Why Are Wedding Photographers So DARN EXPENSIVE!?
"Everyone has a dslr now, so why are Wedding Photographers still so darn expensive? My cousin has one and he does pretty good with his." This is a question you may hear a lot or you may have thought yourself. I want to pull the veil back for you, so that you can see what actually goes into your wedding day before, during, and after. You may be quite surprised! Here is a sneak peak of section 1 conclusion:
Amount Actually Brought Home:
The first section will be mainly about actual, measurable expenses and time. The second section deals with things you can't really put a calculated monetary value on, but they are the MOST important things to really factor in when looking at wedding photography expense.
Equipment: $22,650 every few years
Standard Lenses Wedding Photographers Use (Bare Minimum):
70-200mm zoom: $2400-2600
Wide Angle: $800-$2400 depending on what the preference of the photog is
105mm macro: $1200
Pro-Level Bodies: $4000-$8000
Mid-Level Bodies: $2300-$4000
Each photog usually carries 2 bodies. I personally carry a pro-level and a mid-level
This varies depending on the photog, but I'll use speed lights for the example. Keep in mind this does not include portable studio lighting.
A wedding photographer will need a minimum of 3 flashes to work with at various times of the day. They may not use them all or not at all, but the photog HAS to be prepared.
3 flashes with the best output: $1800
Flash modifiers: $300-$1000
Flash stands: $200+
Pocket Wizards to fire 3 flashes: $800
Lots o batteries!
Reflectors and stand: $100-300
External HD and Back ups:
$400+ per year
Keep in mind equipment needs to be repaired and upgraded every 2-3 years! I've most likely forgotten a lot of things in this category, so I'll definitely update as I remember.
Expenses from this category alone:
Insurance: $600 per year
This is all dependent on who you go with, what your equipment is, what kind of coverage you want.
Or monthly: $9.99-$49.99/month
The Knot: Top Spot is $600/month for SC
Featured Spot is $350/month
Wedding Wire: Top spot is $500/month for my region
Featured Spot is $300/month
Wedding.com: $60/month for 30 credits to reach out to brides
Google: Minimum of $50/per month to advertise with them. I spend about $200.
Others: Wide range of monthly pricing!
Bridal Fairs: $200-600 for one day/weekend a couple of times a year.
Website and Domain: $190 yearly-this is just mine, others are way higher, even this amount or more monthly
Client Proof Site: $30/month Pixieset-The best I've found currently
Docusign for contracts: $40/month
$25-60 per person per hour for each event. One event per week with 2 extras will be about $800.
Booking/Signing/Paperwork UGHH PAPERWORK!!
I spend about 10-15 hours a week on reaching out to new clients, speaking with existing clients, emailing, etc.
Culling takes me 2-3 days.(Around 15 hours) I want to get the BEST images from your wedding. With an 8 hour wedding I go through 3500 photos on average.
Editing takes 3-6 days depending on the amount. (Around 25-40 hours)
Transferral of photos to external and back up: 2-4 hours
Transferral takes about 15 hours. I generally let that run overnight. Then there is an additional 1 - 2 hours of organizing photos and getting the gallery perfect.
Travel to and from events depends on the photogs service area, AND on what is included in the client's package. For instance, the photog may need to make as many as 4 trips in various areas. I have a wedding coming up and the engagement session is in Atlanta, GA, the Wedding/Reception is in Darlington SC area, The bridals may be in Charleston, and they may also want me for Rehearsal Dinner. Wedding Photographers travel a LOT even if they aren't destination wedding photogs. Most photographers do charge extra for traveling and they do write if off; however, you DO have to factor in the time.
I use paypal which is 2.9%.
Note: This section is not including accountants, taxes, outsourcing help except for 2nd shooters.
Average Costs Broken down by month: $3609
This is based on sales of $6000 revenue for that month and 3 weddings. He/she brought home $2400 and also invested 40+ hours per week into it. The photographer has made $28,692 bring home in that year.
Amount Actually Brought Home:
Your Wedding Photographer is an artist. They've spent many years honing their art by experience, schooling, extra training, and they are continually learning new things to better serve you and to deliver the best of the best. Being an artist and having their own style is one of the important things behind their pricing-you literally can't get what that individual does from ANYONE else. Let's say you have 3 photographers capturing the exact same scene: 1 will be using a long lens getting a tight crop, 1 might be using a wide lens and taking the atmosphere into the scene, another may be coming in from a different angle, the possibilities are endless, but what's important is that no one but that person is seeing what they are seeing, or what they are feeling that's compelling them to shoot the image that particular way. Photography is an art form, and an artists put a lot of themselves into your images.
Your Wedding Photographer is experienced-not just as a photographer with technical things, but at FEELING MOMENTS! This may seem crazy, but logically the more you do something the more you can anticipate and predict for things to happen. This is VERY important, and if the photographer doesn't have the technical knowledge and "fast fingers" so-to-speak, then they won't be able to capture a special moment that's about to happen behind them with 4 stops of light difference. Their camera is an extension of them, and if they don't know how to work it properly, efficiently, swiftly, then they won't get that moment. I literally feel the moments about to unfold, and my brain and fingers have this strange connection that culminates in usually a beautiful image of a moment that would have otherwise passed or gone unnoticed. Even things that seem unimportant on that day will be of huge significance years later when you're showing your wedding album to your children.
This photographer can make and should make more from weddings! A photographer starting out can charge $2000 for a wedding that this photographer can charge $4000 for.
I hope this post was interesting and most of all informative! As always if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Thanks for reading!
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