How to Charge for Wedding Photography

Wedding photographers should charge competitive prices.
Wedding photographers should charge competitive prices. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Wedding photography is a profitable business for an individual because weddings take up only one day from a time standpoint, and generally have a higher profit than in-studio portrait work. It also holds great responsibility, because the photographer gets no other time to make up for any bad portraits or mistakes. People breaking into this side of the business need to keep their pricing competitive, but still based on their experience and several other factors.

Compare local competitors' pricing and industry pricing. Look online at area photographers who do wedding photography. Write down their prices and their conditions. Ideally, you'll need to find at least three other photographers to compare. If possible, those photographers should have a wide range of experience. More experienced photographers will be able to charge more for their services because of reputation. Also check online for photographers in different geographic areas that are similar to your own area.

Determine what you can offer and devise several wedding packages that include a set number of poses, portrait prints and proofs. Include a budget package along with moderate and deluxe packages. Also include the amount of time you can devote to that day and costs for extra time. Most photographers stay for the entire ceremony and part -- if not all -- of the reception. Create your fee policy, including the percentage you'll want as a deposit.

Determine how much the cost of film processing will be (if film is used instead of digital) and any transportation costs you will incur. If doing any edits to digital photos taken, factor in the time in hours it will take. Also include how much you'd like to charge per hour of your time. Multiply the time taken for edits by the cost per hour you'll charge. Alternatively you can charge by the printed sheet instead of an hourly rate. A sheet generally is one 8-by-10 portrait, two 5-by-7 portraits or eight wallet-sized photos. If you will provide keepsake albums, and many photographers do not, factor the cost and preparation of those into the figure as that by the profit margin percentage you'd like to make.

Add all costs together and multiply by the profit margin percentage you'd like to make. Check your competitors' prices for similar packages. Tweak this pricing by raising or lowering it until it is competitive with other photographers in the area. Inexperienced photographers should charge less than experienced ones, but still be competitive to make sure possible clients don't doubt the quality of the newer photographer's work.

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