Are you overpaying for wedding photography?

Wedding photography can be quite expensive. It is also one of the most lucrative photography services out there

(Check out, for example: )

So, don’t be surprised to see lots of flashy ads and polished marketing blogs popping up when you do an online search for Wedding photography or a wedding photographer.

Those photographers who’ll charge several thousand dollars for wedding photography can probably afford to spend a couple hundred dollars each month on online marketing.

Don’t trust paid wedding photography blogs or ads

But can you trust the information on the internet? In many cases, you can’t. Here is an example: On we learn, that the average price for Wedding photography in the U.S.A. was $2814. For Philadelphia, it is $3041. These numbers are based on Snapkot member photographers in the year 2014. In any case, it suggests that the average price you should expect to pay for a Wedding in or near Philadelphia is approximately $3000. So, if you’ll find a photographer who is offering the same service for, say, $2000, it is probably a very good deal. Or is it not?

If you do a search on , you’ll get a much different picture. The average amount of money Thumbtack photographers charged for wedding photography nationwide was $815 as of February, 2017. For zip codes 19102, 19103, and 19106 in Central Philadelphia, the average price was $835 for the same period.

Why are these numbers so different? Should you pay several thousand dollars for wedding photography? Does a lower price always mean lower quality?

This blog intends to give an answer to these questions. So, let’s take a closer look.

The price depends on many factors

Wedding photography really is a very general term. The final price depends to a large extend on the number and level of services included in a wedding photography quotation.

Below are 12 of the main pricing factors

1)       How many photo shoots

Wedding photography may just include photographing the ceremony, up to pretty much anything related to the wedding. It may include an engagement session, showers, engagement parties, a “trash the dress” shoot, or even a bridal boudoir photo session. Adding additional photo shoots will, of course, increase the price.

2)       Travel and number of locations

How far the photographer must travel will be a factor too. Very often, there is also travel between the reception hall, the ceremony, and possibly other locations involved. The photographer may need to setup lights and other equipment at each of these locations. And this adds costs.

3)       Number of photographers / assistants

Weddings may include a second photographer or assistants. With a second photographer on location it is generally more likely, that they’ll capture all or most of those special moments during your wedding. You may also enjoy close-ups and wide angle photos of the same scene or event. Two photographers can switch between close-up and wider angle views quickly. A single photographer would need to switch cameras or even lenses. While switching, he might miss the right moment.

4)       Gear

Depending on shooting location, the photographer may need to setup lights, backgrounds, and other gear. He may need to bring several cameras and lenses. I will most certainly improve the quality of the photos, if the photographer uses quality equipment and if he can choose from various cameras and lenses. However, the costs to purchase and insure all the equipment will be a factor in the quoted price.

5)       Time on location

The total length of time the photographer spends on location has a significant effect on costs. This is especially true, if you are booking more than one photographer and possibly assistants.

6)       Photo editing and retouching

Editing and retouching the photos after the wedding will take up the bulk of the photographer’s time. Advanced retouching of a single photo can take between a few minutes and several hours. Therefore, the number of retouched photos and level of retouching has a significant impact on price.

7)       Albums and prints

There are various ways a photo or set of photos can be delivered to a client. They can be delivered online, on a CD or DVD, as prints, or as part of an album. A photographer may spend a significant amount of time creating a visually pleasing album. This can greatly increase costs.

8)       Experience of the photographer

More experienced photographers are in higher demand than less experienced ones. So, they can charge more for the same level of service. However, don’t take it for granted that more experience translates into higher quality. It is very possible, that a new and talented photographer, eager to impress new clients can deliver exceptional service at a relatively low price.

9)       Pre-planning and pre-meetings

A professional photographer will meet with you in person before the event, to discuss the details of your wedding with you. He should have a keen interest in visiting the location or locations where the wedding and wedding related events will be taking place. These meetings are a great opportunity to find out how well you are connecting with your photographer and how well he or she understands what you are after. Perhaps this is more important than experience level.

10)    Access rights and copyrights

This is a touchy subject. Your contract with the photographer should specify who owns the copyright of which of the photos. Do you as the client own the raw files? Do you also own the retouched images? If not, be aware that the photographer could sell your photos online, if you don’t own the copyright. In that case, he or she may also charge you for usage of the photos, for example for displaying them on social media websites. Copyrights should be a significant pricing factor. Unfortunately, it isn’t always.

11)    Advertisement costs

Professional photographers, especially those who show up on the first page of a search engine, spend a significant amount of money on search engine optimization, website polishing, paid advertisements, and paid blogs. Unfortunately, this will translate into higher prices for the client.

12)    Liability and gear insurance costs

A professional photographer should have liability and gear insurance. Imagine a light stand the photographer brought will fall and injure one of your wedding party guests. If the photographer is properly insured, you won’t have to worry about your guest or you possibly becoming liable in such an unfortunate event.

How to keep your costs down AND to get the photos you desire

Below are some tips, on how to keep your wedding photography costs reasonable, without sacrificing on the quality of the final product.

☐  Most importantly: Meet with your photographer in person and ask him or her to take some photos of you and your soon to be husband or wife. This doesn’t have to be a full engagement session. See if you like these photos and if your photographer understands what you are after. Do not judge the photographer just based on experience level and quoted price.

☐  Do your research. Don’t limit your searches to the first page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Check out photographers on websites, which do not just cater to pricey wedding photographers. (Examples are,, and

☐  Have a clear understanding what you want and what your photographer offers for the price, touching on all 12 pricing factors mentioned above.

☐  Don’t fall prey to upsell tricks playing the copyright game. Make sure you own the copyright of at least the retouched photos.

☐  Consider designing a photo album yourself or ask someone in your family to do it. Some photographers will charge a large amount of money for albums you may not even like.

☐  Get at least three quotations and compare.

☐  Don’t hesitate to negotiate the price.

Wedding photography costs versus wedding costs

The average cost for a wedding in Pennsylvania was $24,045 in the year 2016. That’s more than 44% of the median annual household income for Pennsylvania in 2015 ( and Household income numbers for 2016 won’t be available until September 2017) So, in the grand scheme of things, wedding photography is typically a relatively minor expense.


This blog was written by Gunter Moeller, owner of GM Photo Video LLC. To learn more, visit my website at

Judging a book by its cover

How your social media profile picture  influences what other people think about you

A short history of physiognomy

Physiognomy – the idea that we can infer a person’s personality and character from their outer appearance, especially their face, has a long history [1]. According to Ann-Marie Favreau [2], the Mesopotamians used it to predict how a person might behave [2]. In antiquity, the Greeks and Romans wrote whole textbooks about Physiognomy [2]. The idea that flaws and illnesses are visible signs of evil forces and sins taking hold of us was quite popular during the middle ages in Europe [3].

And it didn’t stop there. For example, Johan Kaspar Lavaters work “Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe” (Physiognomic Fragments to Further People’s Understanding and Love for people”, published between 1775 and 1778, had many admirers in France, England, and Germany [4].

In the 19th and 20th century, the codification of a “scientific method” in the modern sense of the word, had made great progress. Thus, intellectuals were increasingly inclined to label Physiognomy as a pseudoscience. And it was not just admirers of Newton and the like who did so. In his famous “Phänomenologie des Geistes” (Phenomenology of the spirit), the romantic German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel argues against it. He even ridicules physiognomy and phrenology, the study of human character and other characteristics based on the shape of the skull.

It is all about the narrative

What about our current times? Most of us may not believe in physiognomy as a science. But I think something else interesting is going on here. Isn’t it true, that, for example, we expect villains in movies and TV productions to also “look like villains”? Aren’t the typical male hero and his or her lover typically very good looking? And what about the hero’s sidekick, who may be just like us, an imperfect, twisted, nevertheless loveable, somewhat funny mixed bag with flaws as well as strength. Wouldn’t we expect this sidekick to visually appear in a congruent manner? Shouldn’t he also look loveable, interesting, funny, and, perhaps, borderline “normal”? Certainly, we wouldn’t expect him to look like the villain. We are constantly making “unscientific” and convenient use of stereotypes which cater to our expected and preferred narratives about us and the world.

This is also widely exploited in literature [3]. As Kristy Littlehale points out, “physiognomy plays an important role in literature by allowing the audience or reader to identify characters who have hidden intentions or motives” [3]. It is all about creating a story. And this story is typically more acceptable and enjoyable, when everything fits together neatly as we would expect it. Well, except for that element of surprise and “de-familiarization” [6] which can make art and particularly a story truly interesting. But let’s not digress here too much.

A lot is going on when we are looking at a portrait

One of our conclusions so far is, that social expectations are framing our expectations regarding physical appearance. Doesn’t this also work the other way around? Imaging you’ll be looking at a portrait of a person you’ve never seen before. Are you just looking at the picture with a neutral and “objective” state of mind? Or is it possible that you find the person on the portrait very attractive – or rather unattractive. Does he or she, perhaps, “look” lazy, smart, funny, likeable, determined and focused, or rather disinterested? Our mind may wander even further and start building a more complete story about that person. We know that our story might not stand when we encounter that person. Nevertheless, we cannot stop creating stories and rationalizing.

The mind is a terrible thing, in that it is constantly directed towards coherence and interpretation, even if all this interpreting doesn’t hold up against further analysis and empirical evidence. And it isn’t purely mental. We typically react emotionally too. Can we help it? But wait a second. Aren’t we taught not to judge and not to react emotionally? Isn’t every judgement deeply “unscientific”, unfair, and ungrounded? And aren’t we mature enough to get over it? Well, unfortunately, empirical evidence suggests otherwise [7]. And certain states of the mind and emotions can indeed cause a somewhat predictable change in physical appearance. Facial expressions can really tell us how a person feels. Mental illness, a great loss, anxiety, lack of sleep, illnesses, as well as enjoyment, love, satisfaction, and so on all effect facial expressions and outer appearance in general.

The power of a portrait

We may apply what we’ve discovered above to portraits as follows: There is a tendency to not just see, but also to interpret a portrait. And the way the person is depicted on the portrait will shape to some extend the way we think about that person’s character and other characteristics of that person. These characteristics go beyond just physical appearance described in a neutral and “objective” way.

A good portrait for your LinkedIn or Facebook, or other social media website, therefore, has an enormous power in shaping what other people think about you. Especially if you’ve never met those people. And yes, you can make sure that your portrait is really portraying well what you’d like it to. To a large extend at least, it is in your hand. The camera, composition, wardrobe, smile, posture, background, lights, and image processing are all variables you or a professional photographer can control when taking a portrait. And they will help you creating your personal story that you care about.

The power of first impressions

You probably want your profile picture to make a good impression on your website visitors. Researchers have studied the importance of first impressions on how we judge a person. In the words of Roger Highfield, Richard Wiserman, and Rob Jenkins: “First impressions are highly influential, despite the well-worn admonition not to judge a book by its cover. Within a tenth of a second of seeing an unfamiliar face, we have already made a judgement of its owner’s characteristics – caring, trustworthy, aggressive, extrovert, competent and so on. Once that snap judgement has formed, it is surprisingly hard to budge. What’s more, different people come to strikingly similar conclusions about a particular face […] People also act on these snap judgements. Politicians with competent-looking faces have a greater chance of being elected, and the CEOs who look dominant are more likely to run a profitable company. Baby-faced man and those with compassionate-looking faces tend to be over-represented in the caring profession”.

The list goes on and on. Is this a modern type of Physiognomy? In any case, the way you are picturing yourself, literally speaking, has a big impact on how other’s judge you – and they will judge you!

Please feel free to comment on my blog post. My name is Gunter Moeller. You can learn more me at:



[2] Ann-Marie Favreau, “Physiognomy” in: The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Oct. 2011

[3] Kristy Littlehale, “Physiognomy in literature” on


[5] G.W.F. Hegel, “Phänomenologie des Geistes”, Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, Werke 3, 1986

[6] Paul H. Frey, Yale Course on “Introduction to literary theory”, Youtube video

[7] Dan Ariely, “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”, Harper Collins, 2009

[8] Roger Highfield, Richard Wiserman, and Rob Jenkins, New Scientist, Feb. 11 2009