Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Sarah, Photo (c) Jim Doty, Jr.

Are Wedding Photographers Overpaid?

I am not a professional wedding photographer, but I am annoyed anyway.

A CBS MarketWatch article listed wedding photographers as one of the 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S. The tone in the article is not very nice either, claiming wedding photographers do poor work at weddings until they can find a better job.

I quote from the CBS article: "The overpaid ones are the many who admit they only do weddings for the income, while quietly complaining about the hassle of dealing with hysterical brides and drunken reception guests. They mope through the job with the attitude: 'I'm just doing this for the money until Time or National Geographic calls.' Much of their work is mediocre as a result."

Does this make any sense? Do couples go out and look for high dollar photographers that do poor work? If the photographers do poor work, does it make sense they will get a better job somewhere else? Get real.

I know a few wedding photographers and I have done a few weddings myself. Except for that rarefied atmosphere where high dollar celebrities pay high dollar photographers outrageous amounts of money to do their weddings, most wedding photogaphers do not make outrageous amounts of money. In fact, they make pretty ordinary amounts of money. The wedding photographers I know do it because they like to do it and they take pride in their work.

The average wedding photographer makes less than $25,000 per year and works over 45 hours per week. I've done enough weddings to know that the time I spend at the wedding is a fraction of the time I spend outside the wedding getting film processed, having prints made, and preparing orders for enlargements. The costs for quality processing and professionally made prints are more than most folks would guess.

The middle 50% of ALL professional photographers make between $16,000 and $33,000 per year. Another 25% make less than $16,000 and the top 25% make more than $33,000. A $47,000 salary would be in the top 10% of all professional photographers.

The CBS Market Watch article is here.

To learn more about what wedding photographers really make, the costs they have, and what they do outside the wedding to provide proofs and prints to the happy couple, read here and here.

The article that sent me down this track is here.


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