How much wedding photographers earn in 2020 (Survey Results)

wedding photography cost analysis

Ever wondered how much a professional wedding photographer earns to shoot a wedding? That’s what I set out to discover earlier this year, with a short survey to broach a rather taboo topic…

Obviously, an anonymous survey comes with a lot of grey areas and assumptions, especially one that seeks to reveal something as personal as earnings.

Assumptions aside, this is a broad overview of the wedding photography industry here in 2020.

Let’s take a look at how the data was collected, then check out the results.

How the data was collected

survey shotkit wedding photographer average costs

Jotform was used to conduct the survey.

I was keen to keep the survey as simple as possible, to ensure a) the maximum number of respondents; and b) the minimum amount of confusion.

The questions I chose to ask were as follows:

  1. What country do you shoot weddings?
  2. How much do you charge per wedding? (On average.)
  3. How many weddings do you shoot per year? (On average.)

This obviously ignores a lot of variables, but nevertheless, it still gives a broad representation on what the average photographer earns to photograph a wedding in 2020.

The ‘number of weddings’ question helped weed out responses that didn’t meet the criteria of photographers who were shooting at least 10 weddings a year.

This number is rather arbitrary, but the assumption here is that if a photographer only shoots 5 weddings a year for example, they’re probably not doing the job full time, so have the ability to charge significantly more (or less) than a full-time wedding photographer.

Also, if a photographer is shooting less than 10 weddings a year, one could assume they are just starting out in the industry, and thus are more likely to charge less than average.

Finally, this survey obviously doesn’t take into account the wedding photographer’s expenses.

With the questions sorted, the next goal was to get as many respondents as possible.

Over a 3-month period, I pushed the survey out to multiple locations, including to Shotkit newsletter subscribers, to More Brides and LIT customers, to the Facebook Page/Group, and to multiple other wedding photography related communities.

I also paid for some Facebook ads to extend the reach of the survey a little further, and encouraged sharing of the survey as much as possible.

The reaction was generally very enthusiastic – as wedding photography is such a competitive industry, we are all interested to learn how much our counterparts are charging!

Since the survey was 100% anonymous, I like to think this would have encouraged honest and accurate responses – the assumption here is that some might view the cost a photographer is charging to be somehow indicative of his/her abilities, so making the responses anonymous, removes any ‘ego-factor’.

The Results

Due to the lack of sufficient responses from photographers based in other countries, I had to limit the survey to the USA, the UK and Australia.

It’s interesting to see that out of the 3 countries examined, the USA leads the way as the most expensive country to hire a wedding photographer, followed by Australia, then the UK.

Obviously, due to the discrepancies in the number of respondents in each country, the data needs to be taken with a rather large grain of salt, but the results still provide a broad overview of the current climate of the wedding industry.

USA copy

Currency: USD

UK wedding photographers

Currency: GBP

Australia wedding photographers

Currency: AUD

Why do Wedding Photographers Charge what they do?

Wedding costs

If you’re planning a wedding, or perhaps you’re thinking about getting into photography, I think this question warrants a short discussion.

After all, earning around $3,000 for a day’s work does sound appealing – depending on how quickly the post production is handled, the hourly wage is probably on par with some lawyers and doctors out there!

Obviously, no photographer books weddings every single day of the week, so that attractive ‘hourly wage’ quickly dissipates into something far less attractive. However, whichever way you look at it, shooting weddings can be a great way to earn money.

For an outsider, it probably seems like daylight robbery to charge what we do. After all, most of the time there’s no actual physical product being exchanged – it’s hard to put a price on a digital file, no matter how precious the memory.

So why is the average price to hire a wedding photographer what it is?

The cost of doing business for the average wedding photographer seems to be quite similar across the board.

Costs include equipment, insurance (public liability + equipment), education, advertising/marketing, software, website hosting, file storage, travel, and in some cases, the various costs associated with studio space and staff too.

Time-wise, while clients are only seeing the photographer on their big day, all the emailing, phone calls, invoicing, post-production and final delivery all add up. Outsourcing some of these tasks can save time, but the flip-side of course is yet another expense.

With business costs remaining relatively similar across the board, and behind-the-scenes time being something that generally reduces as we become more efficient, what causes the variation in what wedding photographers charge?

In a word, experience.

The guy you’re tempted by who’s offering his wedding photography services on Craig’s List for $500 is best avoided.

He’s likely either: a) working full time at another job and is just ‘experimenting’; b) shooting his first wedding; c) somehow shooting hundreds of weddings to make ends meet, aka churn and burn.

Whatever the case, his experience, or quality of experience is probably close to zero.

Like any profession, the more times you do something, the better you get at it.

The best wedding photographers aren’t just better at what they do because of length of service, either – they continue to invest in themselves with education, and in their gear to ensure they’re using the best tools to achieve their vision for their clients.

GoldHatPhotography

Also, it’s worth mentioning that ‘experience’ in this case doesn’t only relate to pushing the shutter button…

Knowing how to anticipate important moments; sensing where to place yourself to remain incognito; the ability to efficiently manage large groups or bossy brides’ mothers; being able to come up with a photo ‘opportunity’ in the harsh midday sun in the middle of nowhere – all these things come with experience, and a desire to constantly better yourself at your art.

Wedding photographers should be able to charge more, based on their experience. The sad reality is, however, that due to the huge amount of competition, this isn’t always possible.

The photographers consistently charging $6,000+ to shoot a wedding have established themselves well in their market, no doubt through years of experience and hard work. They are however, as the survey shows, in the minority.

Wedding photographers are a dime a dozen – seriously, we’re everywhere. The barrier to entry of this industry is incredibly low – get yourself a decent camera and a few lenses, and you’re free to charge whatever you like to shoot a wedding.

Whether you’ll do a good job is anyone’s guess, but my point is – us wedding photographers are stuck in a hugely competitive market, and we work our asses off to do what we do. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the best jobs in the world. Earning good money by making people so happy they cry – that’s priceless.

…but I also believe that the majority of us are paid in accordance with our efforts, our experience and our responsibilities. Being in charge of documenting the most precious day of our clients’ lives – now that’s a big cross to bear.

Final Questions | Over to You…

Will the effects of COVID-19 lead to a drop in the prices that wedding photographers can charge their clients?

Or will wedding photographers be able to continue raising their prices based on inflation?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Mark Condon

Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based in Australia and the founder of Shotkit.

24 Comments

  1. Pankaj Goel on August 17, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    Thanks for the tips.

  2. Soulseeker on June 21, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Awesome post and nice tips. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Nadhiya on June 17, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    When I got down to budgeting, I was completely stuck on how much to keep aside when it came to budgeting for the photography aspect. As I was browsing through to find a solution is when I came across your analytical data on what would be the cost of a wedding photographer. Thank you Mark on giving us a spectacular overview on the costing in different countries and what is to be expected from a wedding Photographer.

    • Mark Condon on June 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm

      Glad you found this useful, Nadhiya! Was beginning to think I’d wasted my time putting it all together!! ;-)

  4. Eustas Kays on May 21, 2019 at 7:03 am

    in Africa, in zambia to be specific the charge is between $150 – $300 USD the market is very poor and we end up charging less in order to have clients but it return we are literally making nothing, u can’t even afford to buy new equipment after an event, one has to cover several event in order to to buy a camera or any equipment,, it’s bad out here

    • Mark Condon on May 21, 2019 at 9:08 am

      Wow, that’s really sad Eustas. I noticed your email address – are you talking about video or stills photography? Either way, that’s really cheap… :-(

      • Tomas on May 19, 2020 at 11:09 pm

        I know that info about European countries is not covered because not enough respondents but do you have any at least partly data ? I think Europe is really interesting in this way because each country is in different salary level.
        At example in Slovakia is income per year between 5000€ ( east of the country) to 11000€ (capital city) after taxes.
        Wedding photographer cheaper than 500€ sounds suspicious, majority is priced 650-800€. Of course some celebrity photographer can go more than 1000€ but of course it’s big not common. Expectations of clients are of course push prices down as possible.

        • Mark Condon on May 20, 2020 at 5:20 am

          Sorry Tomas, I didn’t include the various European countries on my survey. Would like to investigate this next time though!

  5. Nikita Tretyakov on May 20, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    That’s an interesting insight, Mark. Clearly, you’ve highlighted the most obvious numbers. Though they are not a correctly weighted averages, they present quite a clear message. And this is exactly what you’ve intended, I suppose. Thanks for this!

    Do you think though that this information is more important for brides and grooms rather than for photographers? I mean what we are dealing with in the end is a price per hour. If I charge 1500£ for an 8-hour wedding it is fine, but I need to take into account also time spent on editing, communication, travel, prints, etc. Doing this fast can significantly increase revenue per hour. And that is where the comparison becomes interesting for photographers…

    • Mark Condon on May 21, 2019 at 9:10 am

      Thanks Nikita. I agree that this is a very basic comparison, just to give a broad overview for both photographers and clients. I’d love to do a survey which takes into account all the other expenses and income relevant to a wedding photographer – maybe something for the future.

  6. Rob on May 18, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Your understanding of what an average is, is pretty poor. The first stats you highlighted are the mode, or most common figure. I’m on my phone so I’ve not corrected this for you but it’s your first oversight.

    Secondly the skills that you’ve highlighted that are gained from experience suggest your own skills are lacking as controlling light is one of the biggest factors you pick up from experience, unless your a documentary (I don’t know how to work ocf) photographer.

    Though I admire your intent with this article I think you’ve missed the point and barely scratched the surface of what the value of a good wedding photographer is. You’re reasoning only justifies those investing up to a few thousand. As this is where I expect your price range sits. But think about those that charge 5k+ and higher, the top 5% are truly on another level and this article doesn’t even begin to touch on that.

    It’s not a bad article but incomplete and needs those stats correcting.

    • Mark Condon on May 20, 2019 at 10:41 am

      Thanks for your correction re. the ‘average’ error Rob. Re. the skills, obviously this wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list – I’m well aware controlling light is paramount in getting good images, as are numerous other factors I didn’t mention. As for my own skills lacking in that department, I guess that’s a matter of opinion – you’re welcome to check out my work and offer some critique. I took a look at yours and it seems like you’re doing well – keep it up ;-)

  7. Manoj mahangare on May 18, 2019 at 4:18 am

    40000 in India I expect

    • Mark Condon on May 18, 2019 at 4:42 am

      About 500USD? What’s that for and why do you think that, Manoj?

  8. Horsfall on May 18, 2019 at 2:18 am

    How much do Canadian photographers charge?

  9. Chris Mullane on May 17, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    I have 23 weddings booked in this year a drop on the previous years which is when I was doing 50 weddings at half the price. My price is £995 full days coverage, with all images supplied on a usb memory stick then I have another price at £1600 which includes a pre wedding shoot an album and two parent albums and a signature board. I am putting my price up for next year to £1450 for the day. Then I’m going to have bundles on top hope this will give me the chance to have flash sales with a big discount a couple times in year

    • Mark Condon on May 18, 2019 at 4:43 am

      Thanks for the insight, Chris. Sounds like you’re priced competitively. What town in the UK, may I ask?

      • Noël Levasseur on May 18, 2020 at 9:45 pm

        Interesting read. I’m just a hack but find the insight and comments useful. BTW: you have a typo : Why do Wedding Photographers harge what they do?

        • Mark Condon on May 19, 2020 at 4:56 am

          Thanks Noel! I’ve fixed that one now :-)

    • Andrea on May 20, 2019 at 6:18 am

      I would never advise having sales as it just upsets those who have paid the full price.

  10. Owen Billcliffe on May 16, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Kind of what I expected for the UK – £1000-£2000 roughly speaking is where most of us lie!

    • Mark Condon on May 17, 2019 at 6:33 am

      Ah glad the results seemed on par for you, Owen.

  11. Luca Bellanti on May 16, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Hi! Thanks for your work! Have you considered releasing the raw, anonymous data?

    • Mark Condon on May 17, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Thanks Luca! Err no I hadn’t thought to do that actually – what would be the benefit?

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