Wedding photography is probably one of the most important investments you will make on your wedding day. It may sound biased coming from wedding photographers, but it’s true. After the cake is eaten, the flowers are dried, and the decor is returned, you are left with your photos (and video, too). These photos will be cherished for generations. Beautiful photographs and hard work behind-the-scenes come at a price, though. The average wedding photographer cost varies, and many couples may not know just what goes into the price tag. If you’re finding yourself googling “how much does a wedding photographer cost,” look no further. We’re going to break down everything you need to know.
If you’re getting married in New York City, the average price for a wedding photographer will range from $4000 to over $20,000. Less experienced photographers may fall below the $4000 range, but most couples end up spending an average of at *least* $6000.
NYC is a popular choice for weddings for a reason. The talent of the photographers, eclecticism of venues, and delicious food in the area is pretty much unmatched.
This blog will delve into everything that goes into wedding photography pricing.
There are a myriad of factors that go into a photographer’s pricing. Each vendor is very different, so be sure to read and ask questions carefully when deciding who to book for your big day. A few things that may affect the price are:
Those are just some of the more common expenses. Other things may include insurance, print releases, and more.
It’s important to note that photographers in big cities (like NYC) will likely charge more than a photographer from a more rural area. This is because of higher overhead costs and the possibility of more travel time. Location is probably one of the biggest factors that goes into a photographer’s price tag.
If a wedding is more than an hour away, chances are travel costs will be added. For example when traveling to upstate NY for a wedding, we communicated with the couple about the best (cost effective) hotel in the area, which was then added to the final package price. It’s good to think ahead to possible travel costs when booking a photographer. You will likely have to cover overnight accommodations and/or flights, depending on your venue.
For us personally, if we are only staying over for one night, I add the exact amount of the hotel stay plus $150 for any incidentals to the package price. I love a road trip, after all.
Another big factor for price is the amount of time your photographer will be working. An eight hour long wedding day will be more expensive than a six hour long day, etc. Additional hours booked ahead of time will also likely be cheaper than paying for overtime on your wedding day.
You get what you pay for when it comes to experienced vs. new-to-the-biz, and wedding photography is no exception. The amount of time spent in the business or years of education will undoubtedly affect the average wedding photographer cost. Those who have tons of experience under their belt will likely charge more than those who are new and building a client base/portfolio. More experience means a better understanding of weddings as a whole, too.
There are a few instances in which we recommend more than one photographer. If you and your partner are getting ready at the same time in two different locations, you will definitely require a second photographer. Additionally, if your wedding guest count is expected to be more than 150 people, you’ll need a second shooter. More guests at a large venue means much more happening in the moment. Having more than one photographer will guarantee each important moment is captured. Though it will increase your wedding photographer cost, it will be worth it.
Any good photographer will take time to go through all of the images from your wedding and select the best ones. The culling and editing process takes more time than working your actual wedding day, if you can believe it. For an average 8 hour wedding day, I usually take around 2000-4000 images. Once I’ve selected the best ones, that number usually goes down to about 1000-1500. Then comes editing each one individually depending on white balance, exposure, cropping, etc. The total amount of hours spent will usually hover somewhere around 20-30 hours per wedding. All of this hard work goes into the initial package price. I’ve seen some photographers who don’t even include edited images, and some may even charge you to access your gallery. Between you and me, that’s literally insane. Make sure you read the contract fine print very carefully and ask questions ahead of booking.
Albums and prints should be an add-on for pretty much any wedding photographer. Custom heirloom albums range from $800-$4000 and prints start at around $15. Speaking for ourselves, I personally design each album and you get the final approval before it is sent off to print. Since these services usually require a third party vendor (an album/printing company) there is an additional fee.
Each photographer is unique when it comes to the way they tell the story of your wedding. It’s important to find one that aligns with your preferred aesthetic. Here are just a few of the many different styles of wedding photography:
Documentary wedding photography is for those who want their images to tell a compelling story. The eye of a true photojournalist sees things slightly different than a traditional wedding photographer, and that may be something to take advantage of. Emotions and gestures first, composition later.
Fine art wedding photography is for those that want to place an emphasis on the decor, color & aesthetic of their wedding day. Each image will be sensitively & artistically crafted, and you’ll totally feel like a piece of art.
This style is the one that is easiest to tell apart from the rest. Dark and moody wedding photography is known for its rich shadows and less-traditional poses and settings. Think lots of drama.
Traditional style wedding photography is much more formal than the others. This type of gallery would include lots of posed images, like the classic posed wedding party/family photos.
Editorial wedding photography is a great way to make you feel like a Vogue cover star. If your wedding day is a little bit more on the avant garde/detail-oriented side, this is the style for you. Editorial photography always makes for great detail shots, and the light/shadows never go to waste.
The NYC area is super saturated with tons of talented photographers. Choosing the right vendor takes lots of time and effort, but seeing your wedding day vision come to life will make it all worth it. We have a whole wedding planning guide to help you throughout the process (just message us and request it, it’s free!). Here are some tips for the booking process:
Tips aren’t usually included in the initial average wedding photographer cost, but you should definitely account for them in your budget. It’s never a requirement to tip your photographer, but it is always appreciated. If you’re planning on tipping, find out ahead of time how many people will be there on your wedding day (account for any assistants, additional photographers, etc). We recommend tipping around 5-10%.
It’s important to know your wedding day vendors, and even more important for them to be transparent with you while you’re getting to know them. Knowing what to ask is really the hardest part, so we’ve put together a few must-ask questions.
First, here are some general questions that each photographer should be able to answer and confirm:
When you’re narrowing down your search, try asking these more specific questions:
Great, you’ve got access to a full wedding gallery — now what?
It’s important to know what to look out for when browsing through a photographer’s full gallery or portfolio. While looking at different photographer’s portfolios, look for varieties in style. Determine if you want a fine art look, or more of a dark and moody look. Take note of the composition of the photos, and see how they handle different lighting scenarios. A good photographer will be able to take beautiful images in any light, and in any location.
Engagement shoots are a wonderful way to practice feeling comfortable in front of the camera, and it’s a good chance to get to know your wedding photographer. We personally include a complimentary engagement shoot with each wedding package, but it varies with every photographer. Booking an engagement session a la carte can range from anywhere between $300 and $1000.
Your photographer will likely be working nonstop from the moment they arrive, up until the reception when things are more spaced out. It is important to make sure they are treated well, and that includes ensuring they eat. Pro tip: have your wedding photographer eat *before* your guests/speeches, this way their food doesn’t get cold by the time speeches are over. Make sure the whole team is taken care of, this includes assistants and additional photographers.
Some add-on services may be offered with a la carte prices. Make sure to ask your photographer if any of the following is included in their package prices:
NYC is bursting at the seams with super talented wedding photographers. With talent comes a price, though. Years of experience, studio expenses, travel, and dedication to couples all factor into the cost of a wedding photographer. With the average cost of a New York City wedding being around $90k-$100k, photography usually accounts for 20-30% of the total budget. Make sure you factor in travel costs, tips, add-ons, and printed products while allocating your wedding photography budget. And feel free to contact us if you have any questions!
We're Sava, a small studio of photographers who bonded over our similar educational background, love of art, & general affinity for timeless wedding photos. Based in NYC, will travel, will pick up your coffee order on the way.