Hi everyone. Good to have you back here. thanks for always sticking around. As a photographer, I have heard so many complaints about how expensive wedding photography is. So today, I’ll try to answer the question- Why is Wedding Photography expensive?
Well, let’s answer your question. You see, good wedding photography is a luxury service for a luxury occasion that commands luxury prices. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” As a photographer who regularly spends around 12 to 13 hours shooting at a wedding, the level of physical and mental exhaustion, I feel the next day is enormous. The hours I spend getting the images edited and displayed all add up. If you add preparation time in as well one wedding day soon turns into a couple of weeks of work.
As you can see there is a large amount of money spent on having the right equipment for the job, and also a large amount of time that goes into it all, but there is more to the job and capturing your perfect wedding day than just the camera and all the gadgets, these are just tools. There are skill and an art that has been developed, learned by the photographer over many years. You can give all the same equipment to someone who has little professional experience and they may take one or two nice shots, but a professional photographer with years of experience will take a whole album worth of stunning shots that tell a story. This is what you are paying for. Someone with years of experience, someone you can trust.
Wedding photography isn’t just a purchase, your wedding dress is a purchase, you tend to wear it once and that is all, your wedding flowers are a purchase, after a few days they shall wilt and its gone, however, your wedding photography is an investment. Your wedding photos are a story of your perfect day, they will capture the emotion of the day, your beautiful fresh flowers, your stunning white dress, your wedding album will hold all those memories and moments forever which you can share with friends, family, and grandchildren.
The price charged by wedding photographers can range hugely and many charges into the thousands for a full day of shooting, however, they are a necessary part of any wedding day. Wedding days are the most important day in many of our lives and the risk of not having the photos you dreamed of runs high unless you have professional taking care of it. Not only do wedding photographers take staged photographs of the wedding party and guests, but many also offer a full day of shooting which involves everything from photographs of the bridal makeup and hair being done right until the last person leaves the wedding reception. Furthermore, photographers’ work is not done when the day is over as they then have the responsibility of choosing the best quality photos and making any edits to those that need it.
With such pressure on professionals to capture every perfect photograph, it is somewhat understandable that wedding photographers are so expensive when you consider the sheer amount of equipment required. Not only do they need one camera, but also lenses, tripods, memory cards, batteries, a different camera for this, a different camera for that, and camera equipment is not often easily affordable with many wedding photographers’ kits reaching a cost of well into the thousands of dollars. With all this expensive kit you also need public liability insurance that most venues require before allowing you to work on their premises, again another large expense.
The most important (and obvious) part is the labour. An average wedding can last from anything between 8-10 hours. Your photographer will most likely arrive long before the main event. They’ll capture the small details such as the bride and groom getting ready, decor, venue layout, or any special or particular detail you want to be photographed. During the wedding, they will be running around, diving, crawling or on their knees, and sometimes climbing! All to catch those moments that would otherwise be missed. Honestly doing all that for 6-18 hours is draining ( depends how long the wedding last). In ensuring that no moment is missed, they capture everything. They will have taken between 800 – 1200 photos by the end of the day and sometimes even more. Also, if your photographer comes with an assistant, then the cost goes up, as they have to pay them as well. After the wedding, photographers spend time working and enhancing these photos, just for it to come out better, it is basically a huge task.
Most people are unaware that a photographer’s job does not end when the wedding does. It’s not uncommon for people to think that it’s a simple case of downloading the images and putting them on a disk. The fact is, while the newlywed’s jet off on honeymoon, the photographer is still working on their photos. Depending on how many photos they captured, they could spend anything from 5-14 days processing all the images of the day. Generally, processing involves getting rid of blemishes, cropping and adjusting colour and contrast (All about enhancing the photos). Also, consider the pre-wedding consultation, prepping for the shoot, the wedding day, travel to and from the wedding, post-production, album design. This is just a mini-breakdown, of what is put into the work, when you tend to add up the hours, calculate it based on the input put in a by the photographer.
The equipment your photographer brings to the shoot is no ordinary camera equipment. Professional digital cameras and lenses can cost anything from $1000 – $6000 upwards. To be frank, that’s just for the primary camera body and lens! A good photographer will always bring a backup camera (or cameras) as well as various types of lenses in case the primary fails. They also need batteries, memory cards, filters, flashes, and other lighting equipment. Then there’s the cost of computers.
Marketing & Advertising
An effective way for photographers to market themselves is with a professional website. Most photographers don’t have web design skills, so they have to use a professional web designer. Getting a website designed could really be expensive. Also let’s not forget the cost of web hosting, maintenance, updates, and technical support, these could be a lot. Then there’s the recurring cost of advertising. Although word of mouth is a great form of advertising, also friends telling friends about a particular brand, it does not provide enough exposure. To maintain a continuous flow of clients, a photographer must spend on advertising, take for instance BellaNaija.
The Responsibility of Being a Photographer
As wedding photographers, we tend to uphold the great responsibility of capturing someone’s best day of their life, and the focus is, as it should be, on the couple and their love. We are meant to story-tell their day back to them through a collection of photographs that artfully show how the day unfolded. Trained to shoot the details: to set up shots of invitation suites, florals, the shoes, the rings, the decor. We ensure we always get photos of the couple at golden hour, and how to do it. Also, we have to capture moments of the guests and family in a way that means everything because someday, these photos will be all that the couple has of that person, that family member, that moment and they will cling to them harder than you ever could imagine.
We owe it to our clients to tell the stories of their wedding days in a way that feels most meaningful to them. It’s up to us to photograph the people at their wedding just as much as the beautiful flowers and the table decorations. It’s reminding ourselves to get photos of very important persons in their lives on the dance floor and capturing guests in quiet moments too. Yes, the focus is forever on the couple who is getting married, but don’t forget to focus on the moments that make their wedding day unique to the community of people surrounding them that they chose to share in their day with.
Many photographers undergo years of training to gain the skills required to succeed in the field. They may take classes online in photography. Some seminars to supplement their skills and knowledge. They may undergo an apprenticeship with a mentor who is established in the field before going pro. While there is value in training and education, couples planning a wedding on a budget can do a great job on their own wedding pictures with some planning and practice. Many professional photographers have thousands of hours of shooting. They may have taken tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of photos. This time and experience in the field allow them to learn the finer points of photography and get quite efficient at zeroing in on what works, considering factors like lighting, camera settings, lens choices, composition, and other artistic considerations come naturally to them. Because of all the time and money, they’ve invested in this training and experience, many photographers feel justified in charging high prices for their services. Most wedding photographers didn’t just buy a camera one day and decide; “I’m going to photograph weddings!” They tend to invest a lot of time and money in education. That includes courses, seminars, on-the-job training, and apprenticeships. Even after gaining knowledge, they spend years perfecting their practical skills. Things like lighting techniques and posing, this is actually a very vital piece In photography. They also tend to get professional photo editing software like Photoshop. Do you know that the latest versions of Photoshop products are really expensive, plus, there’s also the cost of upgrading every time a newer version is available?
It’s almost impossible to avoid fuel and travel costs. Carrying all that equipment on public transport is not even an option. Especially since most weddings take place in the middle of nowhere. Moving from place to place would be considered as not easy, the prep room, down to the church, to the reception venue. Most importantly trying to get good places to take nice portraits of the bride and groom.
With equipment of that value, smart professional photographers have all their gear insured in case of damage or theft. Also, Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity are essential for any freelance photographer. Each of these insurance types can add up to a huge amount of money.
Back up/ Storage
As professional photographers, after each wedding, files are moved from cards to be saved on drives. Drives tend to pile up, storing weddings sometimes up to a decade. It may sound funny but some clients could call back after years of taking the pictures, probably missing or corrupt, it’s your duty as a photographer to be able to still provide those memorable and wonderful pictures from that day. It speaks of integrity and really professional.