Before I became a professional photographer I never understood why it was so expensive either. The fact is, weddings are expensive and the average bride can’t afford to pay $20,000 for their wedding. But as I started booking clients and doing cheap weddings to “build my portfolio”, I found out how much work weddings really are.
When you book a photographer you are paying for:
Talent – The higher their price usually means the more experience they have. They are the expertise at that craft and if they are charging $12k you better be expecting someone who is AMAZING and has the reputation to be doing good at what they do. Each photographer has their own style, unique flair and has their own individual value. Sure you can pay Uncle Bob to photography your wedding for under $1,000 with his digital camera, but he may never give that creative perspective you are looking for. Anyone can press a button and take a picture, but not everyone can create something beautiful.
Time – Full coverage at your wedding generally means 6-12 hours. Now take that PLUS time spent traveling to and from locations and in between (plus gas, plus wear and tear on their car). Then there is all the time spent editing the pictures, ordering the pictures, emailing the frustrated bride back and forth. Your wedding is not just a one day gig, it is hours of invested time helping the bride getting to know her and making sure she gets what she wants. Plus, 6 hours of shooting a wedding are WAY more stressful than 6 hours of another service.
Bills – As it was mentioned above, photographers have bills to pay. On top of regular bills we are constantly updating our equipment, paying insurance fees, business fees, taxes, website fees, etc.
A lot of photographers won’t just give you the raw images because anything that you print or edit yourself is a reflection of that photographer and their name. Your photos are advertisements to all your friend and family.
On top of all of that – what is the one thing that lasts beyond your wedding day? It’s the photographs. The flowers die, the favors are all given away and if you are going to invest a ton of money into the day why not get someone good to capture it all?
I’m going to be honest when I say – you get what you pay for. When I was booking weddings at $300 for full day coverage, I was just dipping into wedding photography. I didn’t do an awful job but looking back at it I can see how far I’ve come since then. $12,000 is a lot to ask for, I’m not even close to charging that, but anything under $1,000 for full day coverage isn’t going to be worth your time unless you can see a consistency in their portfolio of good pictures.
I’m not saying this to be rude or anything, I was in the same boat when I first got married and like I said, once I got into the photo business I slowly learned why photographers are priced the way they are.