Why do professional photographers charge so much?

Why do professional photographers charge so much?


That’s a fair, common,  and perfectly valid question to ask. A good analogy might be to ask “why is there such a big difference in the price of new cars?”.  The analogy, when you stop to think about it,  isn’t ridiculous at all!

The function of a car is to transport you from point A to point B.  Both the economy model and the luxury model are perfectly capable of providing that function.  The luxury vehicle, however, may have options and features which may not be available on the economy vehicle.  The luxury vehicle will probably have more visual appeal to the buyer, have a better ride, handle better, have more bells and whistles, and will hold it’s value longer than the economy vehicle. One expects the luxury vehicle to have higher quality and visual appeal than the economy vehicle.

Likewise, there is a difference in the images that a photographer provides to you.  A professional photographer uses professional tools (cameras and lenses) to capture images and to skillfully process those images into a beautiful product.  A photographer who is charging minimal rates is not providing the same quality as a photographer who is using professional equipment, and is taking the time to properly edit and process your photos. Most professional photographers will spend a large portion of time (after the photos are taken) uploading the photos, selecting the photos, editing the photos, and exporting the photos to a proofing site.  Typically there are thousands of photos taken at a wedding and because the wedding is moving along so rapidly, it is necessary to take a lot of photos in order to capture “the moment”.  This is a time consuming process!  A professional photographer will edit/select photos for proper composition, cropping, color adjustment, saturation, sharpness, lighting, and noise reduction.

A budget photographer is unlikely to spend a large amount of time on the editing process and will only do very basic and minimal editing.

wedding photographer

It’s pretty easy to discern between beautiful images and mediocre images.  A professional photographer will take images which and are well composed and utilize available light effectively.  It’s easy to see the difference between a well composed image, and a photograph that is not well composed or is not well executed.  While it is not difficult to see the difference in quality in photos, it is more difficult to place a value on the images that will be taken for your wedding.  There is only one opportunity to take beautiful images which will withstand the test of time.

Did you Know?

  • A professional photographer will have at least two camera bodies when photographing your wedding.  Typically a professional grade camera will be in excess of $3,000 per camera.
  • A professional photographer will have at least six professional “fast” lenses in their arsenal.  A fast lens is a lens which is required to be used in low light situations.  Typically these lenses cost $1,000 or more.  A professional will have a macro lens, a zoom lens, and several “prime” (non zoom) lenses
  • A professional photographer will not utilize on camera flash (and certainly NOT popup flash) unless it is absolutely necessary.  A professional photographer will use off camera flash whenever possible.  When off camera flash is not possible, a professional photographer will not aim the camera flash directly at their subject but will bounce the flash from another reflective surface.
  • A professional photographer will spend more time processing your photos than it took to actually take the photos.
  • A professional photographer will routinely hone their skills by attending workshops and seminars.


All photographers are not created equal.  A professional photographer will use professional grade cameras and lenses and will spend a significant amount of time perfecting (editing) the images that are taken at your wedding.  Not every client can afford the rates that a professional photographer charges, but be aware that you may be making a compromise on the final product that is provided to you.  Shop carefully, and compare not only on price, but on the “quality” of the images.  Ultimately you will need to decide where you fall on the “price versus quality” curve.

1 Comment

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Nikolay Mirchevreply
June 19, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Another post on why we, photographers, charge so much. I hope one day the good photographers job will be much better appreciated.
Any way a very good explanation 😉

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