That's a common question I read on Facebook posts, Reddit threads, Instagram stories and I'm here to break it down for you.
There are so many obvious factors that go into running a business but when I sat down and took the time to write out the booking process for a single wedding, even I was shocked at the amount of work that goes into it. It's important to note that your geographical local heavily impacts the average cost for a wedding photographer. My name is Jessi owner of Jessi Vaughn Photography and I am based on the East Coast in Maryland. I would say the average cost of a wedding photographer in this state varies even between counties. More specially I am based in Frederick, Maryland. Nestled near Washington DC, Northern Virginia and Baltimore. With all that being said, in my opinion the average cost of an EXPERIENCED wedding photographer in this area is between $4000-$9000.
Now, I realize the is a wide range for the same type of service but there is a lot that goes into that price.
First and foremost, experience. You can watch every YouTube video on how to become a wedding photographer and buy the latest and greatest gear but until you've been in the thick of it, you simply cannot be prepared for the spontaneity of what a wedding brings. Photographing in different lighting, weather, locations, even working with different personalities takes time and with that time you gain experience. Wedding pricing wedding pricing wedding pricing
Let's take a look at the booking process for a wedding.
Step 1- Client reaches out via email for wedding availability and wedding pricing.
Step 2- Scheduling a call and answering any initial questions.
Step 3- Initial consultation call which can range between 45 mins-2 hours. (Usually one hour)
Step 4- Following up with any questions.
Step 5- Preparing the contract and proposal.
Step 5.5-Potentially booking a second photographer.
Step 6- Booking the engagement session which requires sending location suggestions, outfit suggestions, and potentially permits.
Step 7- The engagement session, which not only is out time but also our gear and skill.
Step 8- Uploading photos, culling photos, editing photos, exporting photos, sending photos. Typically anywhere from 2-4 hours of work.
Step 9 - Emails regarding timeline questions, general wedding questions, vendor recommendations, etc.
Step 10- Timeline creation, even if you have a planner the photographer still plays a role in guidance for the timeline of a wedding day.
Step 11- Sending questionnaire. Also reaching out to the other vendors if/when needed.
Step 12- Final pre wedding call and reviewing questionnaire with clients.
Step 13- Photographing the wedding day. (6-10 hours depending on package, plus travel time)
Step 14- Uploading, backing up, culling, editing, exporting, and sending wedding images. (usually 10-20 hours total because I personally hand edit each image)
Step 15- Creating albums- not always the case but I'll stop there for now.
As you can see it's simply not showing up with a camera one day, taking images and sending them off.
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Besides experience what greatly impacts the varying costs in the talent of the photographer and their wedding package pricing. I personally believe education and professional growth is huge. I could have taken what I learned from my first few years in this business and continued to roll with it. But the photographers who continually push themselves to learn and grow, upgrade their gear, rediscover older gear like film and push their creative boundaries are the ones who can and should charge what some like to say is "an arm and a leg". We live in a world where trends and technology are constantly growing and evolving and it's important for us to grow and evolve as well. Every year I reflect on the past year and I think about what areas I felt I could have improved. Whether it be posing, external lighting, client experience, or even the business side of things. I find an expert in the field who excels in that and take whatever courses they are offering. It helps me justify my pricing because I continue to push myself to be the best business owner, and photographer I can be. Wedding pricing wedding pricing Maryland wedding pricing
Of course, we also have the cost of our gear (and backup gear) which includes cameras, flashes, lenses, light stands, batteries, memory cards, computers, hard drives, cloud storage, and more. Those items alone are thousands of dollars. We also have yearly business costs which include business insurance, accountant, lawyer, book keeper, and second photographers/assistants. There are also monthly subscriptions- just to cover a few Adobe, Website, Website Domain, gallery hosting site, quickbooks, client management system and others like social media subscriptions. Maryland wedding photographer pricing wedding pricing
So, why is wedding photography so expensive? Ultimately we create and preserve the memories of one of the most important days of your life. We will eagerly watch as you put your visions into reality, smile right along with you as you look at yourself in your dress all done up on your wedding, secretly cry along with you as you share first looks, first dances, parent dances, remember lost loved ones, and then fist pump along side you as you dance the night away on the dance floor. We invest in you as much as you invest in us.
If you've made it this far I hope this helps answer the age old question that is "Why is wedding photography so expensive?".