Why Do Wedding Photographers Charge So Much??

Well let’s talk about that. 😉

A little while ago a bride posted a Craigslist ad (well….a rant really) about how frustrated she was trying to find a photographer that was affordable, to her. The ad has since been removed (I can only guess because of the response I’m sure you can imagine she received) but I am posting the photo of it, along with a re-typed version of her rant, word for word (so don’t judge me for her typos :)).

“WHY is finding an amazing wedding photographer so difficult?

I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.

WHY because the word “WEDDING” is involved photographers think they can charge you $3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you ATLEAST 15 grand after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!!! I love all you $3,000.00 photographers out there but  i think your prices are WACK. All your doing is hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them. and that’s owrth 3 GRAND!!! You’re making so much money its crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the “average” persons salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around 3 grand. (Thats making 195 an hour) So you’re going to take someones WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen day of photos? Just because you CAN!!???????? So that maybe they will not be able to feed themselves or pay any other bills they have, right? It makes me SICK!

I know i’m speaking for more than just myself right now. Alot of brides out there think the same thing. & I bet all you fancy photographers wont even read this. oh well. Maybe there are cheaper photographers that will read this and LOVE to take my photos. :)”

So I could go into every single reason why we charge what we charge, but a wonderful photographer already did that (and very nicely so), which you can read here. In response to her awesome post, this photographer received a lot of support and, to my dismay, a lot of criticism, as you can read in the mountain of comments she received. As a result, she posted a follow-up here to defend herself. I was really bummed she actually had to do that. It wasn’t the criticism from brides that disappointed me, I expected that. I was a bit disappointed in some of the responses of other pro photographers. Some even had the nerve to criticize the amount in bills this woman pays. Seriously?? After her awesome blog post defending our art, our profession, our skills, our right to be good at something and charge accordingly for it and you’re going to attack her for how much she pays for the lease on her car?? Wow. I mean….W.O.W. Where’s the love ya’ll?

But I digress. Listen, I can understand why we’re questioned on why we charge what we charge since the whole wedding scene is dominated by couples that have never been here before. We dream about our weddings but we rarely think about the price tag attached to it. It’s expensive. I agree. And there is a lot that goes into our, Craig Photography, decision to charge what we charge. We charge what we charge based on where we live (we obviously won’t charge as much as, say, a wedding photographer from Orange County, CA), how much experience we have (me: 7 years, John: 20+), how good we think we are (OK–so we do have a healthy confidence in our art..no sin there!) and also based on what others of less, equal and greater experience, skill and talent are charging around us. I’m happy to say that affords us a lovely lifestyle. We’re not the Trumps (or even someone that cleans all their homes) but this is what we do full time and we can pay our bills, eat and still take some nice vacations. I say that’s living pretty well. I feel good about the life we have provided for our family. I really don’t like it, though, when I have to defend my right to live this lifestyle or charge what I charge to continue it or even apologize for living a good life. But it’s funny to me how there’s no rant on Craigslist to the realtor that you bought your $300,000 home from, or when someone has purchased a new car. I have also never read a verbal attack on the doctor that performs cosmetic surgery or the finance guy that watches over your investments. All of these are choices. You could have purchased a less expensive home, opted for the used car, skipped the botox injections and made the decision to watch over your own money. For some reason it seems to me that it is those jobs within the creative industries that are continually under attack. For some reason there is a culture of wheeling-and-dealing that goes hand-in-hand with any trade where if you’re good with your hands + mind, somehow you’re prices are always negotiable and what you charge is always suspect.

It would be easy for me to say that there are plenty of lower-budgeted photographers that that woman could have hired. It would be easy for me to say that she could really save all her money and go to a lovely location on a beach and probably be able to afford everything she wants, if she was willing to scale down a bit. But it’s not her, really. Our customers mostly have no idea why we charge what we charge and for a lot of them it comes as a shock that we charge the amount we do…especially since most of them truly do not understand how much time and energy we put into our craft (for them, for others, for ourselves, for our futures…I would say that my workload and my hours of work per week would rival even the most successful attorney or any other profession that requires a commitment to loooooooooooonnnnnnnggggg hours. Because if I don’t work, I don’t eat). So I have a lot of patience with clients that want to know how and why we can charge what we charge. I have very little for others that are in the very same industry and want to work to bring others down.

I have had the unfortunate experience within the last 6 months to have to defend our company multiple times from those, in many different forms, putting us under attack. We have been attacked from the inside, from the outside and around some corners that we were not expecting. Each incident was sad, as each made us wise up in a way we didn’t want to. I’m more of the “Can’t we all just get along” school of thought…but unfortunately sometimes ignorance is not bliss; it can sometimes be an open road that leads to sneak attacks. I have been forced to defend our pricing, our way of doing business and I’ve even been in the position of having to defend my right to defend my company! Yes, that hurt a bit.

I guess my point is, if you truly do not believe that some photographers are worth their pricing, I really believe you will find someone that is. Just remember you do get what you pay for. And if you really want to know why we charge what we charge, ask me. I’m an open book (hence the open road to sneak attacks).

If you’re in this industry and you see another under fire, get in there and help out. If you are in this industry and you are the one engaging fire, please, for all of us, take a seat, take a deep breath and think about what you’re doing. We’re all in this together.

If you’re a bride that is frustrated at the cost of throwing a nice shin-dig, ask us about it. There is nothing more enlightening that being knowledgeable about something you’re unsure of so that you can make an informed decision. In the end, John and I just want the chance to put our skills to work, to broaden our experiences, to meet new people, to have fun and of course, take some rockin’ photos that will just blow your mind. Anyone with me? 🙂

And to end this on a really funny note, see the video below that a good friend of mine, another successful photographer, put up on her Facebook page today. Thanks Kara Marie!


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5 thoughts on “Why Do Wedding Photographers Charge So Much??

  1. I’ll quote you on the “you get what you pay for”. I must say I once questioned the price in my mind, as any bride on a budget would. After paying what may be considered to some as expensive, I can say whole-heartedly that the photos you took of us….are PRICELESS. Coincidentally my husband and I were just discussing this last night, and the outcome of the conversation was that it was worth EVERY PENNY. Thank you for your talent, your loyalty to your work, and for being YOU!

    1. Thank you so much Kat. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you charge. I could charge a million bucks but I could still stink as a photographer. What matters is exactly what you wrote above. Thank you for taking the time to comment and thanks for being in our cheering section. 🙂 xoxo

  2. Elizabeth —

    I wholeheartedly agree with your post (thankfully I haven’t had to defend my prices…YET) but I’m always nervous that someone will, so sadly, I do undercut myself WAY TOO MUCH. First off, it’s just me doing everything. (Consulting, shooting, editing, presenting, delivering, etc…) Also, even though I’ve been photographing weddings/babies/maternity/family for close to 6 years…I’ve never had a steady stream of clientele due to the fact that I work a full time job, and I do the shooting on the side. Therefore, since I don’t do as much, I don’t get as much business, and every job I do is word-of-mouth (I’m getting more and more though…so I will feel more justified to charge more as jobs get bigger and bigger). I truly believe in my art and my talent, and it is a passion — as I am sure it is with you and John (and I have seen your images…I used to print some of your proofs at Ritz — I was the nice friendly lady with the glasses!) but sadly, again…I undercut myself. The most I’ve ever charged was about 2K. But then again, this was for a wedding at a public park, and a personal friend of mine. I don’t know…I don’t want to feel like I am one of those cheapo photogs because I don’t charge as much – yet – or maybe it’s a confidence thing or I’m just afraid of backlash…but I also agree with the whole “you get what you pay for” mantra, but with me you get more. You want quality, you pay for it. And it is worth every penny.

    And again, I am doing this COMPLETELY on my own…no help. No studios hiring me or being an intern or a second shooter, no loans from a bank or anyone investing in me. And WHEN I am in an upper echelon, I will look back and be proud of myself because I did it by myself. So I don’t know. Food for thought.

    1. Hey I remember you Michele! 🙂 Thanks for commenting. The only thing that matters is your art. Finding it, practicing it, improving it, using it and making sure in the end, you’re happy doing it. What you charge doesn’t matter, but always remember to follow your instincts. Our prices are set where we feel confident and comfortable. It’s higher than some and less than others and it doesn’t matter. I feel good about it and that’s what is important. And we’re still eating so clients must agree! 🙂

  3. Great post, Elizabeth. I rarely get questioned about my pricing, but when I do (or I’m asked to cut my prices lower than I’m willing to consider) I remind them that long after the cake is eaten, the guests have gone home, and they are long back from their honeymoon, the photos are what is left of EVERYTHING. The cake details, the way the room looked, the fact that Aunt Marge and Uncle Fred made it to their wedding from far away, and that 85 year old Grandma still has it on the dance floor. Those things truly don’t have a price, when you consider that their great grandchildren will one day have them on display at their wedding. (That one gives me gets me every time, when I need to be reminded that what we, as photographers do, has irreplaceable value.)

    I just got a thank you email from a December client who told me that her beloved grandmother died just weeks after her wedding. They thanked me for the many images (and videos) I took of this great lady – and for the fact that this is how so many people would remember her. THAT’S what it’s all about.

    Thanks for bringing up this subject. It’s a good conversation to have.

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