10 REASONS WHY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY IS EXPENSIVE
It is often very difficult to discuss wedding photography prices and opinions about wedding photography being expensive, but let me start off by saying that everyone out there has a different definition of what “expensive” is. Some people will say that paying AUD 1500 for a wedding photographer is “expensive” while others will pay more than AUD 6000 for a wedding photographer before they consider this being “too expensive”. So the term “expensive” is relative.
Getting married is something you may need and the wedding photographer is something you want. As a wedding photographer in Australia I would like to show you (the bride and groom, the reader and all general public) some important details to help you understand the secrets behind wedding photographer prices but don’t forget – wedding photography is a luxury service. We sell a brand that had the ability to retain value longer than other less exclusive brands.
When a photographer quotes AUD 3000 for an 8 hrs wedding shoot, for sure people immediately think that he/she is earning AUD 375 per hour. I know as sometimes that’s what people thinks of me, but if you look closer you will see that as wedding photographers we make nowhere near that.
Let’s try something for a moment and instead of asking why is wedding photography expensive, ask yourself why is the cheap wedding photography, so cheap?
- What’s missing?
- Are they insured?
- Are they using the right equipment?
- How much experience do they have?
WHY PHOTOGRAPHERS CHARGE WHAT THEY DO?
Other than the physical products offered, there is a lot more involved in creating the perfect memory of your wedding. Let’s take a look at some of the main costs a wedding photographer must consider when working out their prices.
The most important part is the labour. An average Australian wedding can last from anything between 8-14 hours. Asian weddings range from 10-18 hours! Indian wedding up to 5 days sometimes
Your photographer will most likely arrive long before the main event. They’ll capture the small details. Things like the bride and groom getting ready, decorations and details, venue layout etc.
During the wedding, they will be running around, ducking, diving, crawling and sometimes climbing! All to catch those moments that would otherwise be missed.
Doing all that for 6-18 hours is draining.
And to ensure they capture everything, they will have taken between 600 – 1000 photos by the end of the day. Sometimes more. Also, if your photographer comes with an assistant, then the cost goes up, as they have to pay them as well.
2) BEHIND THE SCENE
Most people are unaware that a photographer’s job does not end when the wedding does. It’s not uncommon for people to think that it’s a simple case of downloading the images and putting them on USB
The fact is, while the newlywed’s jet off on honeymoon, the photographer is still working on their photos.
Depending on how many photos they captured, they could spend anything from 5-14 days processing all the images of the day. Generally, processing involves getting rid of blemishes, cropping and adjusting colour and contrast.
Now, let’s take that AUD 3000 fee and break it down to an hourly rate. We’ll assume it takes the photographer 5 working days to process the photos. And a further 2 working days to design a bespoke album:
- 2 hours – Pre-Wedding Consultation
- 3 hours – Prepping for shoot
- 8 hours – Wedding Day
- 2 hours – Travel to and from wedding
- 40 hours – Post Production
- 16 hours – Album Design
- 3 hours – Admin Work (emails, calls, accounts etc)
Total Hours worked: 74 hours
Hourly Rate: AUD 3000 ÷ 74 = AUD 27 per hour
As you can see, it’s nowhere near the AUD 375 an hour that is assumed.
And that’s only for labour at the very basic and minimal level of service. You then have to take into account all the other costs involved in running a business.
3) EQUIPMENT – CAMERAS, LENES & FLASH
Don’t think for even a second that wedding photographer’s equipment is cheap just because nowadays everyone owns a DSLR… I would take a risk and say that the equipment value of a decent wedding photographer probably exceeds the cost of your wedding dress, shoes and catering bill combined. Like a watchmaker or a surgeon, a photographer can’t do their job properly without the proper tools. Even though the more weddings I shoot, the less gear I use, it’s still very expensive and don’t forget that as technology grows, wedding photographers need to invest in newer equipment to maintain the expected level of quality. The cost and maintenance of equipment is a part of your wedding photography price.
A photographer who is offering you a service for 12 hours and gives you all pictures for only AUD 1500 might not have any backup equipment or even have decent lenses, which would make them no different from “uncle Bob” with a point-and-shoot camera.
4) EQUIPMENT – SOFTWARES & WEBSITES
Basically, equipment is not only the cameras or lenses, it’s also the software wedding photographers use to process and edit your wedding pictures. It is also the website that attracted you to them in the first place! Talking about first place, it is also an expensive SEO that makes their sites visible in Google or on other search engines!
Owning legal software licenses like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop with additional plugins, presets and filters is NOT cheap! And yes, a truly professional photographer has bought the programs and uses them legally. Software needs to be upgraded, so the computers themselves need to be upgraded as the newer software requires it to run. Owning a website and paying for a website designer is also very expensive and can run into the thousands. All these fees play a part in your wedding photography price.
With equipment of that value, smart photographers have all their gear insured in case of damage or theft. Also, Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity are essential for any freelance photographer.
Each of these insurance types can add up to several hundred dollars a year.
6) MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
An effective way for photographers to market themselves is with a professional website. Most photographers don’t have web design skills, so they have to use a professional web designer.
Getting a website designed could cost anything from AUD 1500 – AUD4000+. And let’s not forget the cost of web hosting, maintenance, updates and technical support.
Then there’s the recurring cost of advertising. Although word of mouth is a great form of advertising, it does not provide enough exposure. To maintain a continuous flow of clients, a photographer must spend thousands of dollars per year on advertising.
Anybody running a business will almost definitely need an accountant. Although it can be easy to keep track of earnings when it comes to matters of tax an accountant becomes necessary. And we all know how much they cost!
8) TRAVEL / LOCATION
It’s almost impossible to avoid fuel and travel costs. Carrying all that equipment on public transport is not even an option. Especially since most weddings take place in the middle of nowhere.
What about all those extra’s that wedding photographers offer?
Depending on quality and size, a wedding album could cost anything from AUD 500 – AUD 3000! Some photographers like me offer online galleries. Most will offer prints and wall products like a canvas. All these products add to the photographers’ costs.
10) EXPERIENCE / EDUCATION
Most wedding photographers didn’t just buy a camera one day and decide; “I’m going to photograph weddings!”
Professional photographers invest a lot of time and money on education. That includes courses, seminars, on-the-job training and apprenticeships.
Even after gaining the knowledge, they spend years perfecting their practical skills. Things like lighting techniques and posing etc.
So, why is wedding photography expensive?
The answer is simple; wedding photographers invest a lot of time and money developing their skills. They invest in their business to provide a reliable wedding photography service. And they do this because they are passionate about photography and your wedding.
They take great pride in their work. Most will go above and beyond to capture moments in the most artistic, creative and meaningful way.
Considering all this, can you really place a monetary value on memories?
Most newcomers are equally passionate and skilled. But they may lack the necessary experience and knowledge to cope with the pressures of photographing a wedding. Will they know what to look out for? Are they able to anticipate when certain moments will happen? Can they communicate with guests of all different personalities? Do they know which piece of their equipment to use in different situations? But most importantly, will they know how to capture everything in the best way to reflect the mood of each given moment?
Next time you receive a quote and think it’s a bit high, take all the above into consideration, before making a decision.
Ask the photographer key questions and find out more about them and base your decision on that.
- Check the photographer’s portfolio. Are the photos up to the standards you require?
- Do they have Public Liability ? If not, who will cover for damages if the photographer accidentally injures someone? Or how will they reimburse you if their equipment fails and they lose all the images?
- Do they use professional equipment?
- How much experience have they had photographing weddings or events?
- Are they passionate about your wedding and their work in general?
In the end, it is your wedding day, and you should go with what you feel is right for you. Remember, hiring a photographer is not a purchase, it’s an investment. As with any kind of investment, you get what you pay for!
If you’re struggling with the budget, try cutting back on other parts of the wedding. Not the photography. When the honeymoon’s over, your photographs are all you’ll have left to remind you of your special day.
You need to ask yourself “How important are memories of your wedding to you and your family?”