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April 21, 2008


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Have you ever shot a wedding? After the wedding we don't sit back and relax. There is 20-30 hours (per wedding) that is spent downloading, backing-up, editing, printing and designing albums for that wedding! Not to mention paper work, engagement session, traveling, meetings and planning. You have mentioned the "visible tip of the iceberg" and nothing "below the surface."


Who ever posted this has never photographed a wedding or even known a wedding photographer!
One day of work huh? So all the images just pop out of the camera rotated, cropped, color adjusted and hey printed to the exact size the couple wanted? Oh and the album? It lays itsself out too I guess. And of course there are the meetings with the couple before and after the wedding day that you seem to forget to mention.
None of that even covers the money we spend on equipment, advertising, crew, processing ect ect.
ALSO (and I think this is the part the bugs me the most) "The smart wedding photographer doesn’t want to train the competition." WE ALL TRAIN EACH OTHER!!!! Wedding photographers are thrilled to sit down and chat about ideas, take new photographers under our wing, train, learn and grow TOGETHER.
Do a little more research before running your mouth next time.

Sarah Hodzic

This post couldn't be further from the truth of what it take to be a wedding photographer. Not to mention the hard work put into growing a photography community all over the US.

I can respect opinions, but what I can't tolerate is uneducated posts about an industry that this blogger clearly had no experience in.

Alyssa Lang

This is the most uneducated thing I have read in a long time. Do your research buddy. If wedding photography is so lucrative, why do I have to work ANOTHER full time job to get the bills paid? Photography is my passion and I love it dearly and THAT is why I do it, not because it will make me rich, because for all intents and purposes, it probably won't. You have absolutely no idea of the time we spend on each wedding and client. Editing, post processing, album design, client do all of those and then tell me we only work 1 day a week.

As for not wanting to train other photographers, clearly you have never been around a wedding photographer. The friends I have made through being in this industry are so invaluable. They share their time, talent and love with each other and help one another hone their skills and grow in their knowledge of their craft.

Please actually do some research next time you decide to post something like this.


Are you kidding me? Must be coming from someone who's never shot a wedding. Even if you charge $1900 for the event it is not all pure profit... What about cost of equipments, post processing time, print product cost, your time, overhead (insurance, electricity, etc., etc., etc.) Then, maybe you don't get out much, but photography is not as cut-throat of a business as you make it to be. When I was studying photography and needed experience another photographer took me under his wing--no charge, and let me learn alongside him. Our generation of photographers are kind, caring people, competition or not...

But again, maybe you posted this so that you can get hits on your blog.... LOL


I'm a professional photographer but there's no way I'd do weddings even though I live in Hawaii, a hotspot for weddings. There are a ton of wedding photographers out here, many of them advertising very cheap services - I've seen prices as low as $250. There is a small cadre of very successful wedding photographers here, they operate out of expensive retail space in Honolulu or Waikiki, have a payroll to meet, have very demanding clients, etc. While it's true that the digital revolution has drastically reduced our equipment outlays and processing time, it has also enabled a lot more people to enter the business.

Sometimes my clients ask me to shoot a wedding, or refer me to others in need of wedding photography, but I have never done it. I don't relish the thought of dealing with a stressed-out bride, wind blowing her hair and dress askew, other people distracting her with their cameras, the sweat dripping down her brow, properly exposing her very bright dress, communnicating poses to her even though she has no modelling experience, all while under a tight wedding day schedule and a last minute change of venue because it started raining. No thanks.


Try shooting 53 weddings per year, and then blog about it. I don't think you would make it through 53 wedding per year. I don't know any-one person who can make it through 53 weddings per year, and most photographers don't make 5000.00 per wedding. The big guys do, but most make much less than that per wedding.

Albums cost around $1000.00 for design and print and bind. I spent over $14000.00 last year on online proofing for my clients. I spend over 40 hours editing wedding a clients wedding pictures the week after the wedding. Most photographers actually work LONGER hours than a person with an office job. Obviously you didn't do your research because Photographers work more than one day a week, and the cost of overhead in running a photography business is very high Insurance, equipment, marketing it all adds up.

I know a TON of photographers, and they are all leaders in the industry, and they make about 30,000 a year with photography.

Do your research buddy.

Matt Antonino

"Wedding photographers who earn $5,000 for a wedding are making more than a quarter of a million a year."

Name ONE photographer who charges that & shoots that many. "Jim Kennedy in LA"

Ok, name a second? There isn't one. Your numbers don't make sense and as people have already posted above, "one day's work" is a joke if you think about the prep time, interview time, editing, backup, cost of storage, insurance, albums, prints, cart hosting, website fees...

There's so much that goes into being a wedding photographer that you didn't name - but it's an easy post right? :) Wrong or not, you still got your post in for the day.


Leah Godfredson

I am literally screaming at the computer as I read this. The facts above are a total fabrication. You, sir, are a complete moron and a liar.

I sound juvenile even to myself as I type this, but it is beyond me how you came up with this information. We work one day a week? Are you insane?

And the part about "why isn't everyone doing it" and your answer of "barriors to entry" The fact is that the barriors have never been lower since digital SLRs came along, and the industry is experiencing a huge upheaval as a result. Anyone with a camera can call themselves a photographer and shoot a wedding, the challenge is to earn a living at it. It is HARD, but we do it because we love it.

I've never in my life heard a wedding photographer "whine about the stress of a wedding."

And I'll add in that other wedding photographers are some of the most helpful and warm people I've ever come across. Do you not know anything at all about our industry? You managed to avoid any truth whatsoever in your article.

I think that you have ruined whatever small amount of credibility you might have had by writing this article. Now nothing that you say regarding photography can be believed.


Haha. :) Well, let us know how your first year of 53 weddings go....I mean, if you're still alive.

Actually, the two barriers you mentioned don't exist. Plenty of information exists online, digital cameras make it easier to pick up minimal skills, and craigslist (among other internet sites) make marketing to low budget brides a snap. Those aren't the best ways to do it, mind you. But a lot of low end wedding photographers exist today because it is so easy to just jump in.

Of course, they soon find out about the 15 hours before and 15 hours after the wedding that most people don't count on. Plus the cost of equipment, online proofing, albums, insurance, conferences, travel, business cards, computers, software, etc. Then consider the thousands of entry-level photographers charging rock bottom prices...and suddenly they have to do 53 weddings at $900 just to stay afloat.

Unfortunately with wedding photography there are no 6 days of rest. Most of us like to edit our photos, email our brides, shoot engagements, design albums, work with vendors, make slideshows, take care of accounting and taxes, etc. Those who are just shooting and then burning what they get straight to cd (without editing)...they generally don't charge your $1900 estimate. We're lucky if we get one day of rest. :)


This has to be one of the most ignorant, uneducated posts about wedding photographers I've ever seen. You obviously have no idea how the industry works or what our costs of doing business are. You sure are getting some hits to your blog though!

Do you make it a habit to speak as an authority on things you don't know anything about?


Wow...this is wrong on so many levels. Stop oversimplifying and put some real research into your posts!

Mike Wise

I wish what you had to say was true. This makes me wonder if you were just trying to think up ways to get loads and loads of comments on your blog. Hmmm...I think I might write about how easily I could shoot for Sports Illustrated if I were only given the access to the Super Bowl 50 yard line or the World Series third base side. How easy those guys have it...sheesh. I'll just bring my new Canon G9!

nate m

(d) all of the above.

april greer

This comment should win award for most ridiculous statement of the year:

The wedding photographer only has one high stress day, then six days to relax before his next wedding.

Your blog post screams ignorance, period.


Does editing images until your eyes are blurry, designing and redesigning albums, updating financial books, filling out contracts, scouting locations, emailing/calling potential and current clients, updating websites, creating marketing materials, attending conferences/workshops so you can keep up with what's current in the industry sound like "six days of relaxing" to you? I'm assuming you aren't a wedding photographer since you clearly don't know what a typical wedding photographer's schedule is like, and since you aren't a wedding photog, how can you address the topic in an informed educated manner? You can't.

sooooooo....what was Big Mike's Wedding Blog about? curious minds want to know...


Wow. You couldn't be more wrong.



YOUR welcome for getting you hundreds of hits on your blog today....but for some reason I don't think anyone will come back. You may increase your search engine ranking temporarily....BUT since your content and opinions suck your site will become a "fart in the wind!" Just like your other two websites......

Sam Adams

Your comment is the same as saying that Pro-Football Players only work one day a week, or church pastors only work one day a week, or radio hosts only work 3 hours a some research, this article isn't worth my time to write anymore.


You have No clue.

Debbie Brown

These comments are from someone who is obviously ignorant and just assumes anyone who can hold a camera can photograph a wedding. Never mind the 30+ hours involved with each wedding in post production. Just because I know how to drive a car doesn't mean I could drive the Indy 500! You are the sort of person who makes brides and grooms think it's a good idea to have anyone with a camera do their photos. BIG MISTAKE! I'd say you're an idiot, but I don't want to give you that much credit!


What are you smoking and where I can buy some from?

I spent 6 hours this past Sunday (one week ago) shooting a wedding and the next 50+ hours in post-processing, preparing the album, working with the client, still have to sit down and go over images, album choices... I'm already pulling my hair out thinking about the next 20 hours of work left to do.

Airika Pope

You have GOT to be kidding me. You really did just write this to increase your blog traffic b/c there is no way that any human being with even an ounce of business knowledge could write such a ridiculous post.

We're not just "shooting weddings;" we're running businesses. When was the last time you talked to ANY business owner who only worked one day a week? We spend about two weeks of full-time work(50-60 hours/week) on ONE wedding (this includes everything from generating the inquiries through delivering the wedding album--think about marketing and advertising time, website design, blogging, client consultations, scouting and site visits, vendor meetings, designing guestbooks, shooting, editing, creating slideshows, uploading to proofing site, printing, album design, album ordering, delivering products, maintaining contact with clients to generate more referrals, etc.).

And, for those who insist on having the best equipment available (i.e. not shooting weddings with a Rebel XTi kit from Costco), there are many "hidden" expenses. Imagine owning four cameras that cost between $3-7,000 each (all of which need to be upgraded every three years) and THEN imagine purchasing the best lenses available, flashes, pocket wizards, lighting kits, memory cards, hard drives (we have 3TB), portable hard drives, laptop computers, software, etc. The expenses to running a wedding photography business are endless (think also about the horrendous self-employment tax or the fact that we have to pay all our own benefits). Someone charging $1900/wedding and shooting 53 weddings a year would not even come close to making a decent salary.

Maybe you can pass on all of the facts shared in these comments to the uninformed folks over at Marketwatch. A little bit of education never hurt anybody.

Mandy Hank Photography

You should be ashamed of yourself. Trying running a business and raising kids. If it was only 1 day a week, I probably wouldn't feel so guilty with spending so much time away from them. If I really truly brought home all that was charged, I'd probably work a year and retire. Why don't you research our equipment, marketing, advertising, employees, supplies, etc pricing. You are a complete idiot and shame on you for thinking you know how it is. You don't deserve to be associated with this industry and who do you think you are to get yourself a blog about photography and not know the first thing there is to know about it.

Bob Tobias

Personally, I've found photographers, and wedding photographers in particular, to be quite open and giving. But that's just my opinion; their attitude may be based on who their dealing with.


You obviously have had some negative experience with wedding photographers- or are just extremely jealous of someone.
Sure, some photographers may make tons of money- I'm sure photographing Madonna's wedding would pay off some bills, but the same is true for any profession.
In general, I think your ignorant attitude about the true salary of a photographer shows your need for some education on the issue.
I was raised by a mother who is a wedding photographer. Luckily, she is loved by her clients and her business grows with a high number of referrals, but as she is not one to rip people off and earns every moment she spends making a client happy with hard work behind the camera and in the countless hours afterward. Therefore, she could not have raised 3 kids without the help of my dad's paycheck. I think about the times they both sacrificed for my sisters and me because being a wedding photographer was the best way she knew how to support us.
I am thankful that I've experienced a modest, but comfortable upbringing- it allows me to shed some light for petty, uneducated people like you.
I guess you can't be too stupid if your goal was to create more traffic on your blog, but popularity comes at a price.


It's sad that you would write this one sided post. I'm sure you've got more respect for yourself than being a person who wrongly assumes he knows something about a job without doing accurate research. You will never know the dedication, commitment, and work that goes into this job. If any photographer is any good at what they do they don't simply show up click the shutter and go home. It's about investing in relationships, and the time it takes to create art. Not to mention the risk to take on the responsibility of shooting a wedding that cost thousands of dollars and will never happen again. I desperately hope that no amature photographers take your advice, it could likely end in a nasty court battle because they delivered crappy images. Have some respect for professions that you know nothing about.

I have to get back to editing now...

Alex Fagundo

Why don't you update the article and just admit you don't know anything about what you are saying? Is it so hard to humble yourself and apologize? Wedding photography is a hard-earned living and you are upsetting people because no one likes to be told their difficulties are "easy".

I'll tell you what's really easy, coming up with non-researched, non-sense articles and passing them on as facts over the internet.


It's all about economics my friend. You ever heard the saying, "supply and demand is the invisible hand that controls price." If a bride is spending a cool million on her ya thing she'll hire someone for $500.00? No. If a wedding photographer is receiving 200 requests a year...he/she has to charge more to control the flow of weddings. Is a Louis Vuitton bag worth $600? What about a real estate agent that makes a cool 1.5 mill from selling a mansion? Capitalism is not meant to be fair. It is the land of opportunity my friend. What about a socialism? What if we had doctors, photographers and plumbers making the same? Would you feel better lil guy?


I think I see where you're coming from. It would seem that wedding photographers have a job that is relatively-speaking a 'relaxed' job. If we compare what one would normally think of a wedding photog's stress level compared to someone else, like you mentioned, a cop, a prison guard, a war veteran it would seem that wedding photog's have it quite easy. They're not dealing with life-threatening situations (most of them we'll say) nor are they dealing with tedious jobs that run from 9 to 5 almost every single day of the week. From this perspective, I can see where you're coming from and is probably a primary reason why there has been an enormous surge of wedding 'photographers' in the recent few years. Let me point out though, that because of this huge influx, it has become increasingly more difficult for these photographers to actually succeed. To make a living out of it, and this goes to even some of the established photographers out there, some are struggling. One would have to not only have a stronger portfolio than the super fast and ever increasing number competition, but outmarket, outthink, and out do these competitors. To survive as a wedding photographer, or even as a photographer, there can be enormous stress of failing (the stress of being fired is quite different than having your business fail), having the bank take away all your assets, not to mention being sued by an unhappy bride, etc. Wedding photographers first and foremost run a business, and like any other businesses, have many of the same challenges, struggles, and success I really can't agree that it's as easy as you might think. When I see the work of a photographer who is succeeding, it is because they have worked a great deal to get to that point, and just like any professional, a doctor or NFL player, they have put in sweat and tears to be there. I don't hope to change your mind, I just hope that you don't belittle the efforts of the many hard working photographers out there.


he's obviously writing this for blog traffic....


Quote: "his guy is probably pulling in over $150,000 per year if he's well booked, and that's a damn high salary for Rochester, NY. That's more than a family doctor makes, and unlike the doctor, the wedding photographer didn't have to borrow six figures to attend many years of medical school. A wedding photographer doesn't need to go to college at all."

Apparently you fail to understand the concepts of a free market. The waitress who toils to earn tips, the miners who work 15 hour shifts in dangerous conditions...all good examples of jobs that are harder than wedding photography, but guess what...they CHOSE those jobs. Nobody forced them to take the line of work that they did, so why bash us for choosing our profession? If they want to live the "cushy" lifestyle of a wedding photographer...well Walmart is just around the corner, buy yourself a Rebel and join the band wagon. It's not my fault I chose a line of work that doesn't involve me getting shot at, that doesn't mean I should earn less each year.


I am flattered that you used me as your Rochester, NY example and I also appreciate the anonymous person who forwarded me this link through my website’s contact form.

Quite frankly, making money in wedding photography is comparatively easy to almost any other job (I’ve never actually had a job, so I am just guessing) that I could imagine having.

You aren’t totally correct with your analysis; however, you are not too far off either.

Speaking personally, I service a higher than average client, and with that said, my normal large wedding package requires around 30-40 hours of work, with my normal small wedding package requiring 15-20 hours of work. I would estimate that I spend two to three days per week on wedding photography during the off season (the winters in WNY kill the wedding market for a few months per year) and four to five days per week on wedding photography during the peak season. I haven’t calculated it, but all in all, year on end, it probably averages out to somewhere between 25 and 30 hours of work per week. When looking at the 25-30 hours of work per week, you must realize when we work; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 8am until 2am on the wedding day, then for 8-12 consecutive hours on the two days following the wedding. It is not simply a show up and shoot situation, there is extensive work which must be completed after the wedding by certain, often tight, deadlines.

You are severely over estimating our take home percentage from each package, as you are neglecting overhead and numerous costs to doing business, such as acquisition of equipment, marketing, insurance, cost of goods sold, contracted labor, etc. I would make an educated guess that after all expenses, including taxes and health care (remember, we pay for that ourselves), the industry takes home approximately 30-35% of what it grosses. Certainly, there are exceptions, especially when one can gross significantly more per hour for ‘talent’ (or rather, an increase in perceived value through effective marketing) than another competitor, though, I would propose that even the most well managed businesses still net less than 66% and probably no greater than 50% in the end.

With regard to what I make per year, I’m certainly not open to discussing that on your blog, however, I will tell you with confidence that the majority of my packages are much higher than the $2,000 minimum listed on my website. Essentially no client would select the base package, as there is a limited amount of value in it. Generally, clients elect to work with me for 8-10 hours, add 1-large or 1-medium wedding album, 2-parent albums, a second photographer and an engagement session (if we live within a few hundred miles of one another). Clients who book ‘normal’ packages should expect to spend $6,000-$8,000, but can easily spend double or triple that amount if they desire. I tend to photograph around 20-weddings per year, plus portraits, sports and the occasional commercial job, etc.

You are 100% correct in your assessment as to what education a wedding photographer needs… none. As a 23-year old college drop out, it would be very difficult for me to do what I am doing in a formal professional setting. Making what I make would be less impressive if I had hundred of thousands of dollars of debt and 4, 8, 12 or more years of college invested in specialized training. Fortunately, I happen to be talented and produce imagery which is in demand.

Ultimately, the client decides what I can charge based on an emotional set of criteria. If I set my prices at an unusually high level and no clients inquire, then I lower my prices, if I set my prices at an unusually low level and too many clients inquire, then I raise my prices. I charge, and many people charge, the maximum amount that their market is willing and able to bear.

A wedding photographer servicing his or her market is no different than car companies servicing their markets or airlines servicing their markets. You can buy a Toyota if you want a great value or you can buy a Lexus if you want something more. You can fly coach/economy if you want a great value or you can fly business or first class if you want a great experience. You can pay a photographer $500 if you want a great price or you can pay a photographer, say, $50,000, if you want to be treated like royalty.

I noticed that you have neglected to speak on the element of competition in a given geographic market. While it may seem as though there is a never ending stream of brides, wedding photography is one of the few fields where a person is able to easily utilize non-qualified or under-qualified service providers who come in the form of single use and guest digital cameras, a specific family member providing a favor by photographing with their digital camera, a student trying to build a portfolio, a part-timer looking for some quick cash or an illegitimate businessman not paying taxes, working without insurance and without backup equipment. Even though this may seem as though it is just the element of supply and demand playing out, many unknowing consumers hire an under-qualified or unqualified photographer based on some pretty pictures of flowers, dogs or sunsets in their portfolio. The future bride does not realize that her cheapest choice photographer has no idea how to handle technically complex scenarios, like noon-time portraits, dark venues and drunken wedding guests. Upon receiving her photographs from an unprofessional photographer, the bride is likely to be shedding tears of sorrow instead of tears of joy.

At the end of the day, your proposed, "once you acquire a reputation among wedding planners and others in the wedding industry/scam so that you get a lot of referrals" simply does not exist. The barriers to entry in this field are surprisingly low, so we wedding photographers are constantly competing against each other (ask any planner how many times she gets contacted per month by photographers asking to be added to her preferred vendors list... you might be shocked), against unqualified participants and against public misinformation indicating that we are grossly overpaid. Booking clients is possible, but it is unquestionably not, "easy coasting along on your six-figure income." A question for you, Michael, how many people, who just so happen to have a suit in their closet, are trying to take your 9-5 job each day, despite having no or limited qualifications, and of those very few people trying to take your job just by showing up in a suit, how many of those people are actually being hired by your boss to replace you?

In summary, wedding photography is easier than many jobs, but certainly not easy. Also, we are not overpaid, we are compensated to the full extent of what the market is willing to bear, influenced in part by a series of highly personal criteria known only to the individual bride.

If you want to make a more accurate post next time, I’ll give you a little information about why family portraits for current and retired professional athletes is the easiest money that you can make with a camera ;)


Hilarious!! Great post Big Mike!!!

You're either a marketing genius for posting this, or the most ignorant "photographer" I've ever read about.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the former...

...because your post was a joke...right?


Wow. I feel bad for how stupid this guy made himself look. And all for a few hits to his blog. Very sad.

Oh - and I just have to say - GO BRADY GO!!!


This is so far from the truth. You forgot to mention things like overhead, equipment costs, employee costs, insurance costs. Then make sure you figure in at least 40 hours per wedding... (no vacation time for you if you are going to shoot 53 weddings per year). So, I am sure by all this reaction here that you now understand that your post was very inacurate. The problem is, there are other people in this world as uneducated as yourself, and they are lying to the brides out there. As photographers we need to stand up and fight this nonsense!


This must be linkbait. You can't possibly be so ignorant. You haven't spent 10 seconds thinking about the process of finding clients, meeting with clients, selling, shooting, editing, production, delivery, travel, equipment, repairs, insurance, taxes, etc etc etc. It's a business just like any other and it requires daily operation. Please tell me you just wanted to poke a few photographers in the ribs.

Mark Lydell

Wow. Your post from last year said:

"I am not an expert, just a hobbyist, so don't necessarily believe everything you read here as the Gospel Truth."

I couldn't have said it better myself.


Mark Lydell

I'm updating my last comment. The article in Marketwatch you are apparantly basing this on is from 2003!!

Do some research. Talk to some wedding photographers. better yet, work a wedding with a professional wedding photographer and then shadow them to see what's involved on the other end of a wedding. As many have said here, a wedding will generally require anywhere from 30-50 hours to take care of all those images.

Then write an INFORMED blog entry about what it takes to be a professional wedding photographer.


Whether or not wedding photography takes a lot of work or time is immaterial. Its value doesn't come from the labour added, but from the talent involved.

Baking cookies doesn't take a lot of work either, but I still pay the 3000% markup on them from my favourite bakery, cause I can't make 'em like that!


Something you forgot to mention called talent. Good photographers get paid because they are both technical and creatively talented.

A singer, artist, athlete, an actor, film director and yes photographers all have talent and natural ability. These professionals work hard to encourage and develop these skills and craft . All these industries have many many wannabes. The wannabes often may not have the talent required, the circumstances, the drive, the business acumen and interpersonal skills required. A person who possesses all of the above qualities and more can go on to become great photographers. When you do find one they often get paid very well. I don't have a problem with that.

Though wedding photographers don't just entertain those looking at there pictures, they are entrusted with a once in a lifetime event. If a wedding photographer gets it wrong, the bride and the photographer stand to loose a lot. How many people with the above qualities are also happy to take on the responsibility? If you were entrusting the such a once in a lifetime event
to someone, would you pay to have the reassurance that the person you are using is skilled and trustworthy? Or would you take the risk?

mmmm.... believe me, many professional photographers think twice before taking on the responsibility of wedding photography.

To those who a great wedding photographers and get paid well...well done. You deserve it!


You are basically a Communist, and we all know how well that system works:) Happy Blogging!

Dror Eyal

Did someone already mention talent? There's that story about Picasso wanting to charge some exorbitant amount of money for a 20 minute portrait, his reply to the woman who inquired about him having the worlds most overpaid job was that it took him 20 years to get to that point where it took him 20 minutes to pull off a portrait. Having said that, I wouldn't pay most wedding photographers to snap my id photo.

wedding ideas

I am not paying $1900 for a wedding photographer. this is such a high price.


Even me...a newbie @ photography
....have enough common sense to photog. is NOT a one
day a week job...
I plan on becoming a wedding photg.
one of these days and I know it's gonna be hard working and grueling
hours on the computer..but it'll make me happy.

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