Finding a photographer that is a great fit style-wise and personality-wise is one of the best investments of your wedding day. The right photographer will be able to ease your fears and should feel like your friend. I’m going to start by breaking down a few things you should think through when beginning the search for a wedding photographer, and conclude with what the average amount you should spend on a wedding photographer.
Searching for a wedding photographer is challenging. Good news is, I’ve been in your shoes as a bride! I wrote out all the things I had to think through when searching for MY wedding photographer!
Short answer, YES! A professional wedding photographer is often booked one or more years out, so the longer you wait, the harder it may be to find someone with your date available. A good place to start is to talk to your married friends about they would change or do differently in regards to a wedding photographer. Would they invest more? Have a second photographer present? Past brides have such a great perspective, so be sure to take advantage of it!
Do you want GORGEOUS detail shots, fun pictures with your girls or your family? Maybe you want some super fun photos on the dance floor. Maybe you love the fine art posed photos or the more editorial style of someone who just captures moments as they happen. You’ll most likely find yourself naturally drawn to one style, which will help you narrow down what you’re looking for.
Narrowing down what editing style you like might be a bit harder. It might be overwhelming when you start looking for a photographer. Dark, or light, Moody or Colorful? Maybe it’s very natural, airy, or film-y. Start by looking through wedding photos and you’ll feel drawn to a certain style. Maybe even a certain photographer! Next, think about what emotions you like seeing in images. Do you like more serious, more joyful, or more soft? I like to think of myself as as more of a hybrid. I love true to color images and I think it’s super important to get a few smiling-at-the-camera shots. But once we have those mantle-worthy photos, I’m all about genuine and natural interactions instead of posed photos. I understand that taking photos isn’t comfortable for everyone, so I’ll direct you and give you prompts to get those natural smiles and laughs flowing.
Beginner – $0-$1000
They may have never shot a wedding or second shot for a wedding. Hiring them is risky. You probably don’t know what the end photos will look like, and they’ll most likely rely on you for posing and where to take photos. Their lack of experience will probably be noticeable when it comes to knowledge of weddings and gear.
Amateur or Hobbyist – $1000-$2000
These photographers may have shot a wedding or two but might not have high demand due to their still growing style. They’re probably working toward becoming a professional wedding photographer and have started getting professional gear and lighting equipment.
Semi-Professional or Seasoned Amateur – $2000-3000
This photographer has a higher demand, and is learning to focus more on giving each client an experience. They’ll probably have a portfolio that can give you a good idea of what they can provide. This photographer is often actively investing in education about weddings and photography in order to learn and grow. If photography is very important to you, you’ll probably want to keep looking, as their photographs may not always be consistent.
Professional – $3000-$5000+
You can expect this photographer to have many years of experience under their belt. You can look at their portfolio and feel confident that your photographs will look similar to the work they’ve produced in the past. They’ll make you feel cared for, and will deliver high quality photographs.
Luxury – $6000+
These photographers can handle high-profile events with ease and poses a very clear style and knowledge of weddings which make them sought after. The photos they deliver will be extremely high quality and the experience they give will be incredible.
Wedding photographer prices do differ, and it can be confusing why. As a general rule, you do get what you pay for, but there’s several factors that play into pricing. Some are experience related, like the location, style, or reliability. But it usually boils down to these: Experience, Location, and Cost of doing business.
A more experienced photographer with a higher skill level, will translate into better photographs, and will have a higher demand because of it. Location also plays into this greatly. It takes more to live in certain locations, so cost must go up in order to feed and house a family.
A lesser known fact is how much it actually costs to run a business. Taxes automatically take 30% of a small businesses income, then expenses are paid for, then whatever is left after that is what a photographer uses to feed and house their family and pay for insurance and retirement.
These three things greatly affect the cost of why wedding photographers charge what they do – and the tricky thing is that few photographers will have the same experience, location, and cost of doing business.
TL;DR version is however much you think you should! Everyone has different desires and something that is important to one couple may not be important to another. I would recommend talking with your fiance about what the most important parts of your wedding day are to you, and then investing the most in those. I may be biased, but I always think wedding photography is worth it.
If you’re interested in learning more about wedding planning, view my Wedding Series blog posts here.