What is a reasonable price for a wedding photographer?

wedding photographer

Regardless of where you stand on things like late-night reception snacks or extravagant floral centrepieces, most to-be-weds can agree: gorgeous wedding photos are a must. While the average wedding photographer cost is often on the higher side, it’s one expense couples don’t typically skip. Of course, how you divvy up your wedding budget depends on which aspects of your celebration (and therefore which vendors) are most important to you. But since you probably want to relive your wedding memories for years to come, finding a great photographer is an important task. Wedding photography prices vary by vendor and services offered, so it’s up to you to find a pro who fits your particular needs. But if you’re looking to get a general sense of how much a wedding photographer costs, we have the answer. Read on to find what real couples spend on wedding photography today. 

Long after the vows have been said and the reception hall has been cleaned up, your wedding photos tell the story of your big day and capture the special moments you cherish. Finding the perfect wedding photographer may seem overwhelming, but once you understand the basics of cost and contracts, it’s a fairly simple process.

In this guide, we’ll break down how you can hire a professional wedding photographer who has an aesthetic you love, a personality you like — and a cost you can afford.

Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.

The average cost of a wedding photographer in Australia

The cost of a wedding photographer in Australia has increased by 8% over the past year, averaging $3,211.

This, of course, takes into consideration the costs across all states and territories, as well as couples hiring professional photographers as opposed to having a friend or family member take their photos for them. Photography is one of the most important things when it comes to the wedding day, with 91% of couples hiring a professional for their day. By comparison, a mere 7% have an amateur take their photos. Only 2% prefer not to have photos at all!

wedding photographer

New South Wales

The entire cost of a wedding in New South Wales comes in above average, and the photographer is no exception to this rule. A photographer in NSW will cost you a bit more, coming in at around $3,896. This is due to an increase in luxury weddings in NSW, as well as the demand for professional wedding photographers in the state.

Victoria

Couples in Victoria are going to be spending just below the average cost on their photographer, coming in at $3,080. This is good news for couples in the state as most weddings in Victoria can be quite pricey – especially as couples prefer to spend more money on other services, such as catering.

Queensland

Queensland has only seen a small rise in costs for a photographer, coming in at an average of $2,672. Compared to NSW and Victoria, costs for a wedding photographer in this state come in well under the average for the country.

South Australia

For a wedding photographer located in South Australia, couples can expect to spend an average of $2,741. Likes Queensland, this comes in under the national average and is in line with South Australian weddings coming in at slightly less than weddings on the east coast.

Western Australia

Weddings on the west coast also come in at a lower price than those on the east, and photographers are no exception to the rule. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer in Western Australia, you should be paying an average of $2,893.

Australian Capital Territory

While most states have increased only slightly, it’s an only ACT that has seen the biggest increase in the cost of wedding photographers, even topping the national average. Couples wanting to capture their very own Cinderella moment on the steps of Australia’s parliament can expect to pay around $3,292.

Tasmania

Tasmania has some spectacular scenery for your wedding photos, and couples living in the state will be pleased to know that the cost for a photographer has dropped from last year! Expect to pay around $1,838, but pricing will vary when it comes to the skillset of your select photographer.

Northern Territory

The overall cost of a wedding in the Northern Territory also comes in under the national average, with photographers coming in just under the national photography cost. While there are fewer weddings up north, couples can still find a great wedding photographer in the area. You should be expecting to pay around $2,850.

How much should wedding photography cost?

If you have looked at wedding photography pricing, you are possibly aware by now of how expensive wedding photography can be. It’s a figure that seems to have stayed almost constant for the last five years.

With a wedding photographer being in the top three things to prioritise for a wedding, most websites will advise that you should set aside 10-15% of your budget for a wedding photographer.

10-15% of your budget, now that is a lot of money. It is especially a lot of money if you are on a tight budget, to begin with.

What is it though that drives the cost of a wedding photographer? This was a question that I asked myself when I saw a question from a new wedding photographer asking for advice on pricing.

Is wedding photography really expensive?

So let me get this straight from the start. This article is not going to do me any favours making friends with other wedding photographers. It’s also not an article to justify the cost of wedding photography or suggest that wedding photographers are charging too much for their services. I do hope though that for some it may help them think about their pricing and the packages that they offer, especially some of the newcomers.

As a wedding photographer myself, I do understand the high price of wedding photography to some extent. There is a lot of work involved, and it’s not just a case of turning up and taking a few snaps on a fancy camera.

For many wedding photographers, you would be looking at between 30-40 hours of work for each wedding. The work starts before the wedding as well with planning, admin and travel. Then after the wedding, there is still a lot to do with editing your wedding photographs and producing a gallery. If you have chosen a package with prints, they will have to be arranged and checked. An album can also take hours to produce.

There are also other things to take into consideration, the experience of the photographer, training, the cost of the equipment, insurance, production costs for prints and albums, the list could go on.

I think we also need to put the cost of a wedding photographer into perspective. When you see the final figure upfront as a package price, it is easy to think that the cost is expensive. How much would you pay for some work to be done around the house or on your car?

The rate that a wedding photographer charges doesn’t seem that high when you compare the same rate per hour with a plumber, an electrician or a mechanic.

Where do wedding photographers get their pricing?

Being a wedding photographer is the same as being in any other business. When you first start, you will need to put together a business plan and do your market research. You have a look at your competition and see what they have to offer. Then you build your proposal in a way that is competitive with them.

This is exactly what a wedding photographer would do if they were setting up for the first time or re-evaluating their business. They would review other photographers to see what they are charging and also what they offer as part of each package, and then they would base what they offer on what other photographers do.

They would also have a look at the costs involved with the service that they provide and their cost of living. It is the cost of living that is the main factor in regional variances in the cost of the services offered by photographers. House prices in the north of the country can be a lot lower than in the south. Therefore the cost of living would be less.

Initial research into a wedding photographer would show you that the majority of wedding photographers target themselves at the price range. This price would also normally include either or a combination of an album, prints and a USB drive.

Looking for the best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list here. 

What’s included in a wedding photography package?

If you have ever ordered fast food or even a coffee, you may remember the ‘super-size me’ strategy. You would walk in and order a burger only to be asked, “Would you like fries with that?”

It was a way of offering the same thing only bigger, or you would go in and order a couple of items that you wanted and the person serving you would ask if you wanted the ‘meal deal’, it was the same thing, but it had an extra drink for a few pence more. The more it has continued, the more we see set packages, and it can be difficult to get the item you wanted on its own, without being larger than you need or having the extra bits that you don’t need.

One of the differences that you may find between different wedding photographers, or indeed between the packages offered by the same wedding photographer, is what is included.

Many wedding photographers, it would seem, only offer a full day package. A package that covers everything from the bridal preparations right through to the evening party. There are a few that will offer a half-day rate although this appears only to be offered by a few wedding photographers.

The Wedding Album

Albums are something that most wedding photographers provide as a part of their packages. A wedding album is one of the more traditional aspects of a wedding photography package. Wedding albums have been around from the early days when everything was still filmed. It was a time when you got your prints and an album from a local shop. You then had a fun evening in remembering the events of your wedding while you select the photographs to go in the album. Do you still get that same feeling from letting the wedding photographer select those photographs and put the album together for you?

The USB Drive

A USB drive complete in a fancy box. It is something that came after photography went digital. All of your wedding photographs nicely stored in a little box. Technology changes though it wasn’t so long ago that images were delivered to you on a compact disc. If you are on a laptop, does it still have a compact disc drive? The traditional USB drive is already being updated with the newer USB C drive. How long will it be until that USB drive is obsolete? What will you do with those wedding photographs then?

Physical Prints

Surprisingly, prints are something that you don’t see much included with wedding packages. You could argue that prints are in the wedding album, but what if you wanted some to have around the home? You could also say that prints are easy enough to get printed yourself as long as you have the digital file. The difference here is that the print suppliers that photographers use are usually of a higher quality than you could get on the high street.

Digital Images

Here is something common with all wedding photographers. If anything, you could debate that this is the only part of the package that you need. Once you have the digital images, you can do what you like with them. You can print them to go on the wall or as prints in your album. You can upload them so that you can create your album or photobook. They are on your hard drive so as long as you back them up, you won’t have the challenge of hardware technology becoming out of date if the software changes you can save them in a new format.

With each of these items added to your package, the cost goes up. Not only is there the added cost of the album, USB or prints, there is also the photographer’s markup. The percentage that they add just for providing the product. Then on top of that, we go back to the hourly rate that a wedding photographer would charge. Creating an album, loading the images to a USB drive or arranging the prints all takes time. The time that is all charged at the wedding photographers hourly rate.

How to save money on wedding photos

You may be able to save money by securing access to printing rights rather than being contractually obliged to purchase prints and enlargements from the photographer. Always be sure you understand whether you will have full rights to download and print pictures from any site you choose. This will help you understand the real final cost of your wedding photos. 

You can also save money by bundling engagement photos with wedding photos for a discounted package rather than purchasing each event’s photos individually.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to negotiate or ask for discounts. Depending on the season and demand, you may be able to negotiate lower prices for your wedding photos — especially if you receive lower, more reasonable cost estimates from other wedding photographers.

Check out our post on Are wedding photographers worth it?

Why Is It So Expensive?

Hiring a professional photographer for a wedding will always cost more than a simple hourly fee because of the travel time and costs of packing up and or renting equipment.

The higher the headcount, the higher the cost as well, because it’s difficult for one photographer to get everyone meant to be in each photo to cooperate. There is also the communication time with sending each attendee photos and having them want changes or more options.

The photographer also has to take into account what the lighting is like at the event centre and usually has to make a memorable trip there in advance to know what he or she is dealing with.

With wedding photographers being one of the highest booked suppliers, it’s also relieving to see that they’re one of the highest-rated. Overall, wedding photographers pull in a massive 5 out of 5 stars when it comes to the service they provide for your big day.

Is there a way though that both the client and the photographer could get what they want? The photographer wants to be paid their hourly rate while the client wants a photographer who is more within their budget.

Those extra bits in the package increase the price, which is good for the wedding photographer but they are also parts that the client doesn’t necessarily want. Could the wedding photography be provided without the ‘super-size me’ deal?

If you take away the album, you save not only the cost of the album but also the time it takes to put it together. The same could be said about the USB drive, and they cost money to get made and then there is the time to arrange and load all of the images.

The downside to the wedding photographer is that the average price of a booking decrease and potentially their annual salary. The other side of this though is that by spending less time on each wedding, they are then able to take more bookings.

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