5 Reasons Why Photographers Cost So Much

and why they are so worth it!

Recently, I had an interesting experience with a past client of mine! And because of this experience, I felt like it was a good time to share with you my personal 5 reasons why photographers cost so much and why they are worth the investment – in every way!

The experience went like this. A client inquired about my prices for weddings and I sent her the prices after talking to her on the phone. S she personally didn’t seem shocked in any way. But when her fiancé took a good look at them, he had to do a double take. When I asked her what was his opinion was, she said “When he looked at it, he had a bit of a sticker-shock”. 

Has this happened to you before?

Sticker-shock?

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Wedding photographers are expensive. There! I said it! There is a reason why many wedding photography websites say “INVESTMENT” vs. “Package and Prices” – especially for wedding photography! It is an investment. But is it a worthy investment?

In San Diego, the average cost of a wedding photographer is about $2150 (from Snappr.co). Most people spend anywhere from $1000-$3100 on wedding photography in San Diego, CA. And the upper price for a photographer – the luxury and fine art photographers – starts at about $4300 (Based on WeddingWire.com) and can go even as far as $10,000+ for a Master level class photographer.

But, the big question is, what makes a $1000-$2000 so different from a $4000+ photographer and why are good photographers so expensive? In all honesty… ALOT! And the easiest way to explain it all is with 5 “E” words as to why photographers cost so much. These are my personal 5 reasons why photographers cost so much but are ENTIRELY WORTH IT! 

EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE, EDUCATION, EQUIPMENT & EXHAUSTIVE (??)

1st "E" Word

EXPERIENCE

First “E” word and one of the 5 reasons why photographers cost so much and are worth it is because of… EXPERIENCE. Experience wise, a $1-2K wedding photographer could be equivalent to a person who possibly just started wedding photography. But, this said person has never done a full wedding day by themselves. They may have been to weddings, been part of a wedding party, been a second wedding photographer before and may have gotten married themselves – which is a major plus, BUT they have never shot a full day wedding as a primary photographer. Their lack of expertise is that they may not know 100% what is expected of them during the wedding day. Like I said, In this case, they lack experience.

In contrast, a $4000 photographer, who is this person? Clearly, they are someone who has worked with numerous brides – one on one. Additionally, they have gone through so many weddings from start to finish and has been able to create a portfolio that is consistent in color and has a story that is complete – from start to finish. Every photo looks well thought out. Every photo captured and edited has a story behind it. 

Their clients rave about them and the ease it was to work with them. Guests rave about how sweet they are. Their clients felt relaxed throughout the day because they knew their photographer was on top of the schedule and was controlling the time – while making sure that everyones needs are met within the time things were scheduled for. The wedding day schedule was made – with the photographer in mind – so that there is enough time for perfect photos throughout the day! Yes…. that would be what an EXPERIENCED photographer is. 

 

2nd "E" Word

EXPERTISE

The first “E” word was EXPERIENCE – the second of my 5 reasons why photographers cost so much and are worth it is because of their EXPERTISE! As a result of their multitude of experience – experienced wedding photographers are capable of creating a wedding timeline for you that will make the most use of the great daylight and even in not so ideal lighting, they’re capable of creating wonderful photos that are worthy to be kept for years to come. Not only that, but as part of our wedding experience, we walk with you every step of the way through your wedding planning! 

Heck.. you could bring me with you to try on wedding dresses! We don’t leave you alone to do all the work! One of our main jobs is to share our wealth of knowledge and expertise with you! A photographer with expertise starts your wedding planning with you, walk with you through your planning, stay with you – almost – the WHOLE wedding day and then we are still working a month or two after your wedding is completely over and done! That is why our expertise is so important, you will realize that you will have a vague memory of what happened during your wedding and whatever memory you’ll have will be what you see in the photos.

To get an idea of how much interaction you will have with a proper wedding photographer, your year will look something like this…  

1 YR - BEFORE WEDDING

  • Hire a Photographer
  • Start talking about wedding timeline
  • Start talking about what time of the day is most ideal at the venue
  • Schedule engagement photo date and location
  • Early engagement photos – right after engagement and before wedding planning gets busy
  • if you do this, you can include your photos in the invitation!

6-9 MONTHS BEFORE WEDDING

  • Mid-way engagement photos – this is also a great time for engagement photos because you might need a break in the middle of the wedding-planning -craziness to just get away for 2-3 hours with NO WEDDING TALK!
  • This is also a great time to try-out your makeup artist. We usually suggest using the makeup artist you hire for the wedding so you can take them out for a test-drive as well!

1-3 MONTHS BEFORE WEDDING

  • Purchase prints of engagement photos to display during wedding
  • Finalize wedding day schedule with photographer
  • plan for first look & intimate B&G photos
  • plan for when to take bridal party photos, family photos and guest photos
  • sunset portrait or not
  • Sparkler exit? Bubble Exit? Candle Lit Exit?
  • Email all important contacts (ex. vendors, wedding planner, MOH & BM) to photographer
  • Do a walk-through of your location with your photographer & wedding planner
  • Prepare box for wedding day detail photos

1-3 MONTHS AFTER WEDDING

  • Receive Gallery from Wedding Photographer – yes… it does take time to edit 500-1500 photos…. cull/cut/selected from over 3000-5000 photos! Yes.. we really do shoot that many during an 8 hr. wedding day. Not to mention, there are two photographers with two different cameras!
  • Start Photo Album Planning & Planning Prints with Wedding Photographer
  • Review your wedding photographer and your vendors while the wedding day is fresh!
NOTE: AND I HAVEN’T EVEN MENTIONED WHAT WE DO DAY OF!! I WILL GET THERE IN ANOTHER BLOG!

3RD "E" Word

EDUCATION

IT’S NOT TRUE THAT IF YOU PICK UP A CAMERA THAT YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. 

So now that we’ve covered 2 words already, what’s the third “E” word and one of the 5 reasons why photographers cost so much and are worth it? The word is education! This reason is short and concise and can be seen through progression!   

I have been a photographer for about 23 years. Yet, I did not pick up a camera and worked comfortable in “M” or manual mode until about 8-9 years ago – even though we formerly started our company 10 years ago. But in all honesty, looking back at how I used to do weddings, photos and how much time I spent editing and making photos look the way I want them to, I realized it was taking too much time! I needed to capture photos in a way where i required minimum editing – where it was almost perfect from the camera. 

How did I get there? EDUCATION… and finding the right people to learn the basics and foundation I needed to do what I needed to do. However, it wasn’t a cheap education. It was definitely an investment. And I’m still learning and finding new things I need to learn. Continual education! Trying to stay current with times, trends… but yet, being true to myself and the direction I want to head with my company!

2009
2010
2019
2020

4TH "E" WORD

EQUIPMENT

The second to last “E” word and one of the major 5 reasons why photographers cost so much is…  the bottomless pit part of being a photographer. There can be and are SOOO MUCH equipment and lenses, camera bodies and etc. that one can get! However, photography isn’t all about equipment – some traveling photographers actually travel very lightly! Furthermore, equipment doesn’t only mean the cameras and camera equipment we own. 

Owning a business requires creating a system. It requires a backup system that helps streamline the process – making it less time consuming – giving us the time to just be human. Undoubtedly, there is a lot – this is just a small list here! And just so you know, I probably haven’t listed everything! 

CAMERA

Our cameras are probably one of the most expensive investment. With having a primary, we also need secondary as well as backup! One single full frame camera ranges anywhere from $1000 -$55,000! Yes… the most expensive camera in the world is about $55K.

In our case, because we are a husband and wife team, we need at least 4-6 cameras altogether Just in case of emergencies, we ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP!

CAMERA EQUIPMENT

LENSES: an expensive part of cameras. We have 2-3 major lenses we work with (sometimes 4)! 50mm f/1.4 ($500) & 24-70 mm f/2.8 ($1000-$1500), 85mm f/1.4 ($900-$1000) & 35mm f/1.4 ($1500) – which I’ve been eyeing. And these are just the lenses.

FLASHES: which can cost up to $500-$600 each. Some flash/lighting system can cost upwards of $1000+. And what about camera batteries? Memory cards for each of the cameras ($50-$150 each)? Flash stands? Repairs? Calibration?

EDUCATION & INSURANCE

EDUCATION: Trends change so we continually need to further ourselves and learn new things. We change our style and our methods – brush up on our existing methods or learn new ones! We learn from trend setters and others who have learned the ins and outs of the market. 

INSURANCE: What if someone steals our cameras? What if there is a fire or our car gets broken into? What if our house floods? We need insurance to cover all our equipment!

COMPUTER, BACKUP SYSTEMS, TECHNOLOGY

We need a fast enough computer to edit and cull 1000-5000 photos! Not to mention run Photoshop and Lightroom. External hard-drives? Cloud storage? Backup computer system? Booking software? Marketing software?  Automated email systems? Online payment ability? Adobe CC – the softwares we use to edit photos? Website hosting? Gallery hosting?

5TH AND LAST "E" WORD

EXHAUSTIVE

EX·HAUS·TIVE / ADJECTIVE
examining, including, or considering all elements or aspects; fully comprehensive

We’ve covered the first 4 words and are down to our last one. The first 4 “E” words reason why photographers cost so much and are worth it is: 1) Experience, 2) Expertise, 3) Education and 4) Equipment. Undoubtedly THE most important “E” word of our 5 reasons why photographs cost so much is THE ONE that clearly defines a great photographer – the word is EXHAUSTIVE!! 

Experienced and expert photographers are definitely exhaustive – we don’t rest until it’s done and we don’t miss a moment or miss a- beat during the wedding. We’re on our feet from morning to night – doing our absolute best to capture every memory and every piece of creatively that was put into wedding planning in the first place! Moreover, we capture the memories and details that you may have forgotten. We grab as many people as we can to take photos of – so you can remember who your guests are and who played a huge part in the success of your wedding!

“I knew before we even got engaged that I wanted Amy to photograph our wedding! And she did an absolutely incredible job! She worked nonstop the entire day to capture everything from the big picture to the little details that I barely had time to notice myself throughout the day. 

I’m not always super comfortable when being photographed, but Amy did such a good job giving us guidance and making me feel confident and beautiful! She worked so well with my friends and family to get all the photos we wanted, and every free moment she was sneaking special candid photos or grabbing Jackson and I for a couple more intimate photos. She was thorough and detailed and thoughtful, she captured everything that I wanted to remember from the wedding and kept us all on track throughout the day! 

Looking back on the moments she captured, I feel the love, joy, and excitement of that day all over again. I get to see the most special day of my life, beautifully frozen forever in time, taken by one of my most dear friends. I am so thankful for Amy and the hard work and love that she puts into her work!” – Kayla Judge (married July 2019).

 

SO WHAT NOW?

A good wedding photographer is worth the money. Hopefully my 5 reasons why photographers cost so much has persuaded you of this worthy investment! If you are going to invest your money in all the small details in you wedding, hire someone who is capable of documenting every minute details that you painstakingly created and planned. Hire someone who reflects the joy of your wedding – reminding you, every moment, to remember what the wedding is about. Don’t be that 30% that end up regretting your wedding photographer? Hire someone who loves what they do and let it reflect in the work they produce & the reviews they receive from their clients – which can say so much. And there you go 🙂 those are my 5 reasons why photographers cost so much! 

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