If it’s your first time planning a wedding, it’s totally understandable that you would have some questions or reservations about the logistics of booking your vendors. You might be a little conflicted about which areas to splurge and which areas to save. And when one of your most important vendors is your wedding photographer, you may also wonder: hmm, what is the average wedding photographer cost?
Unlike other vendors, a wedding photographer’s pricing is not contingent on the actual, physical supplies/equipment they use. For example, just because another photographer may have a more updated camera does *not* mean they will charge more. On the other hand, if a caterer uses local, farm-to-table artisan ingredients, they may charge more than if you were to inquire with…Olive Garden. You know?
The cost of your wedding photographer is contingent on the following:
-How many years have they been in the industry?
-Do they invest a lot into their own photography education?
-Is their customer service top-notch?
-Are they a big corporation or a small boutique studio?
-Where are they located?
-Do they go above and beyond to help you?
Those are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when trying to narrow down a wedding photographer. This will also help you understand why they cost the way they do. Let’s dive into some of those a bit more!
When a wedding photographer is new to the industry, their prices will generally be lower than the industry “average” because they are trying to build their portfolio.
A cheaper photographer does not necessarily mean a less experienced one, as they may also be migrating from one market/state to another. This is also why prices might be lower; moving to a new area means starting from scratch.
To give you an idea: I have been a photographer professionally for about 6 years, but have been working weddings for 3. Here are some photos from my first full year in the industry:
Believe it or not, but the quality of customer service can sometimes go hand-in-hand with how big the studio is.
If you are inquiring with a big, corporate studio that takes on 50+ weddings a year, they may have their hands full! It’ll take a few days for them to respond to your emails and calls. There is nothing wrong with that, but that is just a heads up; don’t get worried if you don’t get a response right away.
Inquiring with a small, boutique studio that only takes on 12-25 weddings a year? They will likely respond within 12-24 hours.
I can only speak for our studio, so that’s what I’ll do now.
We have standard pre-curated packages that start at $2400 for 8 hour weddings, and smaller elopement packages that start at $750 for 2 hours.
When we put our packages together, we account for: overhead, advertising, time spent doing customer service, our own paychecks, travel, equipment maintenance, etc.
We are usually more than happy to be a little flexible with our pricing, especially if we are a perfect fit to work together.
For example, if your budget is $2000 and you want 8 hours of photography with 1 photographer, it’s not a problem to reduce from $2400.
It varies, but a good, average price is $300-$500 per hour.
Remember: the total price doesn’t all go to your photographer. It is likely that they are paying themselves anywhere from $50-$200 per hour per job. Much of the price goes back into the studio to pay for equipment upkeep, advertising, rent, etc.
Can’t afford your dream photographer?
There is likely a way you can more easily afford your dream photographer.
You most likely do not have to pay upfront; a typical deposit of $1000 is normally all you need right away.
Plus, you can cut down on the amount of hours you book them for/have 1 photographer vs. 2 in order to make it more affordable.
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