Most couples after they get engaged and start the planning process, make a few big decisions first. Usually the first is the venue, and often times one of the next decisions is which wedding photographer to hire. Though this isn’t always the next decision, I have found that hiring a wedding photographer is usually pretty early on the decision making for planning a wedding. Today I’m going to talk about the cost of an invaluable wedding photographer.
The wedding planning process is usually a learning process for most couples, as this may be their first wedding. There’s a lot to understand when it comes to the budget, costs of each vendor, planning, and more. This is definitely where wedding planners shine, they help you to understand the costs of a lot of these things and definitely help to take the stress away from planning a wedding. I would totally recommend reaching out to a wedding planner to understand the pricing and costs for other vendors, venues, and for help in the planning process. I am just going to speak to what I know best in this blog post, pricing for wedding photographers.
My goal with this particular blog post is to help couples unfamiliar with the wedding planning process to understand what goes behind the pricing for a wedding photographer. I can totally understand when you start the planning process, see the numbers that wedding photographers quote, and wonder where these numbers come from. You may wonder why there are also such differences within one particular location market as well. So I’m going to break down a lot of the reasoning behind the pricing, and why when you are choosing a wedding photographer to think of it as an investment in capturing these beautiful memories for years to come.
I will go into a lot of the factors in wedding photographer pricing including:
Time (and time invested in each couple)
Taxes and the cost of doing business
The first, and what I consider one of the most valuable things that you are paying for in a wedding photographer is experience.
A wedding photographer with several years and many weddings under their belt has experience in dealing with all sorts of situations. They have dealt with capturing images in all sorts of weather from several years of doing this, especially wedding photographers in New England, because chances are they really have captured wedding in every kind of weather. They have dealt with different family dynamics and how to handle those situations with family portraits. They know what times of day are best for photos outside, when the “golden hour” will be, and how to deal with different lighting situations. They will know how to work in coordination with other vendors to successfully achieve the best day for everyone involved. They generally know how long different kinds of photos will take, and can recommend the best times for doing these throughout the day. In general, the experience that seasoned wedding photographers have is invaluable, because that will allow them to capture the day beautifully no matter what the day throws at them. The experiences of years of wedding photography has made us amazing problem solvers, the kind that will take away a lot of the stress of a wedding day, to just make it a super fun, memorable, beautiful day.
2) Time (and time invested in each couple)
For most wedding photographers, a lot of time goes into the relationship that they have with each couple that they work with.
Here’s a breakdown of time that I invest with each of my couples:
1) Meetings: 3-6 hours
I generally do a call with a couple first, then an in-person meeting, and sometimes a planning meeting leading up to the wedding day. There are also occasions when the couple meets with me to do a final walkthrough of their venue before the wedding day as well.
2) Emails: 5-8 hours
I strive to reply back to emails within 24-48 hours. Throughout the planning process there are lots of emails sent back and forth, sometimes requiring research on my part or planning before replying.
3) Engagement session: 1-3 hours
I generally include an engagement session in quite a few packages because I know this helps my couple feel more comfortable in front of the camera. This also helps us get to know each other before the big day as well.
4) Other planning: 2-5 hours
Leading up to the wedding day, I am creating questionnaires for my couples to fill out. This helps them to figure out details while planning and helps me to ultimately put together a photography timeline for their wedding day. This involves reading through responses, and then spending time creating a timeline based off of said responses. Every wedding and every wedding photography timeline is different, so I cater each to each couple.
5) Wedding day photography: 7-9 hours
This one is the obvious one, I will be there all day on your wedding day capturing photos for the whole day.
6) Editing: 16-40 hours
There is a big range with this one because it depends on a) how many hours of photography there were in the client’s package b) if they had a second photographer included, and c) if they are creating an album. If there is an album involved, that requires more time to edit, and lay out an album.
7) Driving/Travel: 3-8 hours
I spend time driving to and from the getting ready location, ceremony, and reception location. I will often also drive to the ceremony and reception site for location scouting before the wedding day as well.
3. Taxes (and the cost of doing business)
One of the things that I think a lot of people don’t know about is with having your own business, you essentially pay double in taxes. When you work for an employer, the employer pays taxes on the business, but you only pay taxes for yourself. So in general, any income that photographers have, about 30% immediately goes towards taxes on that income.
Example: If you invest in a $4,000 wedding photography package from a photographer, $1,200 immediately is taken out for taxes.
In addition to the normal taxes that photographers pay, when we create pricing for wedding photography packages it will include what is called our “cost of doing business.” What this means is anything that anything that is a cost that we incur to run our business we have to account for. If there is an album included in your package, I pay for the cost of the album. If there is a second photographer included in the package, I have to account for the cost of paying said photographer. In addition to word of mouth referrals, I also pay for marketing to attract new clients just like you. I pay for my photography equipment, insurance, etc. There are a lot of costs for running a successful business, and part of what you are paying for is just that.
Example: For the online galleries I provide for clients, I have to pay $288/ year. My photography editing software called Lightroom is $11/month.
In conclusion, just know that when you are investing in a wedding photographer, you are investing in so much more than a number. When you invest in your wedding photography, you are investing in the experience the photographer has gained up until now, the time that they are spending on you in the whole process, and the taxes as well as cost of doing business. The cost of an invaluable wedding photographer truly is priceless, because when you invest in a great wedding photographer you know you will have beautiful images for years and years to come.