Buckle up fam, it's about to get real... dang EXPENSIVE!
How does the saying go? "Looking for a wedding photographer who doesn't cost an arm and a leg!!"
Well, the average cost for an 'arm & a leg' in the US is $153,221.
I promise, I do NOT cost that much!
I am actually going to explain to you why wedding photographers are "expensive". This also applies to all other types of photography, but I am just going to focus on weddings for now.
Professional wedding photographers are "expensive" for a reason.
We charge what we do not only for our experience, but also because shooting a wedding is a freaking expensive endeavor. Let me give you a break down on the equipment that I directly shoot with at a wedding.
Direct Wedding Costs
Canon 5D Mark IV: $3,500
Canon 5D Mark IV: $3,500 (yes, 2 of them)
Canon 85mm: $350
Canon 50mm: $150
Tamron 24-70mm G2: $1,200
Camera Flash - 3 total: $400
Canon 70-300mm: $450
Camera Harness: $100
House of Flynn Gear Bag: $250
Compact and standard memory cards: $100 per pair
Detail styling boards, bride & groom hangers, ring boxes, camera grips, camera, batteries, flash stands, flash umbrellas, lens filters, etc.: $700+
Along with the costs of my shooting gear, there are even more expenses to tack on.
Other Yearly Costs
- LLC: $160
- Editing Software: $250+
- Project Management Software: $250
- Website Platform: $275
- The Knot / Wedding Wire: $3,060+
- Computer Maintenance: $200
- Education: $2,000+
So if you were to buy all of my camera gear, my computer, the software, and all of the other equipment I use for weddings, the grand total would be…….
Keep in mind, the photographers who ARE truly legal… also have to hand over 1/3 everything for taxes. If you question whether a photographer is currently operating legally in the State of Kansas (or Missouri), the best thing to do is to simply ask them! You can also look up corporations, LLC, and partnerships here:
(Keep in mind that if you can't find your photographer's name or business on here, they may be operating legally still but as a sole proprietorship, so that's why it is best to ask them directly.)
None of this includes man hours yet. Let's look at my average wedding for this. My current average package is $1,600 (8 hours), it takes me approximately 40 hours to edit a wedding, plus the initial admin and marketing work to advertise and secure the work (we can guestimate approx. 5 hours for now).
Hours: 5+8+40 = 53
Taxes: 1,600 after tax becomes around 1,000
Wages: 1,000 divided by 53 becomes around $18/hour.
So first, you'd have to buy over $15,000 worth of equipment, then only take around $18/hour for pay.. Meaning it would take you around 810 man hours to pay back the equipment you purchased. Sound too expensive for you? Hire the dang photographer then!
I did not writing this to call anyone out. I just wrote this to inform you. Photographers don't "jack up the price" just because you say the word wedding. The price reflects all of the above costs plus several that I am sure I have forgotten about. Sure, you can find someone to shoot your wedding for $200, but they are not going to be legal, they are not going to have a contract that covers both parties, they are not going to have proper gear for any situation thrown at them, etc. There are also thousands and thousands of stories of "photographers" charging couples and bailing as soon as they figure out how hard weddings actually are, or they may show up the day of and shoot the wedding but never deliver the images, or they could even deliver the images but they won't be worth printing.