Why is wedding photography so expensive?

Weddings are expensive and it can be really stressful to plan one (ESPECIALLY if you’re on a tight budget!). We all get the dreaded “sticker shock” when we see how much everything for a wedding costs. So we have to sit and make some important decisions. There are sooo many different vendors to pay and we want to make sure we’re putting our hard-earned money into things that are meaningful to us.

So we set up a budget as we begin planning our wedding and we send out inquiries to vendors only to hear back and realize that they are all WAY more expensive than what we had budgeted for. Wedding photography prices, for example, can range from $1,000 to over $10,000! WHAT!? For just a few hours taking photos!? Can’t I just have my Uncle Bob take photos!? HA! But in all seriousness… Why is wedding photography so expensive!?

There are a few reasons, and the biggest one is this – There is a LOT more that goes into wedding photography than just a photographer turning up on your wedding day and taking photos. In fact, what many people forget is that a wedding photographer’s job doesn’t end as soon as the wedding does. After all of those hours photographing your wedding (photographers spend anywhere between six to eighteen continuous hours capturing wedding days!), they’ll usually spend countless hours working “behind the scenes” editing your photos to make them as amazing as possible before they deliver your final gallery of images. In fact, some photographers spend over 40 hours (!) processing images (i.e. doing things like correcting exposure, adjusting colors, removing blemishes, and even whitening teeth!).  Then, they have to design your album (if you purchased one) and spend hours corresponding with you until it’s just right. And on top of all the manual labor, there are also fixed costs, such as equipment, insurance, travel, marketing and business expenses, education, etc., that photographers generally factor into their pricing.

So if a photographer is charging you $1,000 to cover 8 hours on your wedding day (which really becomes 9-10 hours because photographers will generally arrive before and stay longer than the contracted time), they’ll probably be making no more than $20/hour if they’re spending 40 hours editing your photos (not counting any time they’re spending on your album design!). So honesty hour right now… Many photographers end up not making a lot of money. Even when they charge seemingly “exorbitant” prices. The truth is, a great wedding photographer invests a lot of money and time into providing their couples a great experience. And they provide an invaluable service and beautiful images that, at the end of the day, are actually priceless.

And now, another question I’ve heard regarding photography prices… Why do some photographers charge so much more for their services? Why do people pay up to $10,000 for a photographer!? Well, there are also a few reasons for this, and I list the two biggest ones below.

  1. The photographer’s experience and skill set – It goes without saying that someone with more experience will generally charge more. Top photographers who have been shooting for years and have a track record of successfully delivering beautiful and consistent imagery will generally charge top dollar (and they’ll increase their prices over time!). It’s simply supply and demand at work.
  2. The offerings in their packages – Most wedding photographers charge a base amount for a set number of coverage hours, and adding certain “perks” or “extras” will increase the price that you pay. So basically, more offerings = more value = higher price. If you get a more sophisticated package that includes things such as extra coverage hours, an engagement session, albums, prints, and a second/third photographer, you’ll be charged a little more. So if you’re hiring an experienced photographer who has a higher “base” price because they have more experience and then you add a ton “extras”, you can expect to pay closer to the $10,000 end of the range.


Final thoughts: When it comes to planning the budget for your wedding, my best piece of advice is to sit down with your future spouse and decide what you want for your wedding day and what you can save for in the amount of time you have before your big day. That’ll help you decide in what you want to spend your wedding day money. Wedding photography is expensive (and for a reason!). Find a photographer that fits that budget (even if this means going with a less experienced photographer or skipping some of those “extras”). But if you can, splurge on it! And don’t forget to make sure that your photographer is going to be able to deliver exactly the kind of images and experience that you’re hoping for. Wedding photography is an investment and, at the end of the day, your wedding photographs are the only thing that will remain after your wedding day.

Are you interested in having me capture your wedding day? My Wedding Collections begin at $2,500 and include six or more hours of wedding day coverage, unlimited high-resolution, edited digital images displayed in an online gallery, and a complimentary engagement session. I’d be happy to work something out with you that’ll fit within your budget! To get on my calendar right away, you can contact me by emailing me directly at, or by using my website contact form, which goes straight to my inbox!

  1. Isabel Padilla

    January 22nd, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Many people think that the photos are taken and that is all the photographer does. No one remembers the hard work the photographer has to do in order to deliver beautiful photos.


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