Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive + Why You Should Invest

April 19, 2022

Whether your wedding is macro, micro, or just you and your special someone, wedding photography is the must-have. It’s almost become the silent non-negotiable of having a wedding in the first place.

Think about it for a moment. Can’t afford a DJ? A good friend, Spotify, and some cheap lights will do just fine. Not sure you want to go for a wedding cake? You can get amazing cakes made for next to nothing, or opt for stacks of donuts or fountains of chocolate fondue. There are alternatives for these things because they exist only for a moment. Wedding photos, on the other hand, exist forever. This is one specific element of a wedding that shouldn’t be sacrificed.

In saying all this, people often ask why is wedding photography so expensive? Or, in some cases, why are wedding photographers so expensive? Both are valid questions. I intend to answer both and bust some myths people have about how wedding photographers come up with their pricing. 

Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive?

When answering the question ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?’ there are many factors to take into account. 

Here are some reasons why wedding photography is so expensive!

#1 – Gear

If you’ve ever taken an interest in photography, you’re likely aware that gear costs a lot of money. It’s so much more than just the camera, but even that on its own is pricey. A camera is just a tiny part of the photographer’s gear needed to make the magic happen.

Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive + Why You Should Invest. Black and white photo of couple on dance floor with lights shining through.

They also need lenses, a flash, lights, and other accessories. So when a photographer starts to determine their pricing, they focus on what their equipment really means in terms of output, quality, and the investment they’ve made in their business. 

#2 – Editing

Taking photos is one thing, but they’ve also got to be edited. The images that were taken won’t cut it as is. In their immediate form, they’re likely a little flat, dull, void of personality or color. The thing you really love about the wedding photographer’s style is probably the way that they edit their photos. This takes – with no exaggeration – hours and hours.

Shot for Afrik Armando - Close-up shot of bride wearing her vibrant Cambodian dress and golden accessories, captured by Jason Moody Photography
Shot for Afrik Armando

A 6-hour wedding day shoot yields literally thousands of photos, and a photographer has to go through each of them and whittle them down to a few hundred. Then each of these photos has to be individually edited. The time this takes is also time photographers cannot do shoots because they’re working against a deadline of getting the photos back to you and your partner. So when you’re wondering why wedding photographers are so expensive, remember that you are paying for far more hours of labor than just your wedding day.

#3 – Business Expenses

Running a business and providing a service is about more than just the service itself. Many things have to be tended to keep things running. When asking ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?’ consider the fees that maybe aren’t so obvious.

Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive: Black and white photo of couple embracing in the hallway at the top of the stairs.

The taxes, the gear, software, computers, admin, etc. It’s far more involved than many people ever truly realize or think, and it’s important to know that this isn’t a hobby. You’re hiring a professional photographer who has a business and does this for a living. 

#4 – Shoot Expenses

Just as there are business expenses associated with any of the day-to-day running of a business, shoots have their own unique costs attached to them. For example, there’s the travel to and from the location. Beyond that, additional expenses might be attributed to special services included within a package like a photo album, USBs, or a website with the images presented digitally for download.

Groom reading his vows during the garden wedding ceremony with bride, officiant and bridesmaids in front of them, taken by Jason Moody Photography

Of course, some of these fees are avoidable if you’re not looking for other things beyond the actual photos and the editing process. Still, overall they’re pretty much all baked into photographer’s pricing already. 

#5 – Challenges of the Job

Wedding photography is not an easy job. You’re tasked with capturing endless moments within a short space of time and sometimes expansive guest lists. Photographers have to work the room and get the pictures, and sometimes they’ve got to be just a fly on the wall.

It’s a layered job requiring a new approach nearly every hour, but perfection at this challenging task comes with practice. You should want the photographer who knows how to work the room and guests to their advantage because your pictures will benefit from it. 

#6 – Time

Like any business, time is money. Weddings aren’t short. They can run for up to eight hours, and there’s really no time for a break. Consider that there’s the beginning where makeup and getting dressed occur. Next, there’s the actual ceremony. Then there’s the couple photoshoot and family photoshoot. Finally, it’s time for the reception.

A photographer is constantly running around trying to get pictures, being pulled aside for pictures, or just making sure to get those super important moments. You’re paying for many things, but the photographer’s time is one of those things. 

Why You Should Invest In Wedding Photography 

Okay, so we’ve focused on answering the question ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?’ now it’s time to ask why you need to invest in wedding photography and wedding photographers. 

#1 – Quality

Nobody should really be asking the question ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?’ when there’s photographic evidence as to why that’s the case.

Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive. Bride looking down as she rests her hands on the groom's chest while the groom looks at her during their wedding shoot.

The results speak for themselves, and usually, the final product is truly stunning photos perfect for inhabiting frames and residing on the walls of your home for years to come. 

#2 – Skill

There’s no doubt that when you’re hiring a professional, you’re getting skills that amateur photographers just don’t have. So you’ve got to shop around and try to find a photographer that meets the mark.

Bride looking stunning as she stares off into the distance with her sheer veil in the air, photographed by Jason Moody

Their portfolio should give you a glimpse into their style and capabilities. But skills go far beyond the final product. It’s also about how they get to those photos, how they communicate with you before the big day, and what they plan on doing. It’s meant to be a collaborative process, where you work together.  

#3 – Experience

The most valuable thing a photographer brings to the table isn’t their equipment or editing skills. Instead, it’s about their experience. They’ve photographed countless weddings and learned not only how to get the most amazing shots, but how to give you the best experience. Most photographers never refer to some of their earliest work because while everyone else may think they’re excellent, they compare it to where they are now, and they can see their growth.

Shot for Jess Flynn - Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive. Black and white photo of bride going down the stairs and looks at her reflection in the mirror.
Shot for Jess Flynn

You want that photographer who’s really experienced, who knows what it’s like to work on weddings, both big and small. Someone who’s really curated an impressive portfolio of incredible weddings. Sometimes, the experience can mean they’re more known, more in demand, and therefore more expensive. 

Mythbusting Wedding Photography and Photographer Pricing

I sometimes hear people answering the question, ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?’ with pervasive pricing myths. So, I wanted to just take a moment to bust some of those myths and misconceptions. 

#1 – Myth: Pricing is random.

Not at all. There’s no such thing as random pricing. The cost of a wedding photographer is determined by factoring in the hours put in (both in taking the photos and editing them), gear, travel, and in some instances, the outsourced materials needed to get exactly the vision you pictured. 

#2 – Myth: The price is high because of all the add-ons.

While additional items like photo albums, prints, canvases, etc., will increase the price, it’s usually mentioned how much is actually being spent on those particular items. You’ll find they don’t usually change the price of the overall experience drastically. 

#3 – Myth: The time a photographer puts in is only the wedding day itself. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s so much planning that goes into wedding photography that is lost to people purchasing the service. There’s the initial meeting, the creation of contracts, invoices, and that’s before a single photo has even been taken. 

If you’ve chosen to get an engagement photoshoot done, too, then that’s the first instance of actual photos. However, beyond that, the real work begins. The photographer usually goes and inspects the venue, talks to the venue staff, and has multiple discussions with the couple about what they’re wanting and expecting. 

Finally, there’s the editing, which we’ve already discussed, and then forming a client package to send them the photos. These steps aren’t the ones that come to mind first when you think ‘wedding photographer’, but they’re totally crucial to the job.

#4 – Myth: Editing photos takes a few seconds.

I wish. Editing the photos usually takes twice the amount of time it took to shoot the overall wedding. Even then, it can take longer. 

#5 – Myth: One photographer is enough.

Yes, and no. It depends on the wedding. If it’s a micro wedding or elopement, then for sure, one photographer is enough. However, if you’re up against a guest list exceeding 100 people, most people would bring in an extra hand; I know I do. I want everyone in at least one photo alone, and I can’t pull that off with just one pair of hands. 

#6 – Myth: Anyone can take photos for my wedding.

This is a myth depending on how you look at it. While yes, anyone can take pictures of your wedding, and they might even turn out great, they’re not going to be dedicated to the wedding. Like if it’s a friend or a family member, they’re going to be enjoying themselves too, and there will absolutely be important moments that they miss. You’ll miss out on the quality that professional level gear gives you, and, of course, the editing that makes everything feel magical. 

Why is Wedding Photography so Expensive : Conclusion

It’s important to look around for who you like as a wedding photographer, which you can usually tell from their portfolio. Then it’s time to see if you can afford them, and most photographers have their prices listed on their websites, or at least they offer packages. 

Wedding photographers don’t shoot weddings for any other reason than they love shooting weddings. It’s an expensive, time-consuming practice on their part, but they love it, and that’s why they’re trying to get the best pictures possible. When you ask ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?’ or ‘why are wedding photographers so expensive?’ that’s why. They’ve spent years refining their talents, getting the best equipment, learning how to deal with rowdy wedding guests and guest lists of all sizes. They’re masters of capturing the moment. 

Speaking of wedding photographers, hello. My name is Jason Moody, and I might just be the wedding photographer you’ve been looking for. If you’re ready to take your wedding to the next level and allow me the chance to capture your special day, let’s chat!