How Much Should I Spend On My Wedding Photographer?

Average Cost of a DC Wedding Photographer Prices 2022

wedding photographer prices in dc

The price of a wedding photographer in the Washington DC area varies greatly. DC wedding photographer prices are anywhere from $1,000 to over $10,000. There are many things that contribute to a wedding photographer’s pricing structure. Things that are factored in are things like their cost of doing business, the number of years they’ve been in business, if they are full time or part time, and many others.

The main contributing factors to the price of wedding photography is simply the experience the photographer has. Other contributors are what you decide to include in your package, such as an engagement session, a second shooter, and what deliverables you choose.

Novice/Beginner

Novice photographers are just starting out and gaining experience as wedding photographers. They are likely portrait or other experienced photographers seeking to get started in the wedding industry who may also work other full time jobs. Novice photographers generally start out by second shooting or assisting professional wedding photographers to get their feet wet and learn the ins and outs of wedding photography before confidently shooting weddings on their own.

Novice and beginner photographers can cost from $1000-$3000 for an 8 hour wedding day.

Experienced/Competent

Experienced photographers are photographers who have been photographing weddings for several years and sometimes also work full time jobs in addition to growing wedding photography studios. They are competent photographers who know what they’re doing but may also second shoot to increase their business income while keeping their workloads light in order to balance their business with their full time jobs.

Amateur and competent wedding photographers can cost from $3000-$6000 for an 8 hour wedding day.

Professional

Professional photographers have been photographing weddings for several years and have refined their shooting and editing styles. They tend to have their own artistic styles and their work can begin to be recognized in their photography communities. 

A professional wedding photographer can cost between $6000-$10,000 for an 8 hour wedding day.

Luxury/Artist

A Luxury wedding photographer is an artist and has a refined style that can be easily recognized as their work. They have worked as wedding photographers for 7+ years and sometimes have a staff to help them with day to day operations, editing, and sometimes have associate photographers. Oftentimes luxury and professional photographers also offer education to newer photographers who are growing their businesses.

Luxury high-end photographers cost $10,000 and up for an 8 hour wedding day.

In conclusion…

•$0-500 (Just starting, may have not shot a wedding, not considered professional)
•$500-1200 (May have shot some weddings, may not have a high demand and/or may not have a style that demands a higher price tag)
•$1000-2000 (Probably photographs weddings fairly regularly, may not have a high demand due to style, may not be considered full-time)
•$2000-3000 (Probably has a bit higher demand for style, probably shoots a few less weddings while focusing on providing each client more support, beginning to get into the “professional” category)
•$4000+ (typically considered full-time professionals, have the demand based on style, expertise, etc.)
•$5000-$6000 and beyond starting prices (Typically more established, refined style, and luxury offerings)

Again, these are general starting price ranges. You can spend $10k with many of the photographers that begin at the $4k range. And please remember, these categories of pricing are not fixed; sometimes you can truly get a “good deal” at a lower price range. However, in those instances you are paying to forfeit the piece of mind and assume the risk.

Why Do Wedding Photographers Cost So Much?

Generally speaking, you will get what you pay for. When a photographer is excellent in any given area, it typically relates to their demand which almost directly relates to their pricing structure and packages.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the basic ways that pricing structures form and present themselves within different markets around the USA, while also touching on what influences where any given photographer lands in terms of their pricing.

It’s difficult to give a one size fits all answer, but you’ll gain a good idea of the pricing in your area as you move forward in making this huge decision.

Lifestyle

This may not be something you immediately recognize as a factor determining how much a photographer charges, but it is probably the most basic factor determining how much a photograph can and should charge.

Example, if the photographer is single and in a place in life where, comparatively speaking, they don’t have many expenses, this photographers priorities will be very different than the photographer with multiple kids (with future educational expenses) and a fair-sized mortgage.

You may or may not relate to one of these (or any other given lifestyle), but you will probably find yourself drawn to someone who you want to be like and/or to someone with whom you relate. That person may or may not need to charge a premium and provide a standard of service that will allow them to live the life that they are living.

But one thing is for sure, any photographer who does not balance their lifestyle with the work they produce and the profit which is required to support that life, will quickly unravel. So, you’ll pay for both the lifestyle and stability that your photographer exhibits.

Location

Pricing is very much location specific. If you live in an area where living expenses are higher, it’s likely that the standard pricing for the photographer in that area will be higher. For example, if you live in New York City where the cost of living is double (or more!) than that of somewhere like rural Kentucky, you might pay an average starting price of $6,000 vs $3,000 for a similarity priced photographer in the more rural location.

Generally speaking, the larger the city and higher medium level income, the higher your standard prices will be.

Expertise

We define expertise as how able a photographer is to photograph any given wedding. Expertise and experience often go hand in hand, though a more “experienced” photographer who has photographed weddings for 10+ years may not have as much technical skill as another photographer who has only been around for 5 years.

So, we’ve given expertise and experience their own distinguishable sections in this post.

Expertise typically involves the following:

  • Photography skills (e.g., handling different lighting scenarios like bright light and low-light and everything in between.
  • Handling interpersonal situations (e.g., ability to help guide day-of communication so that cooperation between multiple people in achieved, such as getting family organized to do family formals)
  • Emotional and communication skills to put you and others in a comfortable frame of mind
  • Business skills that create stability and service to consistently deliver results

Expertise typically raises the premium because it directly correlates to their desirability and demand.

Experience

Experience shouldn’t be undervalued. Experience and expertise do not always correlate, it is generally a rule that a photographer who has shot hundreds of weddings will have had more experience in various tough situations (schedule changes, timeline troubles, tension between family members, etc.) and if she/he has shot at your venue multiple times, they will probably be more prepared to quickly and smoothly direct photographs at that venue.

An experienced photographer preparing to shoot at a new-to-them venue would likely know the value of visiting the venue before hand and quickly adapting to the new environment. You should have a clear understanding that the photographer understands your venue and/or has a plan to pick specific locations for things like first-look, portraits, and formals beforehand.

A photographer at this skill level will likely be above your average cost.

Style

Style, which is subjective, is the manner in which a photographer composes and edits photographs. Photographers who charge a premium have typically found/crafted a style that is in demand.

The general style that you choose and the demand for photographers with that style in your area will affect the pricing of that photographer.

This post was last updated April 2022.

Weddings

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January 14, 2019

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