Whether you’ve searched on Google or have gotten advice from family or friends who have been married in the past, it’s important to research the most up-to-date information when considering how much you should invest in your wedding photographer. Websites like WeddingWire or The Knot (being two of the top sites showing up on Google) will portray a generalized average amount couples should expect to spend on photography. Keep in mind that their surveys reference a select pool of couples who access those respective websites. What about the couples who don’t? I’d suggest taking blogs like these with a grain of salt. Having realistic expectations is most important when wedding planning and hiring any vendor. The price of wedding photographers can be determined by several things. Ultimately it depends on what level of quality and expertise you value.
From Beginner To Professional
There are tons of wedding photographers to choose from. While doing your research you’ll come across photographers at all different skill levels. With the rising popularity of technology and social media sharing, many people are now buying high-tech electronics including professional-grade cameras. Beginners may have some of the same camera gear as professionals but won’t be in the same price range. On the lower end, you can find a novice charging $100 per hour or less. At the same time, professional pricing can be anywhere between $300-$500+ per hour. Beginner photographers might have the gear, but don’t always have the skill, knowledge, or experience that comes with working at weddings.
Differences You Should Know
Prices don’t always reflect skill level but can be an indication of what you can expect from a photographer. Small companies that offer lower prices may be slowly gaining experience and building their portfolio. Or they rely on a high volume of clients to sustain themselves and may not concentrate on weddings exclusively. Either way, you’re taking a risk when hiring anyone to capture such an important day. It’s best to hire someone you can trust to provide the results they promise. When working with a professional you can rely on set expectations.
Just like any other profession, you can expect to spend more when hiring someone who specializes in wedding photography. There can be small companies, normally run by a single owner, and even larger companies that hire contracted photographers. Those who are just starting out or simply doing photography as a hobby will charge lower rates or even work for free ($0-$2500). Large company prices can fall between low and midrange since they’re able to book more than one wedding per day and still profit while contracting the work to hired photographers. A small tax-paying business owner with years of experience, professional camera gear, lighting equipment, knowledge and skill, a clear process, etc. usually comes with a higher price tag.
Hiring A Small Business
You probably know or are someone who owns a small business. Over the last 5+ years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of small businesses being established. The amount of success has been closely comparable to that of larger businesses and the expenses are often the same. The size of a business doesn’t determine its quality of work or professionalism. With that being said, you can find an amazing wedding photographer who owns a small business. Usually, they work on perfecting their craft and consistently producing a signature style in their photographs.
Some photographers will offer services for any occasion or type of session. Wedding photographers for the most part focus on working with couples and capturing weddings. Professional photographers that specialize in weddings and provide high-quality photographs with a consistent style charge from $4000 upwards to $8000+. They carry a higher price tag but unlike a large company, you can get to know and connect with your photographer one on one before hiring them. You truly get to personalize your experience with them. Plus, you can guarantee that they will be the ones to show up on your wedding day (unless there is a case of an emergency). Professional photographers don’t take on as many clients throughout the year. This gives them time to focus on and really dedicate themselves to each couple they work for.
If you’re engaged, would prefer a professional photographer who owns a small business and having your wedding in or near Houston TX, I’d love to chat with you. Though I’d love your business, there’s no obligation to book and if I’m not the right fit I’d be more than happy to refer you to another photographer.
Is A Large Company Right For You?
Several large professional wedding photography companies provide services all over the US. They employ individual photographers on a contractual basis. It’s required to have the knowledge and capability to operate a camera and other equipment to work for these companies. As employers, they can maximize their profits by booking multiple weddings at a time while hiring out and paying a moderate wage. This ensures that all overhead and business expenses are covered by using a high volume low-price model. They’re able to keep their prices competitive due to this business structure. Pricing for large companies usually ranges between $1000-$3500+.
When hiring a large company, your wedding photographer is chosen for you. Unlike a small business, you won’t be able to pinpoint the photography style or connect with your photographer before hiring them. Their skill level and experience are going to vary from person to person.
Experience Is Everything
Not only will the amount of experience affect the overall price, but the level of the customer experience a photographer provides will add even more value. You’ll find that most professional photographers with years of experience will have a streamlined process from when you first connect with them leading up to your wedding day and sometimes even after. Wedding planning is stressful enough. It’s easy to justify a higher price if you’re being well taken care of and having all your questions answered before you ask them.
What’s All Included
Once you’ve decided on the skill level you’re looking for, the final price for wedding photography is going to depend on what your needs are. A full wedding day requires anywhere between 6-12 hours of photo coverage, if not more. Some wedding photographers work alone, some have the option to add a second photographer and even an assistant. Additional sessions or printed products also affect the final cost. You should expect to pay more if your wedding photographer is providing you with an engagement session, capturing your wedding day, and delivering any keepsakes like a wedding album or wall art to decorate your home. You’ll start to notice some similarities between the pricing structures of different photographers once you start your research.
How Much Should I Expect To Pay For A Wedding Photographer?
The hard answer is, that it depends. Every couple is different and the type of photographer you choose for your wedding is going to have to check all the boxes that work for you. Once you narrow down the skill level and professionalism, style, experience, and offerings that are non-negotiable for you, it’ll be easy to create a list of possible wedding photographers you’ll love.
If you’re engaged, in East Texas and searching for a wedding photographer in Houston, I’d love to hear from you.