If you haven’t already asked yourself this question in wedding planning, we know you will; how much does a wedding photographer cost? To find out, we sat down with five different wedding photographers from around America to demystify how much a wedding photographer really costs, and what you can expect for the price tag.
Meet our USA-Based photographers;
Kelly Balch, Kelly Balch Photography
Tara Robertson, Tara Beth Photography
Jessica Manns, Jessica Manns Photography
Jenny Boyer, Jenny Boyer Photography
Alex, Alexandria Monette Photography
Suzy Goodrick, Suzy Goodrick Photography
GIVE US A ONE-LINER. WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Kelly: I’m Kelly Balch, a wedding and lifestyle photographer as well as videographer.
Tara: I am a female, lesbian, 31-year-old, driven-as-hell, LGBTQ+ Destination Wedding Photographer who loves her job and her clients!
Jessica: I’m an alternative hybrid fine-art wedding photographer on the East Coast with a colorful and vibrant painterly style. Being a “hybrid” photographer means that I shoot both digitally and with film!
Jenny: Hi! I’m Jenny! Queen of smiling, mom to Ember, partner to Annelise, lover of people. I capture Weddings and Elopements based in Jacksonville, Florida and beyond!
Alex: I’m a wedding photographer for humans in love, with a focus on badass portraits, real moments and editorial vibes.
Suzy: I’m Suzy, a wedding and boudoir photographer for the free spirit based in Phoenix, Arizona.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE. I’M A PROFESSIONAL…
Kelly: …wedding dancer and party starter. And I also am a professional human lover and picture taker.
Tara: …Disney movie trivia competitor.
Jessica: …wedding photographer, napper, The Office watcher, and pizza-eater.
Jenny: … cheerleader! Honestly, it is the first thing that comes to my mind. I AM FOR YOU. I want to celebrate you, honor you, show up hard for you!
Alex: …empathizer, moment catcher & hype woman!
Suzy: …photo taker, third wheeler, and wedding day therapist.
THEY SAY ‘YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR’, DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANY TRUTH TO THAT QUOTE?
Kelly: Great question, yes & no. There’s always a grey area. If you see a low amount with a photographer the first thing I would do is look at their portfolio, is it good? Then meet them in person and figure out what their life is like to devalue themselves with a low price point. I’ve heard both amazing and horrific stories about couples hiring a cheap photographer. I’ve also heard of couples who have hired a photographer for $10k+ and they received a tiny curated album and a bad attitude on the day. Do your research.
Tara: Yes & No. Some people are not worth the money! Some people are overcharging because they have a huge ego & think that they should. It’s important to really research if they are truly worth what they are charging, and that is something that you will have to decide for yourself. With that being said, professional photographers really know what they are doing! You are paying for someone who can handle any terrible situation that may come up during your wedding – not just someone who can take a beautiful portrait!
You want to be able to 100% trust your photographer!
Jessica: There is ALL the truth to “you get what you pay for”. You can apply it to almost anything ever in life. If you’re looking at wedding photographers who are talented, experienced, have many high reviews, and you love the look of their work, but they’re all in a certain price bracket that seems high to you, and you find a photographer much cheaper than these other vendors with pretty work, chances are very high that it’s too good to be true. Why gamble with the only thing you’ll have left after the wedding day apart from your spouse?
Jenny: I think there is some truth but not all. I am an advocate of women in business, and honestly, sometimes we don’t do that well. So, you might find someone that costs less and is brilliant… but they should be charging more!!!
Listen friends, being a wedding photographer is more work than you could fathom. It’s not just about showing up on your day. It’s showing up in the prep, showing up in the editing, showing up in our investment in your life! It should cost money, and I think we have to move toward the realization that as a client, you want it to cost money.
Alex: Well, yes and no. I think there’s a big trend right now for new photographer’s to attend workshops or styled shoots, build up a portfolio of images in perfect lighting + scenarios, and try charging average wedding prices within a few months.
Don’t get me wrong, developing your skill that way is amazing, but as a client, you want to be careful to hire professionals who have endured the stress, pressure, various lighting situations of multiple actual wedding days before you dish out thousands of dollars. Likewise, I know some talented, experienced individuals who could probably charge more because they are 100000% worth more. I would say as a client, do your due diligence, ask questions and ask to look through MULTIPLE full wedding galleries before putting down a deposit. It’s important that you know 100000% what you’re paying for.
Anyone can make the Instagram or website highlight reel look A-1. Because there are so many opportunities for up and coming photographers to build their portfolio, but that is normally done in the most perfect settings possible and without the high pressure/stress of a wedding day.
Suzy: Absolutely, I believe this can ring true for many industries – especially within weddings. When I was a bride, I found my investment into my entire wedding invaluable, but I’ll never regret investing in my photographer. I’ll cherish my photos forever, and I want the same feeling for my couples. I also completely understand that most couples are planning with a budget in mind and will make the best decision for their day.
HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?
Kelly: My smallest package I have right now is $6050.
Tara: My photography packages start at $3,200 for 8 hours of coverage.
Jessica: I charge between $3,600 and $6,200 for wedding photography depending on the hourly coverage but I offer a 10% discount exclusively to LGBTQ+ couples [score!]
Jenny: My weddings are an average of $2,000. I also offer elopement and tiny wedding pricing. I am only 6 months into my business. With that in mind, my pricing is still on the lower end of my market.
Alex: Between $3600 – $6000 as a starting point, depending on how many hours of coverage we decide is best for each couple. Everyone’s needs are different so I do my best to accommodate those needs without sacrificing the time it takes to capture a wedding day in full and deliver a quality gallery that my couples will love forever!
Rehearsal dinners, engagement sessions, boudoir shoots, albums and prints are extra, so that can def vary the final price.
Suzy: Over the past 5 years as a wedding photographer, I’ve created 3 collections based on the common needs my couples have. For the 2019 season, my wedding collections begin at a base rate of $2700 and increase based on a few factors like the number of hours needed, additional sessions (like engagement or boudoir), and heirloom albums.
Each year, my rates slightly increase as I continue to improve in my craft, stay up-to-date with the latest gear, and create a unique experience for my couples.
WHAT’S YOUR RESPONSE TO PEOPLE WHO THINK, “YOU CHARGE HOW MUCH?!”
Kelly: Thankfully, and I’m saying this with the utmost gratefulness in my heart, most of the couples who reach out to me and hear that price respond with, you’re worth it. However, it wasn’t always like that. When I was growing my business and changing my prices with the economy, I got that and my response would be, “yeah, the cost of living in LA is intense.” This is a day you put so much love into celebrating you finding love. Wouldn’t you want everything documented right down to the midnight hour of Uncle Tom getting so hammered he’s doing the worm? Yes, absolutely!
Tara: I have all of my pricing on my website, so when people email me they already know what I charge. This helps everyone I think! No one likes having to email the company to get a quote. Most people just want the information right there in front of them to make a decision. If I’m too expensive for some people then I usually don’t even hear from them.
Jessica: I don’t have much of a response to people who think “you charge how much?!” because there’s a price point for everyone. If someone thinks I charge too much, that’s okay, they’ll find someone they can afford. My skill set, education, experience, talent, and dedication reflect my prices and I’m very confident in them. If someone thinks I charge too much, that’s okay because that means we aren’t the right fit for each other. I book to capacity well in advance each season so I’m confident that my work and customer experience is a good one and worth my prices.
Jenny: Honestly, I haven’t had that much. I do have plenty of people that receive my pricing guide and then just don’t respond. I think that’s OK. Fit is super important to me and the budget is a piece in that puzzle. If it was me, I would get married in a field and have a bomb photographer, but everyone is not me!
Alex: I can empathize with the sticker shock that planning a wedding brings. *EVERYTHING* feels so expensive. I’ll say that at the end of the day, wedding photography, while a form of art, is still a business and is a LUXURY service! We have overheads, monthly bills, education, gear, 2nd shooters, and taxes to pay for (approximately 30% of our net income in California, by the way!) on top of SO many other things.
Beyond our cost of doing business, we also need to make a living to pay our personal bills, take care of ourselves and our families. Depending on how you run your business, you can only take on so much work while giving all your clients an INCREDIBLE and personable experience and still wearing all the hats of being a business owner/creative. So while the numbers we charge might seem outrageous to some, if we were to break it down, there are a lot of photographers who are only making about $15-$20/hour at the end of the day and working 60-70 hours a week! That’s pretty close to being a supervisor at Starbucks, but working ourselves like crazy, to put that into perspective!
Suzy: It’s an honest question and one that I completely understand! I believe it comes down to priorities and choosing where to invest in a wedding. I highly recommend having a conversation with your partner about the top 3 areas to invest in for the wedding. It’s a great way to get on the same page! Having that conversation early on can help alleviate any awkward financial decisions later on in the planning process, both with your partner and your vendors.
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