Why Wedding Photography Costs So Much by Sarah Canning

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Natural light fan, blush lover, never not dreaming of Mexican food, join me as I share my favorite moments and details from the engagements and weddings I capture in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and beyond. P.S: Exploring blogs is better with a margarita!


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Why Wedding Photography Costs So Much

Aug 17, 2022

If you’re reading this, it could possibly mean that you are in the beginning stages of wedding planning. Woohoo! This is such an exciting time. However, you’ve probably come to realize that things are slowly but surely adding up. You’re at the point where you are looking at wedding venues, wedding attire, and vendors. If you’re considering working with a wedding photographer, you’ve probably stumbled upon some wide ranges of pricing. A question that has probably crossed your mind once or twice is “why wedding photography costs so much?”. I mean it’s just snapping a camera and boom you’re done, right? WRONG.

There is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to why wedding photographers charge what they do. While there is a multitude of reasons why some wedding photographers charge what they charge, I’m here to give you a detailed breakdown. Below are some of the real reasons why wedding photography costs what it does.

Why Wedding Photography Costs So Much

You may wonder what exactly is included in your wedding packages to make it cost what it does. Your wedding photos are more than just snapshots of a moment in time. Your wedding photos are heirlooms to pass down for generations. A way to look back and remember how every moment felt. It’s not just about snapping a photo on a phone and calling it a day. It’s about the entire experience from start to finish! However, that still begs the question as to why wedding photography costs so much. Well, let me break it down for you…

Experience

First and foremost, experience. Your wedding photographer’s pricing should reflect how much experience they have. The more experience a wedding photographer has, means that they have photographed a great number of weddings/engagements and have developed their own systems and processes. They are much more likely to have an established clientele, provide a cohesive and consistent experience, and provide a level of expertise that is 100% worth the higher price tag. Newer wedding photographers are more likely to charge less in the beginning as they are still learning and building up their portfolio and clients. Always use your best judgment when it comes to this and always ask! Ask your potential wedding photographer how long they’ve been in the industry. Also ask what kind of experience they have photographing weddings!

Keep in mind that just because someone is “newer” in the industry, that does not mean they are not qualified to take your wedding photos. There are plenty of talented beginner photographers out there, it all depends on what you feel comfortable in investing and with who.

Time

Time is one of the biggest reasons that wedding photographers charge a pretty penny for their services. It’s so precious and is the one of the many things that we can’t get back. Wedding photographers dedicate so much of their time helping their couples. Not just the day of their wedding, but the months (and even years) leading up to the actual wedding day. This includes:

Client Meetings

From the moment you inquire to your actual wedding day, wedding photographers will set up client meetings as “check-ins” for their couples. These meetings can be from discussing wedding timelines to answering any questions that clients have to planning their engagement session. These meetings are basically to help our couples along the way! We understand wedding planning can be stressful and overwhelming and we don’t want you to go through this alone.

Pre-Wedding Day Prep

Not only are wedding photographers constantly meeting with their couples, but we’re also prepping for the actual wedding day. This can include building out your wedding timeline and location scouting so you get the perfect photos on your special day. It also means coordinating with other vendors to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Dedicating time out of our schedule is something that we wedding photographers LOVE to do, but of course, does take time, dedication, and passion for our craft.

Pre-wedding day prep can also include sending emails & questionnaires, client guides on what to wear for their engagement session, wedding prep guides, and actually coordinating a time to shoot your engagement session. While not as long as the wedding day, couples who choose to have an engagement session with their wedding photographer means you need to carve out time to schedule that as well.

The Actual Wedding Day

So, aside from all of the pre-wedding day prep, then comes the actual wedding day. Depending on what type of package you have chosen, your wedding photographer is out there shooting your wedding from anywhere between 6-12 hours. We’re not just photographing your wedding day, but we are also the helping hand throughout the day. We’re helping you fix that stray hair, making sure we’re staying on time with our pre-planned timeline and wrangling up the kiddos for family portraits. We also have to think on the spot and be able to improvise just in case something goes wrong, we’re running late or there is a turn in events with the weather. Your wedding day is special and we make sure that you know that this day is all about you.

Editing

Now that your wedding day is over and you’re soaking in that newlywed bliss, we’ll be editing away your precious day. We’ve now uploaded thousands of photos (sometimes even between 5,000-6,000 images) and have to narrow down to only the best of the best. This process can take hours to do! The last thing you want is half of your wedding photos to have guests with their eyes closed or hair in their faces.

After going through those images, we edit each one to perfection. This time frame can be different depending on who you decide to work with. Some wedding galleries take up to 8 weeks to complete, depending on how intense of an edit your wedding photographer needs to make. This can also depend if your wedding photographer needs to do any slight photoshopping as well! When your wedding photographer takes the time to edit, it’s with purpose. We want you to love your wedding photos just as much if not more than we do.

Education

A good wedding photographer will always invest in education. Learning, growing and improving is the key to owning a successful business and any business owner will tell you that. In order to further learn and perfect our craft, investing in educational programs and events is so important. Many wedding photographers will invest in courses, workshops, styled shoots and content days. All of these are educational resources for photographers to build their portfolio, express their creativity and further perfect their craft.

Software & Programs

We also need to invest in specific software and programs in order to run our business. That secure online link you receive in order to get your wedding photos? A program that your wedding photographer invests in. That software we use in order to edit your wedding photos? Yeah, that costs $$ too. How about all of those emails going back and forth and keeping track of expenses? That is how they keep the business running! Everything that your wedding photographer invests in costs money, but is used to help keep their business running and running smooth!

Photography Gear

Wedding photographers also invest a ton of money in their gear. The only way they can get those beautiful photos you love so much, is also in part to the kind of gear they use. This can include items like their: camera, flash, camera straps, camera bags, external lighting, harness, SD cards, external hard drives, backup cameras etc. Photography gear is not cheap, but let me tell you that the results are 100% worth it.

So for an outsider looking in you can easily see the dollar signs and think “wow, wedding photography costs so much money”, because it does. Wedding photography costs a pretty penny, but it isn’t done so without reason. Wedding photographers take so much pride in capturing your special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. We don’t take it lightly! As a wedding photographer, I absolutely LOVE my job. I’m so grateful for each couple I have and will photograph. I seriously wouldn’t trade it for the world. So before you look at some prices and begin rolling your eyes wondering why wedding photography costs so much, remember this. Wedding photography is more than just snapping a photo. It’s more than just the camera doing all the work. It’s for the labor, experience, talent, gear, and dedication of the wedding photographer to make memories for you to look back on for a lifetime.

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@sarahcanningphoto

Mexican food connoisseur. Most likely to quote F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Philadelphia wedding and engagement photographer.
Follow along as I share all my favorite things and more on Instagram while capturing couples madly in love!    

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