Ask Christina : Why are photographers so expensive?

Posted On: Wednesday, June 13, 2012


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Hello readers and clients,

No actual question this week, but I wanted to answer a question I often get from clients:

“Why are photographers so expensive?”

Before we get started with planning, I always sit the couple down and discuss their budget.  We go over general costs of food/beverage and venue.  These numbers are steep too, yes, but you can’t have a wedding without a location and food/drinks, right? Many clients first get sticker shock, understandably of course.  I may be jaded because I’m surrounded by weddings, rental rates, price sheets, and proposals, however, I also get to taste the final product, see the quality images, film, and so forth.  On the flip side, I also witness poor quality, and often times, you get what you paid for.

This is pretty standard across the board in the industry, but today, I’d like to focus on photography.

Food is eaten, music is danced to, and your dress is worn… but all you have at the end of the day to remember your wedding is your wedding images and film.  So it’s important to invest time and money on a high quality photographer.

Whether it’s $2,000 or $10,000*, it’s still a lot of money to pay someone for one day.  I get your point of view, I really do!  But the misconception here is that the services provided by the photographer is only for ONE day, when in fact, it’s for many days spread over a long period of time.

I asked my good friend, Gary Nevitt Jr. of Gary Nevitt Photography, to shed some light on his hours per wedding, and what he disclosed below may surprise you (unless you’re a fellow photographer):

Meeting and initial contacting = 1.5-2 hrs
Contracts and Misc communications about the day = 1-2 hrs.
E-Session Including travel and session =3 hrs
Processing and posting E-session = 2 hrs
Wedding day prep (charging, cleaning and organizing for the day) = 2 hrs
Wedding day Including travel time = 12-14 hrs
Uploading and Backup = 2 hrs
Editing – Culling and Color correcting = 4 -5 hrs
Blog postings, On Line Galleries, Facebook postings = 1 hr
Album design = 2-3 hrs
Final Retouching for album and prints = 2 hrs
Wrapping up final product and shipping = 1 hr

(plus additional time for business related items, such as album costs, assistants, advertising, insurance, gear, website, travel, gas, parking, taxes, health insurance, retirement expenses, etc.)

Total time involved in typical Wedding = 32-36 hrs +

A typical wedding ceremony and reception is about 5-6 hours, but photographers are usually there in the morning until the very end of the reception, and most of them go home and transfer images to their hard drive the moment they get home, and this can take hours!

So when you think a photographer is getting paid to work for just one day, think again! 

Your photographer is also on his/her feet all day.  So remember to request a vendor meal.  A nice tip or a gift, or a glowing online review is also always appreciated for his/her hard work.

Very special thanks to Gary for taking time to help me out, and also for providing some beautiful wedding eye-candy! (PS: I just happened to choose all kissy couples!  We love happy couples here at cHill Weddings!)

*note: I would like to add that you can also pay a lot of money for shoddy work.  I have seen images from a beautiful wedding that were awful!  And it really saddens me when a couple spends time and money planning an amazing wedding, and their forever memories are less than perfect.  So, yes, you can pay less for quality images and you can pay a lot for bad images… so when interviewing photographers, always ask to see a full album or two of past weddings.  Don’t just rely on a few images you see on a blog!