You have your venue and ceremony location picked out. Now you just need the photographer and DJ to hire. You find a photographer you like, ask for pricing and Wowwww – that seems expensive. So you ask a few similar looking ones and all the prices come back around the same. If it’s only a day or two of work for a wedding, why does it cost so much?
There’s a lot more that goes into getting you the beautiful photos from your wedding day than showing up with a camera for 10 hours.
The Hourly Breakdown for One Photographer:
- 14 hours of working time on the wedding day itself:
- 10 hours of photography on the wedding day.
- 2 hours of travel round trip.
- 2 hours to pack and unpack equipment, clean lenses, charge batteries, prep cameras, and copy the photos onto our computer ASAP.
- 20 hours of editing time afterwards:
- 5 hours to sort through all the photos (typically ~6000 images) to pick out the best (typically 1200 photographs).
- 12 hours of editing, general color correcting, and advanced Photoshop work of the images.
- 3 hours for final review of edits, converting to black and white, and exporting photographs to the online gallery for sending to you!
- 6 hours for prep and administrative time:
- 3 hours for consultations, phone calls, emails about schedule and other details in advance of wedding day.
- 2 hours of venue and location research, looking up locations and travel times, and typing up timeline for the day.
- 1 hour of moving, backing up, and archiving image files from the wedding day.
So that’s a grand total of 40 hours of work from a typical wedding. Let’s say photography is roughly on par with being a nurse, teacher, or store manager in New Jersey. So $35/hour on average.
Those 40 hours multiplied by $35/hour is $1400 in raw wages. Not bad to pay.
But wait – there’s no company paying for insurance benefits, income taxes, equipment, time off, or really anything else you expect from a full time job.
Those extra costs from being a business owner all include:
- An average health insurance plan is $400 a month for a single 30 year old and only goes up with age.
- Equipment – A new camera body is around $3000 an a new (or used) lens can range from $1000 to $2500.
- Batteries are $50 each, memory cards are $100 each, flashes are $300 each. Everything can be damaged, break, or be lost very easily.
- A repair for a lens or camera body averages $400.
- Assorted Software
- Online backup services.
- Photoshop and Lightroom (both subscription based)
- Many computer hard drives.
- Business management software.
- Business insurance – venues want a $1 million dollar liability policy and worksmans compensation.
- We get a lot of referrals but minimal online advertising still costs nearly $500 a month.
- Lots of mileage. It’s generally difficult to live “close” to work since weddings, engagement sessions, and meetings are all over the state.
Based on our 2018 and 2019 taxes, those costs average to be $800 per wedding. And we are pretty frugal.
So now we are up to $1400+$800=$2200 per wedding. Still not too bad maybe.
But wait there’s STILL more:
- The self employment tax, 15.3% of all wages are paid to medicare and social security.
- Typically your job pays half and you the other half. But being self employed means you pay the full 15.3% right off the top on all profits from the business before any personal tax deductions apply.
- Paid and sick time off. There is none of it other than if self funded.
- There’s no 401k match, stock benefits, pensions or other retirement plans other than self funded.
With factored in, you easily get to $2500+ for a photographer on a wedding day. Then add in an engagement session and you near $3000.
Ultimately photography is a skilled service so nobody can say “this is what the price is in all cases”. Each photographers abilities, styles, and experience varies widely and they set their own hourly value. But we hope this gives you a starting point of how those prices are set and specifically how our packages are priced as well.