Find your perfect fit.
Have you or your honey asked the question, "How much should we spend on wedding photography?" You're not the only one! Finding the perfect photographer that fits your vibe, personality, and vision for your wedding day is one of the best investments you can make for your big day. Did you know that you will spend more time with your wedding photographer than you will with likely any of your guests? It's true!
The right photographer will make you feel confident that your day will go smoothly and also should feel like a good friend you've known for years. Their work should make your jaw drop in the best way and get you so excited to see how you'll get to remember your day. The right photographer should feel easy to say "I do" to!
But finding that perfect photographer can feel like looking for a light switch in the dark. As a 2022 bride myself, I know how hard it can be to find that perfect vendor! That's why I put together this guide to help you understand the weird world of wedding vendor investment.
This article discusses all the things I had to think about when searching for my own dream wedding photographer.
Breaking down the average cost for Texas and Oklahoma wedding photography.
A wedding photographer is a big investment for you to not fully understand the ins and outs. Let me walk you through the different tiers of wedding photographers in Oklahoma, so you can know what to expect at every price point. These prices are based on a full day of wedding coverage.
Beginner: $0 - $1000
This photographer probably has never shot a wedding solo or has only second shot a couple of weddings. Hiring a beginner photographer is risky because they probably haven't mastered their gear and won't be able to guide you through posing. Their inexperience will be noticeable and will probably affect the quality of the images you receive.
Amateur or Hobbyist: $1000-$1600
The amateur or hobbyist photographer probably has done a couple of weddings or has some experience with second shooting, but they may not be as in demand because they are still developing their style and business. They are working towards becoming a professional wedding photographer and are investing in better-quality gear.
Semi-Professional or Seasoned Amateur: $1600-$2000
The semi-pro wedding photographer has a higher demand than the hobbyist and is developing their signature style. They are learning about how to build client connection and are developing the business side of their photography as well as investing in education to hone their craft. However, they are still learning the ins and outs of being a professional wedding photographer, so their work may not be entirely consistent. If your wedding photos are a big deal to you, you probably should keep looking.
Hi, it's me! The professional photographer has extensive experience under their belt and knows how to meet the needs of their clients. You can look at their portfolio and know what to expect with your own wedding gallery. You will feel cared for and will know they will deliver high-quality work.
This level of professional photographer seamlessly captures high-profile events and delivers a consistently excellent product. They have extensive knowledge of high-end weddings and offer white-glove service. The images and products they provide will be of the highest quality and the experience will be top-tier.
What goes into a wedding photographer's pricing?
There are many factors that can affect how much a wedding photographer charges for their services. It can be really confusing if one photographer charges half of what another does but still seems to deliver quality work. You know what they say -- you get what you pay for! But what does that really mean?
Well, price usually comes down to three things: Expertise, Location, and Style. Let's break these down further.
A wedding photographer with more experience will produce a higher quality product and be in higher demand. They have worked with more clients and have nailed down the business side of things in a way that works. They also have been in the business long enough that they understand how easy it is to get burnt out and set boundaries accordingly -- one of those boundaries is charging more because they know what they are bringing to the table.
Expertise involves a combination of the following:
Finely tuned photography skills refined from years of actual experience
Interpersonal skills (i.e. responsive and helpful communication, day-of guidance, etc)
Keen and proven business sense you can trust (AKA they run their photography business like a business)
This kind of expertise, of course, comes at a higher price that correlates with their skillset, level of demand, and reputation. A great way to gauge a wedding photographer's level of expertise is to view full galleries and look at how they handle a variety of lighting situations and various parts of the day.
Some industry professionals will tell you this shouldn't be a factor, but the reality is that different locations have different costs of living and doing business. If you are looking for a wedding photographer in an expensive urban area like NYC, you should be prepared to spend more than what you would have to spend in a rural Midwest area.
You can pay $3000 vs $6000 for the same quality of work and expertise depending on where you are located. More broadly speaking, the larger the city and higher medium-level income, the higher your standard prices will be.
Style is often subjective, but there are time-tested philosophies that should be considered when evaluating a wedding photographer's work. You will see a lot of trending editing styles as you search for your wedding photographer. (Think "light and airy" or "dark and moody") But your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime day and you will look at your beautiful wedding photos for decades to come. 30, 40, 50 years from now, do you want to remember your day through the filter of a trend that has long-since passed?
A refined and timeless style can come at a higher premium because it takes time to develop a consistent and beautiful editing style. The type of style you want for your wedding photographer will affect the pricing of the photographers you look, especially depending on the area you are looking at.
There are also a lot of costs you don't see that professional photographers have to factor into their pricing. Here are some examples of costs of being a wedding photographer:
Commercial and liability insurance
Software for editing and client management
Websites and domain fees
Marketing and advertising costs
Professional services like accounting or legal
Taxes (Usually 30% of gross revenue)
These costs don't even factor in expensive professional-grade photography gear which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, travel costs, and second/associate shooters.
So how much should I really invest in my wedding photography?
Only you can answer that question! Everyone has different priorities and values, and maybe your wedding photography isn't as important to you as other parts of your wedding day. However, I may be a bit biased, but I think wedding photography is one of the most important things to invest in!