I have often heard people asking why it costs so much for the Photography when someone is getting married. People who don't understand what this is all about often try to convince the bride and groom that they don't need a professional photographer, but rather should just let friends and family take care of doing the photography for them. Well let me tell you, my personal experience has been that letting friends and family photograph a wedding will end up with photographs that look just like that; non-professional, over or underexposed shots, heads and or feet cut off, and many of the important parts of the actual wedding ceremony are missing.
So now let's get down to why this all costs so much, but keep in mind that I don't know anyone who questions the cost of having an Electrician, a Carpenter, a Plumber, a Lawyer, an Accountant, a Dentist or any other professional do work for them, so why they hedge at the cost of a Photographer is beyond me.
The average wedding photography today starts at $3000.00 and goes up depending on exactly what you want for your wedding day memories. Depending on the photography style, number of photos or albums the couple want, how many shooters are involved, if they want a video of the ceremony and whether or not this is a local wedding or a destination wedding all come into play in what the final cost of hiring a professional photographer will be.
Let's see exactly how that $3000.00 breaks down.
The average photographer has approximately $15,000.00 invested in high end equipment. This will often include 2 professional grade camera bodies, a couple of high quality lenses with f/2.8 or f/4.0 aperture settings. The lower the number the better the lens is for letting in light and in dark churches, you are normally not allowed to use a flash, so you need both a body and lenses that work well in low light.
Most professional wedding photographers work a 60 hour week. There are appointments with the couple to discuss what they want photographed before, during and after the wedding. There is post production work to be done on the photos themselves. If you've ever heard the term "Shoot and Burn" and wondered what that meant, it is when you have hired a photographer on the cheap and they photograph the wedding and then spend no time doing processing of the photos, but rather right after the wedding is done with they burn all the photos onto a disk and give this to the couple. There are good and bad photos mixed together on this disk and none of the photos have been looked at for best selection or edited for better quality. You don't want to hire a photographer to shoot your wedding who does this, so ask questions before hand and know what you're getting for your dollar. There are are also meetings with the couple after the wedding and post production work is completed to choose exactly which photos they want, and even if the photographer has added a secure area on his/her website to view thumbnails of the photos, they still have to meet with the couple for final choices and delivery of printed photos and albums.
Others costs that many people don't think about, but have to be included in the cost of doing business are as follows: Errors and Omissions Insurance in case you or one of your other photographers messes up and you get sued. Equipment insurance to protect that expensive equipment needed to get the best photos you can. Each of these two items can cost $200 per month. There are also taxes, software, advertising, photo printing and albums, repairs, shipping, cost of transportation and possibly hotels/meals if the wedding is a distance away from the photographer's home, having a second shooter to assist with the photos on the wedding day and other sundry costs.
Now you can see where all these costs can add up and why it is not cheap to hire a professional photographer to shoot one of the most important days of your lives. And many wedding photographers who are just starting out on their own, are lucky to make minimum wage once they take off their overhead costs and break down exactly what they have taken home in their pockets. If you are only doing one wedding a month or even one per week during the Spring, Summer and Fall, it is not a huge income.
So the next time someone tells a couple who are getting married to let friends and family take the photos, think about what you are getting and ask yourself if this is the kind of memories you want from this special day. Then go talk to a professional wedding photography and see if this is the right one for you... but that will be dealt with at a later date, under the top 10 tips when choosing a Wedding Photographer.