the viewfinder.
Like I mentioned previously my price has gone up significantly from when I began. The first few weddings I photographed were only $400-$600 split between two people and I gradually raised my pricing as I learned more and gained technical knowledge.
Packages and Wedding Collections
I like to keep my Collections pretty simple and easy to deal with. I don’t like a big fuss and I don’t want my clients to walk away confused so I keep things to a build your own method. You pick the hours of coverage and then add on what you need, such as a second shooter or engagement session. I simplified things down to this level because I found it easier for myself to handle and talk about. I turn over the edited digitals and then don’t worry about anything else. It works for me.
Other photographers do things differently though. Some may do IPS and and others may offer products within their packages. All of these things can affect price. An IPS photographer may charge more for products and digitals after the wedding. A photographer who offers products within their packages will already have the markup included within their base price. It’s important that when you are picking a photographer you check all of their pricing and what that means for your budget. You don’t want hidden fees later on.
I figured within this article I should also add a helpful little pricing structure. This is all general knowledge and my experience, and could be very different for other photographers. It’s important you know that the quality of your wedding photos can be affected by the price tag, and you sometimes do actually get what you pay for if you go with a cheaper option. There are however, very talented new photographers that would deliver an amazing product, you just may have to do some digging if you’re budget doesn’t allow for someone with more experience.
So here are the general pricing that I used for myself throughout different experience levels. Some of the figures may be slightly off depending on travel + other aspects. This is just generalizations.
And yes I do have a list of ALL the weddings I have ever photographed in order to have gotten the numbers.
Brand New – 2nd wedding – about the 20th.
Pricing ranged from $400-$1500 split between two people since I have a business partner at the time.
20th Wedding – 68th wedding (about 2/3 years of growth)
Pricing ranged from $1500-$3000 – These were the first few years on my own and growing my business.
About $3000-8000, depending on collection with an average spent of $5000. This is around the time I started being recognized, doing mostly destination weddings and winning awards.
And like I mentioned this completely varies from photographer to photographer. Everyone prices themselves differently regardless of everything I’ve outlined in this article, there is no set standard and no regulation. You could be paying $5000 for someone who has only photographed a handful of weddings or $1000 for someone that’s photographed 100. Essentially, what I’m saying is that you have to do a bit of research and trust in the photographer you do choose.
*Check out this article about the average cost of weddings here.*