Why Does Wedding Photography Cost So Much?
The cost of a wedding can be daunting. I like to remind people that the one thing you will take away from your wedding (other than your AWESOME spouse and own personal memories) is your collection of photos. Given the amount of time you spend thinking about and planning the details of this day, hiring a seasoned professional who can assure your photos will make for beautiful memories is an investment that is well worth it. Think about it as amortizing the cost of your day over the rest of your married life.
Most people understand that a professional photographer’s price includes time and expertise, however, it may be helpful to understand the additional costs. If you were to divide the hours I spend shooting a wedding by my fee, you might think I were earning over $500/hour for my efforts. (This is not the case). I shoot because I love it- I love giving people joy, I love interacting, I love the smiles and the tears, I love creating something truly beautiful. The money only makes it possible to continue.
Here is a quick cost overview to show why photography costs so much:
Time (see breakdown below)
(incl: camera bodies, various lenses, lighting equipment/flashes, printer, batteries, SD cards, card readers, computers, tripods, reflectors and bag, plus cleaning, repair and replacement costs, and clothing & shoes for shoots). In total, this amounts to well over $20,000.
(incl: classes, professional association fees)
Software & technology
(incl: site hosting, editing software, backup storage, gallery hosting, office suite subscription, payment software, internet access totaling over $400 monthly)
(incl: exhibitions, website hosting, advertising, print materials, networking, trademark fees)
General Business costs
(incl: accountants, taxes, album and print costs, office supplies, health and liability insurance, car & gas and business license fees)
Where does the time go?
You will see me at your wedding for approximately 8-10 hours, and perhaps assume my time is what you are paying for. While you would be partially correct, as in any business, there are behind-the-scenes activities and associated fees required to make my business (and your wedding day shoot) run. As a small business owner, I must market, bill, schedule, consult, correspond, design, edit, and manage in addition to the parts I love most: shooting and interacting with my clients.
Corresponding (usually via email, video, text, or phone) 2 hours
Consultation(s) 1 hour
Booking/ Contracts 1 hour
Billing (reminders, processing) .5 hours Travel 2+ hours
Website Design 4 hours
Wedding Day Preparation (equipment checks, travel, etc) 2 hours
Wedding Day Shoot (full day) 8+ hours
Wedding Image Editing (Primary and custom) 20 hours
Publishing and Design of Gallery 1.5 hours
Presentation Design and Layout 5 hours
Client Presentation 1.5 hours
Album Design 10 hours
Final Correspondence 1 hour
Ongoing Marketing (to reach potential brides) 3 hours
TOTAL HOURS PER CLIENT 60+ hours
So, “How can I lower costs?”, you might ask. I am happy to work with you on that! While my hourly rate is fixed, my time requirements are not- the less time I spend on a shoot, the less editing and backend work there is to be done. We can chat about the flow of your day, which moments are a “must-have” and which are an added perk. By condensing your day, or rearranging just slightly, we can cut back on hours (not to worry- we will have a discussion about your plans and schedule no matter the time I am spending with you so we can make sure we are on the same page about the flow of the day). In addition, in order to support wedding equality, I also provide discounts to same sex wedding couples, as my small gift to you.
Instead of printing out a whole set of proofs, just print the ones you think you might want to enlarge or hang on a wall (do this to check print quality, paper preferences, gloss vs matte, color correction, etc.)
You might also think about doing your own album or coffee table book (which is why I do not include such in my rates). I am more than happy to design one, help you design one, or just provide advice, but since this can be one of the largest costs of a wedding package, I will let you decide how much help, if any, you need in this department.
You could also hire someone with less experience. My only warning to you is that you may very well get what you pay for (this can mean lack of backup equipment, missed shots, a less seasoned professional, and/or a longer wait time for your product). Granted this is not always the case, and we are all beginners at some point, but do your homework!