Why Wedding Photography Is Expensive

For today’s blog post I will be writing about that very ambiguous topic, “why wedding photography is expensive?” So let’s get the ball rolling on this and start with that word we all hate hearing, “expensive.” Everyone has a very different definition of what “expensive” is to them. For some £1600, which is the UK’s average cost of wedding photography in 2020, is “expensive.” Whilst others will pay more than £5000 for a wedding photographer before they consider this being “too expensive”. So the key take out here is that the term “expensive” is relative. Another way to look at it is that getting married is something you need to make legally binding and commit to each other’s lives. Wedding photography however is something you want.

As a wedding photographer myself, I would like show you some important details to help you understand the forbidden fruits of how wedding photographers price themselves – It’s ok I won’t tell if you don’t. Before I go on we must remember one key element here, and that is wedding photography is a luxury service.  Wedding photography sells the brand and its story, it’s exclusivity, and the status it inspires; the timeless photography and ability to retain value longer than other less exclusive brands.

Skills to pay the bills!

Surely the most important one in anyone’s book! You are paying for the skills a photographer possesses. Its not only about the tools that drive their prices up, it’s the level of skill, experience, and consistency of amazing results. Think of it like when you pay more for a haircut at a salon depending on the experience and skill level of the stylist.

Lights, Camera, Action. – I’ve always wanted to say that – Equipment

Let’s be under no illusions here, another reason as to why wedding photography is expensive is their equipment, which isn’t cheap! If I was a betting man, I would happily place all my chips on the equipment value of a decent wedding photographer most likely exceeding the cost of the wedding dress, shoes and catering bill combined. Like a surgeon or a watchmaker, a photographer can’t do their job properly without the proper tools. Wedding photography equipment is very expensive and don’t forget that as technology grows, wedding photographers need to invest in newer equipment to maintain the expected level of quality. The cost and maintenance of said equipment plays a part in your wedding photography price. This is where you need to have your wits about you. A photographer who is offering you a service for 12 hours or even a full day for only £500, might not have any backup equipment or a good standard of lenses. I’m afraid this makes them no different from “Uncle Bob” with a point and shoot camera.

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why wedding photography is expensive

Software/Hardware and all that jazz.

In this day and age equipment is not only the camera and lenses, it’s also the software us wedding photographers use to process and edit your wedding photos. Having to buy legal software licences like Adobe Lightroom and Adobe photoshop with additional plug-ins on top, and presets and effects tools is by no means cheap! You did hear me correctly, a truly professional photographer has bought these programs and uses them legally. Software plays a huge part in the editing process and needs to be upgraded, so the computers themselves need to be upgraded as the newer software requires it to run. Whilst we are talking computers, the website that attracted you to the photographer in the first place! Don’t get me started on the SEO costs that makes their websites visible in Google or other search engines. Owning a website is one cost but paying for a website designer is also another very expensive cost and can easily run into the thousands. All these fees play a part in wedding photography prices.

The Second Photographer

At this point I like to reminisce when I was back in college practicing photography with my best friend shooting film cameras. It is really amazing how much photography has evolved over the years. I remember being at my cousins wedding chatting to the wedding photographer and asking how many photos will the bride and groom receive. To which he replied on average 100 pictures. At this point in time couples were thrilled with that amount when photographers were shooting on film. These days 99% of wedding photographers shoot on digital cameras. With this technology we can take thousands of pictures on a wedding day, potentially 8 photos per second! And times have changed, bride and grooms nowadays expect this. In addition to this, brides and grooms are also expecting two photographers at their wedding.

It goes without saying that there any many great benefits of having a second shooter, but it is concerning that wedding magazines and blogs can make the couple feel that they are losing out by only having one photographer. Don’t get me wrong having a second photographer is a great idea but only when it’s necessary to have one. You have to keep in mind that having a second photographer at your wedding is an additional cost. Simply put, the more people hired to photograph your wedding day the higher the cost will be. Us wedding photographers have to pay for additional team members and you can’t expect people to work for free.

why wedding photography is expensive

Work, work, work, work, work – as Rihanna once said

I am sure every couple has done this; seeing a wedding photographer’s price and yelling “How Much?! For one days work!” This is where we need to put things into perspective. Unlike your DJ, decorators or caterer – your wedding photographer’s work starts before your big day and continues well afterwards too. Firstly a wedding photographer needs to invest time to meet with you (sometimes even a few times). Take pictures from your engagement session and cull and edit them. Then shoot, cull, edit your wedding day, and copy and backup all the photos – this takes a long time, to copy and backup 60-100 gigabytes worth of files on two separate backup drives (professional photographers will have two or more back up disks). It’s on average 60 hours of work just to edit your engagement session and wedding photos. Not to mention additional hours for customer service, social media management, blogging and writing articles for future brides and grooms to make their lives easier (like this very article, wink wink, nudge nudge) This all takes a long time too.


Just for fun, think about how you found or are looking for your wedding photographer. Was it in a magazine feature or advert? Was it a wedding fair perhaps? Or maybe you found them on Google or bing? All of the above cost the photographer money to play in these areas. Certain popular city wedding shows charge photographers thousands just for a stall. Great websites like Junebugweddings.com, although a great  source of information, can charge hundreds for front page advertising. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is quite an investment too. This is the thing which helps a website to show up on the first few search results. The more aggressively a wedding photographer advertises, the higher the costs will be because they have to compensate for the insanely high costs of advertising. All of these factors have to be considered when asking the question why wedding photography is expensive.

why wedding photography is expensive

“So we can’t have an amazing wedding photography if we are on a budget?”

Wrong! Of course you can. It might take a little more time and research but you most definitely can. Do all of the research I mention above to help you find an affordable and talented photographer. Try and find a photographer who owns their business and has no staff to pay, this will save you money outright. You may not have a second photographer but a talented photographer won’t rely on a second to get amazing photos. Find a great photographer who has all of the professional equipment as well as the back up gear they need, but who doesn’t have a studio or office to run and simply works from home. I would avoid big wedding shows if you are on a budget.

As I mention above these wedding shows charge vendors a lot of moolah to be there so chances are they won’t be the lower cost vendor who can sit within your budget. Social media is your friend here, do some searches and check out some groups. Groups are a great way to find amazing talent which are making there way up the wedding photography tree and will most likely work within your budget. Once you find someone please look through all there recent work, across all platforms. Remember, consistency is paramount. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. Be smart and remember that a “professional” photographer who will photograph your wedding all day for a few hundred pounds, will often only be a semi-professional building a portfolio, not have the equipment needed to get you the photos you want, or not having the proper business insurances or legal software.

So there you have it, there is logic to us wedding photographers determining our prices. It’s not just a finger in the air, no sir! You have to remember everybody’s situation is different, even with businesses and how people run them. Some like to set up a business so they have the same salary as the average Joe Bloggs, whilst others pay off their mortgage – regardless of the price of a photographer this doesn’t reflect the quality of their work – they may just be running a very expensive business. This is why you should always interview your wedding photographer and choose the one that not only suits your style and budget, but also connects with you!

How about you?

Getting married in 2020 or beyond? If you liked my thoughts on why wedding photography is expensive please don’t hesitate to get in touch as I would love to talk about your special day! Getting married abroad? I would love to travel abroad to capture more beautiful weddings with amazing backdrops so if your an adventurous couple looking to get hitched abroad please get in touch as I would love to travel and get some more destination weddings under my belt! Get in touch here.

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