Wedding Planning Tips

What does a Professional Wedding Photography Cost?

When I talk to engaged couples about professional wedding photography, I find they are often overwhelmed by not only the cost of photography, but the very wide range of the cost of photography. So I thought I’d lay out what the different levels of photography pricing costs in our southeast Michigan market. 

These prices are for an 8-10 hour day of photography coverage, you’ll find this list to be MOSTLY true. I say mostly because there are always exceptions to the rule. These numbers are based on 1 photographer, generally with digital files included. I am not adding in products like prints or albums. 

Photographers charging under a thousand dollars for an 8-10 hour day:

Buyer Beware. This person is not a professional photographer. This is someone with a camera who is willing to photograph your day for some extra money. 

I’m not saying don’t hire this person. I’m saying, you will get what you pay for. Keep in mind that it is very unlikely that this person is insured. 

Photographers charging $1000 to $2000 for an 8-10 hour day:

These are photographers are generally just starting out. They understand their camera, but in my experience, they don’t have much understanding of lights and lighting. If your wedding is all outside, and you don’t have any challenging lighting situations, this might be a good fit for you. 

Ask if they are insured, get proof. 🙂 

Photographers charging $2000-$3000 for an 8-10 hour day:

These folks are professionals who put serious time or money into their business. They generally understand light and lighting, and how to run a wedding. Their experience level is middling to high, with probably 50-100 weddings under their belt. These folks in general really know what they are doing with lights and lighting, as well as are able to shoot in natural light. 

Photographers charging $3000 to $4000 for a 8-10 hour day of photography:

These are established professionals. They have been doing this for a while, and can shoot in their sleep, and make it look fresh and awesome every time. They are usually starting to get published in this bracket. This is your “middle of the road” price range for most professional wedding photographers. These professionals will be able to shoot you in the daylight, and quickly jump to inside photos, while still delivering beautifully exposed photographs to you.

Photographers charging $5000+

These are the best of the best. Professional photographers that have established their style, niche and place in the world. They are amazing at what they do, they are published, and/or have gone viral and are sought after by brides, usually around the world. 

What do Second Photographers cost?

Seconds are usually paid in the $40 – $70 an hour range. Personally, I hire people that are already lead photographers accustomed to running their own weddings who have an open day. I also tend to pay on the higher end of that scale, in order to entice the best people to work with me.. If you are asked to pay between $500 and $900 more for a second, that’s a good range. Your lead photographer will have to manage the person, pay them, and then all of the editing that comes with double the photos. 

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