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The Truth Behind Wedding Photography Pricing

For Photographers

April 16, 2014

So this morning, at 4 AM to be exact, just out of curiosity I was reading articles on my phone about wedding photography pricing to see if I was in a generally good place with how much I have decided to charge. [BACKGROUND STORY: I belong to a group on Facebook strictly for photographers called “Shoot & Share”, the other day I was reading a post from a photographer who received an inquiry from a bride whose wedding photography budget was $8,000 (travel included), unfortunately this photographer couldn’t make the wedding & was sending the inquiry along to others in the group. What a great opportunity, right?! Only thing is the photographer stated “but if you charge any less than $4,000 for your photography do not waste my time.” Basically, a huge slap in the face for anyone who charged less than $4,000 as if our work wasn’t or couldn’t be as good as the photographers who charged more.  So it got me worried & upset that I was making a mistake with my business by not charging enough that people took me seriously as a professional *hence the no sleep & up at 4 AM*]  After reading numerous articles online I discovered I am charging around the average for my collection. The average cost of a well-experienced wedding photographer in CARROLL COUNTY [not Maryland, just CC]  is $2,492 – $3,322+.  (You can find that article here:  http://www.costofwedding.com/index.cfm/action/search.weddingcost?zipcode=21158)

I also saw another wedding photographer post this image from Craigslist which infuriated me, just a little.

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Before I continue anymore I do just want to thank all of my amazing couples who appreciate all of my hard work & think I am worth the price. This blog post isn’t meant to offend anyone. I know a lot of couples are on budgets, especially in this economy, and I also understand planning a wedding is expensive/overwhelming. Wedding photography is hard. We do not wake up every weekend, photograph a wedding for 8 hours & our job is done.  We spend the next couple of months editing, providing proofs, ordering albums, putting together packaging, etc just for one wedding. Along with being a photographer I am also a small business owner which means I do my own marketing, sales, accounting, designing, art directing, blogging, web designing, post production, and so on.

With that being said, here is how I break down my wedding photography pricing: So I photograph on average 20 weddings a year at $2,500/wedding (which totals about $50,000/year)

  • 30% of what I charge instantly goes to taxes since I am a small business owner (now down to $35,000)
  • Instead of me renting a space, I work from my home office/studio that my boyfriend owns & I pay him $400/month towards our mortgage. (35,000-4800= $30,200)
  • Then theres my car which mainly only transports me to & from weddings or shoots which I pay $300/month for & $72/month for insurance ($30,2000-$4,464= $25,736)
  • Last year I spent $1,280 in gas + travel expenses so we’ll just use that number ($25,736- $1,280= $24,456)
  • I also have insurance which costs me $500/year to cover me if a drunk guest spills something on my equipment or something gets stolen ($24,456-$500= $23,956)
  • I paid a web designer to help me design my beautiful website ($500) and another $120/year to be hosted + for my domain name ($23,956- $620= $23,336)
  • Advertising on WeddingWire & Bayside Bride costs me $1,060/year ($23,336-$1060= $22,276)
  • Advertising in Carroll County Times & at bridal shows costed me $1,000 last year. ($22,276- $1,000= $21,276)
  • Remember the “experience” I mentioned earlier? Well after attending MICA ($40,000/year) & Towson University ($8,000/year) I pay $300/month for school loans. ($21,276-3,600=$17,676)
  • In the past year I have invested in all new camera equipment; 2 bodies, 7 lenses, an external flash, memory cards, external hard drives, AND a new 27″ IPS HDMI screen for better editing. OH and I also purchased the newest editions of Photoshop & Lightroom so I can not only provide a high quality product but also have a faster turnaround time. All costing me around $13,000. ($17,676-$13,000= $4,676)
  • I create and purchase custom DVD cases for all of my weddings (2/wedding) $20/2 DVD cases $400 total. ($4,676-$400= $4,276).

So. at the end of the year I am left with a total of around $4,300 to pay my second shooters/ assistants, feed myself, buy groceries, feed my animals (and take them to the vet) buy new shoes that are comfortable enough to stand in for 12+ hours,  clothe myself, pay for heat & electricity, etc… Usually, I end up being in the hole at the end of the year which is why I take on family sessions, seniors, newborn, & maternity sessions.

 

When booking your photographer
Instead of focusing on the price, here are some things to think about :

  1. The quality of the images: Does this photographer provide high-quality imagery? Do you enjoy their editing style? Will you still love their editing style… 20 years from now?
  2. The quality of their albums and other tangibles within the wedding photography packages. Does this photographer use a professional print lab that provides high-quality or is it “so so”? Make sure to ask to see samples of albums or books IN PERSON so you know what to expect!
  3. The personality of the photographer, their presentation, their reputation and the service they deliver.
    • Meet them in person. You are stuck with your wedding photographer not only on your wedding day, but they’re usually the only vendor you have to deal with after your wedding is over. It’s important to hire someone you like and feel comfortable with.
  4. Ask around. Getting referrals from trusted friends colleagues is a great place to start.
  5. Do your homework. Browse wedding photographers to find those you like who also fit your budget. Research the wedding photographer cost of other professionals in your area.  

 

Trust me, wedding photography is expensive & it definitely is not easy running a photography business but I do this because I absolutely LOVE my job. I love capturing my clients special day for them & providing them with the highest-quality products. I want people to hire me because they absolutely love my work & not because of what I charge.

 

 

  1. Angie

    April 16th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this blog post. I feel so frustrated when people don’t understand why we charge what we charge. They think we are “making bank” but really after all is said and done, we are making WAY less than what we charge after our taxes/expenses. I try not to let these people get me down and do what you do and focus on those who appreciate our art and hard work.

  2. K. Rainier Photography

    April 16th, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    […] photographing weddings, and after hearing many of my photographer friends explain time and again why they charge what they do, I felt compelled to add to the discussion, from the perspective of a newbie to shooting weddings, […]

  3. Brittany Roop

    April 17th, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Lauren,
    I am so glad that you posted this because let me just start off by saying that Lee and I are so unbelievably blessed to have you showcase your talent and capture our memories at our wedding in November!

    However, when I have recommended you to some people, some of them say.. well the pricing is a little high isn’t it?!

    Lee and I feel that you have a GREAT price range and is well worth your talent. I feel like forwarding this to all of the people who complained about it to show them that what you do is not only taking up time, but is also costly and is a lot of work.

    We appreciate you & your talent and as long as you continue taking pictures, you’ll always have us as returning customers!

    -Brittany & Lee

  4. body requires

    June 1st, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar
    one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything
    you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving
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  5. A Guide to Choosing a Photographer…for a Bride on ANY Budget » K. Rainier Photography

    January 1st, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    […] photographing weddings, and after hearing many of my photographer friends explain time and again why they charge what they do, I felt compelled to add to the discussion, from the perspective of a photographer, but also as […]

  6. Jessica

    February 20th, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I came across this thanks to Kate (K. Ranier Photography).

    THANK YOU for taking the time, and putting so much of yourself (ourselves?) out there to try to educate our local market.

    Keep up the good work, your photographs are beautiful.

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