“Why is wedding photography so expensive? Why should I spend thousands of dollars on someone who is only working for eight hours?” I have been working in the wedding industry for over a decade, and if I had a nickel for every time I heard some variation of this question…well, I would have a lot of nickels. There was even a famous (in the wedding photography industry) Craigslist post last year who described wedding photography prices as ‘whack’ and that wedding photographers “just show up and party and take pictures.”

First of all, I would contend that unless your wedding photographer is highly unprofessional or your close personal friend, they are not truly ‘partying’ at your wedding. If you are paying them, they are working (even if they are a close personal friend). That is not to say we don’t enjoy ourselves. It’s a celebration! Sure, most of us have a good time and it is why we consider ourselves lucky to do this job. But we are not letting ourselves go to fully enjoy the celebration (that’s where the highly unprofessional part comes in). Do you want your photographer getting drunk at your wedding reception? Do you want them dancing the night away instead of taking pictures? No? Didn’t think so. (On a side note, if you can find a photographer who both dances and takes amazing pictures – I highly suggest you hire that person!)

But there is a far less glamorous side to the wedding photography gig. Away from the celebration, behind computer screens, at bridal shows, and meetings, wedding photographers are hard at work running the business side of things. Yes, it is a business…

So you are not just paying for photography on the day of the wedding. You are paying for all of the hours of editing, the meetings, the emails and phone calls with people who do not end up booking, the equipment, the advertising, etc., etc. – the list goes on and on and on…

You might say, “My photographer doesn’t do the editing, they hire someone to do it or they outsource it to another company.” Well, then that increases their expenses! While they may not spend the time doing a task themselves they are paying someone to do it. And if they don’t edit your photos at all….well, you’re not getting your money’s worth are you? The same holds true for all ‘behind the scenes’ tasks. A friend of mine once passed this along to me during a discussion about business:

For my own business, I would say I spend, on average, about 70 hours on each wedding (including the couple’s engagement portrait session). While I do edit my photos, I have streamlined that process so that more time is spent actually serving my clients – getting to know them, meetings, emails, planning, and so on – so that my clients get more for their money. Isn’t that what everyone wants in the end?

self portrait

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