The average cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago varies.
With the rise of social media (especially Instagram) and affordable high quality cameras, the barrier of entry into wedding photography is low.
Images on social media of posh couples in love, laughing and celebrating against stunning wedding backdrops idealizes the glamour of being a wedding photographer.
Many enthusiasts love the “idea” of being a wedding photographer but not all have the complete understanding of how to run a wedding photography business.
With so many photography lovers entering the industry, prospective couples end up seeing a huge fluctuation in price, levels of service and talent.
Everyone from the weekend warrior looking for a creative side hustle to the 10 year wedding photographer veteran are in direct competition with each other. It is pretty overwhelming for clients to sort out who is worth their investment. The range of wedding photography costs has been widened drastically between $1000-$10,000+.
Here is a breakdown of the types of studios you may come across in your research, the average cost, and what questions to ask in order to determine whether they are the right investment for you!
Average Cost: less than $3,000.00
When starting your search for wedding photographers, you are going to come across many corporate wedding studios and weekend photographers (especially on Instagram).
Corporate studios hire freelance photographers as independent contractors. The liability is on the corporate studio and they will usually have staff editors to process your photos. The drawback with a corporate studio is you may not know who you will get for your wedding day. It may be a seasoned photographer or a newbie freelance photographer. My tip is to request the specific photographer’s gallery that will be shooting your wedding.
Most likely, your photographer may not know much about you as a couple. If you are on a tight budget or just want basic documentary style photographyThis bulk style approach to weddings may be something you prefer.
At Maha Studios, I hated turning away couples that I wasn’t able to personally photograph. For this reason, I offer photo services by my associate photographers. These associate photographers have been trained and coached by me so I am confident that they will capture weddings perfectly.
As for the weekend photographer, their main focus is not weddings but their 9 to 5 job during the week. Usually, they want to earn a side income during the weekend. They do not have as much time to invest in continuing education, upgrading gear or developing a polished brand.
For that reason, their expenses are lower and they can charge less per wedding. This category of photography may be right for you if you are more cost conscious . However, make sure that the weekend (freelance) photographer has business insurance or some accountability measures in place.
Average Cost: $4000- $10k for a Full Day (Depends on what’s in their package)
Experienced full time wedding photographers are immersed in all aspects of their business.
Since they are the ones wearing all the hats from marketing, sales, shooting, editing and accounting, they must account for all this time and expense into the cost of shooting a wedding.
Full time wedding photographers usually spend a lot of time honing their craft, experimenting with new techniques and building a more consistent portfolio. They are also more focused on catering to the individual needs of their clients. Experienced full time photographers usually want to meet their clients right away and they are more accessible. They are the ones who will troubleshoot any issues and advise you on your wedding timeline.
The main thing that should stand out to couples looking for a boutique wedding photographer is a large, consistent portfolio that exemplifies various shooting conditions, locations and situations.
Without a doubt, they will also have business insurance, registration as a business in the state they are located, a well-curated polished website and a better client experience.
Average Cost: $20k and higher for a Full Day
With boutique studios, luxury wedding photographers will go above and beyond to satisfy their clients because the scope of luxury weddings demands a highly catered and personalized experience.
Luxury wedding photographers are also considered celebrity photographers because they have developed a brand and work with full service wedding planners. Examples of are Jose Villa and Greg Finck, Oliver Fly and KT Merry. The weddings they photograph are usually $500k plus weddings that require a unique set of skills, artistic talent and finesse.
Like with most services, you get what you pay for when it comes to the cost of wedding photographers in Chicago. A photographer who has spent years dedicating their time and education to the craft will naturally need to account for the time and expenses in their overall costs. Because there are a variety of styles and approaches to customer experience, we would highly recommend asking the following questions when short listing your ideal photographer.
Are you a full time or part time Chicago wedding photographer?
What is your education and experience shooting weddings and events? Do you take wedding photography continuing education workshops?
Can we meet to discuss your portfolio and customer process?
Can we see full entire galleries of weddings similar to mine?
Who will be shooting my wedding and will it be stated in the contract?
Are you a registered and insured business?
Can I read any client online reviews?
How do you edit the photos and does it include any special services like skin retouching?
What happens if the designated photographer cannot show up for my event?
What is your cancellation policy?
Will we get the copyrights to the edited high resolution digital images? What are the final deliverables?
I hope these article helps you while interviewing potential studios.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, the best thing to do is to determine an ideal photo investment with your Chicago wedding planner.
Drawing on their wedding planning expertise and experience, your Chicago wedding planner will guide you in finding the right options for your needs, staying within budget, and saving time on vendor interviews.
With this knowledge in hand, the cost of a wedding photographer in Chicago will work perfectly into your overall wedding budget.
With over ten years of experience capturing sacred moments and an artful intuition for what it takes to get the perfect shot, time and time again, it’s our joy to create evocative, timeless photographs that are as one-of-a-kind as your story.
Maha Studios is a destination photography studio that delights in the vibrant traditions and rituals at the heart of South Asian and multicultural weddings.