Thumback is a great idea. The day I heard of it I joined. Over the next year I received notification of hundreds of couples looking for a wedding photographer but had budgets listed as $600 to $800. If this is your budget, then I'm very happy there is an option for you to get photos for your wedding. It's such a special day that it really needs to be documented no matter your financial situation. This post it not a comment on that. 

What I'm concerned about is this page I found on Thumbtack.

Thumbtack says the national average cost for wedding photography is $845. 

Yet with a Google search, I am seeing  an average of around $2500. Here are a number of links I found: 

What I'd like to discuss is why is Wedding Photography more than Thumbtack claims? And why I suspect Thumbtacks number are so low? 

First, think about wedding photography in these terms. They day of your wedding you will wear a dress or tux you will never wear again, you may ride in a limo who leaves after they drop you off, the food at the reception will be gone in a matter of hours, even the gifts you received, over the years will, be used up or go out of style and be replaced. The only things that will last long after your wedding will be your marriage and your photos and videos. Thinking of it this way,  you may want to consider budgeting a bit more for the things that last.  But truly, this is up to you and what you find important, please don't let me influence your decision.

But why are photographers so expensive? Why is it not closer to the number on Thumbtack Are Photographers jacking up the price just because it's a wedding?  Well, it's possible you may find people who will raise their rates because it's a wedding. But somethings you need to know. Unless you hire a shoot-and-burn photographer, your photographer won't just be with you the day of your wedding, but they will spend the better part of a week editing, book design, managing/backing up your photos, customer communications, and the general business work related to your wedding. So for one day of photography, your photographer will spend 20 to 40 hours on your wedding depending on how involved it is..

So, you may say, "$2500 for 40 hours work, that's over $60 an hour. That's better than most people make." Well, let's not forget about expenses. Out of that $2500, the photographer has to pay Federal and State Income Tax, Medicare Tax, Social Security Tax, and the material cost for any product like a book or prints. They may end up with $1000 to $1200 profit. "$1200 for 40 hours, that's $30 a hour, still not bad." Well, your photographer also has their own health insurance to buy, Liability insurance for their work, Association fees, Advertising costs, equipment costs, and savings for their own retirement (there is no company provided pension or 401k) that all has to come out of that too. I won't get into rent and travel expense because we all have those. That's not specific to this photographers. But after they spent almost 40 hours on your wedding, they also have many hours of work spent trying to generate more work, managing their books, managing their advertising, meeting with people who may or may not become clients, etc. and after all is said and done, their hourly rate can be very low. 

Am I not saying that your wedding photographer is martyr and basically doing this for free?  LOL   No. Not at all. I'm just saying that they are not "raking it in" as it may seem when you write that fairly large check at the end of the day.

You Get What You Pay For (sometimes)

So, why is Thumbtack saying that it's an average of $845. They are obviously taking statistics from jobs booked though their site.

  • One; I am guessing these are new photographers who are trying to break into the business. You may get a great photographer or you may get someone one not so great, but most likely if they are new, they do not have the best equipment or backup equipment. Everyone needs to start somewhere and if you have a tight budget, I think it's great to give a new photographer a chance. 
  • Two; you may not get what you ask for. You are posting a job request for a wedding for 8 hours and want a book and prints and digital files and want them there from getting ready to the end of the reception and have a $600 budget (I have seen these). What you may get is a photographer there for the ceremony and the reception up to the cake cutting and a DVD with the photos on it. Nothing else. 
  • Or Option three; Maybe Thumbtack clients who book the higher cost weddings use the website to find the photographers, but then contact them and book them outside of Thumbtack. Their wedding don't get reported and are not in the statistics.  

Anyway, if you made it this far, thank you for listing to me ramble on as I experiment with blogging. And if you have a tight budget, by all means use Thumbtack, and try to give a new photographer a chance. If you want experienced photographers, try The Knot and Wedding Wire. But really the best option is to ask your friends who they used, and get recommendations. First hand knowledge beats web searches any day.  And if you really are on a tight budget, just ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. Or maybe they can work with you. Considering your photographs will last for your grand-kids to have someday, this decision may not be one to leave up to the lowest bidder.