I understand where you’re coming from; you said “YES!”, you put on the ring and you started dreaming about your big day… only to have those dreams interrupted once you realized what kind of price tag is associated with those Pinterest-worthy weddings. You want to know how much of your budget should pay for certain vendors and you’d like to know some average costs to at least give you a reference point since you’re feeling a little swamped. When it comes to photography, you want to know that the average cost of wedding photography in Toronto is but you see such a huge variation from artist to artist that you’re now even more confused than when you started. So how do you know if you’re getting a good deal or not?
This article should help give you a little bit of perspective about the cost of wedding photography and what you can get for your money. The following is based on my experience in the industry over the last 13 years.
If I told you that the average cost of a wedding photographer is between $3,500 and $5,000 it would be meaningless to you because I’m not telling you what you’re getting for that amount of money. Money means nothing if you can’t relate it to what kind of service you’re going to get – so let’s explore that.
The average couple wants full-day coverage; this means at least 10 hours – if not more!
Wedding days can be long days. By the time you get ready in the morning, go through the plethora of family photos, travel from point A to points B, C, and even D and then sit down for a tasty yet lavish dinner you’ve probably put at least 10 if not 12 hours into the day already; oh, and the party hasn’t even started yet! If you’re looking for full day coverage, you’ll want to look for packages that are at least 10 hours in length if not 12.
A lot of photographers will tell you that 8 hours is enough; but for traditional wedding days it rarely is. Smaller, more intimate weddings? Sure – 8 hours is perfect, but don’t fool yourself into thinking your big church ceremony, park photos and 4 course dinner can all be covered in 8 hours or you’ll be paying an exorbitant amount in overtime fees. The cost of wedding photography in Toronto can vary as much as weddings themselves vary – some weddings are smaller and some are larger – ditto for the costs of your vendor services.
The average couple wants digital images on USB.
Most wedding photography packages contain images available for digital download (USB is dated); it’s pretty darn standard across the industry now. Make sure to inquire about whether or not the images are high resolution or web-resolution as there are some photographers who charge an additional fee for the high resolution images. More and more couples are now seeing the value in professional prints but the average client (since we’re talking about averages here) always wants a digital copy as well.
While we’re on the concept of albums, make sure that if you are looking at packages that contain albums that you don’t let yourself be fooled by marketing words like “heirloom” or “fine art”. Ask what that actually means – if the answer isn’t that you’re getting pH balanced inks and papers and a hand-bound book then you’re just being marketed to and that album isn’t actually luxury.
The average couple doesn’t need a second photographer.
There are benefits to having a second photographer and there are also plenty of reasons not to have a second photographer but this isn’t the place to discuss the matter. When it comes down to it; however, unless you require your photographer to be in two places at once it’s absolutely possible for 1 really great photographer to capture the day fully and completely. The cost of wedding photography in Toronto is by no means ‘luxury pricing’ but photography in and of itself is a luxury service and having multiple photographers is even more of a luxury. You can expect a professional quality second shooter to be an additional fee or at least $500 if not $600+. Be aware of packages that by default contain a second shooter and whose price point seems a little too reasonable. It’s possible that you’ll be getting a newer or entry level second shooter whose work will not be up to par with what you’re expecting and who expects to use you for portfolio work more than anything else.
The average photographer puts around 50-60 hours of work into every client.
While it would be awesome to work only one day a week and spend it hanging out at weddings with awesome couples, the truth is that a photographer has a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do with each and every wedding. Most of that is editing and admin work – the tedious yet necessary process that makes our images look awesome. Why is this important? Read on – trust me, I’m not trying to get on a high horse – I’m just trying to educate. Stay with me here.
The average photographer’s profit is only about 35-50% of the advertised package price: do the math.
While some photographers who have a considerable amount of experience, a great business plan and an efficient workflow can keep a bit more of the package cost as profit, from my experience mentoring other photographers as well as in the industry as a whole, I’d estimate that the average photographer only keeps about 35% (roughly 1/3) of their package price as actual profit.
With an average photographer working about 60 hours per client and with their take-home profit being only about 35% of the cost of the package, a photographer needs to charge around $2,700 for a full day, 1-photographer, digital-only package just to make minimum wage!
To put that in perspective, if a photographer wanted to make an average Canadian wage of $25 per hour, the cost of a full day, 1-photographer, digital only package would be closer to $4,500
While my goal is by no means to shame people who have lower budgets, but to put prices in perspective. A price tag on services in the $3,000 to $4,000 range for “one day of work” is by no means a single day of work and breaks down to a humbling hourly rate.
So… what is the average cost of wedding photography in Toronto?
The average cost of a wedding photographer in Toronto for an average digital package with 1 photographer for a full day is between $3,000 and $4,500. This amount will change whether or not you’re booking 8 hours vs 12, having a second photographer or ordering albums.
If you’re concerned about budget, please remember these 6 tips when hiring a wedding photographer.
So you’ve found something cheaper? Heads up on the following…
If you’re getting full day coverage with multiple photographer and/or albums for a price that is equal to or even lower than the average cost of wedding photography in Toronto, please be aware of a few things. Am I trying to be salty? Nope – but I’ve been in the industry for well over a decade and I’ve learned a few things:
- How experienced is the second shooter? Is it new talent or someone who may be willing to work for free just to expand their portfolio? Are they shooting the whole time or are they also an assistant to the main photographer?
- Is the album included a consumer level album or genuinely a fine-art album? Ask them to disclose their album provider to you – if they won’t then you’re just getting a marked up Shutterfly album (or some other publicly accessible product)
- Is the photographer running their business by the books? Do they have liability insurance? You know venues often ask for that…
- Does the photographer know their worth? If the photographer doesn’t know their worth or the correct costs of running their business they’ll likely get over booked (either on purpose or by chance) and burn out by the time your wedding rolls around. This means they risk not being on the A-game and that the image turnaround will be substantially longer than they quoted.
- Finally… and this is the scary part… is your photographer charging so little that they cannot sustain their business? If they aren’t bring in enough money to support themselves, keep up their gear as well as run a business and pay for things like insurances and gear upgrades, how can they guarantee you they’ll still be operational come your wedding day? Yes, it’s scary… but it’s always a possibility.