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Why are Wedding Photographers so Expensive?

Hello lovlies! I wanted to write a blog discussing what is included in pretty much all professional wedding photography packages. Photography is a big investment for your special day as these are the memories you can look back on and share with your family as it grows. Most couples think this is the reason that photography costs so much. Besides the sentimental value, there is much more that goes into producing wedding photos.

It is never just the 8 hours of coverage on the wedding day. There are a lot of behind the scene efforts that go into each and every wedding we do. Here is a breakdown of what is included in the package and how many hours it typically takes us to work on each item.

I also want to say that each wedding photographer is different. Some are much quicker than us, others work more hours than us. Some outsource everything so they work less hours but pay someone else money to make that happen. Others have assistants to help the day go smoother, some don’t. There are lots of different variables, but I am hoping this will give you a little insight on why a wedding collection costs what it does.

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.:Wedding day coverage: 10-13 hours:.

Of course your package includes the 8 hours of photography coverage mentioned on the invoice. Or whatever your photographer and you agreed upon. What you don’t realize is that on your wedding day your photographer is actually working 2-3 more hours than what you booked them for. There is the obvious travel time to and from your wedding venue as well as most photographers show up to your wedding 15-30 minutes early, just in case they can’t find your bridal suite or they were worried about hitting traffic along the way. If it's a venue we have never been to before, we personally show up 45 minutes to an hour before to location scout and get a game plan for portraits and the first look.

Before we leave the office we are cleaning gear, clearing memory cards and charging batteries, most of the time this is done the night before.

After the wedding is over we pack up and head home but first say goodbye, give you a congratulatory hug, and check that there isn’t anything else you may need. Once home we are backing up the memory cards in 2 places. All of these things add up to more than the 8 hours listed in the package.

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.:Editing: 20-30 hours:.

After the wedding has been shot we have to go through all of the images and remove the test shots, duplicate shots, blurry shots or just plain unflattering shots. (dont worry we leave in the funny ones for you to have a good laugh over.) We typically start with around 3000-3500 images with 2 photographers and narrow it down to around 1500 to edit in Lightroom. This process is called culling and typically takes 2 hours.

Once the images have been culled they are pulled into Lightroom to edit and make them look pretty for you with our clean and airy style. Images are shot in a RAW format and they come out of the camera looking dull and need to be fixed and/or enhanced. A typical wedding takes around 15 hours for us to edit. If the light was particularly tough at your wedding day, say the ceremony was in the middle of the day or a large orange adobe wall reflected itself on your skin the editing process can take 20-25 hours.

Once we are finished editing, the exporting process of taking the images from the software and creating jpgs so that you are able to open and view them takes 2-3 hours.

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.:Blogging: 5-7 hours:.

If you are an MJ bride you know we love to blog and share your beautiful day! We take our time hand selecting our favorite images and pairing them together so that they flow effortlessly in the blog. We also write a story about your day and tag all your vendors. This process typically takes us 3-4 hours. This doesn’t include the instagram story slideshow we create, or the facebook post and other social media shares like on pinterest. In its entirety, this whole process is 5-6 hours. Add an extra hour if we submit your wedding for publication!

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.:Engagement Session: 15-20 hours:.

Everything done above is also done for your engagement session! Traveling to and from, shooting the session, editing, blogging, uploading. etc. etc. Everything in regards to the engagement session typically takes us 15-20 hours.

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.:Album design: 3-4 hours:.

If you ordered an album it takes us around 3-4 hours to design your album. If you make changes this adds to the time taken to create your book.

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.:Mailings, correspondence and consults: 2-3 hours:.

From the initial inquiry email to all of the back and forth emailing we typically spend 1-2 hours. The consult meeting takes 1 hour and putting together your welcome box and dropping it at the post office takes 45 minutes to an hour.

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.:Timeline prep: 1 hour:.

We make sure to speak with all of our brides before their big day to go over their timeline. Its important for us to be able to give them our input and put their minds at ease so that the big day flows as seamlessly as possible. After we hang up the phone we write out the timeline and put together the portrait shot list. This all usually takes an hour.

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.:Second Shooter:.

Most wedding collections include a second shooter, and they aren’t working for free! For 8 hours we pay them $320. We also pay an assistant $120 to be at your big day and help everyone out!

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Here is a breakdown of what is made per hour using our most popular collection.

Most couples assume $3295/8 = $411 per hour. "So I am paying my photographer $400 an hour."

Not quite....See below:

Saphire Collection: $3295

second shooter: -320

assistant: -120

album: -160

gas: -20

mailings/bridal guide -60


I added up all the average hours mentioned above and divided $2695 by it.

Wedding day: 12

Culling + Editing: 25

Blogging: 6

Engagement: 17

Album: 3

Mailing, correspondence, consults: 2

timeline prep: 1

= 66 hours

2615/66 = $39 Per Hour

I must finish up by saying how much we are blessed to do what we do. We get to capture an amazing love story every week and witness such love and togetherness. Your wedding photos are the main tangible keepsake from your special day so it is certainly something worth investing in.

And even though the work is hard and time consuming, we wouldn't rather be doing anything else! We feel so honored that you allow us to be a part of your big day, and we will always want to be the first ones to congratulate you both!

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