In today’s post, I will be covering a topic that should be informative to both couples and wedding photographers alike: the average price of wedding photography in Toronto. However, I did not write a three thousand word report devoted to a single number. My research into the average cost of wedding photography in Toronto and the GTA has yielded quite a lot of extensive information and statistics that were not immediately apparent. If you are looking for a lot of consumer and business insights as it relates to wedding photography in Toronto, continue reading below.
Introduction: the average price of wedding photography in Toronto
Utility for couples
For couples, knowing the average price of wedding photography in Toronto can help ground their expectations for the costs of hiring an average wedding photographer. Keep in mind that there will be outliers: both photographers whose delivered results far surpass their price point and those who underperform when compared to their peers. Price is not an ultimate indicator of skill and does not guarantee results, but it is not without merit and certainly reflects the wedding photographer’s confidence in their results.
Utility for wedding photographers
For wedding photographers, knowing the average asking price for their services can serve as a barometer for both the competition and their competitiveness (if competing on price is part of their business model). Photographers can look at the overall quality of their work and compare it to that of other photographers and make business adjustments as necessary. Personally, I feel that this information could at least provide business owners with the incentive to thoroughly reconsider their wedding photography prices and pricing strategy for the better.
Method: how the average price of wedding photography in Toronto was determined
Please note that I have updated this article since its initial publication because I was not satisfied with my sample size.
I performed a search on Google.ca for a set of highly competitive keywords: “wedding photographers Toronto,” “Toronto wedding photographers,” and “Toronto wedding photography.” (The city was included to exclude businesses that do not serve the Greater Toronto Area. If you were to run a search without the city, you would soon be looking at results from across Canada and parts of the United States.) The search was conducted on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
I opened every page of Google search results for the first search keyword to preserve their order. It was quickly apparent that Google only provided about 20 pages of results. Every organic search result contained in those ten tabs was analysed. Wedding service directories (e.g. Weddingful, WeddingWire, etc.), style blogs (e.g. TheKnot, WedLuxe, OffBeatBride, etc.), repeating results, and websites not belonging to wedding photographers (e.g. videographers, event planners, etc.) were ignored.
The process was repeated for the remaining two keywords in an attempt to find websites that may have been missed in the previous round. This effort yielded further results. Only photographers based in and offering services to the GTA were considered. I manually added photographers that were missed by all three keywords and of whom I know.
I scoured wedding photographers’ websites for information regarding price, coverage, and whether or not a second shooter—not an assistant—were included. Where wedding photographers provided detailed pricing information, only the lowest priced wedding package of at least four hours was recorded; short elopement and “ceremony only” style packages, or those limited to non-holiday weekdays or the winter season were ignored. Information about how much coverage is provided for the introductory package was recorded, where available. When a single company offered the services of one of their several photographers, and where the starting rate between those photographers differed, I only recorded the lowest price.
All prices that follow do not include sales tax. In fact, I calculated the tax out of the prices of wedding photographers who included them in their stated fees (a rare occurrence).
Limitations of the methodology
This was not a scientific analysis! In fact, it had significant limitations:
- It is 100% biased towards online results.
- It is 100% biased towards results from one search engine: Google.
- Google’s results can differ based on many factors, some of which include:
- the proximity of the searcher to the companies competing for the queried keyword;
- exact keyword searched (for instance, searching for “wedding photographers Toronto” versus “Toronto wedding photographers” would yield different results); and
- time of search (the results are dynamic and fluctuate throughout the day, week, month, and year).
- Only the results from three keywords were considered.
- While the majority of wedding photographers show their prices online, many do not reveal anything but a starting price, and a minority publish detailed pricing information, so some of the numbers are based on smaller samples than the total.
- Only the lowest advertised wedding photography price was considered.
- As a group, wedding photographers have a habit of inconsistently bundling services. Packages range from service only with one photographer, to service and prints, to service and two photographers, and et cetera.
Results for average price of wedding photography in Toronto
Each search engine results page shows ten organic results. Across 20 pages, there were 200 organic results for the keyword “wedding photographers Toronto.” Across the three keywords, each with about 20 pages of results, I found a total of 162 valid wedding photographers. Of those, 114 featured at least an introductory price for service, i.e. a “starting from” price. Of those, only 69 photographers indicated how many hours of coverage is provided at that price; 83 stated, both directly and indirectly, whether a second photographer is included at that price. Where photographers referred to a “full day” of wedding coverage without citing a specific number of hours, I assumed 14 hours of service (which is my personal definition of a full day of wedding photography coverage).
General Sample Data
- Total Photographers Analysed: 162
- Photographers that included at least an introductory price: 114 (70.4% of total)
- Photographers that stated included hours of coverage: 69 (42.6% of total)
- Photographers where the number of shooters provided is evident (or inferrable): 83 (51.2% of total)
- Average number of wedding photographers provided: 1.36 (63.9% shoot solo)
Based on the samples analysed, Toronto wedding photography prices ranged across a spectrum of $5,751. The lowest price was $699 for 4 hours by Mark’s Photography. The highest price was $6,450 for 4 hours of photography by Storey Wilkins Photography. However, these are two outliers in the results.
For a more reasonable level of coverage, the price ranged across a spectrum of $4,650. The lowest price was $950 for 6 hours by Creative Wedding Options. The highest price was $5,600 for 8 hours by Tara McMullen.
The plurality of introductory Toronto wedding photography prices fell into the $2,000-2,999 range with 36%. This was followed by a tie between the $1,000-1,999 and $3,000-3,999 ranges, each with 24.6%. The $4,000-4,999 range had 8.8%, the $1-999 range had 3.5%, and lastly, the $5,000+ range held 2.6% of the total.
Wedding photography coverage ranged across a spectrum of 11 hours. The shortest coverage was 4 hours, provided by several wedding photographers, including both the cheapest and most expensive. The longest coverage was 15 hours by Focus Photography.
The plurality of coverage times was distributed as follows: 6 hours (33.3%), 8 hours (24.6%),”full day” (17.4%), 10-12 hours (7.2%), 4 hours (7.2%), 5 hours (5.8%), 7 hours (4.3%). Based on these number, it is clear that wedding photographers have an affinity for even numbers. I would personally be sceptical of anything after “full day” coverage because the sample size becomes incredibly small compared to the total.
Average price of wedding photography in Toronto
The average price of wedding photography in Toronto is $2,727.84. The median price for wedding photography in Toronto was $2,500. In my opinion, the latter figure is more informative.
At this point, I would like to bring up the difference between the average (also known as the arithmetic mean) and median. The average is derived by dividing the sum of a set of values by the number of values. The median is the value found at the midpoint of a set arranged in order of magnitude. $2,500 is at the midpoint of all values for wedding photography prices when they are arranged in order by their magnitude. Since only five photographers state that price as their starting rate, it is safe to say that about half of all sampled wedding photographers fall above it and about half fall below it on the overall price bell curve.
The average coverage of wedding photography in Toronto based on the samples considered was 8.09 hours. The median was 7 hours.
Comparing price and coverage
For wedding photographers that revealed both an introductory price and how much coverage that level of service provides, I calculated their average hourly rates.
Keep in mind this is not an overtime rate, and they cannot be hired for this rate for less time than their starting price. This number makes no consideration for whether the photographers offer second shooters, albums, prints, and other services.
The lowest hourly rate for wedding photography in Toronto was $158.33 for photography by Creative Wedding Options. The highest hourly rate for wedding photography in Toronto was $1,612.50 for photography by Storey Wilkins Photography.
The average hourly rate for wedding photography in Toronto was $335.75. The median hourly rate for wedding photography in Toronto was $300.00.
Average price vs. average coverage
If we took the total average price of wedding photography in Toronto and divided it by the total average coverage, it becomes $337.31 per hour.
Interesting findings regarding wedding photography prices and more
The section above, specifically the average price of wedding photography in Toronto, was the inspiration for my research. However, since I had a wealth of data on hand, I decided to manipulate it in different ways to see what else I could find or if interesting patterns would emerge. Boy, did they ever!
Charm pricing in wedding photography
Charm pricing, or psychological pricing, is a retail strategy using “odd prices”, where the last significant digits are slightly less than a rounded whole (either a whole dollar or in the case of higher-priced services, increments of one-hundred dollars). Charm prices, where the last two digits ended ten dollars or less under a figure rounded to the nearest hundred dollars (think $1,299, $995, $3,590, etc.) were used by 31.6% of sampled wedding photographers in Toronto.
However, when broken down by price range, the numbers are significantly skewed towards the lower end of the wedding photography price scale:
- $999 or lower: 50%
- $1,000-1,999: 46.4%
- $2,000-2,999: 31.7%
- $3,000-3,999: 21.4%
- $4,000-4,999: 20%
- $5,000 and up: 0%
Terminology: “prices” vs. “investment” vs. “packages”
Have you ever wondered what the difference between a “price” and “investment” was? Is wedding photography really an “investment”, and if so, what’s the rate of return? In any case, I have been fascinated by the different terms wedding photographers use to refer to their pricing pages, so I tracked them in my research. Here are the results:
- About 37.7% had price information on their “Prices” page (or some variation thereof—pricing, pricelist, etc.)
- About 26.3% had price information on their “Investment” page
- About 4.4% had their price information on their “Rates” or “Fees” page
- About 12.3% had their price information on their “Packages” page
- About 12.2% buried their pricing information in their “FAQ”, “About”, “Contact”, or “Information” pages
Which term should you use? The average price of wedding photography in Toronto, when found on the “Price” page, was $2,737.69. The average price of wedding photography, when found on the “Investment” page, was $2,713.7, or about 0.9% less. When the information was stated only on the “Contact” page, the average price was $3,426.82. However, this sample is a bit small to be authoritative. Lastly, the shocker, the average price of wedding photography when found on the “Packages” page was a paltry $1,655.69!
Price terminology compared to coverage
Price page terminology has a small correlation to the average hours of coverage at the base price. Toronto wedding photographers that list prices under a “Prices” page provide an average of 8.65 hours of coverage. Those that contain information on an “Investment” page deliver an average of 8.59 hours of coverage. Lastly, photographers with a “Packages” page provide an average of 6.27 hours of coverage.
Price terminology compared to number of included photographers
Price page terminology has a slight correlation to the average number of included photographers provided at the base price. With a page titled “Investment”, 42% of wedding photographers in Toronto included a second shooter compared to 38% of those with a paged titled “Prices”. Of those that used “Packages”, 8% offered second shooters at the base price.
Price terminology compared to charm pricing
Charm pricing occurred at the following rates based on the name of the page on which the price is found:
- 27.9% of all “Prices” pages
- 47% of all “Investment” pages
- 42.9% of all “Package” pages
Average coverage vs. price range
I observed a distinct pattern in the average number of hours of coverage within different wedding photography price ranges.
- $999 or lower: 4.75 hours
- $1,000-1,999: 6.2 hours
- $2,000-2,999: 7.8 hours
- $3,000-3,999: 10.8 hours
- $4,000-4,999: 13.2 hours
- $5,000 and up: 6 hours (caveat: sample size of two)
Average hourly rate vs. price range
The following list shows the average hourly rate provided within different wedding photography price ranges.
- $999 or lower: $181.35 per hour
- $1,000-1,999: $262.41 per hour
- $2,000-2,999: $347.08 per hour
- $3,000-3,999: $353.44 per hour
- $4,000-4,999: $361.41 per hour
- $5,000 and up: $1156.25 per hour (caveat: sample size of two)
The hourly rates highlighted with bold text are very similar!
The sweet spot for Toronto wedding photography prices is $2,000-4,999
79 wedding photographers occupied this price range, which is 48.8% of the total examined and 69.3% of those who displayed an introductory price.
In the preceding section, notice how the average hourly rates from $2,000-4,999 differ by a maximum of about 4%. It leads me to speculate that the causal factor for the differences in price within this price range is the amount of coverage.
Examining this further, the average price of Toronto wedding photographers whose base prices occupy the range from $2,000-4,999 is $3,091.80. The average coverage is 8.9 hours. The average hourly rate for these Toronto wedding photographers is $350.87. The average number of photographers included is 1.48, that is, 52% of wedding photographers in Toronto whose base price starts within this price range will be shooting solo.
Discussion and analysis
Above, I listed six limitations to my method. Let’s ignore the first four as they form an integral part of my procedure determining the average price of wedding photography in Toronto. There’s nothing I can do about it because I committed to relying on Google and a particular keyword from the outset, and the effects only change the sample size. The real challenge lies in the limitations outlined in 5, 6, and 7.
For instance, if I had access to the websites of every Toronto wedding photographer, I would still be challenged by incomplete information because some list all their details and others show only starting prices. If I had access to every photographer’s detailed price list, I would face the challenge of trying to separate the price of services from those of packaged products, and most of the time, this is impossible to do.
Eagle-eyed and sharp-minded readers may notice that I have not mentioned the elephant in the room: that some wedding photographers in Toronto hold a much larger share of the market than others. This would influence and skew the average price paid. However, the paid average price of wedding photography in Toronto is not my concern because that information would be impossible to acquire.
Ultimately, it is impossible to reach an actual figure without surveying every couple in Toronto. Moreover, if you did a survey of last year’s numbers, you would get information about last year’s prices, which are not necessarily accurate in today’s market. Several print and web publications cater to the wedding industry and periodically run surveys of their readers’ wedding expenses. I would caution that such figures are not necessarily more accurate than a sampling of wedding photographers’ websites because few wedding publications cater to every demographic. For instance, a survey of Wedluxe readers will result in higher averages than a poll of Off Beat Bride or Wedding Bells.
Beyond the practical limitations, I pursued the average lowest advertised price because it is what potential clients see when doing research and it sets their expectations.
Of the sampled wedding photographers, 29.6% did not publicly display any prices. Of the 70.4% that did, only 60.5% stated how much coverage was included. Of those, about half included more details, such as additional packages, services, and products.
I will not mince my words: it is incredibly annoying when wedding photographers do not display any price information on their websites. This is complete speculation, but unless a wedding photographer has a sterling reputation and is reigning supreme with their SEO strategy, not showing any prices puts them in the minority and, likely, at a competitive disadvantage. Moreover, tell your potential clients how much coverage they will receive.
I also noticed several instances of a uniquely irritating and deceptive strategy whose purpose baffles me. It involves the inclusion of a price page or “View Price and Availability” link that leads you to either a page that does not mention price or a contact form. In the former, the photographers wax poetic about how every wedding is unique so we can only provide custom quotes. Unfortunately, this is bull. Most weddings are incredibly similar and highly predictable. Show your prices and stop tricking people.
Average price of wedding photography in Toronto
Considering all of the above, my research has actually revealed the average starting price for wedding photography in Toronto. Based on my figures from the last few years, most clients spend more than the minimum hiring fee.
I was somewhat surprised that charm pricing is significantly more prevalent in the “affordable” segment. The competitiveness of budget photographers is derived from their low fees. A lower rate means they are more competitive than their peers. However, below a certain threshold, the work can become unsavoury, so it is not surprising that they are more likely to resort to psychological manipulation to give potential clients the impression of a moderately lower price. Most wedding photographers do not engage in charm pricing.
The correlation between terminology and average prices was startling. It is important to remember correlation does not mean causation. I have always hated the idea of wedding photography packages because it forced couples to make artificial compromises about their service. My finding further reinforces my bias against the term. If you are currently using it on your website and you do not wish to be considered cheap by association, change it to “Prices”. While the differences between “Prices” and “Investment” is minor, I would recommend avoiding the latter because it sounds incredibly pretentious. We are photographers, not wealth management firms.
The most surprising finding was the fact that the average hourly rate for wedding photography within the $2,000-4,999 price range is so similar. The math does not lie: on average, the difference in base price correlates closely to the total coverage in hours.
I have written about why wedding photography is expensive before—it is a luxury service for a luxury event that commands luxury prices. As such, I would caution couples against using the average price of wedding photography in Toronto as a standard measure of anticipated costs. Remember, this is the average introductory price, and in most cases, it is only going up from there. Moreover, it is the average lowest price for an average wedding photographer. The skill, technique, experience, style, and professionalism of wedding photographers should be leading the factors in your decision making.