blog navigation

The Difference Between a $2000 and $5000 Wedding Photographer

The Difference Between a $2000 and $5000 Wedding Photographer

spotify | apple podcast | stitcher

A huge goal for so many photographers is to reach six figures, whether that just looks like a hundred thousand or you actually have the goal to profit six figures, which I personally do yearly. As someone who has gone from charging $2K for weddings to charging $5K for weddings, and then now up to $10K for weddings, I want to share what some of those differences might look like between the $2K range and the $5K range. I’m also talking about how to get from one tier to the other. 

Now, a lot of this does depend on your location, expertise, and experience. So, we’re going to talk through all of these things as well as reverse engineer what your goal is and what would be needed from you to be able to reach that goal. 

Let me start off by saying there’s so much nuance when it comes to talking about pricing. While I can’t talk about everything, we are going to discuss location, knowing your own numbers, your expertise, the experience you have, the client experience you provide, and how you’ve invested in your business. All of these have so much to do with your pricing, the confidence behind what you charge, and the value you bring to your clients. 

How location impacts pricing 

Location is one of the most important factors when it comes to pricing. Cost of living is a huge piece of what you need to make as a photographer. No matter where you live, it’s going to look different and it has a huge impact on your pricing and what you’re able to charge. 

For example, if you’re a Nashville photographer, you may start around $3K-$4K. However, a professional photographer in California would need to charge way more than that because they have a higher cost of living. Their starting price might look like $8K. So, your location will have an impact on what you can charge and what makes sense. 

How your expertise impacts pricing 

Expertise is different than experience. A photographer with top-notch skills, including client experience, helping with wedding planning, helping to problem solve, and just being a business owner is invaluable compared to a photographer who does not have any of those skills. 

If you’re thinking that this is not your area of expertise, this is where you need to pivot more into that growth mindset. It will help you grow into that expertise and get you out of being stuck in that $2K range.

There’s so much that goes into your expertise, and this is what I teach inside of my mentorship program Book It. If you’re not sure how to deliver an amazing client experience, help with the wedding plan in a way that actually serves them, or don’t know how to problem solve when things come up, then I encourage you to check out the mentorship. 

How your experience impacts pricing

Experience is crucial to being competent as a photographer in what you can charge in the first place. Someone who has shot dozens or hundreds of weddings and knows how to confidently work them and guide the day along with reducing the stress will be able to charge more than someone who has only shot a couple of weddings. 

This is something else I teach inside of Book It because your experience is crucial to not just growing as a photographer but also helps you feel more confident as a photographer and a business owner. 

Pricing Tiers 

Before I start, I want to say that I did $2K weddings myself when I was starting out. I’m not sharing any of these pricing tiers to make anyone feel bad. If you’ve gotten to any point in your business where you’re able to charge for something you love, you should be really proud of yourself. 

However, my whole goal as a mentor is that if you want to run a sustainable business, you can’t stay in this place of charging only $2k. There’s more that needs to be done in order to get to a place of more sustainability. 

Tier 1: $0-$500 Photographer

This is the brand new photographer. Maybe they’ve never shot a wedding before and they are just looking to build their initial portfolio. They probably aren’t going to be able to make any kind of client feel comfortable in front of the camera and they won’t feel confident in their ability to perform at a wedding, or even deliver high-quality photos because they don’t really know how to use the camera. These photographers don’t really know how to edit yet and are not charging much so that they can gain experience. 

Tier 2: $500-$1.2K Photographer

This is more of a beginner photographer. Maybe they’ve shot a wedding before, but they still have that lack of ability to provide natural posing and prompting. They are still using beginner-level gear that provides below-average quality for wedding photography. While they’re still learning, they’re charging a little bit for what they’re doing because they are putting their time into it. 

Tier 3: $1.2K-$2K Photographer

These photographers most likely photograph a handful of weddings per year and can pull it off with an okay experience. They have mid-level gear for decent images and the photos are a little more in focus, but they are still developing their style. They are inconsistent with their editing and may not have a high demand as a result of that because there still isn’t much trust in this kind of photographer. So, they need a lot more experience and a lot more to learn before they can get up to the next level. 

Tier 4: $2K-$3K Photographer

I was curious to see where most of the photographers were when they applied for my mentorship program, and where they ended up near the end of it. This price range is where a majority of them are and they want to raise their prices but don’t know how to because they are struggling to attract and book the clients that they want to work with. 

After 3 months inside Book It, they end up getting out to that first job in the $4K-$5K range. Some of my students have been more experienced, but they’ve known they need more of that expertise, so they end up getting more to the $8K-$10K range in the program. 

If you find yourself here in this growing phase of the $2K-$3K range, this is where the majority of wedding photographers are at. They still may be part-time, but they’re beginning to invest in better gear and some education. However, they still probably aren’t profiting much because they’re struggling to book consistently and are struggling to book with higher-end clients. 

This kind of photographer knows they can get fairly consistent results, have beautiful photos, and can give a pretty okay experience, but probably need to do some refining in the expertise area.

What to do if you’re a $2K photographer wanting to make $100K a year

As I mentioned before, we are going to reverse-engineer a bit. I’m going to break this down for you, starting with the $2K photographers. Let’s say you want to hit $100K a year. That would be about $8K a month before expenses. If you’re charging $2K for a wedding, that’s 4 to 5 weddings per month you need to book in order to hit your goal. That’s not even considering the fact that in most locations, there will be busy seasons and slower seasons, so you’ll probably need to do double and triple-headers during the busy seasons to be able to reach $100K

But when are you going to go on vacation? When are you going to fit in all of the engagement sessions for these clients? How are you going to edit the photos and actually deliver them on time and give a great experience if you’re booked all the time? It’s not very sustainable. 

One thing about being a $2K-$3K photographer is that you probably don’t know your numbers very well because you’ve probably never broken it down like this, and I say this because I didn’t either. 

Another thing about a photographer in this pricing tier is that they don’t often track what they’re actually making an hour when all of their costs come out. They aren’t tracking their mileage, gas, wear and tear on the camera, editing time, uploading to the gallery, marketing, and even paying taxes. It’s a pain point for many in this pricing tier. 

When you look at what’s left per hour after costs are taken out, it’s not very much. So, it’s really important to get to a place of knowing your numbers, managing your finances, and understanding that there are ebbs and flows in business. 

Tier 5: $4K-$6K Photographer

This is the professional photographer who’s likely full-time at this point. They are established, have a solid in-demand style, know how to market to attract their dream clientele, and know how to book clients who actually do want to inquire with them. They understand that not every client is going to say yes to them and that’s okay because they don’t want to book every single weekend or do double-headers all the time. 

These photographers can be much more strategic with who they do work with and make much more per session, which helps them scale their income faster while booking less and eliminating stress. 

Any of the struggles mentioned in the prior pricing tiers, this professional photographer probably isn’t dealing with most of those things. They can run their business on autopilot and can give a great client experience while having that sustainability. 

A few final thoughts to leave you with

If you found yourself thinking, “Man, I would love to get to that next pricing tier” or, “I would love to have personalized education,” then this is my invitation to you to apply for Book It. Enrollment is open and I would love to get to know more about you. 

I want to leave you with just a couple of things: 

The first is to view yourself as a business owner first and then as a photographer. I can guarantee that you likely have beautiful work and you know how to edit your images, but you probably don’t have a good handle on the business side of things. And I say that because it’s true for so many creative entrepreneurs. 

The second thing is that if you want to make a change, finding someone who’s been there and has done that will help you fast-track it. Not only that but even finding someone who will give personalized education to you and your business is where the true magic happens.

So, I cannot wait to see your application for Book It come through so we can get you to that professional status or even into the luxury status.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The nuances when it comes to pricing
  • The different pricing tiers and what each of those photographers looks like
  • Changes a $2K photographer should make if they want to reach $100K a year
  • Viewing yourself as a business owner first and finding a mentor


Follow Claire: 

Claire’s Instagram


Notion Template 

Email Templates

Book It Mentorship Program

Scale It Mentorship Program

1:1 Mentoring

The Shop

The Amazon Storefront


The Secret to Scaling Your Photography Business Freebie

Attract and Book Dream Couples Free Workshop

Hook Inquiries – Email Templates

Top 10 Resources You Need


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *