By Maine wedding photographer, Scott Linscott
Holy cow, weddings are crazy expensive, right? It seems like everyone just adds a zero to or doubled their price as soon as the word “wedding” is mentioned. I hear you. We found the same thing to be true when planning our daughter’s wedding. Order a cake for a retirement party and it’s $200 but say it’s for a wedding? Boom! $400!
Why is everything so expensive? Are vendors just taking advantage and inflating their prices or is there a reason prices are so steep? Some of these 5 reasons that wedding photography is expensive may also apply to other wedding vendors.
- CODB is key to pricing, no matter what the business.
What is CODB? Cost of doing business. Every self-employed business owner understands that if they do not charge enough to cover their costs of doing business they will not be in business long. Your wedding photographer has numerous costs to cover. Robin and I spend about $1000 a year just on association fees and liability insurance. Photographers that run studios outside their homes have to pay additional rent and utilities to keep their doors open, even during the slow season. On top of that add the cost of photography gear, computer equipment and editing software, equipment maintenance and replacement. (We spend $800 a year in March to have our Nikon camera bodies serviced, checked, adjusted and repaired before wedding season hits just to make sure they are in top shape.)
2. Photography gear is expensive!
It is not uncommon for Robin and I to arrive at a wedding with at least $12,000 worth of gear and we could easily double that. Professional level photo gear is understandably more versatile than consumer level gear. Without getting into technicalities of ISO and image noise, I can tell you that our gear is able to handle darker wedding chapels without flash that the very nice $1000 digital cameras cannot. It is not uncommon for us to spend $2000 on a single lens. Why? They can better handle poorly lit reception halls. We are ready to set up off-camera lights on portable stands if needed with high-powered flashes on remote syncs. We can bounce light wherever we need it. We bring at least two camera bodies, backup batteries and all we need to keep shooting should we experience equipment failure. It’s never happened but we’re ready for when it does. No, it’s not the camera that makes the photographer but it’s silly to deny that top-level equipment, in the hands of someone who understands how to use it, makes a major difference in results.
3. Your wedding is the tip of the iceberg.
You may think you’re paying someone for 6-8 hours to show up and photograph your wedding. For most of the higher level pros, that is far from true. The photographer who simply offers you files on a USB stick might spend a bit more time than that but the full-service professional who provides you with quality wall art and custom-designed, professionally-produced showpiece albums that will become more valuable with each passing year, spends much more time than that. It is not uncommon for Robin and I to spend at least 50 hours on a single wedding by the time everything is complete.
4. Supply and demand.
Simple, right? Supply and demand affects pricing across the board. Your top photographers are in demand for a reason. Their schedules will book up a year or more in advance. It’s the same with wedding venues. You are not going to have any luck booking a Saturday wedding at the gorgeous inn on the coast if you wait until three months before wedding season.
5. Education and experience.
If you are wanting to book a photographer with education and experience, it is going to be more expensive than trusting your wedding to your friend with the nice camera or the mom who has been taking pictures of her kids and is now launching into wedding photography. I see those people in online photography forums asking which lenses to rent and talking about being nervous. It makes me nervous that people are trusting them with their weddings! Wedding photography is so much more than snapping photos. Wedding photography includes vision, planning, time management and people management skills. It includes knowing where to look to catch the father-daughter moments and the pictures of the flower girl and bride. Experienced and educated wedding photographers are not wondering what lens to use or what ISO setting or shutter speed to shoot at. They are not shooting 2500 images hoping to improve the odds that they will catch some great shots by chance. Educated and experienced wedding photographers make photographs while others take photos.
Good wedding photography is expensive. You need to decide if the expense is worth it to you. Are you planning to display wall art? Is it important to you to be able to flip through an album someday with your granddaughter at your side? Or will you do little more than post your pictures on Facebook and throw the USB stick in a box somewhere and eventually lose track of it while it becomes obsolete and new technology replaces it? (I recently had a woman ask me if I could get her images off a floppy disk! Um, no.)
Of course, we believe there is nothing more valuable than your photos. Your photos are the only thing your kids will look for when they plan your 5oth anniversary celebration. Of course, I’m going to encourage you not to use your photography line item to squeeze your budget because I see it as an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.
Your memories are priceless.
Scott and Robin Linscott are Maine wedding photographers at Maine Pro Photo. Linscott Photo is based in Westbrook, Maine but the Linscotts have photographed destination weddings from Maine to Maui. They have been married for 32 years and are still best friends.