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How Much Do Wedding Photographers Charge? – Advice No One Will Give You

wedding photographers


Even in a pandemic, it’s still the time to celebrate the love. If you want to hold a beautiful wedding, don’t forget to hire the best photographer you can find. It’s one of the most important decisions that you need to make right after your engagement.

If you are wondering how much do wedding photographers charge this year, keep in mind that their services are pretty expensive and, in some cases, might go well beyond your budget. This is why you need to ask a photographer several questions before signing a contract.

In this guide, we will explain in detail how to select the best wedding photographer for your needs and budget.

What Is the Average Price?

wedding photography cost

Over 60% of people don’t plan their wedding budget properly and are taken aback when they see a photography price list for the first time. Hiring a wedding photographer is one of the most crucial things to do, which is why many experts advise couples to set aside at least 10-15% of their budget to hire a true professional.

On average, it will cost you around $1000-3000 to hire a good photographer. The price might range depending on the area you live in.

While it might seem to be overly expensive at first, you need to understand that a wedding photographer spends between 30-40 hours on each wedding on average. Photographers take part in planning sessions and often need to travel to your location unless you hire a local professional.

After a wedding is over, a photographer still needs to spend hours on photos post-processing. If you need to have a beautiful wedding album, keep in mind that it will also cost extra.

What Influences the Price?

If you are wondering what affects the price of wedding photographer services, let’s see the main factors to consider.

how much do wedding photographers location

Location. If you don’t know how to choose a wedding photographer, pay attention to where a person you are going to hire is based as it will significantly affect the overall price. For instance, LA-based photographers usually charge from $4,000 to $6,000.

If you live in Louisville, the price will range from $3500 to $5500. Prices in your local area might be significantly different from those that other people pay.

how much do wedding photographers experience

Experience. It’s hardly surprising that pro-level photographers charge more for their services as they have more experience and can take perfect photoshoots to capture the best moments of your wedding. They have impressive portfolios and have taken pictures of hundreds of weddings, which is why they know how to re-schedule photo sessions, keep tensions low and solve any timeline issues.

If you hire a local photographer, they might have already taken photos at the venue that you have booked, which will help them to organize everything more quickly. Experienced photographers have advanced skills, which helps them fix any issues with lighting, avoid possible misunderstandings and deliver the best possible results under any circumstances.

They know how to make all family members pose for a group photo and can dissolve possible conflicts between guests. While you might save some money by hiring a less experienced photographer, the results could be rather disappointing.

how much do wedding photographers wedding month distribution

Time of the year and day of the week. The overall wedding costs will depend on the date and time of the event that you are planning. Depending on the season, the prices for catering and photography services can vary by 30%.

If you don’t want to waste your money, it’s better to plan your wedding on January, March, April or November since prices tend to be lower during these months. Since most people prefer having weddings on Saturdays, make sure to select any other day to save some money.

how much do wedding photographers charge equipment

Equipment. A professional photographer uses expensive equipment. For instance, a pro-level digital camera might cost about $3,000. Lenses aren’t cheap as well since each of them will cost about $2,000.

Besides, a photographer needs to use expensive software and a powerful PC to edit images more quickly. Aside from that, a photographer needs to use lights, tripods and other pieces of equipment.

Since technology is developing so quickly, a photographer needs to replace or upgrade a computer or laptop every 3-5 years. It’s also crucial to buy a new camera once an old one becomes outdated.

This is why when deciding what to charge for wedding photography a professional photographer includes all these expenses in the cost. If a photographer shoots footage, a couple will also need to pay extra for video editing.

Demand. If a photographer is in high demand, their services will be less affordable. However, keep in mind that popular photographers don’t always deliver the best quality.

how much do wedding photographers shoot duration

Hours of coverage. The total price for the services provided by a photographer depends on how long they will be taking photos at your wedding. Usually, couples hire photographers for at least 6-10 hours.

Insurance. Since professional equipment is pretty expensive, most photographers prefer to have it insured to minimize possible losses. Any wedding photographer should pay for liability insurance as well.

Packaging structure. While some wedding photographers offer standard packages, others enjoy using customized plans, which might be more suitable for those who have some cash laying around. If you don’t need a wedding album, you can discuss with a photographer how to bring down the cost.

how much do wedding photographers charge wedding retouching

The level of wedding photo retouching.  Most photographers spend more time selecting the best shoots and post-processing photos than taking pictures.

If you want to hire a photographer who can take fine art photos or pictures worthy of glossy magazines’ pages, you need to understand that it will take them some time to edit them properly. Such services usually cost more as they require more planning and preparation.

Do I Pay the Wedding Photographer Upfront?

While every photographer uses a different payment schedule, most of them prefer to receive payment in 2-3 installments. After deciding on a wedding date and signing a contract, you need to pay a deposit. It could be from 10% to 50% of the total amount, depending on your agreement with a photographer.

If you opt for 2 payments, you will need to pay the rest before your wedding. When people select a three-payment schedule, it usually means that couples pay the rest of the sum after receiving edited wedding photos.

Do I Have to Pay for My Photographer’s Meals Additionally?

Yes, it’s expected of you to provide hot meals to people who will be working during your wedding. While it might seem too expensive, keep in mind that they will be working the whole day and it’s important to keep them happy.

While most wedding caterers know that you will need to provide a photographer with meals, it’s important to discuss it with them beforehand to avoid possible misunderstandings.

What’s Included in a Wedding Photography Package?

how much do wedding photographers charge

When comparing different wedding photography packages, you need to pay attention to several things:

1. Hours of photography. It shows you how many hours a photographer will work during your wedding.

2. Number of digital photographs. When deciding how much to charge for wedding photos, most photographers base the total price on the amount of work that they need to do. They also indicate how many photos they will send you after your wedding.

3. Number of prints. Until recently, many photographers offered couples to order 6″x4″ or 7″x5″ prints, but nowadays this option is in low demand.

4. A USB stick. Some photographers can send you a USB memory stick with post-processed photos in high resolution. You can use such images to order prints or albums.

5. An online gallery. In some cases, a photographer might give you access to a password-protected service where your photos are stored. This way, it will be easier for you to share photos of your wedding with your close ones. Sometimes, you will be also offered to pay extra to purchase prints from a photographer.

6. A wedding album. You can order a photo album and select its design according to your preferences. It’s also possible to order an album from another service.

7. Bonus items. If you have some cash, you can order the most expensive package that includes extra items. Some couples order a photo booth ($750), photos of a rehearsal dinner, canvas prints or videos.

Am I Expected to Tip my Wedding Photographer?

When signing a contract, keep in mind that photographers don’t include tips in the total amount, so you need to take this into account when planning your budget. While you aren’t obliged to give tips, it is considered to be polite to tip a photographer $100-$200.

Should I Negotiate the Price?

If you are good at negotiating, you can try asking for a discount, however, most photographers have fixed prices that can’t be lowered. Usually, you can select a package that suits you most.

A photographer needs to pay for expensive photo editing software, equipment, licenses, insurance, which adds to the total cost. The cases when a professional photographer could afford to lower a package price are very rare.

Should I Hire a Second Shooter?

wedding ceremony bride groom entrance

Unless you are planning a big wedding, you will hardly need to hire more than one photographer. However, hiring two photographers has its benefits. It will be easier for them to capture all important moments from different angles.

wedding ceremony bride groom entrance second photographer

Besides, one photographer could take photos of a couple and wedding guests, while the other could take pictures of a wedding venue.

Professional photographers usually offer packages with two shooters. If you decide to hire a second photographer, keep in mind that prices in LA and other big cities are usually much higher. On average, you will need to pay a photographer $25-$50 per hour.

Is an Engagement Session Usually Included in the Price?

engagement photographer at wedding

Photographers quite often include it in the total price, however, they always list it separately. Typically, a price for an engagement photoshoot can range from $150 to $600. It includes a photoshoot and access to an online gallery of your photos.

Some photographers can also send you a USB stick. Usually, you can also change your outfits during a shoot, however, in some cases, you will need to pay extra to do it.

How to Save on a Wedding Photographer?

If you don’t know how much do wedding photographers charge and are wondering whether you will be able to pay them, try using these simple tips to avoid shelling out your money:

  • Don’t hold a wedding during the high season. It’s a smart idea to hold a wedding in off season which lasts from November till March since it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The same is true for photo services. What’s more, you will save money on cakes, flowers and hotels.
  • Book in advance. Professional photographers are in high demand, which is why they offer generous discounts to those who book early. You need to contact a photographer right after deciding on a wedding date.

Even if a photographer doesn’t offer discounts, it might be worth paying them in advance since prices might skyrocket during the year.

  • Hire a photographer for fewer hours. By booking a photographer for several hours, you will significantly decrease the overall cost. A photographer won’t take many photos, but it will be easier to edit them. Besides, you will pay less for fewer hours. For instance, if you don’t need to have any photos of pre-wedding preparations, you can invite a photographer directly to your wedding.
  • Find a local professional. You will need to pay extra for travel expenses if a photographer you are going to hire doesn’t live in your city. In most cases, you are expected to cover the cost of plane tickets, meals, accommodations, etc.

A pro-level photographer also needs to bring a lot of equipment. This is why, if you want to hold a wedding in Miami, it might be too expensive to hire a photographer based in New York.

  • Opt out of additional items. Some people want to have an engagement photo session, a beautiful wedding album or high-quality photo prints. If you are on a budget, it’s better to opt out of these options. It might save you a large sum of money in the end.

What Questions Should You Ask Potential Wedding Photographer?

how much do wedding photographers questions to ask

To select the best wedding photographer, make sure to interview all the candidates before signing a contract. Since you will spend a lot of time together, you need to find a dedicated professional with their own signature style. Besides, it’s important to check whether you feel comfortable when communicating with a photographer in person.

If you have never interviewed anyone in your life before, make sure to create a list of simple questions that will help you understand whether a photographer can successfully cope with all assigned tasks. By asking these questions, you can narrow down your choice and find a perfect photographer more quickly.

1 thought on “How Much Do Wedding Photographers Charge? – Advice No One Will Give You

  1. Totally agree with your first point, a lot of couples I find do not factor in a wedding photographer’s price into their major “wedding budget” and have to re-jig things later on. So this is really great insight for future brides to be, to keep these in mind. Because at the end of the day, the photos are what last, and you want to make sure you’re not skimping on this aspect, and also booking far in advance to ensure you’re getting the best photographer you want.

    Thanks for sharing, this is a post we all needed!

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