Why Wedding Photography Prices Vary

Some people might charge $500 for a wedding. Others, $10,000. What’s the difference? Lots of factors determine the price and value. Here are a few reasons prices vary.

The Cost of Photography

Professional Equipment

There are some very good recreational cameras today, available for just $1000. A professional camera is more likely to fall in the $5000 to $8000 range. What is the advantage?

First there is better image capture, which is far more than megapixels. It’s advanced autofocusing systems, superior color management, and excellent low-light capabilities. It’s having state-of-the-art technology.

A professional camera might have dual disk slots, which means that every image taken is automatically backed it. If one disk fails, all the images are protected on another disk. That kind of security comes at a price, but for the reassurance of having all your images backed up, it’s worth it.

A professional camera might have a 10-second motor drive instead of a 3-second motor drive. It may not seem like much, but it can between capturing the exact moment someone catches the bouquet, and almost capturing it.

Then there are the flashes, remote controllers, high-quality lenses, diffusers, battery packs, and assorted other equipment. The photography equipment alone doesn’t make a photographer good, but it allows a good photographer to use a variety of tools to create the best images.

Furthermore, take all that equipment and double it. Because equipment failures happen. It’s a given. So the professional photographer has to be prepared. We have been called by people frantic to find a photographer at the last minute, because their scheduled photographer’s camera broke. That won’t happen with us. We have multiple cameras, flashes, lenses, etc., at our disposal.

And finally, all this equipment has to be updated on a regular cycle so that your wedding is captured with state-of-the-art equipment.

Full-Time Photographers

Anyone can call themselves a photographer, and with entry-level equipment so inexpensive, many people do. That doesn’t necessarily they are making a living from it, or even wanting to. Many shoot weddings as supplementary income. Sometimes these photographers are called “weekend warriors.”

With full-time photographers, you are getting consistency and quality. Rather than a recreational shooter, or part-time shooter, you are working with someone who shoots every day, who studies, who practices, who has the experience of many hours of developing their skills. Someone whose life work is creating strong images. Who is dedicated to the art and craft of photography.

The question, then, is if you want a full-time photographer to shoot one of the most important days of your life.

Professional Expenses

Related to the first, a full-time photographer is far more likely to continue professional training (a weekend warrior might not have any professional training at all). A full-time photographer belongs to professional organizations, attends workshops, conferences and conventions to keep up on trends and to improve their craft. This is an added expense, but one that is worth it.

Cost of the Products

What products are you getting from the photographer, and how much do they actually cost? This is often a hard thing to calculate, because not all albums, for instance, are created equal. Some albums you can make yourself, cheaply, online. Some photographers will use a similar quality album for you wedding photos. Essential Moments Photography uses top quality albums. They aren’t as cheap, but they are gorgeous, fully customizable, and built forever. We don’t think our clients should settle for less.

Cost of Business

How much commercial space does a photographer use? Do they own or rent that space? That adds significantly to the cost of doing business.

Try to find a photographer without a full commercial studio. Since most of their work would be on location, they can pass that savings on to you.


All of these are factors that influence the price a photographer might charge. Ultimately, you decide which of these factors are important to you and are worth paying for.

The real value, of course, is in the images themselves. Two things create memory. One, the events we hold in our mind (and which diminish over time), and records of the event, namely, your photographs and video. And if you are like most people, you will want your memories to be preserved with the highest quality possible.

That value is something that can’t be measured.