When it’s time to find a photographer to shoot your wedding, you may be wondering how much it will cost to use their services. What is the average cost most couples spend for a wedding photographer? What can you expect? Is it worth it to hire an amateur to save money?
While these concerns are a part of every couple’s wedding questions, we’ve decided to help alleviate any stress you may have about finding a wedding photographer. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the cost of a wedding photographer so you’ll know what to expect.
Average Wedding Photographer Cost
The average price for a wedding photographer is dependent upon several factors. The location of the wedding, the venue, your photographer’s expertise, and the types of packages and services you desire can all shape the overall cost of your wedding photography.
Price ranges for hiring a wedding photographer in the US can be as low as $300 to $4500 or more on the high end. In large cities like New York and LA, couples can often expect to pay between $3000 and $4700 for a wedding photographer. If your photographer also has a videographer, you can expect this price to increase. In contrast, smaller towns and less extravagant weddings can expect to pay less.
On average, a midwest couple living in the middle of the wage bracket might expect to pay $2000 for a wedding photographer. Of course, the venue’s location, the photographer’s expertise, and the package or service chosen can cause the wedding photography prices to rise or decrease.
What’s Covered in a Wedding Photographer’s Prices?
Most photographers you meet will already have pre-made packages and services that outline what they will include in the shoot. It’s essential to go over their information and services carefully and ask plenty of questions to ensure the package is right for you and your wedding.
Below are some of the services offered in wedding photography packages so you can get an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that location and expertise will be the two largest dependents when it comes to determining the cost of your photographer. When choosing the photographer that is best for you, be sure to ask if your wedding location will affect cost.
On average, photographers offer a base set of hours to work with for shooting weddings. This is typically around the six-hour mark to ensure that the entire wedding day is covered. Most photographers are willing to work beyond six hours to truly capture the life-changing event. However, you should know that the more hours you request of your photographer, the more money you will have to spend on the service.
Depending on your wedding location and the location where your photographer is based, you may have to spend a little extra on travel costs. If you are choosing a local photographer, this may not be as much of an issue.
However, if your wedding is an hour or more drive away, you may need to pay for your photographer’s mileage and travel expenses. Or, if you have a destination wedding that requires airfare and room and board, you may find that you will have to supply accommodations for your photographer.
Every wedding photographer goes about their job differently. While some like to take the job solo, others may have assistants or second shooters to help capture the wedding. If your photographer has a small team of assistants or working with a handful of photographers to shoot your wedding, you can expect to pay more for their services.
Most people are under the impression that when they hire a wedding photographer, they are only paying for the actual shoot. This is not the case. Wedding photographers spend the majority of their time editing the photos after the wedding is over. This is a time-consuming and creatively intensive process that requires skill and patience. Often, the bulk of your money will go towards the time invested by the photographer to edit the wedding photos.
At the end of the day, you will likely expect to have your wedding photos on file. Typically, wedding photographers hand over the images digitally, whether it be a digital file, physical USB drive or online gallery.
You’ll need to discuss the method of handing over wedding images before booking your photographer. While it often doesn’t require more money for this step, it is an integral part of ensuring you receive the best of the best!
You should also consider asking your photographer when you can expect final images and completed edits. Editing is a long process (as mentioned above), so you may have to wait a month or so after the wedding to obtain your wedding photos‘ final edits.
In the world of photography, you may come across the words “print release.” This means that you may use your wedding photos for your personal use. However, you will typically not be allowed to sell these photos as you do not own them. Most photographers retain their photos’ copyright, meaning that they own the photos and sell them and use them for marketing purposes.
If you post your wedding photos online, you may be required to share the photographer’s name or profile to prevent copyright abuse. Print release and copyrights are often outlined by your photographer before the shoot so that you will be completely aware of the rights retained by both parties and who will own the photos.
Prints are another standard service provided by wedding photographers. Some photographers will offer printed versions of your photos for a small price. This is typically tacked on to your existing charges for their service. While you can choose to print your photos elsewhere, the images printed by your photographer often come out more professionally.
Most photographers include photo prints in one or more of their wedding photography packages. This is something you will need to discuss with your photographer before booking.
Some photographers offer the creation of a wedding album to document the occasion. This is often included in one of the photographer’s packages for a higher rate than a package without this option. Ultimately, you decide whether you want to have the wedding album in your photographer’s package or seek the product elsewhere.
About 60% of couples participate in an engagement session shoot before the wedding. Your wedding photographer may include this in their package and perform an engagement shoot for you and your spouse-to-be.
If you choose to do an engagement shoot, you should expect to contact your wedding photographer six months before the wedding. Wedding photographers can become quickly booked, and you want to ensure they can be available for the wedding day.
Furthermore, most engagement photo sessions are done three months before the wedding, so you want to ensure your photographer has spare time before the big day to shoot and edit engagement photos. Additional shoots can be bridal portraits, “trash the dress” sessions, rehearsal photography, and more.
You may also want to ask your photographer to capture moments from your rehearsal dinner. Before booking a photographer make sure they are available for all of the events you want them to capture, like rehearsal dinner coverage. Wedding photographers often get booked quickly, so it’s common for them to work Friday & Saturday wedding events.
These cover some of the main factors that will determine the average wedding photographer cost. However, it is only a basis for what you can expect. It’s important to fully outline the details of your shoot with your photographer to know the exact cost.
Additionally, some wedding photographers charge extra for equipment, props, employees, and liability insurance.
Do You Tip a Wedding Photographer?
Tips are not included in wedding photography cost, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. On average, couples tip their wedding photographer anywhere from $100 to $200 depending on service quality and expertise. You should factor in the tip to your overall photography budget to prepare accordingly.
Also, it’s customary for couples to provide a review for the photographer that they could use in their marketing and promotional campaigns. Since wedding photographers often don’t have recurring clients, reviews help tremendously in finding work. It’s an additional way to provide a thank you for their time.
How to Find the Right Photographer
Finding the right photographer can be challenging. A great way to find the best match for your wedding is through social media and asking newlyweds to recommend the photographer they worked with for their wedding. Couples often develop a bond with their photographer and will be eager to share their photographer’s name with you.
You can do a quick search for local photographers in your area and find the photographer that will work best for you. By searching locally, you may be able to save money on travel and accommodations. You can also check out the reviews from previous clients to get a feel for the photographer’s expertise.
You’ll also want to check out their previous work to make sure their wedding photography style matches your personal style. This can easily be done by going to the photographers website or social media to see previous weddings they’ve shot.
What to Ask Before Booking a Wedding Photographer
Before booking a wedding photographer, there are a few clarifications you need to make. You should always ask for previous work to see if the photos and style suit your needs.
Ask about the types of packages, what they include, and how much they cost. Don’t shy away from more specialized questions about your venue, lighting, props, and any specific photo opportunities you would like your photographer to take. It’s your wedding, after all!
Just keep in mind that there are many different factors that can affect wedding photography pricing. It’s best to sit down with your future spouse to discuss a wedding photography budget and have a checklist of things you both want from your photography package.
This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.