Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”

Earlier today my friend and fellow photographer posted a link to a craigslist ad from a woman in Seattle looking for a wedding photographer. The woman was upset because she thought that $3,000 for a wedding photographer was “wack” because all we do “is hang out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them” and that we are “making so much money its crazy.”

I first read this post earlier today while I was running errands and my head almost exploded. I immediately started drafting a horribly mean and punishing response in my head, but by the time I got home, I realized that this is probably a common misconception and that maybe I should try to explain why photographers charge what we do for our work.

Before I post my response, I want to thank all of my brides who appreciate my work and think that I am worth the price. This response is not meant to offend anyone. I understand many people are on a budget — especially in this economy — and I understand planning a wedding is both expensive and overwhelming. I always try my best to work with my couples and offer customized and discounted packaging options for those who are on a tighter budget.

I just want to state again, that being a photographer doesn’t mean that we wake up in the morning, photograph a wedding for 8 hours and then go home and our job is done. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to support ourselves as full time photographers don’t just work as photographers. We are also small business owners, which also comes with the job of doing all of our own marketing, sales, accounting, scouting, art directing, managing our offices and studios, being our own webmasters, doing our own post production, designing, blogging, being students, being mentors, researching, etc…

Sorry for the novel. Here was my response:

Dear Bride,

I am a wedding photographer in the Erie, PA area. Wedding season only last about 4 months here, so I photograph an average of 20 weddings per year for an average of $2,500/wedding (which totals about $50,000/year).

  • That being said, I am a small business owner, so I pay all of my taxes, totaling about $15,000/year, which leaves me with a gross income of around $35,000
  • Of that $35,000 I pay $600/month in rent for my small house and garage which I converted into my studio (which is where I would be editing your wedding images). $35,000 – $7,200 = $27,800
  • Then I have my car, which I would use to get me to and from your wedding, which I pay $400/month for the lease, plus $200/month in car insurance. $27,800 – $7,200 = $20,600
  • To get to your (and my other brides) wedding consultation, second wedding pre-consultation, the wedding itself, and to and from the printers I spend $840/year in gas money. $20,600 – $840 = $19,760
  • I also have $500/year insurance in case you sue me, or if any of your drunk guests would happen to break any of my equipment. $19,760 – $500 = $19,260
  • You also probably found me through my website, which I pay $30/month for hosting, and another $30/month so that you can view your photos online and share the images with your friends and family. $19,260 – $720 = $18,540
  • Or perhaps you found me through my advertisements in the newspaper or local bridal magazines, or a bridal show that you attended that I paid to have a booth at. $18,540 – $1,000 = $17,540
  • I also pay $250/month for my own health insurance in case I were to get hurt at your wedding. $17,540 – $3,000 = $14,540
  • I pay $200/wedding for a second shooter for your wedding, so that you can have more images and different angles, as to make sure you get the best images possible at your wedding. $14,540 – $4,000 = $10,540
  • I also need to have a new pair of shoes ($100) every season because my shoes get worn out and dirty from season to season. $10,540 – $100 = $10,440
  • I need high speed internet so I can upload all of your images online, my home phone for my business and my cell phone so I can communicate with you. $10,440 – $2,500 = $7,940
  • Oh yes, and I also pay a lawyer to make sure my contracts are iron clad and an accountant to make sure that I am paying all of the taxes I need. $7,940 – $500 = $7,440
  • Sometimes I attend workshops and seminars to teach me how to better my business, and make my client happier (that would be you), as well as keep up on the trends and learn new techniques so that I can make sure you have the best quality images available.

That would technically leave me with about $7,000/year to feed myself, buy groceries, pay for my heat and electricity, clothe myself, etc. But, usually I end up reinvesting whatever I have left on upgrades and new equipment:

During your wedding, I bring my professional equipment that I use so that I can make sure you have the highest quality images.

  • I have 2 Canon 5D Mark II cameras (because you always need a backup in case of a camera malfunction, which would ruin your big day’s photographs) which cost $2,500/camera = $5,000
  • I also have quality lenses which can capture your special moments in low light situations:
    Canon 24-70 f/2.8 lens = $1,200
    Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens = $1,300
    Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens = $500
    Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro = $600
  • …and I have speed lights to catch the fun moments at your reception:
    2 x Canon 580EX II = $1,200
  • Also multiple battery backups and memory cards, lens filters, light stands, umbrellas, light boxes, external battery packs and a bag to carry everything in = $1,500
  • Because this is equipment, sometimes I need to have it serviced or cleaned to make sure it is all working properly = $200

After spending 8-10 hours at your wedding, I then come home to my home office and spend about 20-25 hours editing your images, creating your album, blogging about your wedding, posting pictures on Facebook, ordering you prints and burning your DVDs.

  • I edit your photographs using a 27-inch iMac computer = $2,500.
  • I edit your photographs on Adobe Lightroom ($200) and Adobe CS5 ($400 for the upgrade and $900 for the new program).
  • I print your DVDs on a printer which costs $300 and which uses $200/year in ink.
  • I buy the DVDs and jewel cases you’re getting printed for $300/year
  • I archive all of your photographs on 2 x 2TB external hard drives = $500.
  • I also back up all of my photographs online so if there was ever a fire in my office, you would never lose your photographs = $400/year.
  • I also have office expenses as far as buying paper, staples, envelopes, packaging, filing cabinets and files, etc…
  • I also spend time and money ordering your prints and albums, paying for shipping, going to the post office etc.

All of that being said, I’m usually in the hole at the end of the year, and take on many family portraits, senior portraits and corporate jobs in order to make ends meet.

Photography is my passion and my livelihood, and it is also expensive. Yes, it seems like a lot of money for one day, but one day isn’t all we spend on your photographs or on our business. You will spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress or flowers or a venue or on catering which you are going to have for only one day, but your photographs will be the only thing you have to remember that one day for the rest of your lives.

I’m extremely insulted by your craigslist post and hope this sheds a little light on why we charge $3,000 for one day of your memories that are going to last you forever.

— Nikki Wagner, Photographer

About the author: Nikki Wagner is a wedding, portrait, and event photographer based in Naples, Florida. Visit her website here.

  • chip renner

    gotta start shooting porn buddy!

  • Your argument sucks

    So what about the other 8 months? What I’m seeing is a nice 4 month salary

  • Shavon Vines Via

    Very well said. I could not have said it better myself. The ones not charging don’t have insur, equi, know how, or backing to cover them. They just want a quick buck. And 99% of the time they getting
    what they are paying for.

  • brittany

    While I absolutely respect the need for an explanation and the cost of the service, I don’t feel like this is a reasonable one. You’re being paid for your time and expertise, and then you take into account the expense of equipment and travel. However a car with insurance, unless it’s separate than your personal vehicle, isn’t exactly an expense to take out of salary. Nor is health insurance. Those are cost of living that almost every career requires, and no one takes that out of what they consider their salary to be.
    Like I said, I don’t think photographers’ prices are “wack,” I have many close friends that are, and I see the behind the scenes hours and expenses that are put into the art. As a hair stylist, I often get the same reaction,”because a hair cut doesn’t cost me anything to do it, why is it so expensive?” Just be fair when explaining, people need to understand your value!

  • Jessica Smith DeBoer

    A repost of a comment from a friend: In this article, there are two good points. But… lets do the math. According to the Census Bureau the median American salary is $51,017/ year. As the article said, said photographer makes about $50,000/ year doing photos for an average of 20 weddings, at an average price of $2,500/wedding.At first, you may think that this is about the same amount or slightly less than what the average American makes… but lets think a little deeper. The photographer said they do an average of 20 weddings a year. They also said they spend anywhere between 28 and 35 hours total for editing pictures per wedding. So according to those numbers lets do the math that’s 20 weddings X 28 hours = 560 hours (low end). 20 weddings X 35 hours = 700 hours (max).
    The average full time job is 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Lets say there is an average of 3 weeks for vacation/holidays. That is 40 hours X 49 weeks = 1,960 hours a year. While the photographer is only working 700 hours a year (max).
    But the photographer said “wedding season” is only 4 months out of the year. So lets say the photographer works all those hours in just 4 months. 4 months X 4 weeks/month = 16 weeks. What does that average out to be… 560 hours /16 weeks = Average of 35 hours / week (low end). 700/16 = 43.73 hours/ week (max). So if the photographer takes 35 hours per wedding (which, keep in mind is the MAX) for the whole 4 months of “wedding season”… then they are working roughly the same as a normal full time job… FOR ONLY 4 MONTHS OF THE YEAR!! What is being done with these 8 months, if its claimed that the $50,000 earned from photography is the only source of income. 8 months to vacation? What!?
    And lets keep in mind the photographer says they get to work at your own house. Nice working conditions. Physically the least demanding job on your body you could ask for. On high speed interment. No boss. Set your own hours. Do something you love. On average, the normal American is working 1,260 hours a year more than photographers… AND according to the numbers given in this article by a photographer, making virtually the SAME amount of money!
    While Wedding photographers do a great service by taking pictures for happy couples on their “special day”. However those who overcharge people for a wedding try to make their “special day” their “pay day”. Just because the memories created on this day are “priceless” does not give the photographers the green light to try to ring the the couples, (or parents of the couples getting married) dry of every last penny they are good for in the wedding budget. Just want to say thanks to all the photographers who charge a fair and reasonable price for wedding pictures!

  • Bratista

    Maybe you should go and work the rest of the year, even if it’s not as a photographer. Sorry that in 4 months you make double my yearly income, but seriously, go eff yourself.

  • Michelle Kent

    Excellent response!!!!!! This doesn’t just apply to weddings though!

  • Rupert Murdoch

    I’ve only hired a wedding photographer once (here’s hoping it stays that way!) We paid $2500, which included a CD of all the photos and about a dozen prints. I thought that was pretty reasonable for the quality of the photos. What was less reasonable was the photographer’s high-pressure attempt to get us to buy additional products. She was fixated on selling us a scrapbook…for the low cost of $1200. It was a nice scrapbook, don’t get me wrong, but it was something my wife could’ve done online for much less. We ended up negotiating the photographer down to $350, which I’m sure she still made a profit off of. The fact that she tried to charge us more than triple what the product was worth definitely soured that relationship. I hope that’s not a standard practice!

  • Phil Ruberry

    $2500 for internet, Phone and a Mobile phone, you wanna shop around mate!

    Also an Accountant for $500 lol yeah ok

  • MidniteSerenity

    That’s some expensive shoes!

  • Glassweaver

    Reading all that makes sense Nikki, but could you please tell me if this is literally all you do? I’m getting hung up on the ’20 shoots a year during a 4 month span’ part. 50k a year pre-tax is livable, dare I say middle class. If you spend a whole day there and then twice that time editing and finishing a final product, isn’t that 60 days you’re working out of the year?

    The whole you wrote seems to center around a living wage, while ignoring that, as portrayed, you have 8 months that you are doing absolutely nothing. Assuming there are other events that need photography/professional editing/restoration, etc…wouldn’t it make more sense to work the whole year like everyone else, charge half as much, and *still* make more money since 3x the work at 1/2 the price is still more money?

    I’m really hoping I’m missing something here and that you can explain. I’m not meaning to be rude. That’s simply where I’m getting stuck, and I’d look forward to a flaw/oversight in my reasoning being wrong.

    Thank you!

  • Josh

    I was hoping to read a good response from you here, but what I just read was “I make $50k in 4 months doing what I love, working weekends. Oh and I have bills to pay, here’s a list.”

    Everyone has bills to pay. $600 for car+insurance? At 50k, you could BUY a car and pay $50/month in insurance. Maybe you should downgrade? But, oh no, that would mean you wouldn’t be driving a shiny new BMW (I just looked and it’s $309 to lease a 2015 BMW 328i. 428i: $399)

    Your #’s say you’re making between $71.43 and $89.29 an hour ($50000/(20weddings*28[or 35]hrs)). If you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, you’d be making over $185k. I think that’s a bit much…. Teachers make about 50k but work 60+ hours for 9-10 MONTHS a year.

    If I could make 50,000 on the side, pursuing my passion, working weekends for 4 months a year, I would in a second. Especially considering the median U.S. family income (family, yes… both earners) is 50k

  • Ryan Kelley

    Okay, I get the point here, but take all of those business expenses and subtract the deductions from the tax total. Also there is a $0.55/mile allowance for traveling, which more than pays for gas, unless you’re driving some gas guzzling clunker. Hell, even if you’re driving a gas guzzling clunker that gets 10mpg you’re still getting your gas payed for. Having been a small business owner I do know there are many hidden costs associated with operating a small business, but adding misleading costs to your argument is counterproductive to your point. By the way, let me make it clear that I think photographers should be paid what they are asking for in this case, I just don’t like when you add costs that really aren’t personal costs.

  • Mike

    Yeah, but most photos actually suck. to have someone take 4000 images to hopefully get ten decent ones is not gonna cut the mustard

  • Wayne C

    A business should make what a willing buyer will pay. I support you charging whatever you want to charge. People are free to will hire you
    or not.

    But…. if you feel you need to justify with cost figures you should be more selective as many of the costs you list are incurred by everyone else. Answering someone’s bad figures with your own bad figures doesn’t make for a good argument.

    If you make $50K/year on weddings and pay $15K in taxes, your gross income is $50K, not $35K. Gross is before taxes and other expenses/deductions. Plus, if somebody is looking to compare to what they make, they typically think of their gross salary, not net. We all pay taxes. Call it a wash. I know self-employment taxes are higher as I’ve paid them – it’s not a photographer-specific thing.

    I have a car that I paid for and insure. I drive it to work. You drive yours to work . Your lease and insurance payments would be there anyway. And your car expenses are partly offset in the mileage deduction, so you’re inflating the figure.

    Health insurance – I pay for mine too. Some pay more, some less.

    Our shoes get worn and dirty too. Ridiculous.

    You won’t have Internet, phone and cell phone if you did something else? I have all those. I can see claiming some fraction, but you’re attributing it all to your wedding photography. Wrong.

    As I stated, I begrudge you nothing. If you feel you need to respond, you could
    just note that you work many more hours than they see you working at their
    event location and you have business expenses to cover. Your fallacious detailed accounting lends no credibility.

  • Dave

    Soooo let me get this straight. You only pay your 2nd shooter $200 per shoot, and you get $3000? You have about as much respect for your 2nd shooter as the bride has for your work.

  • MrHappyface

    Well, that depends on who owns all of equipment & who got the gig?

  • Liz

    Can someone just explain to me then why photographers offer packages that seem to be the same as or very similar to their wedding packages, but for a few hundred dollars Vs the thousands for a wedding?

    I’ve come across several photographers who have 3 hour photoshoots at a location of my choosing, I get plenty of pictures and my choice of top ten or something being super done, a cd and online gallery/storage for a few hundred, but then I say wedding and that same package becomes a few thousand. At least it seems the same because other than the word wedding being added, nothing really differentiates the service provided, which is why I believe it is so common for people to think $3000 is ridiculous for pictures. What IS the difference between packages if the end products end up being the same? Are they actually the same? Because simply stating how many pictures a bride gets does not tell her that the plain package might not get any touching up, but the wedding package does (and as a graphic designer, I fully understand the time and patience photo touch ups takes).

    So, can someone please explain it to me? I understand the breakdown, which does make perfect sense, but if I’m on a tight budget and can get a photoshoot for $300 or whatever vs a wedding package for $3000, then why isn’t it offered or what exactly should be expected for such a huge price difference? I am genuinely asking as I am planning my wedding and ask myself this everytime I reach out to a photographer and they throw me their highest price first without indicating if there’s negotiation or how I could work it out to fit in my budget. I’ve even told a few I only want a photographer for a few key pictures, maybe an hour or two, and I’m still gettin prices in the thousands.

  • TopPhotographer

    All I could think reading this is, “You are not charging enough if you want to live in the black, and more importantly, have this be a business that sustains you into retirement.” There will be plenty of people who think $3000 is wack, but there are also people who are happy to pay $8000 for a photographer who produces gorgeous work and busts their ass before, during and after the wedding day, to give their clients the very best they have to offer. Setting your prices based on what others will accept, rather than on real costs, your target market, and planning for the future is a sure way to join the thousands of small businesses whose doors close in less than 5 years.

  • oreozipper

    To those criticizing this person’s costs and her gross income in four months, if you think being a photographer is so great, go and be one! If you believe $3,000/wedding is too much and that a friend with a DSLR can do it for free/much less, there’s your alternative :)

    Her costs are her costs, whatever they may be. If you don’t agree, fine. Don’t use her. Nobody is forcing you to hire this photographer or anyone else you believe is charging too much. For the most part, you get what you pay for but, YMMV.

  • Stephanie

    How is insurance, internet and a lawyer unnecessary!? In order to run a LEGAL business you need insurance, to pay taxes, among other things. To run a successful business, you are very strongly benefited from consulting a lawyer for contracts, an accountant for proper taxes and budgeting, etc. There are many costs of doing business that do not always involve the obvious.

    As far as internet goes, it is VITAL to running a business that does not have a retail location. How do you expect any business in this day & age to run a successful business without that major form of advertising and communication!? Also, if you’re so against rent being relevant, especially if a business were to forego internet which means no ads or website they would absolutely need a building or room to rent from which to run their business. They would not be able to provide your images electronically, and clients would be forced to travel to the photographer many times for meetings, viewings, orderings, payments, etc. While rent is not mandatory, for a professional service it is strongly recommended to have a retail location, or at minimum an office to keep business and personal separate. That office costs money, even if it were to happen to be in one’s home.

    And you say that these are “basic daily living things that we choose to purchase”? Well if they are ‘basic living things’, then they are clearly important and quite necessary! Health and/or life insurance might be a luxury not everyone has, but business insurance is a MUST. And since a business is usually one’s livelihood, health insurance could therefore also be a must because if one should be unable to perform their work duties to bring in income, the health insurance would be the backup plan.

    Before you go judging someone else and their profession, perhaps you should ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ and understand prior to doing so.

  • Don AKA Big Papa

    That being said, I am a small business owner, so I pay all of my taxes, totaling about $15,000/year, which leaves me with a gross income of around $35,000
    Of that $35,000 I pay $600/month in rent for my small house and garage which I converted into my studio (which is where I would be editing your wedding images). $35,000 – $7,200 = $27,800
    Then I have my car, which I would use to get me to and from your wedding, which I pay $400/month for the lease, plus $200/month in car insurance. $27,800 – $7,200 = $20,600
    To get to your (and my other brides) wedding consultation, second wedding pre-consultation, the wedding itself, and to and from the printers I spend $840/year in gas money. $20,600 – $840 = $19,760
    I also have $500/year insurance in case you sue me, or if any of your drunk guests would happen to break any of my equipment. $19,760 – $500 = $19,260

    So lets pick this apart; $600 rent divide by 12 = $50 per month by 30 = $1.66 per day for the day’s shoot. Now the car $400 lease (must be a Mercedes and $200 insurance bad driving record) either way $20 per day. Lets just work with these two. Take your expenses, throw in $25 per hour X8 and X20 for editing gives you $700 multiply your expenses to come up with burden profit and overhead by 110% then 110% to get the figure to charge. Taking everything you posted above that would come to about $1000 for the shoot. Having been a business owner for many years this formula works well, and is also on the test for a licensed contractor board license. The rest, cost of equipment was figured in at $100 AND all of your equipment is a tax write off, SO paying $15,000 in taxes you’d better find a new tax person. you’re way off base like MOST wedding photog’s.

  • Josh

    Her entire argument is dependent on the idea that she only gets to do 20 weddings per year. Wait, let me rephrase that. Her argument is dependent on the idea that she’d like to sit on her ass 32 weeks out of the year.

    A wedding photographer that charges a reasonable rate, and then works the other 8 months each year.

  • Beth

    I’m confused by your comment. You said that rent was unnecessary because it was a basic daily living expense? I am assuming you also pay rent or a mortgage… with the money you EARN from employment. The photographer is trying to point out that the money you pay them is used to pay their mortgage because they are employed by YOU.

  • George

    50k for four months work? That’s awfully impressive.

  • joshsouzaphotos

    “blogging about your wedding, posting pictures on Facebook” I would never take that into account for why you have a certain price, essentially every gig is a paying job that also doubles as marketing for photographers. First they post the “Teaser” then a few more sprinkle about.. this does nothing for the client and everything for the owner.

    With that being said, for top notch photographers, the price makes sense. For average people, the price tends to not add up as it’s a lot of loot for photos they’ll rarely look at.

    I’d love to see her response back to you if you actually sent it.

  • Teo Oliveira

    I gotta say, unfortunately the author of this article does a terrible job at making a point. More than half of the items in his “expenses” list are irrelevant to the client, they’re just expenses that any adult person, or any small business owner (maybe even such as the client itself) have to bear with. Furthermore, most photographers still work when it’s not wedding season, usually in free-lance jobs. So, unless you hibernate the rest of the year, you can’t just subtract a year’s worth of costs from 4 months of income. If I was a potential client reading this article, I would conclude photographers are just a bunch of lazy bastards.

    Anyway, explaining costs for jobs such as free-lance photography or graphic design is pointless because, like it or not, the final price is arbitrary. Expenses aside, the final price is mostly an estimate determined by market competition, quality, quantity, and a few other variables, and that’s how it has always been.

    If I was to answer her, i would be a little more straight to the point:
    “I charge $3000 for the job, if it’s too expensive for you, I can divide it into 3 installments.
    If you’re still unhappy with the price, I suggest you enroll in an university for a Digital Photography Degree, buy your own equipment, and spice up the market by shooting wedding at your own price. :) “

  • Tzctplus -

    I am a highly specialised technician in my field, if you offered me pennies to do my job I’d walk out and work for any of the many companies that would gladly pay my demanded wages.
    What the person detailing expenses forgot is that markets don’t care about all what she mentioned, the poster in Craig list actually understands intuitively how markets work: she’s haggling. The way to reply to that is making a counter offer or withdraw from the negotiation, not to list your expenses. ..

  • tyler

    2500 dollar iMac was a waste of money i built a hacintosh for 1200 that far surpasses your inadequate machine. 2 tb eHDD is about 100 dollars and a 400/month car payment, what is it a Mercedes.

  • Scott Villalobos

    Well, I agree this is the smack down. It makes me sick how much time we spend runing our business compared to what we actually make. 80-90ish hours a week. Some people whine and moan, but at the end of the day photography is a luxury item and if you can’t afford it don’t buy it. What I don’t understand is why are you so upset over a craigslist ad, I mean really? Who advertises there? Also, seems she wants the best for the least, sounds like a spoiled bratt.

  • Skeptic

    All you whinging photographers need to get A REAL JOB.

  • Skeptic

    Touche and Kudos!

  • Skeptic

    I notice no one has bothered to try and answer you because you have hit the nail on the head – it comes down to that one simple word ‘Wedding’ – that’s a license to charge way more than you normally would. I’m yet to see anyone offer a reason as to why this should be even allowed.

  • Skeptic

    Just as mentioned in other articles, hire a college student who is learning – the job will be virtually the same as the pro for about one quarter of the price

  • Jayson Carey

    A big part of it is the sheer number of images and time involved. At a typical wedding, I can take anywhere from 4000-6000 images, and I’m just a second shooter. That’s a tremendous amount of storage space and time to go through, cull, edit, etc. Another is the stress and pressure. If we screw up a photoshoot, it’s not really a big deal, we can just re-shoot. If we screw up a wedding, there’s no re-doing it.

  • wilson

    I am a level III investigator with a state agency. I am paid $46,480 annually. The state does not care what car I drive or whether I rent or own. The state does not care what repairs I have to effect or what my insurance costs are. The state doesn’t care if I buy my clothes at Penny’s or Dillard’s. The state really does not care what I do with my compensation as long as it does not impact my job performance in any way. I am paid $46,480 annually. I really don’t think trying to justify what you charge for a wedding by what you have to spend makes a lot of sense, especially saying you usually end up “in the hole”. IF you really can’t afford it, go find something else to do.

  • Andrea Bella

    I’m not a wedding photographer but this is something that people complain about no matter what type of photography work you do. People always want “cheap”. It sucks so much to want to make a living off your passion when this is the mentality people have. But you make amazing points!

  • SheRa King

    Because the SECOND shooter 1) Isn’t ultimately liable for the photos or the wedding at all, so they don’t have any expenses at all (i.e., for equipment or business or any of that, or insurance). A second shooter is more oft than not a photography assistant, and the primary photographer sets up the shots and makes sure the lighting is correct, etc. The assistant is there to kind of learn and is usually some sort of intern and is just there to help. They’re not ultimately responsible for anything which is why (while they are an expense for the photographer) they cannot at all be counted on to set up or take the shots for the wedding in general.

    2) Is not the one who will handle your photos. They will not be the one who sorts through them for HOURS afterwards selecting the best ones, editing them, and giving you a portfolio of your wedding day. Setting up and shooting takes a long time. The art of selecting shots, photos, and editing photos? That’s something a photographer does, and it takes a whole lot longer in the process.

    Some people cannot tell the difference between hack and amateur photography. If you’re that person, then get disposable cameras and have crappy photos. That’s fine. But if you’re the kind of person who spent a bunch of money on a ring and a wedding, then you’re an idiot if you don’t hire a good photographer.

  • Ryan Cooper

    I wouldn’t say it is easier, just less structured. you can learn everything about engineering without ever stepping foot in a university just like photography. The difference with engineering and medicine is that said degree is held in much higher esteem and is much more mandatory to work in the profession. (For example would you ever want to go to a Dr without a medical degree? It is possible to acquire all the medical knowledge required to earn a degree without going to med school.)

    also it is worth noting that your average engineer or doctor is making a heck of a lot more money than your average photographer.

  • Pierre Benjamin Thénot

    This is a bit confusing… You should always charge clients depending on how much you’re worth, not how much costs your goddamned rent. No one cares how much costs your car, your food, your health insurance… You simply need to calculate your hours, your rate (maybe 30-40 dollars an hour to start?) and add direct expenses (ink, equipment, second photog, transport…). This is what a client needs to see if you’re gonna follow a contract. If my car costs 100K should I charge more? No! that’s not your clients business and it shouldn’t be part of the cost. So I shouldn’t considerate my “lifestyle” in the price. The same with equipment, it’s not because you use a 30K Hasselblad, that you should charge a lot more. You probably use Hasselblad because you’re a very good photographer with a lot of experience and this experience is worth more, not the camera. I understand this wedding photographer is just trying to prove a point and show that a wedding photographer is like any other jobs out there, but she’s not gonna be successful if she’s got her mind set on how much her life costs per years to determine how much her service is worth. Matter of fact you can find someone from your family, an amateur photographer who will do the job just as good or better than you and this guy doesn’t cost a cent… but he’s definitely not a guarantee that he’s gonna deliver good photos and make the brides and family happy. On the other hand an experienced photographer will guarantee professional result if he can explain what the contract exactly covers and he proves that he is worth that much… That’s maybe why I hate wedding photography lol

  • TM

    And you don’t think she deserves to be able to pay her daily living expenses with her full time career? Please use common sense. Also she bought all of those lenses for all of her weddings, which would count as start up and maintenance costs…and I assure maintenance is a necessity for all of one’s gear. And I assure you, insurance is necessary. How often do drunk idiots break my lights at wedding? Too often. High speed internet? Unless we want to tie up a week of computer work just with uploading one wedding. How often to venues require proof of insurance? 1 out of 3 for my area. Why do you and some of these other “special” people believe a photographer who is a full time professional should lose money for people like you. Should you be thankful with less than minimum wage to survive on? Even if you have worked for many years developing a specialized crafts that required talent and experience?

  • Austin Hogan

    tyler your mom is a ugly whore

  • Casiquire

    Don’t most wedding photographers do other photography for the rest of the year, though? Even if not, you’ve still made your year’s salary from four months’ worth of work….

  • havewelostourminds?

    sounds like you are a terrible business person if you are spending 33% of your time for only $6K a year

  • al

    so 8 hours a wedding with 20 hours of editing averages out to be about 30 hours total per wedding. 20 weddings per year is 600 hours a year. you get 50,000 dollars for working 25 days a year AND the new lens you buy surely lasts you longer than one wedding. you have 340 days left of the year for easy family portrait jobs that im sure you charge 100+ for. and you’re complaining about internet and cell phone bills, which EVERYONE pays for.

    and i lost it where you included $100 dollar shoes in your budget thats how you know this article was made by a woman

  • angelica

    I think that craiglist ad talks for itself the bride doesn’t care about quality product and she seems like a middle class bride that will find a middle class photographer. Its not wrong for her to think like that is just a lack of education what a real professional do. Usually with a higher class bride family pays for wedding so she can pay best of the best but maybe this bride is paying everything herself. I’m not saying we should lower our rates I am a wedding videographer and I was a bride too but we have to offer small affordable packages like engagement or short time pkgs to build the faith in our clients. As a professional and bride I have to say that there are “professionals” out there that charge a lot or scam artist that show one type of work and then they dissappoint the customer. Or ppl. that are not responsible and they just don’t come through with the work and give bad customer service all this affect the perspective of our market. Wedding photography is not just the product is the experience that we provide to the couple. 50% of their wedding day is the couple following our lead and we should make them feel good before they look good. Something as simple as a bottle of water and fresh air meaning a 5 minute break in a photo session on a hot day might help the bride feel like she hire us not us hiring her as our model. This is more of a service business than a product business once we understand that our customers will pay and give us the respect we deserve but it start with us and our attitude. And last but not least out customers don’t care how much we spend in our business logistics or equipment they just want a good service and good work so we need to have empathy. I guarantee you instead of lecturing this bride about business I would have met with her and she would have paid fair amount for her and for myself. She could pay less than our expectations but a friend or family of hers will pay more for more time or more photos. Its not smart to burn bridges this way.

  • Mabaydar

    All these equipments value, insurance, webhosting and others like internet and phone bill needed to divide by 20 coz all of those cost are for 20 weddings that he is going to shoot. I am not disagreeing this article… But some might miss out that fact and think 3000 is still consider cheap… :D … Ok with this article, i won’t be bargaining much to my photographer for my wedding. But now i know how to bargain reasonabilly.

  • andrewdh

    Cry me a river. Your saying you make a $100 an hour ($3000 for supposedly 30 hours or so work, probably far less), to take pictures. What about people who make their living as small business plumbers, roofers, landscapers, etc.etc.and do far more strenuous, labor intensive jobs and make less. Not to mention they work more hours. You expect full time salary for what amounts to a part time job. Your sense of entitlement is nauseating. If you want more money, work more events rather than gouge customers. I paid $600 for my wedding photographer who did a fantastic job. People only look at their wedding photos a few times in their life, don’t put your work on a pedestal. I’m getting into photography as a small hobby and I think you should be grateful to make any sort of living doing something you enjoy, and if you don’t enjoy it you shouldn’t have chose photography for the money.