Business + Marketing

A Guide to Raising Your Wedding Photography Prices

December 5, 2019

By Michelle Lange

© Michelle Lange Photography

In my last article, I wrote about taking a step back in your business—both the benefits of doing so and lessons learned. One of the points mentioned was that downsizing your volume doesn’t mean a loss in revenue as a result of price increases. That particular point was screaming for its own article, so here it is. 

Wedding photography pricing is incredibly complicated and there is no one-size-fits-all. While I can’t tell you exactly how much to increase and when, I wanted to share some tips that will help you step up the profitability ladder, regardless whether you are stepping back or just want to make more money. 

Your Cost Calculator

Do you know how much each wedding costs you to photograph? You can’t make a change to your pricing without first knowing your costs. It is always good to re-evaluate your costs annually—you may be surprised that there have been some increases in the products you use since you last did your calculations.

What Are the Costs of Being a Destination Wedding Photographer Who Shoots on Film?

Write down your expenses for each wedding. This may include and is not limited to:

  • Second photographer
  • Assistant 
  • Print products, including albums, prints and anything else included in your packages
  • Film supply and developing expenses if you use film
  • Post-processing fees if you are sending your film out to get developed or having an editor edit your images
  • Album-design fees if you have someone design your albums
  • Cost of travel
  • Sales tax

Next, write down your annual expenses. Take a look at your P&L and expense categories from prior years to gather an estimate.

When you photograph more, your annual costs may increase. You may need to upgrade your equipment sooner, purchase new CF/SD cards and buy more ink.

An example of how you can vary your number of weddings and rake in the same income.

These are just estimates. Once you know an estimate for the cost per wedding and your annual expenses, you can begin your calculations to come up with a wedding volume and rate ratio that helps you hit your gross income goals. 

How to Price and Structure Senior Portrait Packages

Do not forget to calculate your state and federal sales tax. It is all fun and games until you realize you have some very big checks to write. 

No Regrets

Let’s say you want to make more money so that you can put some away into your kid’s college fund or your future retirement. Or maybe you want to buy a new home, a new car or even lease a studio space.

You want to take a step back and find a healthier balance between work and your personal life, because you feel like you don’t have an ounce of energy left after your current wedding season. You want to shoot less so that you can live more. After all, sometimes saying “no” is better for business.

Do not feel bad about increasing your prices or feel like you need to explain why those increases happen. You have worked hard, served your clients well and deserve it. 

Testing the Waters

I have tested price increases many times before. When I was almost fully booked for the year, I would send out a slightly higher starting price point to the remaining inquiries I got for the year. I was already hitting my income goals because of my clients booking bigger packages; the price adjustment for the remaining inquiries of the year was a way for me to see if it had an impact on my booking ratio.

It was a nice way to get my feet wet without getting my pants soaked.

I have also gone the other direction and just upped my pricing a couple hundred dollars from one day to the next. There isn’t a right or wrong way to implement your new pricing, but if I can give you one piece of advice: Believe in what you are putting out there. Be confident in your rates. You can’t sell something when you don’t think it’s worth what it costs.

A Price Hike Alternative

Instead of increasing your package price, you could take something out of the package that will allow you to see a boost in profit.

Let’s say your base package includes an album. Albums cost you something. Calculate what would happen if you took that album out of your package or decreased the size of the album that is included in that package. It could mean more profit in that package without changing the price. 


When I changed my pricing, I didn’t do it alone. I consulted with other photographers and wedding planners to get their thoughts on my changes.

Will you be pricing yourself out of a planner’s clientele that you regularly work with? Will a photographer you share referrals with no longer be able to send you qualified referrals at that new price point?

Just because you are a sole business owner doesn’t mean you have to make every decision by yourself. In the end, you make your own decisions, but consulting with inquiry sources will help guide you.

The Right Increase

Where is the magic ball when I need one? I wish I could answer this for you, but it takes trial and error to figure out what works.

I’ve heard of photographers increasing their pricing successfully by $5,000 in one year and others that do $200 to $300 increases every year. It depends on how drastic your volume and living goals have shifted and what is realistic for you to book.

Ask yourself these questions:

How are you booking at your current rate and how quickly?

Are most of your clients upgrading to bigger packages?

Has anyone booked your most expensive package?

What was your average rate per wedding over the past couple of years? Has it been increasing, and by how much?  

Pricing is a brain game. Be confident, but don’t be too heady to not ask your collaborators for their thoughts. Think it through. And remember that sometimes, you have to listen to your gut. In the end, everything will turn out the way it should. 

Michelle Lange is a wedding and newborn photographer and educator based in Albany, NY.