Wedding Photographer Cost Comparison

wedding photography cost analysis
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I’ve been meaning to publish a wedding photographer cost analysis for some time now. I’m a wedding photographer, so was naturally curious to see what my counterparts are charging.

I also wanted to provide brides and grooms some information on average wedding photography costs, in an attempt to help them plan their big day.

Whether you’re a wedding photographer or someone about to get married, I hope you’ll find this study useful.

If nothing else, I’ve also opened the floor to a heated discussion about the merits of paying above the market average for your wedding photography.

Let’s dive right into the findings…

The Cost of a Wedding Photographer in 2019

First off, here are the results. Read on below to discover how I actually collected the data, as well as the assumptions I made.

First off, the USA:

Average wedding photographer cost in USA 2019

All figures in USD (US$)

Result: The most common cost of a wedding photographer in the USA in 2019 is between $3,000~3,500, with $1,500~2,000 being the second most common photography package price.

Next up, my home country for 20 odd years, the UK.

Average wedding photography cost in UK 2019

All figures in GBP (£)

Result: The most common cost of a wedding photographer in the UK in 2019 is between £1,500~2,000 (US$1,937~2,583), with £1,000~1,500 (US$1,290~1,937) being the second most common photography package price. (Currency conversions correct as of 27/4/19.)

…and finally, my current home for the past 10 years, Australia.

Average wedding photographer cost in Australia 2019

All figures in AUD ($)

Result: The most common cost of a wedding photographer in Australia in 2019 is between $3,500~4,000 (US$2,463~2,815), with $3,000~3,500 (US$2,095~2,463) being the second most common photography package price. (Currency conversions correct as of 27/4/19.)

 

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.

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 therein.

The questions I chose to ask were as follows:

  1. What country do you shoot weddings?
  2. How much do you charge per wedding? (The price of your most commonly booked package including tax.)
  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 cost is to hire a wedding photographer in 2019.

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 can assume they are just starting out in the industry, and thus are more likely to charge less than average.

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

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

Reddit survey

Fortunately r/weddingphotography were enthusiastic to take part in the survey.

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 obviously very 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’.

Why do wedding photographers charge so much?

Wedding costs

Image from my 92nd wedding in July 2017 | Sydney | © Gold Hat Photography

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

Image from my 48th wedding in July 2016 | Maleny, Australia | © Gold Hat Photography

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 Words | Over to you…

I’m keen to repeat this survey every couple of year to see whether anything changes.

Will wedding photographers be able to continue raising their prices based on inflation? Or will we be forced to remain competitive by aligning our prices with our competition?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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

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12 Comments

  1. 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 ;-)

  2. 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?

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

    How much do Canadian photographers charge?

  4. 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?

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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