I charge more for wedding photography than for other event photography. Some people might look at that and think that’s not fair. They think I’m price gauging because it’s a wedding. But I’ve settled on my prices based on a few different factors. So here are 4 reasons wedding photography costs what it does.
Wedding photography is incredibly stressful
Not just for you two. A good wedding photographer or wedding videographer will take his or her job very seriously, and that involves a lot of stress. If we don’t get that moment, if we don’t capture that smile, there’s no going back. You can’t ask for a redo of an entire wedding. On something like an engagement shoot or family photos, the environment is controlled, and you can ask for things or rearrange flashes. Not at a wedding. A wedding is a giant, unstoppable freight train. You don’t have the time or ability to ask for a retake. So you have to get it right the first time. I still get nightmares before weddings.
Wedding photography in Los Angeles requires EXPERIENCE
Going off of number 1, weddings are NOT a good place to practice if you’re an amateur, unless you’re just a second shooter and not responsible to get the right shot the first time. So every time you hire a good wedding photographer, you have the benefit of years of practice. A good photographer knows what to do, where to stand, what to say, what settings to use, how to effectively use light in flattering ways, how to help you pose for your particular body/face, etc. That’s something you get from experience and education. You can’t just wake up one day and decide to pick up a camera and shoot a wedding.
It’s not just a good camera. You can get crappy photos out of a $10,000 camera, just like you can get decent photos off a less-quality camera if you’re a good photographer. Believe me, I used to teach photography, haha. It’s the brain, encouragement, and a thousand tiny decisions (both during and after) that make either an okay photograph or a great one.
It requires TIME
When you hire a good photographer, they’ve usually already spent long hours on marketing, their website, putting together a portfolio, and communicating with you or your wedding planner. Pre-wedding we also work on things like shot lists, finding your personal style, and I spend a lot of time arranging formal photos to get the groups done as quickly as possible. We also take care of our equipment, make sure everything is shooting top-notch, and make sure things are charged.
Depending on the package couples buy, I dedicate a day or a half-day to photographing most of my weddings, and I work HARD the entire time. I get to sit down maybe once or twice during a wedding day.
After the wedding, the real work begins. I want to make sure every photo is edited to perfection. Because I offer some of the shortest turn-around times in the business, I usually stay up all night after a wedding in order to send couples as many edited photos as I can within 24 hours. And for a few weeks after that, I work on the rest of their photos for hours and hours.
This is one of the things that forces me to charge more for weddings than for a typical event. For a typical event, people want photos just for the memories, they post them on social media, maybe blog about it or put them on their website, and they’re done. That’s it. So I proportionally only have to spend a few hours culling, editing, and uploading. But wedding photos stay for generations, on walls in houses, as profile photos, or as huge canvases. So I put a lot more hours into them.
It requires an investment to be a wedding photographer in Los Angeles
Our last camera cost over $3,000, and that was without any lenses. Good lenses cost around $900-$5,000 each. And that doesn’t even count the investment of time and energy a photographer takes to learn their craft well and educate themselves. I’ve spent more time investing in learning photography than I spent my entire college career in classes. Because I love it, it’s an art, and I want to offer my people the best images I can give to help them remember their day forever. I also carry things like insurance, backup plans in case of emergency, software and technology to handle the massive files I capture, etc. The list goes on forever.
Hope this helps you understand a little more! If it doesn’t, here’s my recommendation: find a wedding photographer who will let you tail them over the wedding day and afterwards. Watch all that goes into it, and then consider how much you’d charge if you did it all the time.
Mercy Hasselblad is a freelancer and wedding photographer in Los Angeles, CA. She loves to help people and capture their special moments. Her motto is: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.