The Real Value of Wedding Photography

by | Photography Wisdom, Wisdom


Jodie of Merge Photography
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory

Photo By Merge Photography

Most newly engaged couples are unfamiliar with wedding photography, and pretty much all couples will at some point wonder: Why do those photographers charge so much?

You’ve probably heard it before, photography is one area of your wedding that you don’t want to skimp on, because you’ll have those pictures forever. You spend thousands making sure you will look perfect on your wedding day, hair, makeup, wedding dress, suits, cars and beautiful flowers. Shouldn’t the capturing of that perfect beauty and those heartfelt moments be as important as the creation of it? Most couples will realize this and so they venture forth to hire a photographer, but, the actual cost of photography can be a hard pill to swallow if you have never planned a wedding before.

Photo by Merge Photography

Budget is a huge part of every wedding; according to online sources the average Australian couples are spending between $30,000 – $40,000 on their weddings (and there are now many couples who are spending a lot less than that with all the fabulous DIY weddings going on). People place a certain value on different things for their day, for example a couple will expect to spend a vast majority of their wedding budget on venue, food and drinks while perhaps only a smaller portion of their budget on things like hair, makeup or perhaps flowers. Photography is a service that can sometimes be perceived as a lesser expense, mostly because people don’t see the value in what is being created or the real amount of time being spent on their day.

Often, when it comes to wedding photography, you get what you pay for. Since the advent of the digital camera everyone thinks they are a photographer, but are they really? There is an art and a skill required to capture the moment. A professional wedding photographer will know the in’s and out’s of a wedding day, their equipment and how to create or when to wait for magic. You are not just paying for a service but a photographer’s expertise, their eye and their art.

Photos by Merge Photography

Did you know that a photographer will spend an average of 40 to 50hrs working on each individual wedding? That’s right 40 to 50 hours! Believe it or not, taking the pictures on your wedding day is probably one of the shortest things on the “to do” list, it’s by far the most important but not the longest. Included in those 40 to 50 hours are things like: Planning, Itinerary design, travel, meeting with clients, emails, invoicing, photographing the actual event, culling through images, image processing, uploading images, archiving, photoshopping, blogging, social media sharing, administrative tasks, print ordering, album designing and more. For every hour of actual shooting time on a wedding, a photographer may estimate about four hours of post processing work (uploading, backup, culling, processing etc). So, if a photographer shot a 7 hour wedding, they may leave the wedding day with approximately 28 hours of work ahead of them.  This doesn’t include e-mails, consultations, album design, album edits, equipment preparation and much more.

Now that you’ve seen the hours, ask yourself this: How much do you expect to be paid for 40 to 50 hours or more of work? Add on top of that the cost of the photographer’s expertise, artistic perspective and experience. You also want to consider the cost of the professional products they are offering, their professional affiliations, their insurance (such as Public liability), their travel on the day and photography equipment (like cameras, flashes, lenses, tripods, memory cards, computers & hard drives). If you expect your photographer to arrive at your wedding with a professional camera kit and backups (sometimes totaling between $10,000 – $20,000 worth of equipment) should you not be expecting to pay a professional price?

Photo by Merge Photography

The truth of the matter is every photographer has their own reasons for their prices. They can charge whatever they feel their craft, their products and their time are worth. Our simple aim is to inform you, the engaged couple, of the number one reason why wedding photography costs what it does, TIME. So when you allocate your photography budget and start to look at photographer’s prices keep in mind that all that time as well as their expertise, eye and their artistic perspective is what you are really paying for when you hire them.


Ms Gingham says: Information is key and this article gives us a lot to consider.

About Merge Photography: “Hello, we’re Jodie & Karolina. We are best friends who work together {we know how lucky!}. We are so fortunate to be able to live our passion. We are wedding and portrait photographers based out of Perth that travel all over the state, country & world to shoot ridiculously amazing weddings, gorgeous families & radical couples and we love it!”

  • cetak brosur says:
    August 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    wow- thank you for the wisdom 😀

  • Benjamin says:
    August 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Bravo !! Well said ladies !

  • Stewart Ross says:
    August 13, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Bang on! Thank you! 🙂

  • David Campbell says:
    August 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Excellent article, thank you.

  • Mandy Fox says:
    August 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Well said 🙂 Great read 🙂

  • Tanya Love says:
    August 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Break out the champagne, *somebody* finally gets it! Thanks so much for posting this Polka Dot Bride!

  • Andrew Cresswell says:
    September 27, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Fantastic article, everyone getting married should read this 🙂

  • Weddings by James says:
    January 10, 2013 at 7:39 am

    This is so true, it’s unfortunate that those wanting to become professionals choose weddings as an easy get in with high rewards. It’s really important to know what you are looking at when you are looking at a photographers work.

  • Carly says:
    February 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Printing & giving to my dad who pulled the “you should get a friend to do it” gag on me! Not surprisingly my fiance and I are paying for the photographer of our dreams, because it’s the one thing I refuse to skimp on! As someone who owns a website & does a lot of photoshop work etc, I perhaps appreciate more than most the post-production involved! I just wish others recognised that too.

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  • Larsen Jewellery says:
    December 21, 2013 at 9:11 am

    What a great article Polkadot bride! Here is a great infographic on the overall average cost of a wedding in Australia:

  • Rainer says:
    May 31, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    So true. Clients have no idea the behind the scene cost and mostly TIME being spend. Much of my time is not even charged and is being added as part of my passion for photography. I doubt very much Backyarders to make a buck will have the skill set let alone the commitment in producing professional grade work. if they did they would have to charge prices nearing the pros. In the end mostly you will get what you pay for!!

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