How Much Do Wedding Photographers Cost in 2022?

Photography plays a vital role in capturing the magic of your wedding day. The photographs allow you to relive those precious moments again and again. However, it's important to factor in the cost of a...

Photography plays a vital role in capturing the magic of your wedding day. The photographs allow you to relive those precious moments again and again. However, it's important to factor in the cost of a wedding photographer when planning your budget. So, how much does a wedding photographer actually cost in 2022? Let's find out!

Examining the Markets: Photography Costs by State & City

While the national average can give you a rough estimate, it's essential to consider your specific location. Wedding markets and economies vary across cities and states, which can impact the cost of hiring a photographer. Here's a breakdown of average wedding photography costs in a few popular locations:

Average Wedding Photography Cost in Your State

  • California: In Southern California, most couples spend around $3,000 - $4,000 on wedding photography. In the Bay Area, the average cost for a day of coverage is $5,500.
  • New York: If you plan to get married in New York, be prepared to spend between $2,500 - $5,000 for photography. Prices in NYC tend to be on the higher end.
  • Illinois: The average wedding photography costs in Illinois range from $2,700 - $4,000. The total wedding costs in Illinois average around $27,000.
  • Texas: Set aside around $2,500 for wedding photography in Texas, as it's customary to allocate about 10% of your budget to photography.

Average Wedding Photography Cost in Major Cities

  • San Francisco: Wedding photography can be pricey in San Francisco, with the average cost for 8 hours of coverage being $5,000.
  • Los Angeles: For weddings in or near Los Angeles, expect to spend between $3,500 - $5,000 on a professional photographer. Some couples even opt for higher-end experts, willing to spend more for exceptional quality.
  • Chicago: The average cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago is about $3,500.
  • Houston: Wedding photographers in Houston charge an average of $4,200.
  • Dallas: For couples in Dallas, the average cost of hiring a photographer is $3,500.
  • Denver: Denver sees an average cost of $3,900 for a wedding photographer.
  • Jacksonville: Photographers in Jacksonville charge an average of $2,200 for wedding coverage, with prices ranging from $1,000 - $4,000 depending on skill level and hours included.
  • Philadelphia: The average cost for a wedding photographer in Philadelphia is about $3,800 for an eight-hour day.
  • Pittsburgh: Most wedding photographers in Pittsburgh charge around $2,000 - $3,000, but some offer luxury packages that go over $4,000.

What Does Wedding Photography Include?

When considering wedding photography prices, it's important to examine what each package includes. Here are some essential elements to look for:

  • Day of Wedding Photography: This is the obvious and primary service you're paying for. Most weddings require 6-8 hours of coverage, capturing everything from the couple getting ready to the ceremony, portraits, and some reception moments.
  • Travel: Standard photography packages usually cover weddings within the photographer's city and immediate suburbs. However, additional charges may apply if your wedding is located outside of their usual service area or if you're planning a destination wedding.
  • Editing & Retouching: Basic editing, such as adjusting lighting and colors for a consistent look, is typically included in photography rates. Extensive retouching or modifications may incur an extra fee.
  • Digital Photos: Packages usually include a specific number of digital photos. Some photographers offer all the digital images from your wedding, while others charge for additional images. You'll typically receive the photos on a thumb drive or through an online viewing gallery, with the printing rights included. Professional prints are often available for purchase separately.

Photography Add-On Options

Apart from the base package, photographers often offer additional options to enhance your photography experience. Here are a few popular upgrade options to consider:

  • Second Shooters: Some photographers offer the option to have additional photographers capturing different angles and perspectives during your wedding day.
  • Engagement Portraits: Booking a separate portrait session before the wedding can serve as a great way to get comfortable with your photographer. These images can also be used for Save-the-Date cards and wedding decorations.
  • Prints & Albums: While digital photos are convenient, professional prints and albums hold a special value. They are typically of higher quality, and purchasing them supports the photographer's business.
  • Social Media Upgrades: In today's social media-driven world, photographers may charge an additional fee for optimizing your images for various social media platforms. Some photographers may also charge for not using your images in their own social media posts and marketing.

Why Are Some Photographers More Expensive?

Wedding photography pricing can vary significantly. Here are a few factors that can influence the cost:

  • Photographer's Experience: Highly experienced photographers with exceptional skills, top-of-the-line equipment, and excellent customer service tend to charge more than average. Their expertise and track record justify the higher cost.
  • Day of The Week: Some photographers offer discounts for weekday weddings or charge a premium for Saturday weddings. If you're open to a weekday wedding, you may be able to save some money.
  • Month of the Year: The peak wedding season usually falls between May and October. Photographers may offer lower rates for off-season weddings during colder months. However, in areas with year-round pleasant weather, you may not see any seasonal price difference.
  • Traveling for a Destination Wedding: If you're getting married outside of your photographer's usual service area, additional travel expenses may apply. Sometimes, hiring a local photographer at the destination could be more cost-effective, so it's worth comparing options.
  • Photography Package: Each photographer offers different packages with varying inclusions. It can be challenging to compare prices directly since one photographer's package may include more hours of coverage, a second shooter, or a higher number of digital images. When evaluating costs, consider what's included in each package.

Examples of Wedding Photography Packages

When hiring a wedding photographer, you're not just paying for the photos. You're investing in a range of services that contribute to a memorable experience. Here are examples of what you can typically expect from standard and high-end photography packages:

Standard Wedding Photography Example

A standard wedding photography package usually includes:

  • 6 to 8 hours of coverage for key moments, such as getting ready, the ceremony, portraits, and some reception coverage.
  • Travel to the wedding location within a specific range, typically covering the city, suburbs, and immediate surrounding towns.
  • A certain number of digital images, usually ranging from 50-100 per hour.
  • Basic retouching to achieve a consistent style.
  • Printing rights to the photos and the option to purchase prints and albums directly from the photographer.

Example of a High-End Wedding Photography Package

A high-end or premium wedding photography package typically includes even more comprehensive coverage. Here's what you might expect:

  • 8-10 hours of coverage, capturing everything from pre-ceremony moments to the ceremony, reception, and more.
  • The option for a second shooter to capture additional angles and perspectives.
  • Travel to the wedding location within a specified range.
  • A certain number of digital images, usually ranging from 50-100 per hour.
  • Basic retouching for a consistent style.
  • A custom-made album and a collection of prints.
  • Printing rights to the photos and the option to purchase more prints directly from the photographer.
  • An engagement session before the wedding day.

Wedding Photography & Videography

Many photographers offer packages that include videography as well. This could be either because they specialize in both photography and videography or due to a partnership with a separate videography vendor. Videography prices are comparable to photography costs, although some couples opt for fewer hours of video coverage. Adding videography to your package could increase the overall cost by 50 to 100 percent.

Additional Costs: Tipping Your Wedding Photographer

Tipping your wedding photographer is a personal choice. If your photographer is the owner of the company, tipping isn't customary but is appreciated if you feel they went above and beyond. Alternatively, leaving positive reviews and ordering prints through the photographer's business can also be a way to show support. On the other hand, if the photographer is an employee or staff shooter, it is customary to tip them around $50 - $100 or more, depending on the package and price.

Vendor Meals: Feeding Your Photographer

If your photographer is present at your reception, it is customary to provide them with a meal. Most contracts include a provision for this, and you should plan accordingly. When providing the guest count to your caterer, be sure to include the photographer, any second shooters, and assistants. Inform the caterer that it's a vendor meal, as they may offer a lower price for those meals.

How to Pay Your Wedding Photographer

Photographers generally offer various payment options. Here are the most commonly accepted forms of payment:

  • Credit Card: Online payment systems allow you to pay by credit card securely.
  • Cash: Some photographers accept cash to avoid credit card fees. Always obtain a receipt for your payment.
  • Check: While checks are appreciated by photographers, some may prefer not to accept them due to potential risks.
  • Paypal: When using Paypal, ensure you pay as a business transaction for extra protection.
  • Bank Transfers: Many photographers offer bank transfers as a payment option since these transactions usually incur lower fees.
  • Venmo: Some photographers now accept payment through Venmo, but remember to choose the business transaction option for added protection.

Asking Your Photographer About Pricing

Don't hesitate to discuss pricing details with your photographer. They understand that it's a significant investment, and they want you to feel comfortable with your decision. Here are a few key questions to ask:

  • What does your photography package include? Request a clear breakdown of what's included in the quote and contract.
  • How much are additional hours and other upgrades? Understand the costs of any extras you may want to add.
  • Are there any additional fees I need to plan for? Inquire about any potential hidden costs or additional charges you should be aware of.
  • What is the cost of prints and albums? Ensure you know the pricing for any physical prints or albums you may want to purchase.
  • Can I purchase additional digital images? Find out if you can acquire more digital images beyond the number included in your package.
  • Do you offer discounts for weekday or off-season weddings? Explore potential opportunities for cost savings.
  • How does the guest count or a smaller wedding impact the cost? Understand how the number of guests may affect the pricing, especially if the photographer offers elopement packages for shorter events.
  • Is there a travel fee? If your wedding is outside the photographer's usual service area, discuss any additional travel expenses.

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer Without Going Over Budget

Now that you have a clearer understanding of wedding photography pricing, let's explore some tips for selecting a photographer without breaking the bank:

  • Set a Budget: Determine how much you are willing to allocate for wedding photography. Consider the average costs in your area and any potential upgrades you desire. It's wise to leave a little flexibility in your budget for unexpected expenses.
  • Know What Quality/Style You Want: Decide what level of expertise and style you're looking for. If you prioritize top-tier photography, you may need to adjust other aspects of your budget. Alternatively, if you're primarily seeking documentation, you can consider options like student photographers or lower-cost professionals.
  • Interview Many Photographers: Don't settle for the first photographer with an attractive price. Interview multiple photographers, gather quotes, and compare their packages and services. You may be pleasantly surprised by the quality and care provided by more budget-friendly options.
  • Review Portfolios: Look beyond the highlights presented on a photographer's website or social media pages. Request to see complete wedding galleries to assess their ability to handle different lighting conditions, group portraits, and other essential aspects of your wedding day.
  • Ask Lots of Questions: A reliable and experienced photographer will welcome your questions and address your concerns with confidence and kindness. Ensure that all your queries are answered clearly before signing a contract or making a deposit. If you need clarification or further details, don't hesitate to ask.
  • Choose Based on Trust: Ultimately, go with your intuition and hire the photographer you feel most comfortable and excited about. If they have been communicative and thorough during the initial stages, it's likely they will remain that way throughout the planning process.
  • Stick to Your Budget: Once you have made your decision, it's essential to stick to your budget. It's easy to get caught up in the planning and feel the need to add extra hours or unnecessary upgrades. Remember that exceptional photography doesn't necessarily require the highest price tag. Stay focused on your vision and overall budget.

Is Wedding Photography Worth It?

In conclusion, wedding photography is undoubtedly worth the investment. Budget accordingly for this crucial aspect of your special day. Knowing that your pictures are in capable hands will allow you to relax and enjoy your wedding, and the captured memories will be cherished for generations to come. Whether you opt for an affordable student photographer or a master-level professional, remember that photography is one of the most valuable components of your wedding budget.