Regardless of your opinions on late-night dessert buffets, fireworks, or custom ice sculptures, virtually all wedding couples will agree that beautiful wedding photography is a must!! With the many wedding photographers and photography packages, the amount of information and options are unbelievable. Let’s talk about the average cost of a wedding photographer in Calgary.
Much the same as any business, every photographer prices themselves and their packages differently. In Calgary, the average price varies between $2,500 and $6,000 for professional wedding photography services. While there are some that cost less, and a few that are more, this is the typical range for a full-day package. A major wedding publication in the United States, The Knot, did a study of 27,000 couples who married in 2019 and found that the average couple spent US$2,400 – CAD$3,025 – on their photography.
Keep in mind that this was the average across the country and fluctuated by region. Typically, in major centers, the prices will be higher due to the higher operating costs and the increased competition, while smaller towns will have more affordable options.
There are many aspects that contribute to the cost of a wedding photographer, so let’s talk about some of them.
What are the various package options that your wedding photographer is offering?
The packages that are offered will all vary, so it is important to understand what each photographer includes. The two main items will be the duration of the photography and the number of wedding photographers or assistants. Typical full-day wedding packages will usually be between 8 and 10 hours. Be sure that you find out from your photographer how many consecutive hours are included in your package and what the price will be if extra hours are required. What may seem like a reasonable price at the start can quickly spiral out of control once everything is factored in. When getting a deal on the cost of a wedding photographer, be sure to find out all the details of what is included.
There is also a major debate about how many photographers are included. Some photographers will argue that only one photographer is all you would ever need. Many photographers, myself included, believe that two photographers provide the best coverage. Watch for our upcoming blog post about all the benefits of having a second shooter on your wedding day. No matter which option you prefer, find out from the photographer, how many staff will be in attendance and if they will be in attendance for the entire duration.
Outside of those two options, there will be a variety of other possible included upgrades. Engagement sessions are a wonderful option as it allows you to get used to being in front of the camera, learn posing techniques, and ensure that you ‘click’ with your photographer. We recommend engagement sessions to all our clients and include them automatically in our main photography package.
Other options such as Wedding Albums and Print Credits are also quite often included in the prices. The quality of wedding albums varies greatly, with everything from hand-crafted Italian leather albums to smaller book-style albums. Be sure to find out the specifications of the included album, including who designs the layout, and ask to see a sample if it is possible. Print credits are a great option as they allow the client to choose what is best for them rather than being confined to a specific product. This allows you to print a variety of prints, albums, metal prints, or combinations of.
Are Your Digital Images Included?
Many photographers actually do not include high-resolution images with their packages, instead offering only low resolution or watermarked images to their clients. Ensure that you find out from the photographer what final product is included with your package. If you only receive low-resolution or watermarked images, be sure to find out the additional costs to obtain the high-resolution digital images. If your digital images are not included, what appears to be an affordable Calgary wedding photographer can actually become quite expensive if you must now also purchase the digital images. The total cost of a wedding photographer should include all your images in high resolution.
Your Photographer’s Talent and Experience
Experience counts a long way with choosing your wedding photographer in Calgary. On your wedding day, there are many ever-changing variables that can make or break a photograph. Clouds suddenly block the sun creating shadows, the bridal party stands at slightly different angles, or there is a malfunction with a piece of equipment. Having the experience allows the photographer to quickly adapt to the new situation.
Rapid adjustments to aperture, shutter speed, white balance, focus points, and a long list of other factors all go into creating that perfect image. Quite often, the photographer only has 2 or 3 seconds to adapt to the changing light conditions. The first kiss typically only lasts 1 or 2 seconds, so if you have to stop and figure out settings, the moment is lost forever.
In saying that, talent also plays a major factor. Just because someone has photographed 500 weddings, does not necessarily make them talented. Likewise, having only photographed ten weddings does not mean someone isn’t talented. A photographer should always be learning new techniques, and creating new images. Ask your photographer about their progression into their current style and ensure that they are trying new techniques and locations.
Many photographers will brag about the awards they have won or what affiliations they are part of. In the end, these mean very little. Find a photographer whose style you love, 60% of couples said that style was the biggest factor when hiring a photographer. The best photographer isn’t the one who won the most awards or joined the most affiliations…they are the ones whose image you fall in love with. The one who consistently performs regardless of the situation. There are many extremely talented photographers, be sure to choose the one you ‘click’ with when selecting your wedding photographer in Calgary
Many Large Expenses
There are many expenses that your photographer also has to take into account. Business Licenses, Insurance, and equipment all play a part in determining their costs. If your photographer has their own studio, they must cover the costs of rent, utilities, and any staff that they employ. Business insurance also takes a toll on the finances of a business. Insurance policies typically cover several million dollars of liability as well as upwards of $50,000 of equipment the photographer will likely have. If your photographer says they don’t have a business license or business insurance, this is a huge red flag.
Without the necessary permits or licenses, your photographer could be fined and actually prohibited from continuing to photograph your wedding. Without Insurance, should someone be injured when they accidentally knock over a light stand there could be legal ramifications. Likewise, what happens if your photographer has their equipment stolen three days before your wedding, without insurance, rapidly replacing the necessary equipment would be virtually impossible.
Obviously, the biggest expense is the equipment. Professional series camera bodies cost several thousand dollars apiece…and that does not include the cost of the lenses. By the time you add on several professional-grade lenses, lights, memory cards, light stands, and an assortment of other items, the investment becomes significant. Professional photographers will also carry multiple cameras and lenses to ensure that in the rare event of a malfunction, they can quickly switch to the other camera. Have a look at our blog post describing all the equipment that we carry for a typical wedding.
Even after the wedding day itself, there is a significant financial cost associated with being a wedding photographer in Calgary. A high end computer to edit the thousands of photos that will have been taken, business subscriptions to professional photo editing software, and back-up systems to ensure that your photographs are never lost. We utilize a network attached back-up system so that as soon as your photos are placed on our laptop, they are immediately backed up for safety.
Once the editing is complete, the photos are uploaded to a website and photo host for the client to view and download them from, both of which have monthly fees the photographer must pay for.
But my Uncle Bob has an amazing camera and said he will photograph our wedding!!
We have all heard people say, I don’t need to hire someone, my Uncle Bob knows how to do that. While Uncle Bob may have an amazing camera, even a professional-grade camera and lens, having it and truly understanding how to work it are two different things. Watch for our upcoming blog post about all the things your wedding photographer considers and does during your wedding to ensure you receive beautiful images. At the end of the day, saving the cost of a wedding photographer will be for not if ‘Uncle Bob’ does not deliver beautiful wedding photographs.
What is a reasonable price for a wedding photographer?
There is no good answer to this question. What is a reasonable price for one person may be totally unrealistic for someone else. In the end, it comes down to how much importance you place on the quality of your wedding photographs. If you don’t really care about the photographs, then you may opt for a higher-quality DJ or caterer. If you are like most couples and want quality photographs that will withstand the test of time, then having a quality photographer is a must.
Many wedding photographers will assist on the wedding day to ensure that your wedding stays on the timeline, or will have a quick fix for a wedding dress that has developed a slight tear. We have been to hundreds of weddings and there is not much we haven’t seen. What is a reasonable price for a wedding photographer in Calgary? Only you can truly answer that.
Affordable Calgary wedding photographers
We believe that we are an affordable Calgary wedding photographer that offers high-quality service to all our clients. As we do not have a large studio that we must pay for and we limit the number of weddings we photograph each year, we are able to keep our costs relatively low. We believe that all our clients deserve high-quality service so we continue to improve our skills, learn new techniques, utilize professional series equipment, and maintain friendships with all our clients. We believe that our fee is a reasonable price for the high quality of service that we provide our clients. Always feel free to contact us to discuss how we came to arrive at our fee structure.
How much does a wedding photographer charge per hour
We often hear people talking about how much a photographer makes per hour. “They only work for ten hours and yet charge thousands of dollars” we regularly hear. The reality is much further from the truth. Check out our blog article on how much a wedding photographer charges per hour in reality. When you understand all the factors that go into the fee, you get a better understanding of the true cost of a wedding photographer. The cost of a wedding photographer goes well beyond the ten or so hours they spend with you on your wedding day, it also covers all the behind-the-scenes hours that people do not see.
As you can see, determining the reasonable price of a wedding photographer in Calgary takes some work to look at all the factors. We hope this short article provides you some help in finding the photographer that is perfect for you.
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Average Cost of a Wedding Photographer in Calgary
Patton Photography is a professional photography studio based out of Calgary, Alberta. Our signature style offers a clean and modern look to your photographs while maintaining a look that is romantic and whimsical. Contact us anytime to sit down over coffee for a stress-free conversation.