Countless times, we have our clients ask why wedding photography is so expensive and there is little about what goes on before and after we show up to photograph a wedding. This will give you a better perspective as to ‘Why Wedding Photographers Charge What They Charge?’.
Importance of wedding images – Long after a multi-day full of exciting wedding events are over and everyone is back to normal life, there is nothing that will remain after the events are over except memories in pictures and videos. Imagine after all that excitement, your images come out and they are not what you had expected and remember there are no retakes on weddings.
You may be able to do a reshoot for an engagement session or portrait session, but you won’t be able have all friends and family under one roof celebrating your happily-ever after union.
Even after 30 years, you will be sitting with your kids showing them your family history through your wedding images. What other things do you think you will still have with you after 30 years, not many; therefore, if wedding photography means so much that means it’s worth the investment.
Question is, why it is so expensive? What does wedding photographers do with all this money, you ask. Here is some information from a wedding photographer working full time for 5 years.
1) Learning Curve
It takes about 3-4 years of rigorous practice and learning to become a good wedding photographer. We spend about 5 hours weekly and about $7000 per photographer every year to go for mentorships, workshops and online tutorials to reach that level of proficiency. These takes hours when we are not paid.
See it this way, as an athlete, you are only paid for 60-90 mins of gametime. However, to be able to play or get selected in the team takes years of practice which you are not going to be paid for.
2) All the photographer has to do is show up and shoot
Our job as a photographer for a contract starts from the first client meeting to learning what brides want, to planning engagement shoot, photographing on the day, editing for hours and designing albums. Probably a 16 hours contract needs about 80-100 hours of work before or after the wedding.
Also website management, social media management and marketing hours and dollars, and much more which never get accounted.
3) Cost of equipment and ecosystem
Not all photographers have this cost but all good photographers who care about their clients would shoot with best equipment. Roughly per wedding photographer, the cost is about $20,000-$25,000 plus investment in studio management softwares, one employee dedicated to client communication, one employee to edit your images and designer for your albums and marketing cost.
Cost of running a studio, payrolls and storing your data on cloud network and hard drives so we have your data protected and all the costs of running a business can be around $30,000 to $50,000 per year. Most wedding, especially true with Indian weddings, can’t be photographed alone; at least 2 photographers total in a team and maybe a lighting assistant are required. This means training a second or associate photographer ready for wedding and paying them hourly $100-$200 is another major cost as well.
Ending it all with one of the most important parts of being a wedding photographer is you have to be passionate about documenting someone’s special day. Missing out on your family time and events on weekends and working long hours (about 17 hours) with no breaks sometimes for Indian weddings requires determination.
Yes, wedding photography is expensive but ask yourself what is the most important and value added part of your big day. Do you agree it’s important to preserve these memories for your future generations to witness. If your answer is yes then I am sure you agree wedding photography is a worthwhile investment.
PRO TIP – Make sure you have seen at least one full wedding coverage portfolio or gallery from a photographer when selecting your wedding photographer. This will ensure you get to see the experience and consistency in the delivered final product that you can expect for your wedding. That is probably the single best way to know if this photographer was caring and working to capture your day consistently.