Why do wedding photographers cost so much? I mean, really. Our cameras are just a grade or two
above your uncle's, or your friend's, or even yours. We show up, take some photos, and burn a disc.
That'll be $5,000.00 please. Thank you! Come again!
Good thing it doesn't actually work that way (for most photographers). Not every photographer has
the same routine. Lower priced photographers (about $500-$1,500), mid-range photographers (about
$1,500-$4,000), and high-end photographers (about $4,000-$10,000+) all have different routines and
protocols, products, services, quality, and years or experience - and the finished results that you
receive in the end will reflect those prices.
Time and attention are big factors in pricing. Some photographers will get every little detail about your
wedding from you, and then plan the entire photography schedule to the most minuscule of details.
Visiting each location ahead of time, planning shot locations, timing travel and transitions, backup
plans, and coordinating logistics with the reception manager and/or wedding planner are just some of
the preparations that are made by a prudent photographer. Some will even create an itinerary of
events for you.
Photographers with more experience already know these locations, so not as much planning is
required by them, and the proof is in their portfolio - usually for the better. Other photographers just
play it by ear - meaning they just show up and shoot; kind of like throwing a bunch or darts at a board
and hoping something sticks.
Will you be receiving an engagement session? This is a great way for you and your photographer to
get to know each other. This is important since you'll be spending most of your wedding day with this
person, and need to be comfortable around him or her and their camera. Engagement sessions still
require planning, and possibly getting the appropriate permits. This kind of specialized attention is
one factor that contributes to pricing.
The products and services a photographer offers also affects pricing. A higher quality of prints and
albums means a higher price for the photographer. This higher price is then considered into the
photographer's pricing strategy.
When we're talking about a photographer's services, we're referring to planning, logistics, image
enhancement, and shooting. The time photographers spend scouting locations, planning itineraries,
shooting an event, and all the hours behind a computer needs compensation. The more of these
services that a photographer offers, the higher the price you can expect. Also in consideration of
these services is the quality of work, and years of experience.
As wedding photographers, we wear many hats. Production manager, logistics coordinator, art
director, graphic designer, therapist (who do you think reassures you when the best man is driving
back home to pick up the rings?), and photographer. Some photographers wear some or all of these
hats, some have more experience than others, and some have a higher quality than others. All of
these factors meld together to define the value of the photographer. Ultimately, you are the judge of
that value. So in the end, the classic cliche still stands: you get what you pay for. Armed with the right
photographer, that payoff can be huge.
Tav Jinivizian is the owner, operator, and photographer of Tav Images Photography. He has been
shooting weddings, portraits, and fine art landscapes for 4 years. You can see work samples on