How much should I pay for a wedding photographer?
Jenny and I read a blog today and it really hit home for us. It was written by another wedding photographer who told the story of a couple who had their wedding day ruined by a deal that was too good to be true. Rather than blast the girl who hired them like she did, we wanted to take the time to write an informative blog to help all the couples out there as they start their search for a wedding photographer. We want to help couples make the best decisions possible when it comes to hiring someone to capture their wedding day! If our title is any indicator, most people probably wouldn’t know what “too good to be true” looks like in the world of the wedding industry, especially when it comes to photography. Truthfully in the world of wedding photography, pricing can sometimes seem like the ‘wild wild west’. After reading what we read today we wanted to take it upon ourselves to put some good information out there and try to give some perspective on the landscape of wedding photography and costs. We are writing this from a place of care and want you to have as much perspective as possible about what goes into a price and how you can make the best decision for your big day, not only to fit your budget, but more importantly for you to make an informed choice and feel confident moving forward once you start this process with a photographer!
So what is the average cost?
Based on our market research and statistics from 2014 until now, the average cost of a wedding photographer is $2,556. This is based on different amounts averaged from popular wedding destinations all across the country and also based on an 8 hour day of coverage on a Saturday during a prime month for weddings. Based on our own empirical data from being full time in this industry, we would say this is quite accurate as 8 hours is by far our most popular package. You can expect most reputable professionals in a popular area for weddings (like here in Asheville) to be priced just below, right at, and just above that for that particular range of options, which could include different options for different companies such as that package including prints, or an engagement, or printing rights, but this is not always the case as many companies charge extra for some of these add on options.
What if I’m not getting married on a Saturday during a peak month and don’t need 8 hours?
You may find yourself paying less than this if you are getting married on a non-Saturday or during a month that is not considered a peak month (think May and October in NC) or needing less than 8 hours. If you are getting married on a Friday during the winter, odds are you may be able to get a better than average price, but not always, it just depends on the company. We would say, don’t be shy and ask! Again, every company is different in how they structure their pricing, packages, etc. You may find yourself getting a deal if you fall out of the above “average” category but you may not depending on how booked your photographer is. If they are booked throughout the year, have a great reputation, and are having to turn down work to keep a sense of work life balance, you may not be able to get a price reduction.
So on average most people are paying $2500 for 8 hours? Seems pricey…
Consider this, the day of you are getting 8 hours of coverage, but if photo editing is included in your package and/or that is something you have purchased (most likely it is because most reputable professionals don’t want to put a bad product into the market place). The post processing/production to fine tune your photos and give them that final ‘look’ that attracted you to your photographer in the first place can take weeks depending on the level of editing and if it’s going into advanced edits, and the particular work ethic and time allotted of your photographer. We’ve heard horror stories of editing and final delivery of photos taking months! On average Jenny and I always aim to deliver our weddings within 2 weeks. We usually edit around 4 hours per day (sometimes more sometimes less depending on schedule) each (so x2) = 8 hour per day (sometimes weekends included) but let’s just say it’s Monday through Friday 40 hours x 2 weeks = 80 hours + the 8 hours of wedding coverage the day of = 88 hours. Now this is just us, based on our workflow, editing style, and schedule. Some may take longer if they are busier, some may take way longer if they are getting into hardcore artistic photo shopping. So truthfully the 8 hour wedding package is deceiving in the sense that you're likely getting another 60-80+ hours from your photographer in post processing to make sure your photos look their best.
Do I get digital copies of my photos?
This is a subject of much debate. Some companies/photographers believe in giving the printing rights, and some believe in charging extra for them. This is something to discuss with the company you choose to go with or are interviewing as a candidate for your big day!
Other things to consider that can also affect pricing
As previously mentioned, the amount of day of coverage and printing rights can be two areas that affect pricing as well as time of the year and what day. Other items like add on options such as engagement photos, prints, canvases, albums, thumb drives, custom keepsake boxes, etc. can all make your costs go up. It ‘s definitely something to consider, but you can also ask your photographer if that’s something they are flexible with in terms of taking it off if you don’t need it. Lastly, are you getting coverage of one photographer or 2? Or more? In addition to your photographer, do they have assistants to help with lighting and equipment?
In conclusion, we wanted to write this as an informative means to help decipher costs and the time and effort behind them. We didn’t even get into taxes, insurance, etc. (ahhh good old taxes). By being informed of the average costs, you can help gauge if something sounds too good to be true. If someone is offering 8 hours of coverage, an engagement, video, editing, canvases, album, and 20 prints for $400.00. You can probably make an educated guess that they A) are not professionals B) are new to the field or C) the deal is too good to be true. Now I would venture to say that all of us started out doing things for lower than average pay to get out feet wet, build our portfolios, and master our skills. So whether you booked the most popular girl in town or you found that diamond in the rough, make sure to really look at their body of work and determine whether or not you like their style, whether or not you can afford them, whether or not this is someone you connect with and want to spend an 8 hour day with, and most importantly, is this someone I trust to capture my day how I want to remember it? If you answered yes to all of those questions, it’s a no brainer, they are the ones! Lastly, I leave you with an overused but reflective quote. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”