Why do wedding photography prices vary so widely?
There are so many things that go into planning a wedding that it can quickly become overwhelming for anyone involved in planning, especially when you start looking at prices for all the different details you might want to include on your big day. Photography is by no means a small detail, nor is it a small expense.
There are many different aspects of wedding photography that brides, photographers, bridesmaids, moms, and random people on the internet LOVE to talk about. Oohing and ahhing over the amazing small details, the love, and the once-in-a-lifetime shots captured by your wedding day photographer is one of the lifelong pleasures you’ll have once your wedding is over.
There is one aspect of this momentous occasion that doesn’t get talked about as often, and that is wedding photography prices.
Wedding photography (and if you so choose videography) is a very important (if not the most important) part of your wedding budget and is something that most people don’t have much knowledge of until it’s staring them in the face.
So how much should you budget for your wedding photographer? The short answer is, it depends. You might find a photographer on Instagram who is willing to shoot your wedding for $500. High-end luxury photographers who specialize in the luxury market can cost $25,000 and beyond.
There are three main factors that drive the difference in wedding photography rates:
Wedding photography rates vary dramatically from city to city. You can easily look up average prices for wedding photography were you live on WeddingWire, TheKnow, and many other wedding blogs and resources. For example, in Phoenix wedding photographer prices hover around the $3,000 mark. In New York City, the same wedding photography pricing might cost upwards of $5,000. You may even find that prices in your area are double what couples pay in other cities!
Regardless of where you live, you’ll find that in order to get professional-quality results, your wedding photography package is going to be a significant investment.
2. Wedding photography package and pricing structure
Oftentimes, it’s challenging to compare photography packages side-by-side, because there is no such thing as a “standard package.” As an example, your photographer charges an extra fee for having a second photographer on site, while others include two photographers that in their pricing. Some wedding photography packages include a hard-copy album, and some do not.
When deciding on who you’re going to hire as your photographer, remember that all wedding photography prices and packaging are a little different. When interviewing photographers, ask a lot of questions. Find out what that price includes, and if you are comparing photographers, ensure you are looking at the same set of deliverables, services, and times side by side.
Ask the hard questions in order to approximate a true comparison. Don’t be afraid to ask “Why should I hire you,” or “Why is your pricing higher than others I’ve talked to?” You might find out that particular photographer is using a higher-end camera that can yield better results, includes extra services you might not have known about, or has a decade more of experience than other’s you’re speaking to.
3. Skill and experience of the wedding photographer
This is HUGELY important! You might discover two wedding photographers in the same metro area, both offering the same or similar products and services, but whose wedding prices differ by several thousand dollars.
How is this possible? Usually, the answer can be narrowed down to skills, equipment and experience, and rightfully so. When I was getting started in the photography business, I had very little experience, and thus my pricing was much lower than it is now. Over the years as I’ve honed my skills and invested in the best equipment and practices, the quality, range, and artistry of my work has increased, and thus, so have my prices.
The saying “You get what you pay for” usually rings true when it comes to wedding photographers. Just because you come across to see a handful of beautiful photos on a photographer’s Instagram or website, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the level of quality will come through in your own wedding gallery.
Professional (and non-professional!) Photographers can all show you a few stellar images…The benefit of hiring a more experienced (and higher-priced photographer) is that most likely you’ll get many more high-quality photos that you can cherish forever, versus a smaller number of amateur images. Always remember, there is a MASSIVE range of skill-level, practice and overall quality between low-end and higher-end photographers.
Don’t be fooled by Instagram filters.