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If you are newly engaged, there is a high chance that you’ve asked one (or all) of these questions since starting your wedding planning journey…
What’s the average price of a wedding photographer?
How many hours do I really need for our wedding?
How do we find the right photographer for us?
Why are there some really cheap wedding photographers and some that are really expensive?
These are all fantastic questions to be asking and to be honest, the answers can be different depending on what you both value. However, being that I want to keep this super helpful, I’d like to give my perspective on the above questions – and I’ll leave it up to you whether you take or leave my answers. Let’s dive in!
1. What’s the average price of a wedding photographer?
I think this must be the hardest thing for a couple when searching for a wedding photographer – why? Because there is no average! There is no industry standard, there is no guideline on what you should pay to receive quality work and a great photography experience. However, I did do a little bit of research before answering this question and I found a celebrant friend of mine Josh Withers said that:
“In my mind, knowing the market, you’re hiring a good photographer if you’re spending more than $3000-4000 on them. Taking into account the work that goes into a full day shoot, before, after, during, that’s the price you ought to spend so you’ll love your photos.”
… and I couldn’t agree more. If photographs are a priority to you and if you value you them as much as I think you should, $3000 – $4000 is an appropriate price that you should budget for. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, the average that my JFL couples spend on their wedding photography is $3850… and the amount of five star reviews I’ve received (you can check them out on Facebook here) tell me that they believe it was worth every cent (hopefully this doesn’t sound like me tooting my own horn but more so helps give you some insight into what you can expect to pay.)
Now, there are some things that you can do that will impact the price that you pay – you can reduce / increase the amount of hours coverage you purchase (more on that in question 3), you can choose to have one or two photographers, you can decide to include a wedding album or choose to leave it out… Ultimately, the amount that you end up paying for your wedding photography is completely dependent on what you both value as a couple and how you choose to have your wedding day documented & visually represented afterwards.
2. How much should I pay for a wedding photographer?
This is of course related to the question above, but I wanted to share a little more insight into what a wedding photographer actually does. It may seem that their main role is taking pictures on your wedding day, but that is honestly one of the shortest things on my ‘to do list’ (it is of course by far the most important – but it actually only takes 8-10 hours out of the 40-50 hours total that I would spend for each of my wedding bookings) So, what else do I do? Here’s a little list of everything I do for each one of my JFL couples:
Video Messages. Emails. Invoicing. Contract Creation. Planning. Timeline Design. Location Scouting. Blogging. Driving. Meeting. Photographing. Culling. Editing. Uploading. Archiving. Photoshopping. Equipment Cleaning. Packing. Travelling. Gallery Sharing. Print Ordering. Album Designing. Educating.
… and these were just off the top of my head. Now of course, I know that not every wedding photographer has the same amount of tasks as I do, but this is what I need to do to provide my couples with the best experience I know how. This way they can not only trust they have someone on board that can document every moment of their wedding day, but that will also help them throughout the lead up to their wedding and afterwards, delivering their images promptly and with love (the turnaround timeframe for one of my couples is just 4 weeks – sometimes they are still on their honeymoon!) So, now that you know a little more about what goes into this wedding photography gig – remember you have to add on the cost of the photographer’s expertise, artistic perspective and experience. You’ll also want to consider the cost of their insurance (and you want to make sure they have some), their travel on the day and their equipment (like cameras, flashes, lenses, memory cards, computers & hard drives). If you expect your photographer to arrive at your wedding with professional camera gear AND backups (sometimes totaling between $10,000 – $20,000 worth of equipment), should you not be expecting to pay a professional price? Or at least know, that if you don’t – you can’t expect that level of service or professionalism. That’s a bit of a truth bomb right there!
3. How many hours of photography do I really need for our wedding?
This is totally dependent on what parts of your wedding day you would like photographed. Some couples opt for the whole sha-bang – they want the entire day (which is generally around 10 hours from start to finish) and sometimes even pre-wedding activities or post-wedding brunches (this is especially true if it’s a destination wedding or if they have friends & family coming from overseas), but others are happy with just half the day being documented, around 6 hours. It totally depends on what you have planned and again, what you both value (I’m starting to sound like a broken record player aren’t I!) I will let you know the majority of my JFL couples opt for around 8 hours – which means that they get some of the prep & excitement during the morning photographed – right through to the end of the formalities at the reception that night (we generally leave after we get a few photos of their guests cutting it loose on the d-floor!) Is that right for you? Only you guys will know. My advice would be to talk about what’s important to you both and what you envisage – and can afford – and go from there!
4. How do we find the right photographer for us?
That is what it’s all about isn’t it! If you’re asking this question, I wrote a post that you might find valuable here… but ultimately, I am a huge believer that the better you get to know your photographer & the better they get to know you – the better your photographs will be as a result! So, if you’re looking for the right photographer – find someone that you would want to be friends with. Why? Because ANYONE that is at ease with the person holding the camera looks relaxed & natural in photos – and spending 6, 8, 10 hours with them on your wedding day becomes something you’re really looking forward to! Note: Of course you need to like their photography style and portfolio too! Just becoming friends doesn’t mean they are good at what they do. Obvs.
5. Why are there some really cheap wedding photographers and some that are really expensive?
You guys, I LOVE what I do. I honestly think it’s great that anyone can become a wedding photographer. All they need is a digital camera & facebook page. I honestly think that’s a great thing! I’m happy to help them reach their potential (I actually run a group to help beginners as much as I can!) That’s also part of the reason why there are photographers that charge a lot less than I do – some have less experience. But, there are also some photographers that charge a lot more than me too. I know that they are the ones that have been in the industry for over 20 years and should charge more than I can. You’d expect that right?!
As I mentioned at the start of this post, there is no standard when it comes the price of a wedding photographer. So, when you are working out your wedding budget – decide how important photography is to both of you and budget accordingly. If you fall in love with someone that is a little more than you budgeted for – see if you can make changes elsewhere to be able to afford them – but know, that in this wedding photography arena, you really do get what you pay for. It’s like a good pair of Jimmy Choo’s really.
If you’re engaged to be married, I would love to hear if you’ve found this post helpful… I really hope you have! And if you’re already a MR + MRS, what did you spend on your wedding photography? Was it less or more than you expected? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: