I get a lot of questions from brides about wedding photography, but the most common question is “Why is wedding photography so expensive?” When I get initial emails from brides, they usually ask for prices and use that info to make decisions. Often, I won’t even get a return email after they hear my prices. Now, I understand people being on budget, but too many people are just going with the cheapest photographer out there or a relative. Today, I’ll try to explain why photographers charge what they charge.
Why is wedding photography so expensive: Time involved
People often judge a job by hourly rate. Well, up front photographers appear to make a lot per hour. They might charge $2000 for a wedding and only be there 10 hours. That would be $200 an hour. Truthfully, the amount of time spent at the shoot is the smallest time involved. Before the shoot, photographers spend time marketing to get clients, communicating with clients, planning shoots, and researching techniques and equipment. After the shoot, there’s the editing, and oh my, it can take a long time. When you add all of those things up, the photographer probably spends at least another 20 hours on the shoot, bringing the total up to 30. Now the hourly rate is down to $67.
Wedding photographers also have to spend a ton of money. The first thing brides never consider into this is the taxes. Photographers have to pay taxes, sales tax and income tax. For me, the sales tax is roughly 10%, so I would lose $200 out of that $2000. Then, income tax will be different from person to person, but this year, mine was about 25%. That means in the end, the $2000 is really $1350.
Then there are the actual things needed to run a photography business. The initial cost of camera equipment for a professional is going to be around $6000-$8000. Then, every 5 years or so, they have to replace at least a few thousand of that. Don’t forget computers and software. That’s another $1000 to $3000. A website? $50 to $200 a year. Insurance? another $400 or more.
I think if most people understood all that went into being a real, professional wedding photographer, they wouldn’t ask, “Why is wedding photography so expensive?” After doing all the math, it’s pretty obvious that wedding photographers aren’t just making a ton of money and ripping people off; they are charging what they need to barely survive. If that info isn’t enough, think about hiring someone that’s much cheaper. Do you think they’re going to have everything needed to capture your special day? I wouldn’t risk it.