Being a photographer and making “good money” is super hard to do.. Now, let me say “good money” is very subjective, but for this article I would just say “good money” would be making only $100,000/year net income. Being a wedding photographer you have to absolutely love what you do, we do thats why we are still in it but the chances are slim that you will buy your dream childhood car that was on the poster above you bed.
It is VERY rare to see a wedding photographer make more than 100k (even 75k) because well… math. Lets think a little about it.
To make 100k, in one year, charging $5,000 a wedding you would need to shoot 20 weddings. Now lets look at this realistically.
- Shooting a 5k wedding doesn’t mean you make 5k you have many expenses, licenses, such as equipment and album contractors. So say you make 4k profit (you’re probably not even making that much profit), well now you have to shoot 25 weddings instead.
- Shooting a 5k wedding, for us, takes about 50 hours of work from initial consult to package pickup. This is a lot of work! That is literally one week of work! This doesn’t include branding, website building, interacting with potential clients (that don’t book you), researching gear, keeping up with the industry, and more. 25 weddings equals 25 weeks of worth plus all of the incidentals I just mentioned.
- Are you charging 5k a wedding? Are you and your team worth 5k? It takes a super talented BUSINESS person to make wedding photography work. It doesn’t matter the skills you have, do you have the knowledge and understanding to run a business?
- Wedding photography is super hard to scale. Scaling something is separating your time (the limiting factor) from making money. What I mean by scaling is having someone shoot a wedding under your business name. Wedding photography is the hardest job we have ever had. Being a Marine in the Marine Corps, deployed to Iraq and the demands there had nothing on being a wedding photographer. Wedding photography is super critical, super demanding, and there is a whole bunch of people you need to make happy. Add a employee to that mixture with little experience and you set yourself for a Cat 5 hurricane… a disaster.
Being a wedding photographer is amazing, however with the low entry point (anyone can buy a $400 camera, and charge $400 to shoot a wedding thus making about $3.00 per hour) the competition is stiff. You need to be extremely excellent at your craft and the business to make “good money”. Don’t get me wrong being a wedding photographer has its perks, and you get to spend your life with people just starting their life, but the Lambo in your garage most likely won’t happen in the wedding photography business.
For everyone just starting out do realize that taking care of your clients and knowing how to run a business will get you further in this industry then skills alone.