When you start wedding planning, and thinking about the wedding budget, everything can get a little overwhelming. So, we sat down with five different wedding photographers from around Australia to demystify how much a wedding photographer costs and what you can expect for the price tag.
Benjamin Urquhart, Kings & Thieves
Shannon & Jayde Stent, Shannon Stent Images
Morgane Cazaubon, Petite Visuals
Tanya Voltchanskaya, Tanya Volt Weddings
Adriana Watson, Adriana Watson Photography
* Please note: All prices are listed in AU$
Give us a one-liner of who you are & what you do.
Benjamin: What’s good! I’m Ben, photographer of humans in love.
Shannon & Jayde: We’re Shannon and Jayde Stent, a husband and wife team of adventurous wedding photographers!
Morgane: I’m Morgane – a wedding video & photographer for rad couples based in VIC. Australia
Tanya: Not your run-of-the-mill girl with a camera. Photographing rule breakers and effortless romantics worldwide (but mostly in Melbourne).
Adriana: I’m a Brazilian girl who loves to connect with people. I document peoples lives.
Finish this sentence. I’m a professional…
Benjamin: ..against the grain-er.
Shannon & Jayde: …at third wheeling your wedding day, but I promise it’ll be fun!
Morgane: …third wheel at weddings!
Tanya: …wedding and music photographer by day, a queer dog mum by night.
Adriana: …wedding and portrait photographer.
What’s one misconception about wedding photography that you think couples have that you want to demystify?
Benjamin: That we simply rock up on the day and shoot a few photos. Uh-uh. You’re worth more than that.
As photographers, we’re in the legacy business. We are guardians of the image. A decent wedding photographer will have you and your partner first in mind, and in heart, putting you before all else. We want you to have the best-damned wedding photos this lifetime has to offer, and you’re simply not going to get that with a photographer who prioritizes anything else over you, the ways you love, and the art they create.
Wedding photography goes further than just documenting the day. It’s bigger than cheesy poses, trendy editing and boho styling. A powerfully captured frame, one that is visually compelling and emotionally connecting, will last longer and have more impact than whatever’s trending right now. Our ultimate goal is for you, in fifty years, to look back at your wedding photos and feel what it was like on the day. Transporting, nostalgic, and moving. And I’ll bet that your kids, and theirs, and so on, will feel it too.
Shannon & Jayde: The whole thing about being dragged around for hours of photos, it’s not a thing! We like to get our job done quick smart so you have more time to partayyyyy!
Morgane: Now, that is something I am quite passionate about: demystifying having to follow traditions. There are literally only two sentences during the ceremony that have to be said, and all the rest (having bridesmaids, cutting the cake, having a cake!, walking down the aisle, having flowers…), everything else is optional/changeable to make a wedding your own! There is nothing that you HAVE TO do for your wedding. You do whatever you like, as long as those two little legal sentences are said, your wedding is legit!
Tanya: A few years ago, the biggest myth was that all photographers came in with a shot list, a giant lighting kit and a bunch of tacky poses. Nowadays, I and a bunch of others, practice documentary-style wedding photography which is the total opposite of that. Thankfully it’s becoming a lot more common.
Now, I’d say the biggest misconception is how many hours people think they need a wedding photographer on the day. I’m noticing more and more couples are wanting me there for six hours or less. Whilst it does cover most of the highlights, you’d be hard pressed to squeeze the essence of the biggest day of your life into six hours.
Adriana: I think the number one is the conception that all we do is pressing that shutter button for however long we are working on the wedding day. Our work starts from the moment we reply to that very first enquiry. There are tonnes of emails back and forth, meetings, location scout, shoot prep, shoot day, one week or so of post-production, packaging and album design, which can take a few weeks to be finished. What we do is much more than is seeing on the wedding day.
They say ‘you get what you pay for’, do you think there is any truth to that quote?
Benjamin: Yes. I think photography is one of the most valuable purchases you’ll ever make, especially for your wedding. It’s worth the investment.
I know for that for me, you’re not just paying for my time on the day. It’s everything in the lead-up and everything that comes after. I’m going to make every effort to hang out before your big day and talk about anything other than your wedding, getting to know each other on another level. We’re gonna be best friends by the end of it, and you’ll have the richest, most emotionally hard-hitting photos to show for it.
When you pay for an expensive photographer, you’re not just paying for quality photography and a pro who knows how to capture truly powerful frames, but you’ll also get a next-level experience throughout, including insight and wedding planning help when you need it.
Shannon & Jayde: ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. But always do your research and go with someone whose work you absolutely love. It’s also important that you get good vibes with their personality too.
Morgane: Well, actually yes I do. There are plenty of professionals in the wedding industry out there. A lot of choice, for a lot of budgets. But the price tag is usually a good indication of the experience and customer standards of a vendor.
Speaking from a photographer point of view, your might find a cheaper photographer because they might only have 3 weddings under their belts, or find a more expensive photographer who will have lots of experience and also include extra services in their fee such as a wedding album, second shooter, personalised online gallery etc. … Now, it just depends what is important for you, and what standards you have in mind.
Tanya: YES .
If you’re paying less than $3k for a full wedding package, chances are your photographer is either just starting out or they’re shooting so many weddings to turn a profit that you’re another forgettable face on a production line. When you pay for somebody above that mark, they are experienced, they value your individuality and they are willing to put in the emotional labour to make their work unique to your day.
Adriana: Absolutely! Would you trust a friend of a friend to build your first home because he has watched a Youtube tutorial and got some nice tools? There are many variants that justify the dollars you might be spending on a photographer.
Skills, experience, good gear, insurance, quality portfolio, the photographer’s ability to connect with their clients, and a solid clientele that can vouch for them. That’s what you are paying for. You can hire a photographer that can take some good photos but without all the rest you are playing Russian roulette. I get it, weddings are expensive, but how much are your memories worth?
How much do you charge for wedding photography?
Benjamin: At this time, we charge around $5000 for full day wedding photography. But every wedding is different. Some folk want 90-minute quickie elopements (around a grand), and others want multi-day coverage ($10K+). Money is secondary to us, and yes, it’s important to run a sustainable business so that we can keep doing what we do in the ways we do it, but when you distill it, we want to serve and love the humans in front of our lens. So we often do custom packages that better suit what some couples are looking for.
Shannon & Jayde: Our packages are around 4k for 2 photographers, and we are super flexible since every wedding is different.
Morgane: I charge between $2,490 and $3,900 (photo and video).
Tanya: $3990 for eight hours, $1995 for elopements.
Adriana: My packages range from $2700 to $5500.
What’s your response to people who think “you charge how much?!”
Shannon & Jayde: We don’t really ever hear that, we find most of our couples are happy to invest appropriately in their photographer.
Tanya: Yeah, it happens a lot. My website is completely transparent about my rates so couples always know what they’re getting without having to jump through hoops to know what I charge.
As for people wanting to cut corners on costs – at the end of the day, flowers wilt, food is eaten and wedding dresses collect dust. Photos are the only things (besides your marriage, hopefully!) that truly last.
I’m in the midst of planning my own wedding, so I know how expensive they can get. Our aim is to call in favors and go the cheaper option wherever we can, except for when it comes to our wedding photography.
Adriana: I try to educate them on what they are paying for, the value of what I do and what I deliver.
Recently I had a client who had just started looking around for a photographer, the client had allocated $1000 for the wedding photos. After a good “educational” chat she booked me, the package booked is 4 times more than what she thought it would cost at first.
A lot of people have no idea, which is understandable, but I think education is the key.
How long do you usually spend with couples on the day of their wedding?
Benjamin: Typically around 12 hours, more or less. Plus anytime we can get together in the lead up to their wedding, just hanging out over beers/coffees/shooting together. That’s one of the best things about engagement shoots. Besides getting more photos from us, you’ll also see how I work, and we get a bunch of time to bond and establish a deeper trust before the big day, making for richer wedding photos.
Shannon & Jayde: Usually between 6 and 10 hours.
Morgane: I am there from the prep time until the dancefloor! It will be between 6 to 9hrs usually.
Tanya: Eight to ten hours. I find this is the great sweet spot that gives me time to tell the full story, from the getting ready jitters through to the when the last sparkler goes out.
Adriana: It depends on what packages they are booking, anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. My most booked package is 8 hours.
What does your ‘after the wedding day’ process look like? How long do you usually spend editing a wedding gallery?
Benjamin: Go home, back up the gallery three times. Sleep a bit. Curate a gallery preview to send to you within a day or two, usually a dozen or so striking images for you to share with family and friends, and order prints.
Depending on how many photos were shot and what our backlog is like, it can take a few months to deliver the full gallery. Good things take time, and I want your images to be the best.
Shannon & Jayde: We usually deliver over 500 images, and can spend up to 25hrs editing a full set. We aim to deliver our finished product within 3 weeks.
Morgane: My ‘after the wedding day’ always starts by backing up all the files on 3 seperate hard drives. Then I proceed the editing and culling of the photos (and/or video) simultaneously. After multiple coffees and teas, the editing is done and I create the online gallery that I send off to the couple online – it usually takes me about 3 weeks, but can extend to 3 months during busier times. I later send them a little parcel with a USB at their home address.
If the couple have ordered an album, they will be able to pick their favourite pics from the gallery so I can create a curated album and send it off with the parcel.
Tanya: Within 48 hours I send the couple the best photos from the day.
That way they something to send to friends/family, their Facebook profile picture and to spam on Insta.
In terms of the full gallery, I’m culling around 2500 photos and editing 500-600 of the best, which takes time. In peak wedding season this can take 6-8 weeks.
Adriana: The day after the wedding I send my couples a sneak peek on social media and 50 photos in a private gallery. A 10 hour wedding can take me approximately 3 to 4 solid 8 hours days culling, editing, creating slideshows, mobile app, uploading the gallery and packing the final product. Plus album design afterward.
What’s one part of your job that you don’t think people realize
Benjamin: I don’t spend all my time editing photos (though it is a huge part of what I do), and I certainly don’t spend the whole week off with nothing to do until my next shoot. On any given day, especially with having kids and a flexible work schedule, I could be doing normal business stuff like marketing, following up on emails, accounts, client meetings, print orders, etc. Or I could be feeding my inspiration and keeping my mental health in check by watching films, thinking, meditating and journaling. I also spend a lot of time with my family and close friends, which is something I’ve wanted since quitting my last career.
Shannon & Jayde: That we are more than just photographers on the day, we are also wingmen, chauffeurs, friends, psychologists, and everything in between. Our sole purpose is to make sure that you don’t have to worry about anything, while capturing all of the goodness of your special day.
Morgane: Carying a tons of bobby pins and wipes in my pockets – just in case! Also, being a wedding photographer isn’t only about taking photos, it’s about making people feel comfortable with you taking their photos in a way that they love.
Tanya: It’s an incredibly emotional job. Every weekend I am getting to know strangers intimately, hearing their love stories, seeing their family dramas unfold, getting up close and personal with their tears, their laughter and the emotional whirlwind of committing to being with each other for the rest of their lives – all in the blink of an eye. Aaaand then I do it all again the next week.
Also, admin. So much admin.
Adriana: It no matter how great a camera is, you can have the most expensive camera on the market but if you don’t know how to use it you might as well keep taking photos on a phone. I cringe every time I hear “Oh your camera takes really good photos”, yes dude I thought everything she knows, hahaha.
Give us your best advice for couples looking for a wedding photographer.
Benjamin: Make sure your photographer has you at heart of what they’re doing. Are they genuinely interested in what you’re talking about? Are they excited about what you’re planning? Are they passionate about photography? There’s a tonne of photographers to choose from. Look for the ones that try to set themselves apart from the rest, and give no credence to what’s trending.
Shannon & Jayde: Do a lot of research and chat on the phone or in person. When you find the one (or in our case two), you’ll know.
Morgane: Make sure to ‘connect’ with your photographer. Check out their style of photography first to see you like what they do, and also (and that’s important) have a feel for their personal ‘vibe’. To do so, you can check out the recommendations on their social media (it can help you decide), and try to meet them prior to the wedding. This photographer will be there the whole day with you, sharing intimate moments, so you want to have someone that you can connect with.
Tanya: Three things;
- Take a look at their work and find something that resonates with you. Just because you like somebody’s photos doesn’t mean that they are the right fit. On a personal note, my fiancee is curvy and body-conscious (and I’m not exactly a size 6 either!) – when choosing a wedding photographer, we looked for someone who was extremely body-positive and had worked with plus-sized brides before.
- If you’re looking for somebody to capture the natural moments, don’t just look at their portrait session photos. Make sure their style is relevant to your plans. For example, if most of your day’s highlights are on the dancefloor, there is no point getting a photographer who can’t shoot well in the dark.
- Talk to them, preferably in person. As a photographer, what I really need to know is the kind of couple you are, the timings of the day, the people who matter to you and which part of the day needs the most attention. A lot of wedding articles give couples literal scripts of questions – whilst this can be fine for an anxious couple, I’d suggest going with a photographer who makes you feel comfortable to be around, not the one who promises to tick all the boxes of a questionnaire you found on Pinterest.
Adriana: First, love your photographers work, if you feel the need to explain to your photographer what you like or show him/her a bunch of Pinterest photos you might have chosen the wrong photographer. Do your homework, look for testimonials. Google reviews are a great start. Then finally, meet your photographer in person or via Skype. If you both hit it off, you have found “the one”.