(Closed) Photographers: Do you really make this much?

posted 10 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 17
5398 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@keniko: I had a pro photographer at my wedding, and not a cheap one either.  But you know what, I still wonder if he was nervous before the wedding and what his face looked like as I walked down the aisle because my pro missed out on some photos like that.  🙁

Post # 18
1045 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2008

Does anyone know if WeddingbeePro had a feature talking about the costs associated with the photography business?  I loved the series on running a floral design business, and I’m sure it would be interesting to read all the behind-the-scenes details from one of the photographers.

Post # 19
1317 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I’m thinking of starting a photography biz here, but only targeting the newly engaged, as in engagement shots only, no wedding. I’m a ameteur photographer and I’ve taken a few college level photography classes in the past, my mentor was a National Geographic photographer. I already have a professional camera and thought it could be a nice natural progression after seeing all the crazy prices people are charging here.

The going rate in my little town is insane and the pictures aren’t even THAT good. For instance, an old established photographer is asking for an extra $300 for any location outsie of his little 2-block area and that’s not including the distance per mile charge. The largest photo studio in town doesn’t even refinish his work unless you pay for an enlargement and he takes nice backgrounds, but doesn’t pay attention to the faces. In 10 years, my children will look at their mother’s face not the pretty bokeh!

But it’s only an idea for now because it’ll be a LOT of work. Even if you out source your film developement, it takes awhile to sort through, crop and re-finish. If I actually charge decent money, I’ll have to buy photoshop (I lost my older copy) and maybe even get a Mac because it handles images so much better.

This is not including the website and maintenance, and if I want them to be able to view the pictures to choose what they want, that’s a special service and costs an additional monthly.

I haven’t even covered the business fees and costs to start a business (super high here).

It’s a lot of work … and for now, I’m happy to pay someone else to do it.

Post # 20
332 posts
Helper bee

To me thats a REALLY expensive photographer! Wow! Is $3,000 the average cost?

Post # 21
14181 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

A photographer in Texas who is well known does 48 weddings a year at approximately $4500 a wedding. She brings in over 200K a year she said.

In fact, the photographers I’ve met said wedding photographers tend to make LESS money than people who specialize in families, babies, newborns, kids, etc, b/c of ALL the work and extra money that goes into albums and other wedding do-dads.

Post # 22
209 posts
Helper bee

According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 the average professional photographer earned $26,170.

That’s not such a rosy picture on how much we earn per year. 

Post # 23
130 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I’ve been a full-time wedding photog for about five years now.. I also occasionally teach business courses to photographers, so I spend hours and hours researching and thinking about how much photographers charge vs. how much they make.. The best and most efficient photographers take home about 50% of what they make, meaning that if you buy a $3000 package, they will make about $1500.  Most photographers under $4000/package are not nearly that efficient and are making more like 30% of what they bring in, so more like $1000 per wedding.  Most photographers can only handle ~30 weddings per year.  There are centainly exceptions to everything, but this is the general reality of the industry.

Remember that as a self employed person we pay about 40% in taxes (thankfully deductions help us out a lot, but it’s still a much higher tax percentage than the average person with a regular corporate job), and due to the high cost of albums, equipment, and insurance, our overhead is incredibly high, amounting to about 25-30% for most photographers, MUCH more at the lower price brackets (in fact pretty much every photographer under $1500 is losing money with every wedding they shoot).

To give you a real life example, last year I shot 30 weddings at about $4500 each, plus about $30k in additional print and album sales and other various forms of income, resulting in a gross studio revenue of $168k.  After deductions (and remember that deductions are money that went back into the business as overhead, not money that went into my pocket to pay food, bills, etc.) my taxable salary was about $90k.  After taxes I made about $60k.  And in my area I’m considered relatively “high end.”

Hope that helps a bit 🙂

Post # 24
175 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2010

Additionally you need to remember that you are not just paying for their time on the day of the wedding, but for the time they spend before the wedding planning/meeting, all the time spent editing and putting together your album, etc. The printing and presentation costs can also cost quite a bit.

Post # 25
369 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

What an awesome topic! I am glad to know more about this industry and everything it entails. Way more complex than the layman thinks!

Post # 26
571 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

My photographer works out of his home.  He even brought an assistant and drove 3 hours to our venue.  I think we got a steal!  Under $2k for 1000 pics and a flush mount album and this included some engagement shots!  Plus we loved the outcome!

Post # 27
1444 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Paradise Gardens

Great question! I really enjoyed the answers… I was thinking the same thing actually–and although we don’t plan on spending 2-3000 I do appreciate our photographer much more!

Post # 28
135 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Haha. I’m a big fan of crazy math. Once I did the math on what my photographer actually brings one i started planning my tip haha

Post # 30
1314 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2006

There are plenty of responses here that details the absolutely ENORMOUS costs of doing business as a professional photographer.  So I won’t be able to add anything further to what the other photographers have commented on – but I do agree and it is accurate what they have said.  But why do we need to have our profits or income analyzed?  Is this a question you are asking for your venue, caterer, DJ, officiant, etc?  Why is photography – the only service besides video that requires any labor after the actual day of the wedding always the one under the microscope.  If the price you are paying for wedding photography isn’t something that you can justify as a cost vs. value/personal importance – then why would you spend over $3000 or care how much of it is profit for the photographer?  

Post # 31
722 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

I think this thread is cool and could not help but comment…

I teach now but did photography 15+ years.  I didn’t do wedding photography but I knew a lot of wedding photographers.

1.  The cost of advertising is great especally if you put an ad in a major mag or a banner on something like facebook.

2.  The cost of equiptment is extensive for wedding photographers.  Yes, it can be written off over so many years.

3.  If the wedding photographer is serious he will have ‘wedding photographer insurance.’  This is what most brides are not aware of when they pay those high prices for photographers.  Let me cover a little of what this insurance does.  If you have ever met any bride ever or are one yourself then you can guess at the anger which would happen if the pictures come out crappy.  And it happens because its part of life.  Equiptment fails and or breaks, weather affects lighting, etc.  A brides state of mind is a main reason why wedding photographers charge so much money.  I could always do a model portfolio shoot over.  Sure the model would have been slightly irritated, but no big deal.  So, the pressure is on for the wedding photographer.  Not this wedding insurance makes it so if the equiptment fails, if the photographer forgets to put film in his camera, if all the pictues are destroyed somehow that is when the insurance kicks in.  This insurance will pay for the wedding party to fly back to wherever the wedding took place, will pay for people missing work, flights, for tuxes to be rented again, make-up artists, venues, will pay for your wedding cake again, hair stylists to make your wedding happen all over again.


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