There are a lot of expenses that go along with planning a wedding. Your ceremony and reception locations, flowers, a hair stylist, make up, a wedding planner, photography and likely even more. How much should you budget for everything including photography? The average cost of a wedding in Ohio is $21,478, and the average cost of a wedding photographer in Cleveland is around $2,000. But that’s just the average, and the amount you will need to budget will depend on your wants and needs from your photographer.
I’m going to cover 5 different price ranges you may run into while looking for a wedding photographer and what you can typically expect from each price range. These are all generalizations and may not be 100% accurate of every photographer you encounter, but generally speaking this is what you can expect to experience at each level!
There’s a chance that you might have a friend or family member who owns a camera and offers to photograph your wedding for free. That’s definitely a great deal and a huge money saver, but as a professional photographer I would highly caution against it. It’s pretty likely that someone offering to do an entire wedding for free has very little experience with wedding photography, and maybe little experience with a camera. They probably won’t have experience with posing couples, bridal parties, or families. They likely don’t have a solid understanding of lighting and how to get the best results when on location or shooting in low light. There’s a pretty good chance that the photos you do receive won’t be great quality either. Out of focus images, blurry images, under and overexposed photos, incorrect white balances, there’s a lot of room for error! This isn’t how you wanted to remember your wedding day.
$250 - $1,000
A Photographer in this range is either just starting out in wedding photography or maybe they just do wedding photography as a side hustle. This is an interesting price range because you’ll see a lot of diversity in terms of quality. You may find a photographer who charges $500 and takes absolutely beautiful and stunning images, but you may also find photographers who charge closer to $1,000 and their photos aren’t very good at all. In this price range you’ll probably be dealing with hobbyists and newer professionals, so the overall experience you receive may not be totally positive. They may lack professional communication skills. They may only have a couple of weddings under their belt. They may not have a solid understanding of lighting conditions. They may know some poses, but they may not know how to schedule or plan out the photography throughout the day. However, you may also find a photographer that’s extremely professional and has a decent amount of experience and it turns out to be a great deal! In this price range you take a risk of not knowing exactly what you’ll get.
$1,100 - $2,000
Photographers in this range are in the average wedding photography price range for most North East Ohio wedding photographers. In this range, you’ll likely be dealing with a photographer who owns their own business. Wedding photography is probably one of their key sources of income and because of that they’re moderately to very experienced and have more than just a beginner's level of wedding photography education. They likely have various packages at different price points. These are professionals. They probably have reviews, liability insurance, back up equipment, maybe even their own studio or workplace. They will have better customer service, better communication, scheduling, and understanding of lighting and posing. Photographers in this range will definitely have contracts in place for your and their own protection. This is important because it means they will be contractually required to photograph your wedding and deliver what they promised to you.
You may also find some bad eggs in this price range as well. Beginner photographers posing as seasoned professionals, hobbyists who don’t care about clients and reviews, and people out looking to make a quick buck. Always do your due diligence when selecting from any of the first 3 ranges, make sure the photographer will be a good fit for you and that they’re able to replicate what you see on their Facebook, Instagram or website.
$2,000 - $4,000
In this price range you’ll find the seasoned veterans. These photographers have probably been photographing weddings for 10+ years or are highly desirable because of the quality of images they produce. Photographers in this price range probably own their own fully functioning studio, have multiple employees, tons of past clients and positive reviews, and some award winning photographs. These photographers will provide you with an experience unlike any of the previous photographers. Expect the best aspects of all the past price ranges, golden treatment, professional customer service, high quality images, high quality printed products and more. This range is pricey, but the chances you’ll be disappointed by the performance of a high end wedding photographer is much lower than the other ranges.
These are going to be your world renowned photographers. Wedding photographers who are known internationally to produce the best of the best. They have probably been recognized in national and international competitions. They’re viewed as masters of the craft and likely educate other photographers on how to improve their wedding photography. These photographers may even be sponsored or endorsed by camera or photography equipment companies. These photographers are highly desired because of the quality of images, products, and services they offer, and they may also have somewhat of a celebrity status in the photography community due to their expertise. It's possible they may be booking out more than a couple years in advance. They’ve photographed hundreds if not thousands of weddings and likely employ other highly experienced professionals to co-photograph the weddings with them. If you can afford a photographer in this price range, you will be working with the best of the best.
So what’s the right amount of money to budget for a wedding photographer? Only you can decide! Hopefully this blog post will serve as a guide for what to expect from various wedding photography price ranges. Use this information to decide what's right for you. Maybe you’re willing to compromise on the quality of the photography in order to save some money, or maybe you want to go all out to preserve the best memories possible. There are no wrong choices as long as you choose what’s best for you!
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