How much is Wedding Photography?
How much is good Wedding Photography?
Did they all really spend that much for Wedding Photography?
I'm thinking you're reading this page because you've asked one or more of the above questions about hiring a wedding photographer. Just take a peek on the internet and do a search for "wedding photographer". You will find a plethora of people with photographic equipment peddling their pictures :). The instant communication of today via Internet, Social Media and Cell Phones/ Texting, not to mention Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and the dozens of other sites make it easy for anyone to "get noticed" in the Wedding Photography Industry. Easy doesn't mean good though. Back in the day, you had to make a significant investment to get your name out there. Most didn't even attempt it until their work was "ready for prime time". Today? For some reason people think being a Wedding Photographer is easy, they think it's quick money for doing very little work. I'm still trying to figure out the quick, easy money part, but I can understand the appeal to want to be a Wedding Photographer. After all, I've been one most of my life. Wedding Photography is one of those businesses that the better you are at doing it, the easier you make it look to spectators. This, I think, gives rise to the, "Hey, how hard can that be? Look, he's just taking pictures, I can do that.", type of mentality. This leads to lots of people who think they can do it better.... trying to cash in.
The Raw Truth is this: Every Wedding Photographer and every Wedding Photography Package is different. Just like every Bride and Groom and Wedding is different. In the Tampa Bay Area, the real average spent for Wedding Photography in 2016 was $2950 with albums and Engagement Sessions. A bit lower without those, at about $2100. Feel better yet? No, you don't have to spent $5000 or more for a GOOD, Professional Wedding Photographer in Tampa Bay. After all, why should you? 85% of the rest of the brides didn't.
I've been a member of several Professional Organizations over the years. I've also taught many, many seminars and workshops for Professional Photographers. I've also been subjected to other's opinions on how we should all run our businesses. It's amazing what people will tell you about how you should do things without having a clue about your situation, your business, or your personal and professional goals. Without discrediting other Professional Wedding Photographers and the Organizations that seem to spring up around them too much, I'll just say that if you ever hear someone say, "I charge the standard rates for Wedding Photography", they're full of crap. There is no such thing. We live in a free market economy, aka. Capitalism. This means people charge what they charge. Plain and simple. They have that right to do as they wish. Everyone makes their Wedding Package Prices the way they want to.
Yeah, I know, this is beginning to get pretty wordy. Sorry for that, but there's a good amount of information I want to dispense here.
Some things I've heard in reference to how much you should spend for Wedding Photography:
- You get what you pay for. While to some extent this may be true, you don't need to pay the equivalent of a down payment on a house for good wedding photography. It's been my experience that most of the real artists out there who really care about what they do aren't charging the highest fees. They make a good living, sure, but they don't milk each and every customer. Instead, they "spread the wealth", and photograph many weddings per year, building a good customer base and securing their reputation further. If they charged high fees, they'd shoot less of the things they love, and probably not be as happy doing what they do for a living.
- NEVER hire anyone you found on Craigslist. This one confounds me. I had absolutely no idea Craigslist was evil. I mean, it must be, right? All they have is scammers on there. Puh-lease! Craigslist is a Marketing Medium. Nothing more. Finding a photographer there is no more or less likely to get you scammed than finding them on Facebook or Google. Besides, you do research ANYONE you are considering hiring, don't you?
- "The average bride spends $4,000 for Wedding Photography". I see this statement every so often. I find it very difficult to believe. I think it's something people in the Wedding Photography Industry like to say to convince brides to spend more. In my own research, I found that less than 5% of the brides in the Tampa Bay Area spent over $4,000 for their Wedding Photography in recent years. I think I know how these Blogs and Magazines get their average number. There was a survey sent around by a prominent Wedding Blog to photographers, asking what their average Wedding Photography Package Price was. Now, that's not what people spent, that's what that Photographer puts on paper, or wants to charge, or it's their highest Wedding Photography Package, or... well, you get the idea, it's basically a made up number from the get-go, so how reliable can it be? Don't fall for it!
- If you want to save money, hire a student or have a friend with a "nice camera" take the shots for you. PLEASE, PLEASE, unless you have absolutely no budget for Wedding Photography, avoid this. Wedding Photographers, well, good ones, evolve over time. You can't just have a nice camera, or have a few photography lessons under your belt and go out and shoot amazing wedding photos. It's so much more than that. It's about having sort of a 6th sense about events about to happen, being able to get people to do things you want them to do, and thank you for it. It's about working with people on the most stressful, hectic, chaotic day of their lives and have them love you when it's all over. Sorry, they don't teach that in Photography School and it doesn't come in the manual of that shiny new camera your friend has. It's learned from years of experience, there's just no substitute. Besides, we start at $1500 for Wedding Packages, and that comes with 2 photographers for 6 hours, and all your images with reprint rights.
- Wedding Photographers all charge too much. They make a fortune for working only one day a week. Now, I know most of you know this just isn't true. Most Wedding Photographers I know are trying hard to pay their bills just like the rest of the world. Sure, there are exceptions, there are in ANY business. As for one day a week of work? Wow.... I wish. A typical week is 6 days for me, sometimes 7, and my day normally doesn't end at 5 or 6 PM. Most customers work days, so we do appointments, and engagement, bridal, romance and other sessions in the evenings. What do we do the rest of the time? We edit, collate, process, file and backup your images, meet new clients, answer that email you sent at 10 PM, and write on Facebook, Twitter and our Blog about how awesome you are to work with.
Soooo.... how much should you spend for Wedding Photography? There's no tried and true answer for that. But, I assure you, do your homework. Spend a little time looking around on the internet. Look at some websites. Get a feel for the photographers in your area. Then.... once you know what you want, find the photographer that fits, artistically and financially. If you look hard enough, you will find one. Do your research, use Google, search the photographer's name, company, etc. There is a Wedding Photographer for everyone, but, if you want hard numbers? I'd say you will be hard pressed to find a true Artistic Professional Wedding Photographer offering their services under $1,000, but, that's just my opinion and that's based on shooting a whole wedding, or, at least most of it.