Why are wedding photographers so expensive?

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Even though I'm not a wedding photographer, ever since I became a photographer I find myself asked this question (in various forms) pretty consistently. It's entirely possible it's my most frequently asked question. Admittedly, when I was planning my own wedding I thought: Man, photographers are so expensive. I guess it's true, if you put "wedding" on something it automatically increases the price.

Then I started my own photography business, and I was humbled. On top of my experience as a small business owner, learning from and talking with professional wedding photographers taught me a lot too. So here are some of the biggest lessons I've learned:

Being a professional photographer is expensive.

For some this might be obvious, but I had no idea how expensive it was before I opened my business. In addition to expensive photography equipment and software, the cost of running a business is no small thing. I don't want to get too boring, but photographers have to pay for fun things like insurance, website hosts, gallery hosts, accounting, marketing, etc. It's not the most exciting part of the job, but definitely an essential part of the job.

The work you see is the tip of the iceberg.

It's easy to see the big price tag of a wedding photographer and think, "Man, that's a lot for 8 hours of work". But what is seen is actually just a fraction of the work. Before your wedding even begins, a good photographer has corresponded regularly with you, keeping up with details, learning about your wedding, learning about you. They might have even provided you with a complementary bridal or engagement session. As mentioned before, they're also running a business. Which means they're putting hours into the business side of the company like paying taxes, copywriting, and documenting expenses.

They bring more than their camera to the table.

They bring their experience, expertise, training, artistic eye, and more. Seasoned pros are quick on their feet and know how to deal with a whole range of issues that might come up on someone's wedding day. They also bring a piece of themselves, so hopefully you like/d them!

In the end only the couple can decide how much a wedding photographer is worth to them (and what fits into their budget). But I do want to say that vast majority of wedding photographers are not actually charging unreasonable prices (another phrase I hear a lot). It's just that sometimes their hard work and their value isn't the glamorous side of the job, or what you always see. These are just some things to keep in mind when you see the flashy price tag of wedding photographers :)