Advice for Brides: Why Wedding Photographers are Expensive

Wedding Photography Advice for Brides from Michael Chadwick Photography

The following is an actual Craigslist post by an upset bride…

ATTN: Wedding Photographers:

WHY is finding an amazing wedding photographer so difficult? :/

I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.

WHY because the word “WEDDING” is involved photographers think they can change you $ 3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you AT LEAST 15 grand after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!! I love all you $ 3,000.00 photographers out there but i think your prices are WACK. All your doing is hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them.. and thats owrth 3 GRAND!!! You’re making so much money its crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the “average” persons salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around 3 grand. (Thats making 19$ an hour) So you’re going to take someones WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen day of photos? Just because you CAN!!?????? So that maybe they will not be able to feed themselves or pay any other bills they have, right? It makes me SICK!

I know im speaking for more than just myself right now. Alot of brides out there think the same thing. & I bet all you fancy photographers wont even read this. oh-well.
Maybe there are cheaper photographers that will read this and LOVE to take my photos!”


This has upset a lot of professional photographers, and with good reason.  Many have written about it of late, but I want to put my own two cents in here. I’m not going to bore you with a listing of all the costs I have for advertising, rent on my studio space, the expensive equipment I own and maintain, the self-employment taxes I pay, paying team members (if applicable), and all of those other costs. I’m not even going to bore you will all of the details about how much time I spend meeting with you, shooting the wedding, and editing your photographs. I’m just going to tell you one simple thing:

You get what you pay for.

Hiring a professional photographer buys you several years of experience, expertise, and artistry on a day which you cannot do over. It gets you someone who knows how to deal with adverse lighting conditions, running traffic and troubleshooting on the spot to make sure your day goes smoothly.  It buys you customer service which has won awards several years in a row from the industry’s top publications. It buys you a professional photographer who will be responsible for capturing one of the most important days of your life, in photographs you will be holding onto your entire life and possibly passing along to generations which will follow you.

If you think paying for such expertise, experience, and artistry is unreasonable, you are welcome to let Uncle Bob and his shiny new DSLR give it a shot.  It’s just a camera, right? Yeah, and buying a set of golf clubs automatically qualifies you for the PGA Tour. Or, you are welcome to hire a $400 Craigslist photographer who probably just decided one day he or she was going to shoot someone’s wedding, without having any knowledge of what is entailed in doing it properly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So, before you complain too much about the amounts your wedding vendors are asking for, try to keep the following in mind:  Those numbers are not arbitrarily inflated.  There is a lot of competition out there, and if the value of the services wedding vendors are offering are not worth what they are asking, the price point would not be supportable and they would not continue to get business.  Weddings are a high-stress, high-performance job.  Professional athletes make millions of dollars because they are expected to perform at the highest of levels.  Yet, they make mistakes all the time and no one bats an eye.  If we make a mistake at your wedding, it has a much greater impact on your wedding day and perhaps even your life.

Do you still think we’re asking too much? If so, I wish you the best of luck with your bargain basement vendors. You’re going to need it.

Michael Chadwick is a wedding photographer located in Medford, NJ. Michael Chadwick Photography offers wedding photography services all over New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania. All images copyright 2012 and may not be distributed or reproduced without express written permission.

Michael Chadwick Photography
Medford, NJ 08055
Phone: 609-654-1840

  • JacquieJanuary 27, 2012 - 5:03 am

    Brilliance. Bravo and thank you.

  • Garrett EwaldJanuary 27, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    Time to rethink your pricing. Might have been better to put this in the context not of your rates, but for the imaginary $1,000 photographer. You need to start charging $5000 or you will go out of business!

  • Michael ChadwickJanuary 27, 2012 - 1:05 pm

    It’s not that I’m not making money or in risk of taking a loss. I just wanted the brides to be clear that I’m not making an obscene profit, but rather that I have been and will continue to work very hard for the money I do make.

    When the time comes for me to establish a physical studio location, my fees will have to be raised appropriately. The point of this post is to help brides like this one understand we’re not trying to take them to the cleaners, and I hope it will serve to show that.

  • DeonJanuary 27, 2012 - 6:03 pm

    Are you seriously kidding me that you’re complaining about $3,000? These are the only memories you will have of this special day when it’s all over. Photographers bust their asses at weddings and since you aren’t married yet, I’m offended by your comments since you haven’t even ever experienced it since you aren’t even married yet. How much did you spend on a dress that you will wear for 12 hours? How much did you spend on flowers that will be dead in 12 hours? Do your research and realize that it’s not only “taking photos.” You’re paying for creativity, knowing where to take the photos, how to set up family groups, guiding you through the day and making sure everything runs smoothly. Do you even know how much leather albums cost? No you don’t, so don’t go bashing people that work their asses off for you to capture moments to last a lifetime and go get married in an old navy dress and elope, that will save you money!

  • Rich GreenJanuary 27, 2012 - 6:42 pm

    Same with myself as a corporate photographer. If I charge $1000 for a project (just picking the number out of the air), folks think that’s all profit. There is a difference between an “employee” and “employer” mentality. Most people are employees and don’t know, or even care to learn, what it means to be an “employer” – the guy who runs the company and has overhead. My easiest analogy to them, and I have used it when they’re talking to me on the phone from their job, “you’re working and you’re on the clock while you’re talking to me. I’m not being paid to listen to you.” Then I politely say good-bye because I, too, have to earn a living.