How much money can you make as a wedding photographer?

So we recently wrote an article about how much wedding photographers charge (and I’ll grab some content from that for this article) but it got me thinking about the other side of the coin – how much do photographers make?

I’m going to dive into potential earnings for photographers.

It’ll also roughly cover some ideas on things you need to think about when charging for your wedding photography services.

We train and mentor alot of wedding photographers and keeping an eye on the amount of hours spent per booking is something we all struggle with, so it’s something we try to keep track of.

Looking at our business, every single wedding we photograph has a workload that looks something like this:

  • Meetings, Emails and Phone Calls Before booking – 2 hours
  • Meetings Emails and Phone Calls after booking – 2 hours
  • Engagement Session – 3 hours
  • Editing the engagement session – 2 hours
  • Venue scouting, either in person or using the internet – 2 hours
  • The Actual Wedding – 10hrs
  • Editing the wedding – 10hrs
  • Delivering the wedding – 1hr
  • Designing an Album – 3hrs

That represents quite a conservative estimate of where the time goes, but having personally shot weddings that lasted more that 15 hours and having had couples that required a lot more nurturing, I can confidently say it’s usually a lot more.

So in total, a single wedding requires a minimum of 35 hours investment of time.

These calculations also doesn’t factor in time spent on clients that don’t book.

300+ enquiries a year, even conservatively saying you spend 10 minutes per enquiry, is 50 hours.

Often it’s much higher, and some enquiries require meetings and still don’t book.

Then we consider rescheduled meetings and engagement sessions,  work spend on additional editing, extra meetings, networking with vendors – all the little things add up.

How much to charge as a wedding photographer?

Say you want to make an reasonably average wage of £35,000 a year… and you want to shoot 25 weddings a year?

You need to charge £1400 per wedding.

Ok, maybe you want to work less? Lets say you’d rather do 15 weddings a year (Understandable – they’re hard work!)

You need to charge £2333 per wedding.

Ok you’re not afraid to work every weekend and do it for less than the competition… say bye to your family and social life…

You can get away with charging £670ish per wedding.

I’d never recommend the latter, and if you put in the amount of additional work we do for each wedding…

Your hourly rate would be £1.92 an hour. I know people that make it work, but it doesn’t lend itself to delivering a high quality product.

Also, the above calculations don’t factor in taxes or any costs of doing business. But that’s a whole different article.

So how much does a photographer make?

I know wedding photographers that make anything from £15,000 to £150,000 per year, with most full time established professionals, lying in the £35,000-55,000 range.

It’s a reasonable salary and there are lots of benefits to the work besides money:

  • Freedom
  • Flexible hours (during the week at least!)
  • Creative expression
  • Interesting work (meeting lots of people!)
  • Potential for growth
  • Good community
  • Canapes

But there are draw backs to the job, such as:

  • A lack of stability
  • Potentially more difficult to prove earnings for mortgages etc.
  • A huge amount of pressure – the memories of a day that families have invested hugely into are your responsibility!
  • Anti-social working hours (say bye to weekends!)
  • Vulnerability to injury/illness affecting earnings