Why does Wedding Photography cost so much?

Many, many, many people complain about the cost of wedding photography, or indeed photography in general. I too was guilty of this in the past before I understood what went into making professional photos. And I mean making, not taking as that implies you simply aim the camera and press the shutter. We do not.

Lets take the wedding day as our example as that's usually the most costly and see what's actually involved from the photographer's perspective.

  1. Meet the prospective client in the place of their choosing. Usually near their home so they don't have to travel far. Time (including travel): 2 hours.
  2. I do an engagement shoot with the couple before the wedding to allow us to get to know each other better and produce a signing frame for the day. Total time: 3 hours.
  3. I like to meet the couple at their venue the week before to go through everything and make sure they're happy with the locations for photos etc. Total time: 2 hours.
  4. The wedding day itself. Travel to the bride's home for preparation shots and then onto the venue. Cover the ceremony, groups and couple shots. Then speeches and the meal. Then the first dance and some more shots when everyone gets on the dance floor. Total time: 11 hours.
  5. Post production. I now have around 800-900 shots to sort through and choose the ones where people's eyes are open etc. 400-500 of these will make the cut and then be edited (colour, contrast, shadows, toning etc). Total time: 10 hours.
  6. Wedding album. The couple can now choose their style of album so we meet to go through the options. Total time: 2 hours.
  7. Once the album is finished, I receive it to inspect it for any damage, markings etc and then deliver it to the couple. Total time: 2 hours.

So there you have it. Total time involved: 32 hours and 6 car journeys. Not to mention the cost of the equipment involved (camera, lenses, computer, software, insurance, lighting equipment) or the skill of the photographer in getting the right shots at the right time and the pressure that puts them under. The cake, the hair, the make-up, the band; all will be over and done with after the day. The photographs will last which means we have to get them right!