Why is professional wedding photography so expensive?

This is a great question. According to wedding photography directory SnapKnot, the average price of wedding photography in the U.S. is about $2,800. That seems like a lot, doesn't it?

Although I address this subject in detail in Chapter 4 of the book, I'll offer a few thoughts here.

First, you'll find a range of wedding photography services at all kinds of price points once you start looking. Some photographers are available for as little as a few hundred dollars (or maybe even free) while others will charge thousands of dollars. In many cases these price points reflect a corresponding level of quality, service, and experience--just as you'll find with other products like restaurants and automobiles. Expect to pay more for high-quality, professional work.

Second, there are only so many days wedding photographers can work. Most weddings take place on weekends, and the calendar includes only 52 weekends every year. Additionally, each wedding takes about 25-40 hours to process--besides the time spent making photographs on your wedding day. So many wedding-exclusive studios may photograph from 20-35 weddings per year (though, like anything, that varies).

Third, your photographer needs to run a profitable business in order to serve you and her other clients well. In its latest benchmark study, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) recommends that a home-based photography business needs to generate $150,000 in annual sales in order to be profitable. If a home-based wedding photographer shoots 30 weddings per year, that works out to $5,000 per wedding. And PPA recommends that a retail studio needs to generate $250,000 in annual sales to remain profitable (since they have additional overhead). That pushes the per-wedding rate of a 30-event per year wedding photography business up to $8,333.

These are just a few reasons why wedding photography might seem expensive at first. Work within your budget and hire the best photographer you can afford. Check out the book for more tips.

Read more Questions and Answers