Behind the price of wedding photography

Today I was reading a friend of mine’s website (Christine Tremoulet) and loved something she had posted.  It was so good I thought I would put it up on my site too.  Christine so eloquently expressed what is behind the price of wedding photography.  I have copied what she said and modified it a bit to fit what was applicable to my studio and my clients.

Most of the time, the first thing anyone asks me about when they contact me is for my pricelist. How much will wedding photography cost. And sometimes, I know that the price tag that I put on our weddings causes a bit of sticker shock. I understand. I am not the perfect fit for everyone, and I know this. My feelings aren’t hurt.

I wanted to provide a breakdown of what goes into our costs though, because I think it is a really important thing to understand. Your wedding photography is one of the only thing that remains after your wedding. You have a spouse, a ring, a dress, maybe a few other mementos, and your wedding photography. Photographers are really the only vendors that you work with after your wedding day is over. So while it is easy to think that you’re hiring your photographer for just 8 hours of time on your wedding day, you’re not. You’re actually paying for:

– Wedding day coverage
– Second photographer for the wedding day
– Backing up of files (in my case, extensive backups)
– Processing and Editing of your photographs (roughly 2-3 hours for every hour of coverage, which is 16-20 hours per wedding)
– Posting photographs online
– Backing up the final edited files
– Preparing an initial album layout
– Album modifications
– Album printing and binding
– Other items such as DVDs, DVD cases, and so forth
– Preparation of files for printing, creative and artistic edits and other enhancements
– Archival quality prints of your wedding images
– Packaging in all archival quality products
– Engagement Sessions
– Proofing and placing engagement sessions online
– Anything else that a package might include

Then there are all the other things that go into running a proper business:
– Taxes
– Insurance
– Studio space (optional, but an option I choose to have so that I have a nice place for my clients to come to.)
– Paying employees
– Ongoing education – courses throughout the year both locally and across the country with some of the best photographers out there
– Marketing, magazines, research, blogging, posting on forums, and a long list of similar tasks

And the one I feel most passionate about?
– CAMERA GEAR – I use the top of the line that Canon has to offer to wedding photographers. I have backup equipment, and backups to my backups. From camera bodies, to lenses, to flashes. I have a lot of nice gear and have spent thousands of dollars on it because I want to capture the BEST photographs I possibly can, and I want to be prepared for any situation.

I know there are photographers out there that only charge $100 to $1500 to photograph your wedding. What you receive from them in the end varies wildly. Some of them hand you the photos straight from their camera, and you take them to a lab and print them yourself. Never mind if the color is off, you’re in shadows, or anything else. There is no enhancement at all to the image files in the digital darkroom. Some of them somehow manage to provide you with not only the photos on DVD, but an album at that price. I don’t know how they do it – they must have a weekday job to pay the bills, because there is simply no way that I can crunch the numbers and do the math to make it work. That means that the time they have to focus on you is limited. Most likely, they are not paying themselves. They have no backup gear in case anything happens to their camera on your wedding day. They don’t have insurance. They think that $1000 is great for 8 hours of time – and they ignore everything else that goes into taking care of you. They can’t afford quality gear to produce fantastic images* because they are not charging enough for their work.

You’re not just paying for 8 hours of photography. You’re paying for so much more than that. Hopefully, this page helps to clarify that. My commissions for wedding day coverage currently start at $3800. Please inquire for more details and to find out if I am available for your wedding day, as I take on a limited number of weddings each year. Prices are subject to change throughout the year, and are normally modified quarterly. Reserving your date now will lock you in at my current rates. Commissions are currently being taken for 2010 and 2011. Please contact me to learn more.

*Note: Part of the magic of taking great photographs is within the person holding the camera – I am not a gear snob. I know this. Having nice gear helps. Having a variety of lenses and knowing how each lens impacts the photograph that you envision inside your head helps even more in making that vision a reality. I love my camera and my lenses, and with them I can achieve any photograph I see in my mind.



Tim Halberg - January 20, 2010 - 12:36 pm

GREAT post… I spend an average of about 40 hours per wedding when all is said and done… blew my mind when I actually did the homework and added it all up!

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