Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive

Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive

There’s so much noise on the internet about why is wedding photography so expensive that it makes it impossible to get fair or balanced insight on the subject. In fact, I had to laugh, because doing a search for the phrase “Why Is Wedding Photography So Expensive” returned over a million results on Google. No I didn’t read all of them, but I did get the sense that having so much information out there probably makes it difficult if not next to impossible for brides to find the truth. In fact, in just the ten that I read, I found some were good, but most of them were either misleading or very poorly explained. Sadly, there were also a lot of angry brides demanding transparency and fairer wedding photography prices. So if I’m lucky, this post will find it’s way to the one person that it’ll do the most good for, because I know why photographers charge what they charge and I’m going to spell it out for you. I’m going to tell you pricing secrets that wedding photographers don’t like to talk about and explain the 3 lesser known and least talked about reasons why wedding photography is so expensive. But before I do that, I need to tell you that cheep always comes at a price, and unless your a super shopper or on a super, super tight budget, I don’t recommend skimping on one of the most important days of your life. The wedding is not something you do over.

So What’s the Deal, Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive

First and foremost wedding Photographers charge a lot of money, because their equipment cost them a lot of money and they tend to recoup these costs over a longer period of time. A high end digital camera for example, such as the Canon 5D Mark III or a Nikon 3Dx, plus lenses, plus flashes, plus transmitters and receivers, plus computer equipment and back up equipment, cost as much as a new car ($18 – $25k). So, while a photographer shooting 20 weddings a year might allocate $150 from each wedding towards repaying this debt, it would take them 6-8 years to recoup these costs at that rate. Of course a novice idea would be to pay off that debt quicker, but it’s also unrealistic, because all things being equal, there are certain fixed costs that never go away such as taxes, fuel costs for traveling, photo retouchers, photographer assistants, album design services, proofing, web site development and maintenance, advertising, electricity, studio rent, self employment tax, health insurance, retirement, etc. Now, a photographer who shoots less or wants to pay that debt off quicker, may allocate more of his/her fees towards this debt, but this would mean increased costs to the client, because of those fixed debts. In other words a photographer cannot allocate $500 towards repaying his/her equipment if they’re only charging $1200 per wedding and their fixed debts are $700 a month;  they’d be working for free.

Besides equipment, materials are the next biggest expense for wedding photographers, because with an estimated 2.5 million weddings a year in an industry that’s estimated to be worth around 40 billion dollars, the manufactures of such things like wedding albums, proofs, wall art, canvas prints and photo booths, charge an insane amount of money to the photographer. And as you can imagine, these costs get passed onto the consumer. Albums from the top manufactures for example, like Renaissance Albums, Graphi Studio, and Picto Books cost an average of $500 – $1400 to make, and that only covers the album. There’s no money in there to pay the retoucher who retouched the prints that went into the album, shipping and handling, file storage, or for the time to design the album. I’m not lying when I say that the last album I ordered from Graphi Studio cost me $579 (out of pocket). So understanding that wedding photographers have to spend a lot of money to produce what they produce, and that those expenses always get passed onto the consumer, also means that the less product you ask for, the cheaper your costs will be. I should also mention that most professionals will never travel alone, and the second photographer that they bring with them is demanding an average daily wage of between $300 – $1200, depending on experience and talent level.

So if you’re following along at home, the photographers already spent $950, but he/she hasn’t made a single penny.

The $800 Anomaly, Comparing Apples to Apples

When searching for a wedding photographer you’re eventually going come across at least one $800 Anomaly, that guy or girl who charges way less than what everyone else is charging. On the surface everything will appear to be the same, but trust me, it’s not even close. If you come across the $800 anomaly, doing a side by side comparison is the only way to compare apples to apples, the only way to actually see and realize the differences. And in this respect, bridal shows are a great resource, because it’s the only place where you can do this. Bridal shows are the only place where you can compare two photographers work side by side.

During a side by side comparison, look at the wedding albums. See what companies make them, ask how many pages will be in your book, ask what size your album will be, and what album covers are included in the price. You’ll want to see examples of the finished product you’ll be getting and have that expressly written in your photography contract. You should ask to see examples of the photographers work and to see the work of the second shooter that he/she will have with them. Then ask yourself, does this match what you’re looking for? Does their work seem at, below or above par?

And if you’re wondering what “par” is, one of things you can look for is if there’s detail in the brides dress, because a photographer who’s exposing his/her images correctly will have detail here. The ones that aren’t will have dresses that look like white blobs.  Another way is to look at how the light falls onto the subjects face. Do you see a shadow side and a highlight side or does the lighting appear to be flat? A good photographer will use the lighting to create the impression of space and direction. Subjects will tend to look towards the light. And if any of this seems to confusing, a super easy approach to looking for “par” is to pay close attention to the color of the subjects skin. Ask yourself, is this person green or magenta?  Do they seem blue to you? Any of these would indicate color balance problems.

When stumbling across the $800 photographer, understand that their is no way that he/she can provide you with quality products at that price point, so it’s buyer beware. In fact, I would guarantee that you’re missing one or more of the following at that price point, experience, quality, professionalism, an album, printed proofs, your masters or a second shooter, and that’s the truth. Even if they say they’re including an album in the package, it’s probably a really, really cheap one. And yes, they do exist. In fact, if you see a bar code in your wedding album, call 911, because you’ve been scammed.

The 3 least talked about reasons why wedding photography is so expensive

I’m going to share with you 3 lesser known and least talked about reasons why is wedding photography so expensive, but if anyone asks, you didn’t hear this from me. Every wedding photograph has these three hidden costs in their pricing structure, but most consumers aren’t even aware of them, but they’re there, and you’re paying for it. The nice thing is, once you know what they are you’ll also know how to avoid them. That’s helpful right?

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