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.

  • Guest

    $50,000 gross (the author doesn’t know what gross income is) for four months of work?  I don’t feel all that bad for you.  A lot of the expenses you’re counting aren’t marginal costs so, assuming you do a fairly steady business for the remaining 8 months of the year, you have a pretty healthy net income.  You’re either purposefully misrepresenting your circumstances to shore up aweak argument or you have a surprisingly bad grasp of numbers for a “small business owner.” 

  • Afrorissian

    The idea of a “Wedding” is a luxury item by definition. It costs maybe 50~100$ in court fees to go to the local court house and get a simple statement performed by a judge. Arguing over the costs of luxury items is simply asinine.

  • ZingaGirlie

    I was an asshole to my photographer who hurt his foot before my wedding, only shot us from behind and then took over 6months to send me an unedited disc.

  • ZingaGirlie

    That being said.. I’m now a photographer HA HA HA HA

  • ZingaGirlie

    I actually became disabled and am not able to work a regular job. Moving into the field of photography is EXPENSIVE, but it also allows me to say Yea or Nay to a job based on my health at that time. I don’t book far in advance Just to be sure I’m healthy. That having been said, it does take a lot out of me I’m sorry but if you are only working 35 hours as a photographer then something isn’t adding up. Editing ALONE can be 35 hours depending on how many shots are taken. Most Photographers do more than just weddings, and in the NW weddings happen ALL year long no matter the weather. That’s just something we are known for. Personally speaking, I spent what the bride posted… I got some good shots, I just wish he was able to be more mobile and got better shots of the ceremony or us leaving (he left before we did and insisted on getting his final payment before leaving) and there were NO pictures of us leaving and the fireworks that the groomsmen lined down the drive and set off as we passed. We had our wedding at home to save money, pictures were VERY important. I’m just sad things got missed.

  • TGK

    Very informational post, thanks.

    To the fools complaining about this:

    She is simply explaining the fee structure behind wedding photography, She is not complaining about making too little money.  Wedding photography costs X because of Y and Z.  Where is the complaint in that?
    Apparently, all decent photographers charge around this amount (or more) for a wedding.  Which means that @ $2,500-$4,000 is the price the market has set.  Thousands of independent photographers haven’t conspired to fix prices and gouge you.It’s a free market, so quit you’re bitching.  You aren’t inherently entitled to great photo’s just because you’re getting married.  Some people won’t be able to afford it.  If you want good stuff pony-up and pay the market price, just like everyone has to to for every product/service in existence.

  • lechatelierite

    That’s all well and good, but if you can’t possibly survive as a photographer on less than $3000/event, why do you charge only $100/hour for non-wedding personal events? That’s what upsets people — how much more they pay for a photographer, cake, DJ, dress, what have you, as soon as they mention that it’s for a wedding instead  of a retirement or bar mitzvah. 

  • Guest

    Wedding photographers – the other side of the story

    Funny… the only people here crying are wedding photographers, I can’t stop laughing reading the comments.
    So you all are talking about quality, knowledge and experience etc. etc.? The simple fact is most wedding photographers are self taught and have never seen a photography school from inside (am I touching a nerve?). 
    Equipment? I agree you need professional equipment but to be honest most wedding photographers don’t know how to use it properly (even though they swear they do). On top of it wedding photographers tend to overprocess the images in photoshop. For that reason it doesn’t matter whether you have a 5000 dollar camera or not, you couldn’t tell the difference anyways, killed pixel all over (they just call it “Art Wedding Photography” LOL)
    That also explains the huge amount of time they spend on “editing”. Why don’t you get it right when you’re shooting? Is your expensive camera not good enough? 
    And stop telling everyone how expensive your equipment is. You knew that when you started. It’s called investment. If you can’t handle it get another job.

    So what on earth is making YOU the professional??? Saying that reasonable priced photographers are amateurs is kinda cheap. Who are you to judge? Fear of competition? Didn’t you start at some point in your life or were you born as a professional photographer? If newcomers are talented and charge less it doesn’t mean they are no good. Longtime experience isn’t everything. If you wanna find your wedding photographer check out the portfolio and not the endless written “why me FAQs”

    I know you’re gonna defend your pathetic point of view, I understand it’s your business. Truth hurts, I know that, too… get over it! The product of a photographer is the final image and not the bla, bla, bla.

    Last tip: If you wanna know why wedding photography is expensive, don’t try to find an answer on a wedding photographers website or blog, cause that’s just all the crying over and over again… and don’t believe anyone telling you an album is 1500 dollars.

    Kind Regards,

    Your reasonably priced, 10 year-experienced photographer with high end equipment, who is doing just fine

  • Eco_wave

    Nikki, your numbers are extremely over inflated. First of all, who pays $200 a month car insurance, time to switch!! And if you’re paying $200 for a SECOND shooter, then why can’t we pay YOU $200 for the time spent AT the wedding plus $200 for the second shooter then start adding in the extras? And seriously 8-10 hours spent AT the wedding? Come on, let’s get real here. Let’s move on to all of the other expenses you are talking about… wait, they’re all tax deductible so the $15k you supposedly spend in taxes… yea, that’s before deductions. I make $60k and I don’t have that high of taxes before deductions AND live in PA so I know about all of PA’s ridiculous taxes. Oh and if you’re paying $15 each for the DVD’s for your 20 weddings… start buying elsewhere because you’re getting ripped off.  As far as all of your cameras and lenses and blah blah blah, those are start-up costs and operating costs and again, TAX DEDUCTIBLE.  The only thing that’s not tax deductible is your rent and your client certainly should not be paying for that either. Let’s keep the focus of the Bride here… she’s angry at the cost to her not why you feel you’re worth $3k. I paid $400 for my photographer and he was fantastic. Gave me the digital copy and everything.

  • Eco_wave

    $10 of ink for printing out ONE dvd??? seriously… let’s get real with these numbers.

  • Matthew Salt

    You do not include your own personal expenses or living expenses in the quotation of a job such as wedding photography. Like you state, your revenue for a 4month period is $50,000. You have 8months left for other work. The fact that you try to justify every cost that can ever occur is disgusting. A traditional artist doesn’t charge you for insurance of their hands, cost of transportation to and from suppliers, new clothes because the ones they create their work in gets damaged or charge you to fund their marketing budget. Fundamentally the key to good photography is technology. All you need is a concept, art direction and an understanding of lighting. 

  • Matthew Salt

    If your editing photos for a wedding for that length of time you are not professional you are rubbish at your job. 

  • Scott Allen

    Dude… if you actually spent and properly deducted all that, you shouldn’t be paying $15K of taxes on that $50K. Sounds like you’ve got about $30K in deductible expenses, leaving you $20K of taxable income, which puts you at the poverty level. With the Earned Income Credit, you shouldn’t be paying hardly anything in taxes if those numbers are right.

  • Getreal

    You can’t count your entire rent when you only use your garage. People shoot weddings “off season”. If you don’t shoot off season, what are you doing all of the other months while the rest of us are working? And, who pays an attorney every year? I have a contract based company and have only needed to pay my attorney once in five years to look at and fix it. Maybe I read this wrong but this makes me just a little curious about your other information. I think it would have been more credible and influential if you hadn’t exaggerated.

  • Asorich7

    you get what you pay for, just like with anything in this world… when you pay for a great wedding photographer you pay of r skill, schooling, experience, personality , artistic value, and light skill… and yes equipment.. I do not see the point on spending 5,00-34,000 on a dimod ring? But people do. Id rather spend it on a photographer.. this is what makes me smile ! not the shimmer on my finger…. Its all the same shit.. There is a market for everything…. open your eyes… and leave it alone.. they will get what every they pay for.. and see it in the end.. 

  • Asorich7

    diamond.. oops..  

  • tempo36

     You pay her a rate higher than $200 because her rate is covering all the remaining expenses she broke down. Sure, she could charge $200 for the wedding and then charge an hourly rate and materials and P&O (profit & overhead) markup for everything, but it’s cleaner and makes more sense to charge $3k and have that cover the rest. And 8-10 hours at the wedding? Most photographers, in fact all, I know spend at least 8-10+ hours at the majority of their events. You know how you see pictures of brides getting ready? 2-3 hours at the start of the day. People arriving at the ceremony? 1 hour. Ceremony? 1/2-1 hour. Reception? 2-3+ hours. Morning prep? Evening take down? I know you expect those to be “free” time…would you expect your plumber to do their post-work cleanup at your house free just because they weren’t doing the actual JOB the entire time?

    You’re right. A lot of this is tax deductible. But you know how deductions work. If I spend $1k in deductions do I save $1k on taxes? No. I save ~$250 on taxes or so. So I still spent $750. SS & Medicare are not effected by deduction as I recall either and a small business owner pays those. But sorry Eco, if she manages to spend $40k in deductions then you’re right. She pays no Federal Income tax. She also has no money left over to feed herself. Such a deal!

    The prices after where she mentions her 20+ hours editing? I disagree with some but not all. And gear is not just a startup cost. Do you want someone using 5 year old gear? No? Then you best hope they’re setting aside money to upgrade.

    Lastly…”Your client certainly should not be paying for [your rent]”?! Wait…what? Do you expect your salary from your job to pay your rent? You have this implication that photography should just be a hobby and something else should be paying all the bills. But you expect excellent work and consistency and reliability from your photographer…hmm.

  • tempo36

    I suspect though that you’re still going to argue that the price should be lower, so let’s make this very simple. 

    I can install a toilet. So can a professional plumber. Why should he get to charge $100+ per hour? 

    I can build a fence. So can a carpenter. Why should he get to charge so much more? 

    I, and you, can most likely paint your house, design a website, cook dinner, clean our houses, make artwork, etc. 

    I take photos. So does your uncle. Why should you pay me more? 

    The answer to all of these questions, in some shape or form for all of them, is that the professionals charge more and they charge more for a reason. They charge more because they have to make their livelihood from their fees. All these professionals pay their rent, their utilities, their retirement savings, their day-to-day expenses, etc with their fee. By your logic it seems like I should expect all of these people to be doing these jobs for cheaper because, heck, if I can do it too then this is just some hobby of theirs. Why should they charge so much and expect me to pay part of their living wage? Surely I, and anyone else, can do the same job for much cheaper. And yet…

    When the plumber busts the new toilet you bought? When it leaks? You’re covered. When your carpenter accidentally drills through your wiring? When they use the wrong materials and the fence sags? You’re covered. When your painter breaks your window? The color is different than what you approved? You’re covered. Etc. 

    When your uncle’s photos of your wedding look like crap because he had the settings wrong? Bummer. When your $400 photographer loses your photos in a hard drive crash? Bummer. When his camera breaks half way through the day? Tough. When he damages anything? Personal insurance SPECIFICALLY exempts claims made in the course of business. Ouch. 

  • tempo36

    Matthew, for 1000 photos that’s 1.5 minutes per photo. That includes color adjustment, white balance, cropping, retouching, back up, delivery, etc. 

    I’m sure that you expect that we can just drop the photos off at Walmart when we’re done shooting the wedding and call it good and I hope someday you get the experience of seeing how photos processed that way come out. :)

  • pro-bro

    very funny.. there was no reason to explain anything to that piggy bride.. she doesn’t want to pay – no problem, it is a free market, she can happily herself off  .. professionals should not waste time on human scum ..

  • Guest

    The Secret Life of Wedding Photographers – What Wedding Photographers REALLY Do…

  • Jonathan Tercero


  • Sheri

    You get what you pay for.  Deal with it or get a cheaper photographer if you can’t tell the difference in quality vs. low price or can’t afford it.

  • QBOT

    Picasso was in a park when a woman approached him and asked him to draw a portrait of her.
    Picasso agreed and quickly sketches her.

    After handing the sketch to her, she is pleased with the likeness and asks how much she owed to him.

    Picasso replies: “$5,000.”

    The woman screamed, “But it took you only five minutes.”

    “No, madam, it took me all my life” replied Picasso.

  • Paul Abruzzo

    The problem is that with the advent of digital cameras most people believe that they are photographers.  These are people that didn’t have the discipline or talent to learn how to do it right when it was film.  

    Now everyone with a few grand thinks they’re a photog.  No schooling, no apprentice.  They just buy some lenses and hang out a shingle.  It’s really sad.  As someone who’s been shooting for a long time, people have no one but themselves to blame for this.  When everyone decided to buy a Canon with their expendable cash and become a photographer what did you think would happen?  

    First there’s a glut of photographers.  Everyone shoots weddings on weekends now. Especially since photography has been made so easy with technology that a monkey could shoot a photo and everyone does it, how do you expect a bride to respect you?  She probably has two uncles with the same equipment as you and can photoshop just as good as you do, so why would you expect her to pay for it?

    Also – shooting and editing 1000 photos?  Here’s a hint, get it right when you shoot.  Just spraying and praying and then trying to edit it all into something later on is just sad and a time waster.  I always get a kick of how all the johnny-come-latelys seem to be amazed that what comes straight off my film negatives still looks better than anything they can photoshop after the fact.  

    Have some respect for yourself and the profession and then maybe you can demand the bride have some respect for you. 

  • Pickle

    Uh, the bride is right – you charge someone an entire month’s salary for one’s two days of work max. You talk about being a small business owner, but most business owners work more than one or two weeks’a’month, and definitely not a whole year (unless getting married in the dead of winter is suddenly the new craze… which it’s not). My best friend of more than a decade is a wedding photographer (who actually charges more than you do, ironically), so I am very familiar with the work that goes into shooting one wedding. He generally does 3-5 weddings per month during the busy seasons, and STILL has time to work a full time job and do freelance work for the regional newspaper near him. Maybe you wouldn’t need to charge impoverished people so much if you were willing to work full time like the rest of the country. Must be nice up there on your high horse, working 6-7 months out of the year…

  • Gene

    I’m a photographer. I drive a 911. I think it’s worth it. But if you don’t, you can drive a NEON. 

    If you can’t see the difference in my work— DON’T BUY IT.

    If you CAN see the difference we’ll agree it’s PRICELESS!

  • dallas756

    This made me laugh so hard. You busted us Mr. Pickle – that’s right, we only work 1-2 weeks per month and the rest of the month I spend in Bora Bora or driving around town in my Porche laughing at all you “impoverished people”. Darn, I guess it was only a matter of time before someone figured out our secret. Talk about complete denial.

  • dallas756

    exactly – thank you for someone with some common sense

  • Darren Anthony

    Try taking a photo of a group of people and get them all to keep their eyes open and look directly at the camera and smile AT THE SAME TIME. If you take just one shot, good luck getting that one to be perfect. That is why you need to take multiple photos of the same pose. I once took over twenty frames of the same grouping and I only had one photo where they were all looking at the camera perfectly.

  • Jessica HB Clifford

    It’s very simple. As with everything, there are cheap, good and very good. If you think 3K is too much, find a cheaper 1. No one is forcing you to use an expensive photographer. Personally, when we got married, funds were low ish so we did cheap and cheerful on a lot fo stuff but not our photographer. He took amazing pictures, spent hours with us and was well worth the money. We will always have the beautiful pictures. What’s the point of a wedding dress that costs 5/10/15 K to sit in a wardrobe???? I’d rather have the photos to look at and display proudly in my home. These people who do weddings be it photos, cakes, flowers whatever, they know what they doing. They spend years getting it right so on your wedding day everything is perfect. 

  • Gary Fairfield


    why not just rent a camera and a couple of lenses and have your brother in law shoot your wedding? Why? Because what the op forgot to mention is their countless hours of education and experience. Its a common misconception that the camera does all the work…….. You can buy the best tools available and still not be able to build your home without the knowledge.
    If your happy with poorly lit or composed / edited photos for your wedding then go for it. I on the other hand would sacrifice the expensive napkins and champagne in order to have those special memories frozen in time for eternity. 
    A good photographer is an artist and knows how to “paint with light”. If you can’t tell the difference between a beautiful photo and a snapshot then I say go the brother in law route. Oh,  and hope that all of the family and friends that view the images down through the years don’t knowl the difference either.
    One more thing I would like to add. Any wedding photo is better than no photo at all. There isn’t a pro photographer alive that would fault you for that if that’s all you can afford. Just don’t blame the pro photo because you can’t afford their professional services……

  • Mark C

    You are an idiot.  Go collect your paycheck from your employer.  Talk to us when you own a successful business

  • Isaeo7

    Ok. well, I guess if you want quality get a great Artist Photographer. Somebody that will picture the best moments of your life with passion an dedication that know how to do it and use professional software, professional equipment (witch is very expensive) and pay what for quality. If not find the bride from the Craig list post, I’m sure she took a great curse of photography (“how to click my own wedding”) with the best “point and shoot” camera. If you want to go cheap do not hire a professional but ask all your friends to do it with disposable cameras. 

  • Jake

    *Self-employed business tax on a $50,000 income… -$6,141

    *Rent expenses which only people in the photography industry pay… $0

    *Transportation costs which only people in the photography industry pay… +$1,240 (assuming a modest 50 mile round-trip commute at 25 mpg and $4/gallon)

    *Equipment insurance… -$500

    *On-line fees… -$720

    *Advertising fees… -$1,000

    *Health insurance fees which only photographers pay… $0

    *Assistant pay… -$4,000

    *New shoes (because the old ones are dirty) which only photographers have to pay… $0

    *(overpriced) internet, mobile, and landline services which only photographers have to pay… $0

    *Lawyer and accountant for a self-employed person… -$500

    Total yearly expenses: $11,621
    Gross income: $38,379 or about $3,200/month… for doing less than 2 events on average.

    Getting called out about charging and arm and a leg despite having the the easiest profession on earth and the fact you only pay your assistant $200 per event…


    Photographers are charging more than they should, why? It’s not inflation… if that was the case the same service would cost $1,425 in 1990 but instead it cost about $400-800. That was before everything was digital, there were no negatives to pay for, the editing is digital, all the production costs to do is electricity.

    So what gives? I guess they just decided to charge more. As if collectively, they decided that having the easiest job in the world didn’t change the fact they wanted to get paid like someone who does a 40+ hour work week under someone else’s direction.
    My theory is that 9/11 and the war in the middle east has ignited the liberal sense of indignation. It was there before but never before have people felt such an opportunity to manipulate like something that has no effect on them whatsoever into justification for their individual desires.

  • Gustav

    “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”

    Good God, the arrogance. You used a LOT of fill-in nonsense to push the expenses. I don’t buy it, sorry. Very few albums I have seen (not among the top 100 or 1000 wedding photographers  worldwide) justify $3000. And then they still mess up.

    I’m with the bride here.

  • Matt D Milkman

    I have to say I find her argument incredibly pretentious. She whines about the price of living, and the price of her equipment for the most part. That’s not the issue of the consumer. She’s making the argument of those costs on the premise that she’s a business woman. 

    A) If you’re years in and still charging for the cost of equipment that you bought awhile ago, that’s an inflated charge, one that should be covered before you consider yourself a ‘professional’ 

    B) We all have living expenses, and most people have computers, and disks floating around and clearly she’s not bargain hunting (I mean using a mac and bitch about the price, wtf?) Also I understand the money you make goes into paying off your car ect, but those are living expenses. 

    C) She’s putting a high cost into archival, which is odd, that should be an additional charge, should the customer not want to archive themselves, but they do. 

    D) She puts a lot of emphasis on outreach. Yet in this article in arguing her price to someone that is baffled by the cost of a ‘professional’ she does nothing to say anything beyond the fact that she takes some shots and then goes and edits them. 
    While I appreciate the idea of a trained eye, but with 12,000-ish in high tech camera tech I bet even I, the worst photographer I know could take a few decent shots. Much less if friends and family were told to bring a camera, and take a few shots each, I bet you wouldn’t have as many ‘quality’ shots, but the memories they call back would be stronger, isn’t that the point? All her argument did for me was question the very nature of the profession in the face of today’s technology. I’m sure there’s great arguments to be made, but she failed to do so. 

    E) She has a 4 month season, which she gets 20 weddings based on her article, then side jobs. That’s pretty packed, for four months. But then there’s the other 8 months of the year. It sounds like she needs to get a part time job, some winter seasonal work? Look for off season weddings? No wonder she’s in the red, if I worked primarily for 4 months than sat around fretting finances I’d have a hard time calling that ‘a living’ Plus if you’re charging 3,000 for a weeks worth of work (note I’m including time for editing here) for a non-corporate charge I have trouble calling to mind anything that would come close, that can so easily be replaced by some high level tech. 

    F) I’ve kind of said this but I want to make it clear, as a customer when I’m paying for service, for while I’m with you. I am not doing a charity, I am not consider about your annual finances, your prep charges and the like. I am worried about my costs. In this case I consider a wedding already has enormous cost, and for 50 bucks on disposable cameras, prodding a few friends with fancy cameras (come on everyone has a few of those friends) and just encouraging the rest to pull out their phones and snap a few shots, i could get good photos. I’d have to jump to 3,000 to get great shots? 

    The argument lies in proving your worth, not that you have a number of expenses, because we all have expenses.

  • Experienced
  • Experienced
  • Jessica Jet Jones

    she makes a good point. The point is, you get what you pay for. You are “supposed” to get married once..hopefully. So you should prefer a great photographer to capture your special day.
    I have seen crappy photographers and people be sick that their entire wedding was ruined because of bad photographers. I actually had to do a second updo and makeup application AND take new photos of my clients because she went cheap and got a crappy photographer…in the end, she paid the same amount of money by having to pay ME to fix her up and do it a second time, just because she went cheap. It was also sad that her actual wedding day has no captured moments because of it…she will never get that back.
    It comes back to bite you in the end…two major priorities at any wedding is good makeup and good photography…there is so much stuff most people waste ridiculous amounts of money on…there are so many ways to be creative about that stuff so that you CAN spend the few extra bucks on the above and put your focus on feeling and looking your best on your wedding day. It is an expensive job and people love trying to get freebies out of freelance artists. I know because I am a makeup artist. And for us, it’s even worse.  I do a ton of free work and “help people out” all of the time…but anyone who is a small business owner or freelance artist would never question that.

    And for the few who said comments such as “why don’t you get another job”, etc…first of all(I am sure many people with passion would agree), I would rather be poor and be a freelance artist than sit in a cubicle like a robot again. I would never want to feel the lack of freedom I felt when working for corporate offices and punching clocks. All this girl is doing is giving you a general breakdown(even if slightly off) to prove the point that equipment, time, etc costs MONEY…period.
    Acknowledge that and understand that there is reason behind it.


  • Sean Walsh

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I’m a Toronto-area photographer, and our company charges ~$3,000 for a wedding, and some couples (it’s not always just the bride) that don’t understand the cost of this business. My colleague and I will probably link to this article from our blog, just to help educate people on why our prices are what they are.

    Thanks again!

  • Ray Sotkiewicz

    I think this bride just guaranteed that no self-respecting photographer will accept the job if they have to deal with that…

  • Plaken

    I agree with the basic sentiment of the article.

    However, one comment: does the equipment have to be so expensive, cameras, computers, etc? Breaking the tradition and norm with mirrorless micro 4/3rds might end up saving lot of cost. Same goes for cheaper alternatives to Adobe products. More often than not we buy expensive equipment just to appear “pro”. Not necessary really.

  • Jennifer

    It sounds like they hired a GWC. Not all weddings hire professional photographers and if they do and are on a budget. It is possible they hired a photographer for cheap and got what they paid for.

  • LyAnne

    I do not really appreciate the judging of one profession based on miscalculations of one individual. I am currently going to school for photography after graduating with a double major in Accounting and Economics. Yes, that means I wanted a third degree with the Accounting and Economics as a fall back job wise if Photography did not pan out. Because of the cost of maintenance on the equipment, the small props which need to be purchased here or there, the new equipment which has to be purchased if they want something specific in their shoot, the multiple hours of making sure every inch of the picture is profit worthy, I do understand where the main poster is coming from.
    To make a comment on someones math skills; however, because of one or two mistakes and to label a full profession because of one person seems a little immature, wouldn’t you say?

  • Michelle Rivas-Staggs

    i dont understand why i as the client should care what your personal bills are? you were supposed to explain exactly what the 3,000 paid for and i saw how much your equipment costs which one job doesnt pay for and how much your living expenses are which also arent what im paying for… you didnt convince me that paying 3,000 is a fair price u just convinced me that you work at a job that doesnt cover your bills which isnt my problem its yours but since you want and have to pay for certain things i have to pay an outrageous amount for a photographer? If your job isnt paying the bills get a different jobs dont rip off clients because your rent and car insurance and phone bill are due

  • kk

    Fortunately, not all of them shoot that cookie cutter crud.

  • Tom

    Sometimes, someone in the wedding party decides that *these* are the poses we want…all lined up in a neat little row. Sure, it’s up to a good photographer to persuade them otherwise, but that’s not always possible. The guests get better pix in that case because they took candid shots and not the demanded staged shots. (That’s certainly not always the case, but some brides, bride’s mother, etc. are very stubborn and think they know best.)

  • 2 cents

    The problem is that a lot of wedding photographers suck and expect to be paid top dollar for it… i.e. never used a flash before boring composition and don’t know the first thing about lighting

  • Jason Heilig

    Sorry Jake. You’re wrong.

    7K was the final amount made excluding yearly, not monthly, expenses. Moving income to a yearly model would keep the expenses at the same level they are currently… with a slight argument being valid for various things such as advertising and shoes.

    The biggest ticket items were given as a yearly CODB.

    I actually agree with the argument made as to why photographers need to charge what they do, but your point is factually incorrect.