Trust me, I know getting married isn’t cheap. Between the venue, catering, decorations, and music, weddings can get expensive quickly. Wedding photographers can seem a bit pricy too, but it is usually for a good reason. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to capturing your special day, and generally, you don’t want to skimp out too much when you choose a wedding photographer. Read on if you’re curious about where that money is going before you book a photographer.
Meeting with your potential wedding photographer goes beyond the first meeting to see if you’re a good fit for one another. Preparing for a wedding is an ongoing process where every detail must be perfect before the big day, and this extends to the photographer. Any good wedding photographer will ask for updates about the wedding day schedule during the planning process to ensure they’re in all the right places when you need them.
While some of these meetings can happen online, many of them will require the photographer to travel to your venue so they can see what they’re working with. For the photographer, this could mean traveling for hours to meet up with you and see the venue. During this stage, you’ll let your photographer know where to be at certain times to get the right shots. If you don’t plan this with your wedding photographer, it could result in missing special moments on camera. Remember, you don’t get a second chance, so preparation is everything!
Photographing a wedding is no small feat. They can last between 7 to 10 hours, not including the time spent getting there. Many weddings require photographers to travel long distances to get to the venue. Some photographers are willing to go the distance and drive three hours one way to shoot a wedding, while others might even fly to different destinations. In any case, a photographer needs to include travel time in their business costs.
Additionally, if the wedding is big enough to warrant a second shooter, the photographer must account for that person’s expenses as well. While the second shooter will not charge you upfront for their services, the photographer will likely pay them an hourly rate. These costs are factored in when coming up with the price to shoot your wedding.
For many wedding photographers, editing is the most time-consuming part. Editing is one of the primary reasons that photography can be costly. For example, let’s say your wedding photographer takes many photos just seconds apart to ensure they don’t miss a specific moment. An experienced wedding photographer needs time to cull these photos or separate the best-looking photos from the average ones to ensure you get the best shots from your special day. To put this into perspective, an 8-hour wedding can result in over 2,000 photos, so culling alone could take up to 4 hours.
Afterward, the editing itself will likely take even longer depending on the photographer, and this is where a lot of the price of wedding photography comes from. Even with presets, wedding photographers still have to go through every photo and manually adjust each one to ensure it looks the best. Depending on the size of the wedding, the editing process could take the photographer an entire day.
At this point, your wedding photographer has likely spent at least 24 hours between planning, traveling, shooting, and editing. If your photographer quoted you several weeks before the photos would be ready, it’s likely because they have other clients ahead of you– so remember to be patient.
For many wedding photographers, gear is one of the most significant costs of doing business. Since weddings are all-day events, a photographer needs at least two camera bodies to use. Using two camera bodies saves them the time they typically spend switching between lenses; this ensures they don’t miss any of the action. On top of having two camera bodies, a photographer will also have at least three lenses in their toolkit to capture different aesthetics and looks. Some lenses capture detailed photos, while other ones will be for general pictures or far-away shots.
Purchasing the right gear for the job is one of the most expensive things a photographer will ever have to do and paying this gear off might require them to take on a few projects and weddings. A lot goes into making your moments look as good as possible. Between lenses, camera bodies, flashes, and memory cards, a wedding photographer may have already invested tens of thousands of dollars into their business.
In many cases, you’re paying for your wedding photographer’s talent and expertise. Your wedding day can’t be recreated if something goes awry, so you want to book a photographer with an extensive amount of experience under their belt. When looking for a wedding photographer, you have the option of choosing experience or taking a risk on someone new to the game.
Both have their advantages, and of course, everyone has to start somewhere. However, I would argue that a lot of what you’re paying for when booking an experienced photographer are the years it took them to hone their craft. When you pay a little extra for an expert, you’re also paying for peace of mind against setbacks, time delays, and the occasional difficult subject.
For many couples, getting married isn’t cheap. Especially if you want your special day to be one that you and your loved ones will remember for years to come. If you want top-of-the-line catering, music, and decorations, you’re likely looking at spending a pretty penny. However, it’s all worth it in the end as long as you get the experience you want. The same goes for wedding photographers. These are the people you put in charge of capturing these precious moments forever– that’s a tall order!
I’m not saying any of this to dissuade anyone from taking a shot on someone new to shooting weddings or with limited experience– we all have to start somewhere, but in most scenarios, you’re paying for years of expertise. Add that together with time, equipment, and editing, and it could wind up getting a little costly, but in my opinion (and I’m slightly biased), well worth it.
If you enjoyed reading this post, make sure you check out my blog for more photography tips and advice. Looking for inspiration for your big day? Feel free to take a look at my photo book for more ideas.