Why Do Wedding Photographers Charge So Much?
It's such a wonderful time. You're planning the BIG DAY and it’s all so exciting…and expensive. You start to look for that special photographer but get disheartened to see how much they charge for just a few hours of clicking a button?
The biggest grumble of booking a photographer is that it is too expensive. but I swear we don't just click a button. There is actually quite a bit involved and this article I have written is going to explain why wedding Photographers are so $$$, from experience, to equipment and time, it all adds up despite common thought we actually don't earn that much more when its broken down per hour.
So lets break it down.........
You may want to choose a beginner photographer who doesn't charge much, and that's completely up to you and what you’re after, we all started out somewhere. However, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself in to.
Lack of experience can lead to the photographer not being able to make the best decisions on the day of the wedding due to not having as much hands-on experience. I remember my first wedding I was so nervous I didn't even speak the whole day.
Higher package price points are due to the photographer having shot and captured more than your fair share of weddings; and this can come in handy if something doesn’t go to plan or an emergency arises (which let’s be honest, happens more than you may think).
Recently, I photographed a wedding where the Bride fell extremely ill on the day and couldn’t leave the house. Their first and only thought was that their big day had to be cancelled and all that $$$ was going to go to waste. But, an experienced photographer like myself was able to introduce a new scenario where the celebrant conducted the ceremony in their living room with just immediate family and the Wedding Party. This was an idea that hadn’t even been thought of by the couple but with experience comes knowledge and quick response. Then, instead of cancelling their reception, which had already been paid for, I instead suggested that the Wedding Party go ahead, inform guests of the circumstances and let them party on in their absence. Thankfully the stars eventually became aligned as later in the evening the Bride was able to attend the reception for a few hours and get those precious photos of the first dance, cutting the cake, and hear those incredible speeches.
Stressful times like these are where experienced photographers can offer a great deal more than just capturing the moment. We also have great ideas and options you may not have thought of.
Cost of Business
Now for the economical side of things because despite being one person and our own boss, we are still running a business. A business that must pay taxes, have multiple types of insurance, create legal contracts and also have the best of the best when it comes to equipment.
If the photographer, you choose is a legitimate business then there are many factors that come with that. One of them being insurance. Not only do we need insurance for our very expensive gear (I'll get to that) but we also need insurance for public liability in case someone gets hurt or injured whilst we are photographing them. Insurance fees can escalate to thousands of dollars every year. Yep, thousands! Personally, I am insured for public liability up to $20 million (yes MILLIONS!). Additionally, my equipment is insured for well above $20,000 as well as smaller insurance policies such as car, contents etc. All this is incorporated into the price we charge for our services.
After insurance you need to make sure that you’re equipment is up to standard, after all your big day only happens once. A photographer needs a camera willing to capture images in the highest of quality so that images can be enlarged and to the biggest size your heart desires. Then comes the lenses… There are many different lens lengths, and all serve different purposes.
- One for close ups portraits BUT a different lens for shooting at a significant distance
- Some better suited for outdoor, then those suited for extreme close up photography (Macro) for capturing rings and small details
- A lens that’s good for lowlight for example in churches where a flash can’t be used
- Then there’s the flash, diffuser, tripods, memory cards and much more
And the list goes on… We also need to carry our equipment in something strong and sturdy and honestly you would be surprised at how pricy these bags and suitcases can be. Its like a down payment on a car! But it’s an essential if you want the best image outcome.
It still doesn't end there. Proper editing software (Lightroom/Photoshop) as well as high end technology (computers, laptops, calibrated monitors, hard drives) to be able to fully edit the images is an absolute requirement for all great photographers. Then comes the personal client expenses for each package that contains a custom USB as well as possibly containing a second photographer, albums and prints.
Now yes on your wedding day the photographer is there for a certain amount of hours, let’s say 10 hours, but that's not even close to how much time is actually put in to each and every client.
Before the wedding day I am back and forth with my clients including text messages, emails, phone calls and/or face to face meetings. This averages out to approximately 10 hours. Then comes the actual wedding day that includes 10 very full on active hours of making sure every moment of your special day is captured. After completing the day, I come home and immediately back up the photos not only to my computer’s hard drive but also a secondary hard drive to ensure all images are safe. Within 48 hours of your day I edit 10 "sneak peek" images and upload them for you to download until the remaining photos are ready. So our current hour count is sitting at around 25hrs and we haven’t even begun editing the hundreds of photos.
Now comes the gruelling part of fully editing your wedding gallery. For every hour of shooting this converts to approximately 2-3 hours of editing depending on circumstances such as the sun and shadows available on the day. For a 10 hour wedding I guarantee my clients a minimum of 50 images per hour, totalling over 500 images. Every photo is individually edited, (I don’t just add a filter and move on). Once the images have been completely edited to my absolute satisfaction, I then export every image in both colour and black & white. The exporting process needs to be done twice, once for colour, once for B&W. Now we have our finished product which is ready to be transferred to a secondary hard drive and finally your personalised USB. This can take anywhere between 3-4 hours. I then scurry myself to the nearest Post Office and mail your beautiful wedding gallery to arrive at your doorstep.
So, what went from a 10hr wedding day, turns out to be 60-70 hours worth of work, investing time to create the greatest product for you and your partner! Contrary to belief, us photographers usually end up earning around $30-$35 p/h. Once you consider all the “out of sight” expenses you can see how it easily adds up.