At any level of professional photography, it can be a struggle figuring out what to charge. For wedding photographers especially, you’re faced with an ultra-competitive market and widely varying rates.
How exactly do creatives figure out their packages?
We’re breaking down how to figure out your wedding photography pricing structure.
So what’s the average price of a wedding photographer?
As mentioned before, rates can vary greatly based on your market’s different factors.
Are you in a supersaturated market like Miami, or are you based in a smaller town? A photographer in Miami is going to charge differently than one in Gainesville, FL because their cost of living and competitor rates are different.
Wedding photographers typically charge anywhere from $1200-$12,000 per event.
It seems like a massive jump between those numbers, but we’re breaking down the different costs that go into wedding photographer prices. Let’s look at what makes those prices range so dramatically to capture a big day.
Price your wedding photography according to your workload
Some established wedding photographers will only take on 10 or so clients per year. They have built a brand that is strong enough to charge five figures for their wedding photography packages, and only take on a select number of clients.
Photographers who are just starting to establish themselves may take on as many as 30-40 weddings per year. This helps them to build their book and brand name in their community. But you may want to schedule a few days to rest and get a massage!
Even some more established photographers maintain this workload at a lower price because they truly love taking on that many clients.
When considering your client experience, think about how many people you can reasonably take per month or year.
One wedding a weekend or one per month?
You’ll want to give them an experience that isn’t just a phone call, an email, then showing up on their wedding day. Making clients feel cared for and catered to is all part of the job, and if you can make 40 couples feel prioritized, then why not price accordingly?
Hourly, daily, or packaged rates?
Choose how to structure your packages based on the needs of your clients. If you photograph a lot of intimate elopements, hourly rates or intimate packages may work best.
For typical eight to ten-hour wedding days, you may consider creating packages that are specific to the majority of your bookings.
The biggest pro for having packages versus an à la carte experience is the ease of booking.
If you’re creating customized quotes for each and every inquiry, that’s going to take you a lot of time for bookings that may not pan out. When your clients inquire, they’re often hoping to see a menu of sorts as opposed to a full conversation.
Another option for photographers to price themselves is to give a day rate. These are less common among wedding photographers but can work well in competitive markets.
Some photographers will simply have one solid day rate and the client can have them for the entire wedding day.
One major con: you may not be expecting to work a fourteen-hour day some days, and a six-hour wedding on others.
Price your wedding photography based on experience
As previously mentioned, many well-established professional photographers have higher prices than those who are in their first or second year. Those years of industry experience have given them enough word-of-mouth referrals to not have to “hustle” as hard, and can price themselves accordingly.
On the other hand, newer photographers who are just breaking into weddings may have unusually low wedding photography pricing. Some decide to have a low-price special offering just to be able to fill their book with weddings.
Be careful, though, if you’re just starting out like this: you won’t want too many clients to refer you for how inexpensive you are.
What are additional fees for wedding photographers?
The cost of a wedding photographer can also include some additional fees that clients may not think about. Be sure to list add-ons and potential fees, so you’re not surprising anyone with sneaky costs.
Having transparency with pricing is crucial to a positive client experience – you don’t want anyone feeling “ripped off” by added hidden expenses.
Travel fees for out-of-town celebrations
If you’re a New Jersey wedding photographer and you’re booking an event in upstate New York, make sure to charge for your travel time. Whether you’re driving or taking transit, these costs should be covered by the client. Driving 3 hours each way for a six-hour wedding turns your job into a twelve-hour day.
Assistant fees and second shooters
Some wedding days may require you to hire an assistant or additional photographers. If you’re running a solo photography business, hiring a photographer for additional shots isn’t a bad idea on larger wedding days.
If you’re the sole photographer in a room of 200 guests, it’s likely you’ll be missing out on some shots without additional assistance.
The costs of extra shooters shouldn’t come out of your pocket, however – this should be paid for by the client. Pricing varies among photographers for second shooting rates, so be sure to quote accordingly.
If you can build a roster of trusted additional photographers, be sure to get their up-to-date pricing before quoting a client.
Wedding photography prices for prints, albums, digital files
Many photography wedding vendors also have an additional stream of income from the post-production of wedding photos. Some choose to sell the digital files to clients instead of relinquishing the full printing rights to them. Others will give digital files, but offer print options through in-person and digital sales campaigns.
A major source of income for professionals is in wedding photo album sales. This is one of the biggest upsells photographers offer. Be sure that if you plan to sell albums, you get samples to share with clients ahead of time. Photograph and take videos of the albums if you can’t show them in person to give clients a view of your offerings.
Think about adding videography
Wedding videography is a major addition to modern photography packages. With cameras having more fancy-schmancy capabilities these days, photographers are branching out with more offerings. Why hire two separate wedding vendors when you can do the job with one? Consider creating a videography add-on for your couples to explore.
Diversify with photo booths for weddings
Photo booths have become increasingly popular in recent years at weddings. They’re a great space for guests to let loose and have some fun. You even get photos from them you wouldn’t get from a reception photographer!
Adding a photo booth set up to your package pricing can be super enticing for couples who may not want to look at a ton of different vendors.
When it comes to wedding photography pricing, there are a ton of different directions to go.
The most important thing to remember is sustainability: are you able to take on X number of clients per year with a great client experience?
Most importantly, are you able to pay your expenses and costs of living with what you’re charging right now? Consider each of these factors when deciding on your pricing.
Written by MEGAN BREUKELMAN