One of the most frequently asked questions in the early stages of wedding planning is, “what is the average cost of wedding photographer?”.
With so many wedding photographers and videographers offering their services, rates can range quite significantly in big cities such as Vancouver or Toronto. while it’s difficult to give exact pricing, there are a number of important things to first consider when asking this question. You can expect wedding photography rates to vary by a number of factors. Here are just a few to consider for Metro Vancouver, but may also apply to other cities as well:
Factors in Wedding Photography Rates
How much wedding photographer coverage will I need?
Will you need a photographer for the entire day (usually around 10 – 12 hours), or just for a part of your wedding day (usually around 4 – 8 hours)? Photographers may charge by the hour or offer wedding photography packages. In my experience, most couples book between 6 – 10 hours of coverage, with 8-9 hours being the average. Many photographers allow you to add hours as well, so don’t feel like you’re locked to a set amount of time if you book for less than you actually need.
How many photographers will you need?
For larger weddings, you may need at least two wedding photographers. This is the most common option, but if you’re planning a shorter or smaller wedding celebration, you may be able to get back with just one photographer. One thing to note is that some photography studios will only work in pairs (e.g. husband and wife photography teams), so be sure to ask about this when requesting a quote.
Where will your wedding be celebrated?
Location may be a factor in wedding photography rates. How far away from the photographer’s home area may be factored in the total cost. You may also have to consider the cost for parking in a downtown urban area versus a golf course or venue that offers free parking.
When will your wedding take place?
Time of year, and also time of day, will also factor into the cost of wedding photography. For example, some Vancouver wedding photographers will offer seasonal discounts for non-peak times such as January to March since it tends to be colder and wetter during these months.
Wedding photography rates also differ depending on the day of the week. Weekend days (particularly Saturdays) are the most popular, so rates tend to be higher for these days during the peak season. During some years, some dates are in great demand simply due to the number in the dates. Dates such as 8/8/8 and 9/9
Some photographers may also offer discounts for weddings during the first part or latter part of the day, which frees them up to offer other photo sessions on the same day.
What style of photography are you interested in?
Certain styles of wedding photography may cost more to produce than others. Some photographers like incorporating flash lighting into their work for more dramatic or commercial looking images. Other photographers may rely more on natural lighting. This isn’t always a big pricing factor, but for some studios, in will factor in if an additional lighting crew and more equipment is needed to produce their style of imagery.
How much editing (photography post-production) will you be happy with?
Commercial-style images often require much more editing work than a more natural style or photojournalistic style of photography. Photos that need a higher level of retouching work will usually cost more than images that look more natural.
This doesn’t mean your photos won’t be edited. The vast majority of photographer have a particular editing style they’ll apply to your photos. This all requires hours of work in front of a computer to cull, crop, enhance, and colour grade your wedding photos. If you’re looking to save money, you’ll probably lean towards photographers who don’t need to spend vast amounts of time treating each photo like it will be published in a magazine.
For most couples, natural is usually the way to go. Natural photos tend to look more timeless and true. You’ll also save money, but if needed, you’ll also be able to pay for specific edits for photos you do want to enlarge for a print or use in a wedding album.
What level of a photographer’s experience are you comfortable with?
Like with any service, more experience usually means higher cost. Saving money is great, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of risking your wedding day photos on someone who can’t handle the pressure of producing good photos in a fast paced environment.
An experienced photographer is worth their weight in gold. Someone who has photographed at your venue, or knows how to handle bad weather, or how to handle lighting in almost any situation, or can manage large crowds of people, or is a good communicator, or knows how to put you and others at ease – these are considerations that play a role in photography costs.
This being said, not all experienced photographers are great at all these thing, nor are inexperienced photographers lacking these skills either. Getting to know your prospective photographer or word of mouth recommendations are the best ways to gain confidence in this regard.
If you can’t get word-of-mouth help, one helpful hint is to go with a wedding venue’s recommendations. They usually get to see photographers in action and are in a good at recognizing intangible skills. If they’re a good photographer, they’ll get the recommendation of wedding venues and other vendors.
Now that you know what factors are important, here is a general guide to what wedding photography might cost in a city like Vancouver, BC. These rates are based on an “average” commission, which I define as: Around 8 – 9 hours, services offered by two photographers, for a Spring or Summer wedding within the photographer’s home area, and natural looking images with a standard level of non-commercial editing. These rates are based on a sampling of booking rates from different photographers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in 2020.
Keep in mind that these are approximate “average” rates; there will be outliers of course.
- Photographers with less than 1 year of experience (fewer than 20 weddings photographed): $1600 CAD or less
- Photographers with 1 – 3 years of experience (or minimum of 20 weddings photographed): $2000 – $2500 CAD
- Photographers with 3 – 5 years of experience (or minimum of 60 weddings photographed): $2500 – $3000 CAD
- Photographers with 5+ years of experience (or minimum of 100 weddings photographed): $3000 CAD or more
If these rates seem high to you, don’t worry. Custom rates based on your particular needs and budget requirements are always possible. You can shorten the amount of coverage, book just one photographer, or perhaps you’ve planned your wedding during the non-peak season. Adjusting these variables can help to customize wedding photographer that meets your particular budget.