Professional Wedding Photography Pricing

Scott Bourne over at photofocus made a blog post on the subject titled, And You Call Yourself a Professional and really goes to town on the $500 budget wedding photographers and both raises some interesting ideas and creating a bit of a firestorm as well.

While Scott covers a lot of ground here there’s another part that is closely related to his part on “It cheats the client”.

I remember reading about a bridal boutique that closed it’s doors last year here in Colorado.  Before they went out of business they where offering amazing deals on dresses, far below normal retail pricing.   They thought they could make a tiny bit of money on a lot of clients to keep their doors open, and as often happens that approach failed terribly and the closed their doors.

Now when that happened the real losers where the brides to be who had already paid on their dresses and never received them.  A lot of brides where left just days or weeks before their wedding with the money gone from their budget yet no dress for their wedding day.   A lot of brides weddings where ruined due to poor business practices and running a wedding business on the cheap.

So how does this relate to wedding photography?

Quite often the bride using the $500 budget photographer might be risking losing her money entirely since it’s unlikely the budget photographer has the resources of the professional photographer.

Do they have multiple pieces of backup equipment?   Most of the budget photographers I’ve seen have one good camera.  Heck, they’re not making enough to afford too much gear.
Well what if that good camera breaks the day of the wedding?   Do they have the spare lenses and cameras to keep on going without skipping a beat as a professional photographer does, probably not.
What if all their camera bag is stolen the week before?   Do they have the insurance to replace their gear quickly?  Are they making enough to even afford to rent gear for the day?   I once priced out what it would cost to rent my typical wedding gear for a day – at the time it was over $900.

If these type of things happen to your budget photographer if you’re lucky you’ll get your money back, but you’ll likely have to deal with that stress on your wedding day and be scrambling to get something for photo coverage handled.

If these type of things happen to the professional photographer as a client you may never even know something happened since they’ll have the business resources to get past the hardware issue and continue the planned coverage.

Yes professional wedding photography is expensive, but budget photography could cost you dearly in the long run.

  • GeorgeS.


    Some of you folks are TO FUNNY!!

    “…the bride risks loosing their $500 entirely…..”

    Lets face it: people who are planning on spending $10,000.00 and up on a wedding/reception ought to be planning on spending $2000.00 and up on a photographer. After a day, week, month and years go by all you’ll have left of the $10K+ day is your memories and photos. By all means spend %20 of your budget on photography!

    But George what about those who are budgeting LESS THAN $10K for their wedding/reception? They should also consider spending %20 of their budget on photography!!

    The reality here is that not everyone wants/needs/desires a $750 photo album, full day coverage or ‘works of art’ when it comes to their wedding photos!

    The folks who invite 10 friends to a BBQ/Potluck wedding/reception in their apartment/back yard are NOT in the market for a $2000.00+ wedding photographer.

    While most full time professionals NEED to charge what they do to cover the costs of their store front/studio and provide the sole sourse of income for their family, thankfully the FTP is NOT the only option available.

    Besides resorting to using your guests cell phones, disposable cameras or rental cameras, there are many photographers who can provide the services you need at price points you can afford.


  • Mark Hayes - Denver Wedding Photographer

    I say that while most people who have weddings with budgets well below $10,000 don’t opt to spend most of it on the photography I do several weddings each year where I’m sure my fee is not the 20-30% average of the budget but more likely 80-90% of the budget. My smallest wedding to date was 7 people – I was the only witness that wasn’t part of the immediate wedding party (which was all family).

    Even for those who opt to only invest $500 to $750 into their photography choosing a person who owns a camera and will only charge that much is a poor choice. Better to go out and buy a entry level dSLR with a kit lens and have a family member who loves photos run around and fill up the memory cards. You’ll still have basic photos – but then you also have a nice camera as well.