How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost (US Market)

By August 2, 2018Photography
photographer taking photo of bride and groom in car

Figuring out how to budget for your wedding is stressful even if you have ample experience with organizing big events. Everything is costly and you have to work out which services to prioritize. You also can’t risk hiring anyone last minute.

You already know that hiring a good photographer is crucial. Your wedding album is going to be one of your most prized possessions. All your special moments deserve to be recorded in the best possible quality.

But how much of your budget should you set aside for the photographer? And are there any ways to cut back on the cost?

Here’s What You Need to Know

Wedding photography packages start at around $2,000. Depending on your location, you may be able to go slightly lower than that. On the other hand, upscale photographers charge as much as $10,000-15,000.

According to a SnapKnot research, the average cost of a wedding photographer in the US is around $2,800. SnapKnot is a reliable and extensive directory of wedding photographers across the country.

Whatever your personal budget is, 10-15% should go to the photographer. This checks out with the stats mentioned above, as the average cost of a wedding in the US is around $25,000.

What Does the Cost Depend on?

How much you’ll have to spend on photography depends on a few factors:

1. Location

The SnapKnot research above also covers the average cost by city.

The most expensive photographers are in San Francisco, Boston, and NYC. In these cities, the average cost ranges from $3,500 to $4,000.

If you live in a small city or town, you may be able to find some very affordable offers. However, you may find it challenging to find a photographer whose style works for you.

If you have to hire someone from a different location, the cost will go up considerably. After all, you’ll have to pay for the photographer’s transportation, hotel room, and meals. So whenever possible, it’s best to hire locally. Remote weddings increase the cost for the same reason.

bride and groom taking photos

2. Shooting Time

On average, a wedding photography package covers 8 hours of shooting. But some couples need more time than that. You have to have a clear idea of your wedding day schedule before you start looking for a photographer.

But if you’re on a particularly tight budget, you may be able to agree on less shooting time. The most important photos are the ones taken before the ceremony. Photos taken between the ceremony and reception are generally beautiful too.

If you have to, you can give up the reception. However, this means you’ll have to miss out on recording some particularly fun moments spent with all your loved ones.

3. Shooting Date

Is your wedding on a weekday or a weekend? Weekday weddings cost less to photograph.

The cost also depends on the season. If you have set a fashionable wedding date, your photographer will likely charge more for their time.

4. One Photographer or More?

If you don’t have too many guests, you could ask for a single shooter and save on the cost. But some photographers only work as part of a team. Make sure to discuss this question before you agree to anything.

5. Wedding Album

Do you want to include a wedding album in your package?

A professionally arranged album will be a beautiful keepsake. You can also rest easy when you know that your photos are safe in a durable book. If you prefer to avoid leather, you can easily find silk covers and other eco-conscious alternatives.

However, a professional wedding album costs around $500-$1000 extra. So if you have the time and dedication for a DIY project, you can make an album yourself. You can look up more affordable custom printing options or you can commission a handmade album to suit your taste.

weeding album

6. Extra Photos

Obviously, extra copies can be costly. On the other hand, your friends and relatives may insist on it. Find out exactly what your package offers before you agree to it.

7. The Style of Your Photographs

Before you decide on a photographer, you want to get to know their work.

Look over the samples they offer you. Ask questions about their style and describe the kind of photos you are looking for. Even if a photographer is experienced and celebrated, their work might not be right for you personally.

Different photography styles require different equipment. The price will definitely reflect the extra work your photographer has to put in. You’ll also have to cover the costs of film and lighting.

But which styles can you choose from? Here are a few popular wedding photography styles:

Documentary Style

If you want your photos to capture every moment of your big day, go for this style. You’ll get photos of the preparation as well as the ceremony. These photographs feel immediate, honest, and fun.

Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photos tell a story. They look candid but artistic, and they require a bit of preparation to shoot. Your photographer will recommend a location and do some directing as well.

Dramatic Photography

Do you want your wedding photos to look grand and cinematic? Dramatic photography uses lighting to bring out a few striking details. These photos may have a dark background, putting all the emphasis on you and your spouse.

Classic Photography

Are you a fan of vintage aesthetics? Your photographer can take photos that feel just like the ones in your family album. This style is solemn and works well with a formal wedding.

bride and groom on the coast

Nature-Focused Photography

If you opt for an outdoor wedding, your photographer will have to adapt to the lighting conditions. They may choose to use a traditional camera rather than a digital one. In this case, the natural beauty of your venue will be an important part of every photo.

A Final Thought

Before you choose a photographer, you have to know exactly what you want. Since the price ranges from under $2k to over $15k, you have many different packages to choose from. Some photographers will try to convince you to agree to extra services, but that just leads to going over the budget.

You should be open and consistent about what you’re looking for. However, some flexibility can be helpful. Are you willing to make compromises about the style and schedule? If so, your photographer may offer a discount.

These negotiations may seem intimidating at first. But when you find the perfect photographer for your wedding, you can rest easy. It’s really comforting to know that you have a professional on your side to capture the most important moments of your special day.