How Much Do Wedding Photographers Cost in 2022?

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Photography is an essential part of any wedding day. After all, the moments will fly by, and the photos are how you can relive the day again and again. It’s also a big part of any wedding budget, and it’s something you need to account for before committing to your overall plan.

How much does a wedding photographer cost? The 2022 national average lands at about $2,000, with a range of $1200 – $3000 for a day of coverage. But couples across the U.S. are spending anywhere from $500 for student-level photographers to $10,000+ for premium packages.

Hourly rates for a photographer range from $75-200 for an average professional, and 6-10 hours is usually ideal for a wedding day. The cost depends largely on your area and what is included in the package, but you should plan to spend about 10-15% of your wedding budget on photography. Keep reading to learn more about wedding photography pricing and how you can budget for this important investment. 

Examining the Markets: Photography Costs by State & City



While a national average gives you a general idea of photography cost, your wedding’s budget will depend on your area. Cities and states have different wedding markets and economies, which will affect what you pay for your photographer. 

Average Photography Cost in Your State

  • California: Most Southern California brides spent about $3,000 – $4,000 on wedding photography, and Bay Area wedding photographers average $5,500 for a day of coverage. 
  • New York: If you wed in New York, you can plan to spend $2,500 – $5,000 for photography. Prices in NYC will be at the higher end of that range. 
  • Illinois: Total wedding costs in Illinois average at about $27,000, so couples probably spend around $2,700 – $4,000 on their photography. 
  • Texas: If you allot 10% of your wedding budget toward photography, you’ll likely spend around $2,500 in Texas

Average Photography Cost in Major Cities 

  • San Francisco – Wedding Photography can get pricey in San Francisco, where the average cost for 8 hours of coverage is $5,000
    • Los Angeles – If you want to wed in or near Los Angeles, a professional photographer could run $3,500 – $5,000, with many couples splurging and spending even more for a high-end expert. 
  • Chicago – The average cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago is about $3,500. 
  • Houston Houston wedding photographers will cost an average of $4,200.
    • Dallas – Couples spend an average of $3,500 for a photographer in Dallas
  • Denver – Denver sees an average cost of $3,900 for a wedding photographer. 
  • JacksonvillePhotographers in Jacksonville charge an average of $2,200 for wedding coverage, with a range of $1,000 – $4,000 depending on skill level and hours included. 
  • Philadelphia – The average cost for a Philadelphia wedding photographer is about $3800 for an eight-hour day
  • Pittsburgh – Most wedding photographers in Pittsburg charge around $2,000 – $3,000, though some run over $4,000 for luxe packages. 



What Does Wedding Photography Include?

While it’s easy to look only at pricing, you want to make sure your photographer’s package includes everything you need. Whether they offer an all-inclusive package or ala carte options, review everything in detail to ensure you are budgeting right. 

While you may only see your photographer for a few hours, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, so know that each element is an integral part of their services. 

Day of Wedding Photography 

The most obvious thing you’re paying for is the photographer’s coverage on your wedding day. An elopement may just need one or two hours, but most weddings will call for 6 or 8 hours of coverage. 

Travel

A photographer typically includes a certain amount of travel in their standard pricing. Usually, it covers weddings in their city and the surrounding suburbs. 

If your wedding is farther than their typical borders, your photographer may charge an additional fee to cover the time and gas required to get there. A photographer who offers destination wedding coverage will include flights, hotel, and food in their pricing. 

Editing & Retouching

Editing is a key part of photography, so professionals will include that in their rate. They’ll adjust lighting and colors to create a consistent look throughout your collection. This basic retouching gives their photos the professional, polished look that inspired you to book with them. 

Extensive editing – like changing a facial expression or wardrobe malfunction – is typically an additional fee. 

Digital Photos 

Your wedding package will include a certain amount of digital photos. It’s sometimes a set number, and then you can purchase additional images for a fee. Other photographers offer all the digital photos from your day, and they’ll be able to provide you with a rough estimate of how many that will be. 

They release the images on a thumb drive or online viewing gallery. Professional-level photographers typically offer prints for an additional cost, but they’ll provide you with the printing rights so you can also buy them anywhere you want. 

Photography Add-On Options  

Anything beyond the base package will come at an additional cost. Many high-end photographers only offer luxe packages that include all the bells and whistles, but most professionals will offer ala carte options that you can pick and choose. Below are some of the most popular upgrade options for wedding photography. 



Second shooters 

Second shooters are additional photographers who capture different angles and perspectives on the wedding day. This is often included in packages, but some photographers charge extra for it.

Engagement Portraits

Many couples book a separate portrait session before the wedding day. This is a great way to get comfortable with the photographer, and you can use the images for Save-the-Date cards and decorations on the wedding day. 

Prints & Albums

In a day when everything seems to be digital, printed images hold an extra special value. Even if you receive the printing rights to your pictures, you should still order some prints and an album from your photographer. 

The professional prints are typically much higher quality, and the profits help support the photographer’s business. 

2022 Wedding Trends: Social Media Upgrades

Social media also presents upgrade options for your wedding photography package. If you want your pictures optimized for social media, your photographer may charge to deliver the resized images. 

Some photographers also charge a fee if you don’t want them using the images in their social media posts and marketing. 

Why Are Some Photographers More Expensive? 

Wedding photography comes in such a vast range of pricing. An expensive wedding photographer is definitely worth it, as long as they provide a high-quality service and product. 

Photographer’s Experience 

Experienced photographers will charge more than average. A high-end professional or artistic master will have the skills and equipment to take great photos, edit them consistently, and provide excellent customer service. 

Day of The Week

Photographers sometimes offer discounts for weekday weddings or a premium for Saturday weddings. So if you’re trying to cut costs, you can see about getting a deal for a Thursday wedding, though that may be inconvenient for many guests. 

Month of the Year 

The peak wedding season is usually May – October. Photographers may offer a lower rate for an off-season wedding in the colder months. In areas with great weather year-round, you may not be able to find any seasonal price difference. 

Traveling for a Destination Wedding

If your wedding takes place outside the photographer’s typical region, you’ll need to pay for their additional travel expenses. This could end up being more or less than hiring a photographer local to the destination. 

So price out some photographers from your hometown and your wedding destination to see what is best for your photography budget. 

Photography Package 

It’s tough to compare prices between photographers because each professional includes different items in a package. 

One photographer’s base package may include 8 hours of coverage, a second shooter, and hundreds of digital images. Another may offer 5 hours of coverage and only a set number of images. 

So don’t just look at the price. Look at what’s included in that price. An expensive wedding photographer could be worth it because they feature so much in their packages. 

Examples of Wedding Photography Packages 

When hiring a photographer, you are doing more than just paying for some photos and images. You’re paying for a group of services they provide, from the initial contact to the final delivery of prints. Their packages will allow you to receive great service and amazing photos. 

Standard Wedding Photography Example 

A standard wedding photography package will include all the basics to capture the day’s key points. Here is what is typically included in a base package:

  • 6 to 8 hours of coverage to photograph the couple getting ready, the ceremony, portraits, and some reception coverage
  • Travel to the wedding location within a certain range (usually the city, suburbs, and immediately surrounding towns)
  • A certain number of digital images, usually anywhere from 50-100 per hour
  • Basic retouching for a consistent style
  • The printing rights to the photos and the option to buy prints and albums through the photographer

Example of a High-End Wedding Photography Package 

A luxe wedding package will include even more so that nothing is missed throughout the entire process. Alternatively, you may be able to add upgrades to a base package to create your own custom experience. 

Here is what’s typically included in a premium or high-end photography package:

  • 8-10 hours of coverage to capture hours before the ceremony along with the entire ceremony and reception
  • A second shooter 
  • Travel to the wedding location within a certain range (usually the city, suburbs, and immediately surrounding towns)
  • A certain number of digital images, usually anywhere from 50-100 per hour
  • Basic retouching for a consistent style
  • A custom-made album and a collection of prints
  • The printing rights to the photos and the option to buy more prints through the photographer
  • An engagement session before the wedding day

Wedding Photography & Videography

Many photographers offer packages that include videography. Sometimes the company specializes in both media, or sometimes it’s a partnership between two separate vendors. 

Videography typically costs as much as photography, though some couples book fewer hours of video coverage. So adding videography to your photography package could increase the costs by 50 to 100 percent. 

Tipping Your Wedding Photographer Adds to The Costs 

Tipping is an additional photography cost you may want to plan for. But when are you supposed to tip wedding photographers?

If your photographer is the company’s owner, tipping isn’t customary but is appreciated if you feel like they go above and beyond. You could also leave shining reviews and order prints through the photographer as an alternative way of supporting them. 

If the photography company sent an employee or staff shooter, then it is a good idea to tip them $50 – $100 or more, depending on the general price and package you booked. 

Vendor Meals: Feeding Your Photographer

If your photographer is at your reception, you must feed them. Most photographers include this in their contract, but you should plan to do this no matter what. 

As you turn in your guest count to the caterer, include the photographer, second shooters, and assistants. Let them know it’s a vendor meal – sometimes caterers charge less for that.

How to Pay Your Wedding Photographer

You’ll likely place a deposit to book the date with the photographer, and then pay the remainder before the wedding. But what forms of payments do photographers take? Here are the most common options – your photographer will likely accept at least a couple of these:

  • Credit Card: The photographer probably has an online payment system that will allow you to pay by credit card. 
  • Cash: Photographers who want to save on credit card fees may accept cash. Just be sure to get a receipt for your payment. 
  • Check: Photographers appreciate that checks save on credit card fees, but they may think they’re too risky to accept. 
  • Paypal: Make sure you pay them as a business (instead of the “pay friends and family” option), as that comes with extra protection. 
  • Bank Transfers: Another way your photographer saves on credit card fees is by allowing bank transfers. Payment management sites typically charge less for these transactions. 
  • Venmo: Some photographers have begun doing payments through Venmo. But like Paypal, you’ll want to run it as a business transaction to get more protection. 

Asking Your Photographer About Pricing

It’s ok to talk about money with your photographer. After all, they know it’s a big investment and want you to be comfortable with your booking. Here are the best questions to ask your photographer:

  • What all is included in your photography package? – This should be clearly laid out in a quote and contract before booking.
  • How much are additional hours and other upgrades?
  • What are any additional fees I need to plan for? 
  • How much are print and albums, and do I receive the printing rights to photos?
  • Can I purchase additional digital images?
  • Do you offer discounts for weekday or off-season weddings?
  • Does having a smaller wedding impact the cost? – Photographers typically charge the same no matter your guest count. The exception is if they offer an elopement package for a short timeframe. 
  • Do you charge a travel fee?

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer Without Going Over Budget 

Now that you know what to expect from your wedding photography packages, it’s time to choose your own photographer. If you are thoughtful with your decision and thorough with your research, you’ll be able to find someone that works for your budget and vision. 

 

Set a Budget 

How much are you willing to pay for wedding photography? Consider your area’s average cost along with any upgrades you may want. 

Try to keep a little wiggle room in this budget, since you may want to upgrade to more hours later or order prints after the wedding. 

Know what Photography Quality/Style You Want  

You’ll need to hire a high-end photographer if you want masterful photos. If you just want someone to document your day, you may be able to hire a student or lower-cost professional. 

This is where your vision and your budget have to meet. You may have to compromise on quality to achieve your budgeting goals, or you can cut costs elsewhere to make room for your dream photographer.

Interview Many Photographers

Don’t settle for the first photographer who has a price you like. You’ll want to interview several photographers, gather quotes, and compare packages and services. You may be surprised by the high-quality care you receive from budget-friendly photographers. 

Be sure to discuss pricing, logistics, and shooting style with multiple photographers. 

Review Their Portfolios 

A photographer puts their best work on their website and social media, but that’s not always the reflection of a complete wedding collection. Ask to see a full wedding gallery so you know how they handle ceremony coverage, tricky lighting, and group portraits. 

While every photographer has a few rough photos here and there, you should be impressed with the overall quality and fine details of their full galleries. 

Ask A lot of Questions 

An experienced professional will be able to discuss pricing and address any concerns with confidence and kindness. Before signing a contract and placing a deposit, ensure they have clearly answered all your questions. It’s ok to ask follow-up questions if you don’t understand some of their jargon or want to clarify anything in the contract. 

Be thorough, but don’t drag the process on too long. Eventually, you’ll need to check this booking off your to-do list and continue with your planning. 

Choose the One That You Trust

Trust your gut and hire the photographer you feel comfortable with and excited about. If they’ve been communicative and thorough during initial questions, they’ll likely remain that way throughout the planning. 

Actually Stay in Budget 

Now it’s time for the hard part: actually sticking with the budget you created. Your wedding photographer should be upfront about any costs before booking so that you can budget well. 

But many couples get caught up in the planning and worry they won’t have enough hours of coverage. They may add on upgrades they don’t need because they sound nice. Remember that your photographer doesn’t have to catch every single moment of your wedding day, and stay focused on your overall vision and budget. 

You don’t need to spend the most money possible to have the best photography possible. 

 

Is Wedding Photography Worth it?

Wedding Photography is definitely worth it, so be sure to budget for this crucial part of your day. You’ll rest easy knowing your pictures are in capable hands, and your memories will be captured for generations to enjoy. 

So whether you want an affordable student photographer or a master-level professional, know that your photography is one of the most worthwhile aspects of your wedding budget. 

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