Wedding Photography Average Cost (2023)

Trying to find the overall average price of a wedding photographer can be dangerous if done wrong. Taking the average price means you’re including those people who paid friends to do their photos, went with brand new photographers, or etc. Once you add those to the amazing photographers, it greatly drops the average price. Plus, why would you want only an “average” photographer? You deserve the “right photographer for you!” Average simply doesn’t cut it for your special day.

Instead of trying to find the average cost, you can search for “How much does a wedding photographer cost who will take care of us and our needs?” I’m going to break down what some photographers charge and what to expect from their prices.

Brand New| $0-500

At this price, the photographer is probably just starting. More than likely they have never photographed a wedding.

What to expect:This is extremely risky. You might get lucky and find someone who was born to do it, or you might feel uncomfortable during the photos, miss out on the important photos you wanted, and end up with tons of blurry photos. Also at this price their equipment is probably not the best and might not be able to handle low light or dark situations.

Entry-level| $500-1500

At this price, the photographer may have done one or two weddings. They might struggle with consistency and handling rough situations.

What to expect:Hopefully, you can look at one of their previous weddings to get some peace of mind. More than likely, they are still learning how to pose couples, aren't great with lighting, and might not be the best at problem solving.

Enthusiast| $2000-3000

At this price, the photographer is doing weddings regularly. They probably have a style figured out but haven’t focused on one thing to specialize with. However, they could also have their starting prices low because they offer a lot of additional add-ons.

What to expect:This photographer has great equipment, backups and probably invested in their education. They should have quite a bit of work to check out.

Professional| $3000-4000

At this price, the photographer has mastered their style, probably full time and has a solid demand for their work. Can handle any situation or problem.

What to expect:They will have you comfortable during the wedding and make you feel cared for. They will will deliver high quality pictures regardless of venue or weather.

Luxury| $5000 & higher starting prices

At this price, the photographer is very established and includes luxury products into their pricing.They probably don’t have any add-ons because everything is already included.

What to expect: Very solid consistent work and probably only want to do a handful of weddings a year. They probably have a lot of extras built into their pricing like albums, bridal sessions, second photographers, and etc. Perfect for those who want to splurge for their wedding.

Why are wedding photographers so expensive?

The more talented and experienced a photographer is the more demand they receive. The more demand they get the more it’s impossible to do everyone’s wedding. At some point they either have to raise their prices or downgrade the experience they offer. However, downgrading takes away from why couples hired them to begin with. There are 4 factors that effect how much wedding photography costs.

  • Location: The average cost of hiring a photographer will typically be greater in larger cities with higher median incomes. Also the bigger the population the more demand there is for that photographer.

  • Skills: Skills can bring in a lot of demand. Couples want to have someone who can problem solve, make them feel comfortable during photos, handle bad lighting, have great communication, and make every wedding look beautiful no matter the venue or location.

  • Experience: Having a photographer who has done many weddings is very beneficial. They’ve probably experienced every issue that could come up at a wedding and solved it. They know how to get caught up when things get behind and have answers for bad weather or tense situations. The more experience they have the more comfortable and at ease you will be. Peace of mind is priceless for some couples.

  • Style: The overall look can determine price. Every photographer has a different look. Some couples want bright and natural photos while some want dark and moody. Maybe some want very high class poses while others might want more comfortable poses. Sometimes a photographer might be the only one offering a certain style. That can drive demand up because no one else offers it.

Also prices can look lower or higher depending on what’s offered. Some photographers like to have low starting prices but offer a lot of additional add-ons. While other photographers might want to include everything together for a higher price. It’s always good to see what’s included in packages first before you focus on the price. Here are some things to look into when you check out their pricing details.

  • Is the engagement session included or an add-on?

  • Do they offer timeline help?

  • Does it include the wedding album or is it an add-on?

  • How long do you have to wait for your photos?

  • Do they have the option for a 2nd photographer if you want one?

Do wedding photographers charge too much?

I don’t think so. The value of a product is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. If there is low demand, then the price is probably going to be lower. If the demand is higher, then the price has to be higher, specially if the photographer only does a handful each year. Let’s take a look at what all work goes into being a wedding photographer. On the surface it might look like they just take photos but let’s break down everything. This won’t include things like website work, taxes, writing articles (like the one you’re reading now), social media outreach, education, and etc.

Typical Wedding Hour Breakdown

  • 1-3 hours of initial emails, messages, and time to meet/video call.

  • 2-3 hours for the engagement session. This includes travel and shooting.

  • 2-3 hours to upload those, edit them, and deliver back to you.

  • 3 hours of preparing a timeline, family picture list, and helping with advice leading up to your wedding

  • 10-20 hours of wedding day work. This includes driving, setting up, wedding day coverage, packing up, uploading and backing up images.

  • 10-20 hours to go through the pictures and then edit.

  • 2 hours to upload to an online gallery and back them up

  • 2-3 hours of creating an album (If you decide you want one)

That’s around 57 hours or so, each wedding. Keep in mind that doesn’t include the other business expenses and self employment tax (15.3%), program subscriptions, gas, equipment, and education. Sometimes those expenses can add up. I’d say if you add up all the expense costs and hours worked, most photographers only walk away making $15-20 an hour. I feel like that is a steal for having someone who will take care of you on the most important day of your life.

How much should I spend on wedding pictures?

Hopefully this article helped you with that question. I think it comes down to what kind of experience you want or how much risk you’re willing to have. Do you want someone high in demand, a lot of skills, and experience? Or would you rather cut some costs and find someone newer or with less experience? Regardless to your route I believe this will help with that and I pray you have the best wedding possible. If I can help with any questions or advice, reach out anytime!

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