Earlier this week, I was talking to someone who shared a very different idea of weddings with me.
They told me that they saw wedding photographers as wedding industry scam artists. I was honestly completely taken aback by this. I put my heart and soul into weddings because I love them so much. How could anyone think that we photographers are just trying to make money fast? It got me to thinking about just how many people out there may not understand why photography can seem a bit pricey and I wanted to help others understand the cost breakdown and just how little profit there really is to the wedding photography industry. Many people I talk to don’t realize that I still pay taxes or have to pay for advertising just like any other business would.
Here are three fast facts 🙂
1) Weddings happen the majority of the time on a Saturday. There are 52 Saturdays in a year but only 30 Saturdays in what we call “wedding season” of April-October. The vast majority of brides choose these months to get married. It’s far and few in between from November-March. This means that we have to book nearly every Saturday in wedding season to have money set aside for slow season.
2) Wedding Photography varies in pricing by location. Arizona, New York and California host some of the nation’s most expensive wedding photographers due to the inflation of prices there. You should expect to pay anywhere from $2000-$10,000 for a well known photographer depending on your area. In the states of Kansas & Missouri, $2500-$5200 is the average range for a photographer.
3) A photographer doesn’t get to just work on Saturdays (but that would be nice. 😉 ) Hours are spread throughout the week depending on how high in demand they are.
I work a full 40 hour week. Here’s the breakdown.
M-F: 22 hours (editing, blogging, product ordering, emailing, timelines, advertising, consults)
9 hours (wedding)
2 hours (engagements)
Drive time: approximately 7 hours of driving for travel
But just how much money does a high in demand wedding photographer spend? As someone who has grown in this industry so quickly–I went from shooting 2 weddings in 2012 to shooting an annual total of 37 and actually would like to bring that number down!)
Here are my yearly costs:
Online Gallery for Clients: $340
Adobe Photoshop Membership: $204
Office Supplies & Postage: $300
Online Workspace for Contracts: $300
Video slideshow website: $150
Product Costs in packages (Canvases, albums & usbs for clients): $5000
Second Photographer: $10,000
Cameras: $6000/ every 3 years
Computer: $2000 minimum every 2-3 years (their lifetime is shorter when you spend so much time editing)
Memory Cards: $240 /year
External Hard Drive: $150/year
$7000 (hotels, food, gas, tolls, airplane flights and travel payment to my second photographer)
Each Year, I spend $35,544 just to run my business. ???? I also have to put approximately 15% of my earnings to tax.
The total breakdown is $24.32/hour net profit.
Yes, we LOVE what we do. I love that I have the flexibility to stay home with my kids during the week to home school them. I love that I can create and bring so many smiles to so many faces. I can’t explain the joy my heart has when I’m shooting and editing. It’s so fulfilling to my soul.
Does my job pay well? For owning my own business, working from home most of the time and being able to call the shots, absolutely.
But are wedding photographers really a money making scam? I just don’t think so. <3