How Much Should Invest In My Wedding Photography?
How Much Should I Invest In My Wedding Photography?
There are so many opinions out there from different blogs, articles, or even friends giving their opinions.
However, so many different factors contribute to this question, so there isn’t one correct answer for everyone.
In this article, you will learn
- What factors go into wedding photography pricing
- Which of those factors are most important to you, as the wedding couple to determine how much you should spend on your wedding photography.
Wedding photography pricing ranges vary widely, from $0 to $20k, or maybe even more! I’m sure seeing that might give you a little bit of anxiety, but I’m here to walk you through it to give you more of a clear idea of what would fit best for you.
Criteria that influences the price of a photographer:
Level of Expertise: How long has this person been photographing weddings? (not just any type of photography).
Style: There are two factors of style: editing and interaction.
Experience: What is the experience that you will receive as a client? This is going to be from the moment that you land on their website to the very end when you receive your wedding photographs in an online gallery or a handcrafted customized album just for you.
What’s Included?: Is your photographer going to show up to the job and then leave? Or will they will creating an experience for you and including more than just wedding day coverage?
Is the photographer just showing up, taking photos, and leaving? Is an engagement session included? A wedding album, wall art, second shooters? High-quality prints? Will the photographer help me with my timeline? All things that will raise the overall price of a wedding package. Your photographer is spending many hours creating an amazing experience for you.
So rather than asking “How much should I invest in wedding photography?” should really be “What is the experience that I value want with my wedding photographer?”
Let’s dive deeper into these categories:
Expertise and experience are often related. Because the more experience you have with something, typically your expertise levels rise. A photographer who has been photographing weddings for 3 years vs 10 is going to have been exposed to many more circumstances and have more experience.
To start, expertise includes actual photography skills. Can this photographer shoot in a wide array of lighting situations? Do you trust your photographer to capture the moments that can’t be redone, even if the lighting changes last minute?
All weddings include a portion or more of the day that is not ideal for shooting. A super bright mid-day ceremony is going to vastly differ from a dark reception in a basement. Does your photographer know how to shoot in low light?
Read here to know how if a wedding photographer can shoot in low light.
Another expertise skill is handling interpersonal situations. It takes more than one person to make your wedding day run smoothly, and when there is a hiccup your day of vendors needs to know how to have a great day of communication while keeping everyone at an at ease state of mind. Can your photographer wrangle all of your family members for the group photographs?
How do you know if a wedding photographer has great expertise levels? Besides seeing if they have work in multiple lighting situations, the best way is to check out the photographs reviews. Most reviews are left on their google business page, website, The Knot, or even Facebook page. You can expect a higher price is usually tied with expertise levels since those photographers have a higher demand.
The two different categories of style are editing, and interaction.
As for editing, do you like the way their images look as far as coloring? Ten photographers can photograph the same couple and the same location but the way they edit can look completely different. Some might edit the photo very bright, and another’s could be very dark.
There is no right or wrong answer, but you want to make sure you like how their images look prior to booking.
The second style category is how the photographer approaches a wedding day. Are they more hands-on and direct, or are they more of a fly on the wall capturing what unfolds in front of them? A very hands-on approach is going to be very posed and controlled. A fly on the wall style is going to be more journalistic, sitting back and capturing the day on how it appears without being hands-on.
Read here about more on Photography Styles
The experience you receive with a photographer can widely differ as well a everything else. And just like expertise, the better the experience the higher the investment.
Do you want your photographer to show up on the wedding day, nothing else? Is your photographer going to create a photography timeline with you a few weeks before the wedding to make sure everything you value is going to be capture with the least stress possible? Will you receive an engagement session with the wedding collection?
Read here on why you should have an engagement session with your wedding photographer.
After the wedding are you receiving an online gallery of your images?
It is very special to be able to physically hold your images from your wedding day and be able to show them off without having to pull them up on a screen. High-experience photographers will have a meeting with you and go over options on ways to show off your images in your house and show you a custom-designed heirloom album of your images that will last for generations.
The list goes on, and experience should be a top priority to think about when deciding what you value.
Do Wedding Photographers “Over-Charge”?
If you have read some of the articles or comments around the internet, I’m sure you have come across the statement “wedding vendors charge a lot more just because it’s a wedding.
Let’s explore this. Is a party reallllly the same as a wedding day?
- Is it a once-in-a-lifetime event?
- Is it something that can be recreated?
- Is it an event that requires hours of pre and post-labor?
If your photographer lost the images of it, would you absolutely be crushed?
Just from a few of these bullet points, it is clear that a wedding day is a TON more work than any other event or session. The pressure is a lot higher on a wedding day for a photographer and requires more mental and physical workload.
Most wedding days include hours of work, like:
- 1-3 Hours of emails and meetings
- 2-3 Hours of an engagement session
- 1-3 Hours of post engagement session (upload, edit, export, delivery)
- 1-2 Hours of timeline and pre-wedding planning
- 10-20 Hours of wedding day work (prep gear, travel, shooting, tear-down, and backing up your once in a lifetime images)
- 8-20 Hours of post-processing (uploading, culling, editing, exporting, and sending out the gallery)
Now let’s break down the additional things that photographers pay for:
- Gear – And having to purchase new gear
- maintenance on gear
- Memory Cards
- Hard Drives
- Gallery Systems
- Client Management software
- lawyers for contracts
- Editing software
- Second Shooters
The list goes on and on.
So rather than thinking you’re paying just the 8 hours of shooting for your photographer, you’re actually paying for around 50-100 hours if we’re including all of the above.
Above all, your wedding day is yours and you get to do it however you want. But remember, wedding photos are the only lasting thing after the day is over (besides your bling!). The flowers, food, the decor, are all like Cinderella at the ball, and poof! at midnight they’re gone. Your wedding photographs are going to be evidence of your day. If you want to pass your wedding photos down to generations, then invest in a photographer who you can connect with and can trust and who will provide you an experience you value!