Why is wedding photography so expensive?

It’s because it’s a wedding & prices are premium for weddings, right?

Well, it’s a common assumption that because weddings are deemed a luxury that every wedding supplier, from wedding venues to dress suppliers, from makeup & hair to wedding photography are putting a premium on the price because it’s a wedding and we know you are going to be spending quite a lot of money on something you want. I can’t speak for other suppliers’ prices but will give you my insight into why wedding photography is so expensive, or why under the surface it actually might not be – *HINT* It has nothing to do with weddings being a luxury for the most part.  

“Getting married on the other hand can be reasonably cheap, but a wedding is a whole different ball game.”

Breaking down the numbers

Want to hear a joke? – A wedding photographer & a wedding guest are sharing a bit of banter at a wedding; the guest says to the photographer “how much do you charge for a wedding mate?” The photographer replies & says “I’m relatively cheap – I charge £1300 per wedding”. The wedding guest nearly chokes on his expensive glass of Moet & cries “how much? I’d love to earn that for a day’s work, you must be rolling in it” The joke was in the bit in bold btw.

I’ll bet your bottom dollar, that every wedding photographer has been asked this question and had the same response. Of course, I guess if it was really that easy to earn that kind of money for a day’s work then everyone would be doing it right?

The facts behind wedding photography pricing

So let’s start this by saying that there is an element of wedding photography that is a want, rather than a need. Because weddings are a luxury, by association so is wedding photography. To any couple wedding photography is expensive, however, it’s a relative expense and must, like everything else wedding-related be based on the value of what is important to the couple and their wedding.

Justifying the perceived high cost

I’m confident enough to know that wedding photographers don’t need to justify their prices and any luxury brand or supplier never justifies what they charge and why they charge it & the same applies to wedding photography too, however, for the purpose of clarity and this article, I’ll break it down below if only to show why the joke above is really a misrepresentation of why we charge what we charge.

Pre-wedding costs & work

before wedding couples get to the enquiry stage a lot of work & money has been spent already by a wedding photographer. Like anything these days, everything is done online, so you’ll find most photographers spending a huge amount of time marketing, which not only costs time & knowledge but advertising costs too which include managing and designing websites, social media advertising. Marketing costs normally are about 15% of your yearly gross income, so that can easily be about £195 per wedding for a wedding photographer who covers 30 weddings a year. Then there is the administration that is needed to secure any given booking, which can easily be at least 2 hours of work meeting couples, sending emails, marketing campaigns & that doesn’t guarantee any booking either.

plus a host of other important tools to carry out the task of shooting one wedding & that price very quickly becomes £14000 -£15000

Cameras, Lenses & work tools

In order to actually photograph any wedding, a working professional needs a fair bit of equipment, which of course comes with a sizable financial outlay. Full frame professional cameras can range anywhere from £1500 – £6000 and most photographers carry at least two of those, three if you want to be ultra-safe. Lenses for wedding photographers normally consist of 24mm, 35mm, 85mm & 135mm lenses along with a macro lens for detail shots if a photographer prefers fixed focal lenses priced at £5000 – £6000 or zoom lenses 12-24, 24-70 & 70-200 + a macro lens for about the same price. Add flashlights, professional carry cases, sd cards, spare batteries, a good enough computer to edit on, storage facilities, plus a host of other important tools to carry out the task of shooting one wedding & that price very quickly becomes £14000 -£15000 just for the equipment needed. This is based on a professional photographer & not a shoot & burn photographer (you can read about different types of photographers here).

Not just all day wedding coverage

My average wedding day is long – normally about 12-13 hours, prior to the wedding day itself, I’ll probably rack up another 4-5 hours of gallery set-up, questionnaires & last-minute emails & meetings. On top of all that comes the real labour of love – the post-processing of the wedding images. An average wedding can and mostly does contain approx. 2000 -2500, with a delivery of 400-500 edited images. This process of editing & finalising images to be uploaded to a gallery normally takes about 25 working hours. If couples have requested a wedding album, then the process of designing a wedding album is another 2-3 hours, so each wedding can take up to 50 hours from start to finish. There are other variables that can add to the workload, such as second photographer images, extra time communicating, etc.

The art of the craft

My personal journey with photography started when I was 12 (for the numbers people, that was at the time of writing, 35 years ago – ouch). During that time I have learned so much – stuff that wouldn’t be out of place in a physics lesson. I’ve learned about composition & execute it, I’ve become so at one with my cameras, that they are an extension of me, they give me the ability to create, like an artist’s brush. I’ve spent countless hours practicing and refining my technique, I’ve spent time & money on training to deliver even more creative images to my couples & all of these skills have a value that I place on them. Many photographers like me and those who are unashamedly better than me have their own value that will reflect their own level, some cost far higher and some cost the same. We all have in common one thing – delivering the finest wedding art that our abilities allow, for the couples who entrust in us to deliver their magical moments that can never be repeated.

Summing it all up

I’ve said already at the beginning of the article, that ultimately wedding photography is an associated luxury, but how does it really compare to everything else that makes your wedding so special? What, for example, are the chances of ever wearing your wedding dress again? (apart from trashing the dress of course). What about the cake that’s almost forgotten the moment it is eaten, or the makeup that gets washed away the morning after? Even your wedding venue will become part of a distant memory unless of course, you get a chance to attend there again as a wedding guest?

The one thing that brings all of those things together, as well as the magical moments on your wedding day, is me or others like me, who are dedicated to preserving your foundation of images together that will bring so many smiles, laughs and tears to many generations to come. I absolutely love doing what I do & meeting new people time after time is such a wonderful feeling and one that I wouldn’t change for the world. My goal with this article is not to provide reason, but to enlighten the importance of investing in your memories.

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