Many of my potential clients wonder, what is the average cost of a wedding photographer? Am I paying too much? Will I be disappointed with my wedding photos if I pay less?
I decided to do some digging and help shed some light on wedding photography, how much it costs, and why it can be one of the most expensive parts of a wedding ceremony.
Wedding Photography Considerations
The average cost of a wedding photographer varies depending on several factors such as the location, experience of the photographer, length of coverage, and services provided.
Although I listed the average cost below based on a 2022 survey by TheKnot.com, there are still more questions than answers since we do not know how many hours the photographer was present at the weddings in the study, if their packages included extras like an engagement session, if travel expenses were added as a separate charge and, ultimately, if couples were happy with their wedding photographer and wedding photos.
And Drumroll… Here is the Average Cost
In the United States, the average cost of a wedding photographer ranges from $1,500 to $3,500. However, in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, the cost can be significantly higher, with some photographers charging upwards of $10,000 or more.
It’s important to note that while cost is an important factor when choosing a wedding photographer, it’s also crucial to consider their experience, style, and portfolio to ensure that they are the right fit for your wedding day.
In The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding photography cost was $2,600. However, this study includes all different types of wedding photographers such as hobbyists as well as licensed and insured professionals.
Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive
Wedding photography can be expensive for a variety of reasons, including:
Experience and Expertise
A professional wedding photographer often has years of experience and expertise, which comes at a premium. They have invested time, money, and effort into perfecting their craft and have likely honed their skills over many years of shooting weddings.
Equipment & Software
Professional wedding photographers use high-quality cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, and other accessories that can be expensive to purchase and maintain. This equipment is easily worth $10,000 and sometimes much, much more. They may also need to invest in backup equipment in case of equipment failure. Last, but not least, monthly software subscriptions add up quickly as well.
Time and Labor
A wedding photographer typically spends a lot of time before, during, and after the wedding, including consultations with the couple, scouting locations, capturing the wedding day, editing photos, and delivering the final product. All of this time and labor comes at a cost.
Post-Production and Editing
After the wedding, the photographer spends a significant amount of time editing and processing the images to create the final product. This includes color correction, retouching, and other adjustments to ensure that the images are of the highest quality.
Running a photography business involves many costs, including marketing, insurance, rent, and taxes. These costs are factored into the price of wedding photography services.
While wedding photography can be expensive, it is important to remember that you are paying for the photographer’s experience, expertise, equipment, time, labor, and business expenses. These costs are all necessary for a professional photographer to provide high-quality images and a stress-free wedding day experience for the couple.
My Personal Wedding Photography Experience
As a wedding photographer, I have had the privilege of experiencing many weddings firsthand as well as getting married twice myself. I am also a frugal person so I completely understand wanting to get a good deal on wedding photography and all things wedding-related. Wedding expenses add up fast!
However, I have also experienced disappointment with wedding photographers that don’t seem to care and wedding photos that are less beautiful than I expected. At my first wedding, my former partner and I booked the first photography company we drove by just to knock one more thing off our wedding to-do list.
At my second wedding, we paid more for a professional wedding photographer for only a few hours. However, we simply chose a husband and wife photography team who lived close to us. Although their portfolio was beautiful, I think the wife may have been the better photographer of the two and the husband was the one who photographed our wedding.
For this reason, I strongly recommend investing in an engagement session before your wedding or selecting a wedding photography package that includes an engagement session. In my experience, this is the best way to get to know your wedding photographer before the big day and make sure their style fits what you like in photos. Also, I love landscapes and was disappointed our wedding photographer used a larger aperture for our photos so the beautiful beach we chose to get married at was completely blurred and unrecognizable in our photos.
A Timeless Heirloom
Yes, wedding photography is expensive. However, ideally, you will have the opportunity to print these photos in albums, hang them on your walls, and share them on social media on your anniversary for decades to come. Consider all this carefully before asking a friend to take your photos or hiring a hobbyist photographer. Is saving a few dollars now really worth less than amazing wedding photos? Ultimately, you and your partner will have to decide.