Wedding Photography – Part 2

Posted in Ask A Pro on by .

Last month we talked about the experience you’re purchasing from a wedding photographer when you buy a package from them, and that you’re not just purchasing photographs. You’re purchasing an experience with a professional image-maker and story-teller who has the reliability to always capture your good angle every time, to be able to handle any lighting situation, and to be able to invite your emotions into a photo so you don’t just have a picture: you have a joy-sparking, emotion-stirring image that reminds you of your wedding day joys for the rest of your marriage.

We talked about how you’re not saving money if you hire the cheapest photographer you can find, you’re actually just losing precious memories and the money you spent. We talked about the experience of hiring the cheapest photographer you can find versus hiring a professional who can guarantee quality and lifetime results, and what each of those experiences are like both after the wedding day and twenty years down the road. This month we’re going to talk about the business facts and background costs of running a photography business, and some of the reasons that make good wedding photography add up!

An Image Representing Wedding Photography - Part 2 In Lancaster County, Pa

Question: What are some of the background costs in a photography business that add up?

Let’s put a starting number on a hypothetical wedding package for the sake of easy math. WeddingWire says the average couple spends around $3,000 on their wedding photography. Wedding photography is on average 12% of the entire budget.

What does that hypothetical $3,000 go towards?

1- Taxes. $800 of that money will go straight to the government. That’s the least fun part.

2- Insurance. I insure my camera equipment! I joke that it’s worth more than my car… but that’s not actually a joke.

3- Software. My editing software is a monthly subscription. My gallery delivery program bills monthly as well. I also have a contract-signing program so my contracts are efficient, mutually signable, and filed securely.

4- Marketing. How did you hear about me? If it wasn’t word-of-mouth, it was probably my marketing. I spend hundreds of dollars a month in marketing. Marketing also costs me and my team a lot of time, too. Sometimes I publish my work, which is not always free. But isn’t it fun to know you’re hiring a published professional? That’s a fun extra perk.

Fern-Fountain-Bride5- My website is a monthly subscription as well. Websites don’t update themselves! I spend a lot of time keeping my website relevant and working on my overall web presence. If my website doesn’t look good, why would anyone trust me to make their wedding look good?

6- Second shooters/assistant editors. If I hire an assistant to shoot part of a wedding day or to edit the overflow, I trust that person and I pay them well because quality help I can rely on isn’t free. I trust my team to be excellent and serve you just as well as I would! So each time I hire an assistant to work for me, it costs me several hundred dollars per wedding.

7- Equipment replacement/repair/purchase. I upgrade and replace my camera, lenses, lighting, and computers as needed. I need to put part of the money I make aside so it’s available the next time I need to care for a piece of my equipment or buy a new product.

After all my up-front costs are covered, there’s still my time to account for:


8- Editing: If I am photographing your wedding day for 8 hours, I’m not making 3k in those 8 hours. The majority of the work I do is either before or after your wedding day and not during the number of hours you book me for your celebration. Here’s a little more information on my behind the scenes process and why it takes so much time:

I have to go through and clear all the photos that aren’t good enough. Maybe I had a misfire and there’s a picture of the grass and my feet. Maybe someone’s arm is at a terrible angle. Sometimes I remove a fire hydrant if it’s sticking out of the top of your head. I make your skin look healthy and flawless but not fake. Sometimes I need to replace an eye if there’s a twitch. I scrutinize the shadows on the faces and the way the light hits teeth. I take any bugs out of the skirts of dresses. Then I change 8-21 specific settings per photo before it’s finished. I spend 15 minutes on a single photo sometimes. Most couples get back approximately 600 photos from their wedding gallery because that’s what my most popular package includes. I go through each album three times to make sure it’s consistent, joyful, and beautiful. On average, my culling & editing process takes me anywhere from 25-35 hours per wedding.

Fern-Fountain-Couple-In-Field9- Clerical time: I track my office hours throughout this process. Meeting couples for coffee to go over and sign the contract, the organizational materials I share with couples, the vision casting phone calls/meetings I have to troubleshoot with the brides; the times where we get to hang out are SO FUN but it’s also part of my job. The average wedding is about 6 hours of clerical work including but not limited to visiting/researching the venue, all my contingency plans, carefully selecting my assistant photographer or editor, helping brides with their photo timeline, etc.

10- Education: I keep up on my trends and sharpen my skills with continuing education. I take at least one class/webinar/mentor session each month. I do a lot of practice shooting during my own time to make sure I’m prepared for every lighting scenario, skin color, venue layout, personality type, wedding style and culture, etc.

11- Accounting: Taxes are complex! I don’t want to get in trouble. I hire a professional to keep me organized and safe and we meet with him quarterly to make sure we’re keeping everything legal.

So now, 6 years after I got into this game, I can explain to my younger self why good photography is expensive. Of course, it adds up when you pay someone’s salary for three weeks if they’re dedicating their excellence and attention to the most important day of your life. It’s an investment to trust someone to give you the intangible luxury of remembering your most precious moments. Wedding photography is a luxury that serves you for 50 years and it’s your legacy to your children and grandchildren.

Fern-Fountain-Couple-ExteriorThe photography, videography, and the rings are often the only things couples will have from their wedding day for the rest of their lives. I take my weddings seriously because I cherish the trust of my clients. I invest in myself so I can competently give my clients a very high-value emotional experience of their wedding day. I put in the work to ensure that you’ll be radiantly happy with the gallery I deliver so you can relive your wedding day joys always.

The most adequate closing to this blog is a quote from PetaPixel: “Good wedding photography is a luxury service for a luxury occasion that commands luxury prices. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.’”



“Average Photography Cost”

The Unspoken Reason Why Wedding Photography is So Expensive”


In case you missed it, here is  Wedding Photography – Part 1



*Blog submitted from Emily at Fern & Fountain


Fern & Fountain Photography

Lancaster, PA
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