Wedding Photography Budget | Budget For Wedding Photography
I’ve thought about writing this post for some time now, but whenever I do sit down to write this, I always end up reconsidering because I feel a potential client may think this article is self serving and biased. In a way, I guess it kinda is. I am a photographer who owns their own business after all……..but in reality, I’m genuinely interested in educating couples and hopefully enlightening them with the information they will need to make wise decisions when planning their wedding and choosing a wedding photographer.
Wedding Photography Budget
If you’re just starting to plan your wedding or you’re already meeting with photographers, you’re going to hear this often……..“After all the food is eaten, the cake has been cut, the flowers wilted and the music has stopped playing…….the only thing you have left, are your photographs”…………you’ll hear this, or a version of this over and over again from photographers, wedding planners and maybe even some friends that have recently been married. Why do you hear this so often?…….because it’s true! I will say this though, when it’s coming out of a photographers mouth, it often sounds like a spiel………..but, all we’re really trying to do is educate our prospective clients to at the very least, get them thinking about their priorities.
Wedding photographs are the only thing you have left to remember your wedding day by and your wedding album will be the first heirloom for your new family – hopefully passed down and cherished for generations. Yet, after thousands are spent on an engagement ring, the venue, catering, a dress, flower arrangements, the entertainment and couples often have no issues spending 5000+ on their honeymoon – when it comes to their photography…..they often often say they are on a “tight” budget of $2000 or less. It is extraordinary, I’ve personally attended weddings which showcased beautiful venues, delicious food and live entertainment…..all being documented by a “budget” photographer. I’m not saying this is wrong….maybe it’s their priorities, but really?…….they opted to spend $3500 on the entertainment and under $2000 for their photography? Another wedding I recently attended featured a lavishly decorated reception hall adorned with fresh flowers, gorgeous center pieces with beautifully rich table settings……I’d guess they spent over 10k on the decorations, yet, they hired a “budget” photographer for just about $1500. Is this disturbing……or is it just me? I will tell you this though…..both couples presented a beautiful wedding to their guests, unfortunately, they barley have anything better than snap shots to share. The photographs poorly document their investment let alone creatively showcase the beautiful event in any way at all. I don’t think either couple will be showing off their photographs to anyone…let alone preserving them as “heirlooms.” Both of the couples I just mentioned could have easily hired a professional quality photographer by budgeting a little more wisely. Instead of spending 10k on the decorations and 1.5k on the photography, the couple could have beautifully decorated their reception for 5k while investing 6.5k on their photography……I’m pretty sure that they would have had an heirloom quality album to proudly display for a lifetime. Photographers see this over and over again. Why is that? I don’t think there’s one clear cut answer…..it could just be a couple just doesn’t quite understand why wedding photography costs what it does, or it could be that a couple doesn’t quite understand or see the value in professional photography and their priorities lie elsewhere. Possibly it’s a combination of both.
Before we start though, I would like to say I certainly understand not everyone has an “unlimited” budget for their wedding or their wedding photography. Some may have a budget of 8000+ for their photography and others have that for their entire wedding. I don’t judge someone because they don’t have an extreme budget to work with and not everyone can afford professional photography. But we can all make educated decisions based on our knowledge of the subject. Also, I can definitely understand needing to work within a budget…….I do run a business of course and have a household that is run on a budget…..it’s NOT always the budget I would like…..but we prioritize what is important to our business or household and do the best we can within our budget.
Why So Much?
That’s a good question and one that just about everybody asks when they start searching for a wedding photographer. Before Gisella and I started our business, we also planned a wedding……..and I have to say……when it came to photography, sticker shock was an understatement. I mean, photography was something I enjoyed and dabbled in for a long time and at least had some what of an understanding of what good photography was, yet I had no clue how much quality photography really cost. So I can definitely relate to many of the couples out there planning their wedding. The cost of photography is often overlooked when you first start planning a wedding…….I mean really……you’re hiring someone for 8 hours or so to take pictures…..how hard can that be? Why on earth do wedding photographers charge $4000 to take pictures for 8 hours!!! Yep….been there…..said that. Once you have a bit of insight….it’ll start making sense.
I personally feel photographers are most often looked at as an individual you’re hiring rather than a business you’re contracting to photograph your wedding. Most photographers present themselves that way and why not? We’re helping you with your wedding timeline, planning your photography locations and we’re the only wedding professional spending the entire day with you…..I definitely want you to feel comfortable around me. We build relationships with clients and often become friends…..so, it’s natural that you look at us as individuals rather than corporations. Couples often hire us because they love our personalities and our individuality………but at the same time…..that “individual” is working for or is operating a small business. Running a business costs money and running a photography studio is more expensive than some would realize. When we first started our business and confided in a friend about our plans…..they were shocked at the initial investment needed to start a legitimate photography studio/business…..to them, starting photography business wasn’t much more than buying a camera and some business cards. In fact, it’s much more than that, expenses include but aren’t limited to: studio lease, furnishing the studio, insurance, advertising, employees, computers, software and continuous education are just some of the costs and I haven’t even touched on the camera and lighting equipment. Just a modest list of equipment we believe every professional should carry with them to a wedding is 10-12k and I would say most modern professionals are carrying upwards or 20k or more at any given wedding. Equipment needs to be maintained, updated from time to time along with the computers and software needed for editing and making those images look amazing. This all comes into play when photographers set their pricing, or at least it should…….If a photographer isn’t taking this into account, they most likely do not have a legitimate business and who knows how long they’ll be around. Another factor that comes into play is the amount of time spent on each wedding. From their first correspondence with you to the time they deliver the final product, they’ve spent a great deal of time on your wedding. Every photographer is going to be different depending on their service…….but it’s not unheard of when 10 hours of wedding day coverage turning into more than 40 or 50 hours of service. Also….the products offered vary a great deal from photographer to photographer. Some may offer economical press printed books that may cost the studio a couple of hundred dollars or less while other studios offering high quality hand made books considered heirloom quality cost the studio thousands to produce. Framing and prints also come in different flavors of quality as does service. Another factor in the cost of photography is experience,…..not to be taken lightly. Also the availability of a photographer. If there’s a popular wedding photographer in your region…….they’ll fill up their calendar quickly which also affords them the opportunity to charge a premium. Each of the factors I mentioned are part of the cost. We can go into much more detail….but that’s not what this post is about……at the very least though, I want to enlighten couples that may be wondering why photography seems so expensive.
Budgeting For Wedding Photography
If you’re searching for a photographer and you’re having a hard time justifying the expense and feel Uncle “Bob” or a friend can do an adequate job, please read our “Why Hire a Professional Wedding Photographer” blog post before you go any further. If you’re just about to start meeting with wedding vendors, you may want to start prioritizing your wedding vendors. What’s most important to you? Is it the photography? After all, the photographs are the only thing left after your wedding day…..so many do feel the photography is the most important. Others may feel the wedding dress is the most important……they’ll splurge on the dress they’ve been dreaming about since they were a little girl……some may dream of a rocking party with cool lighting and live music….to them everything else is secondary……while some would rather choose a fabulous venue and provide exceptional quality food and drinks for their friends and families. I’m not here to tell you how you should budget your wedding, I just really want couples to give some thought to their priorities. Before you go out and book your dream venue and buy that designer couture wedding gown from Elie Saab that leaves you with a minimal budget for your entertainment and photography…….write down what is most important to you and start doing some research before you just dive in.
Thank you for taking the time to ready this and please do not hesitate to contact our studio with any questions you may have about this article.