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Business – The Wedding Photography Market Size (Estimating The Number of Wedding Photographers in the United States)

By Christopher Lin on February 9th 2009

the wedding photography market sizeThe wedding photography market in the United States, i.e. the number of wedding photographers in the United States, is a difficult number to compute. First of all, the term ‘wedding photographer’ is such a loose term that defines seasoned professionals, as well asyour typical uncle with a digital camera. Secondly, aswith many independent contractors, not everyphotographer follows all of the rules of a legitimate business. For example, any statistics based on United States tax information might understate the true number in an industry with so much unreported revenue. Furthermore, many studios do not register their businesses; and others do not join professional organizations, making these measures unreliable as well. With so many ‘under the radar’ and part-time wedding photographers, the actual number is quite difficult to estimate.

However, we believe that we’ve come up with a reasonable number for the wedding photography market using deductive reasoning. Below is our rationale: Our first step was computing a reasonable estimate for the number of weddings per year in the United States by taking the average of two figures derived from two independent sources.

Number of Weddingsin the United States
Number of weddings in 2006: 2,160,000 (Source)
Number of weddings in 2008: 2,206,600 (Source)


From there, the next step is to find a reliable number for the average number of weddings per year per wedding photographer. We found a great article on that details the results of an online survey they conducted in 2008 with 1,098respondents. Their results indicated an average of 21.1 weddings per year per wedding photographer (studio/business owner). However, the 21.1 accounts for only studio/business owners, not encompassing those that second shoot a few weddings year or those that work for large studios or wedding venues that might shoot a wedding every weekend. Furthermore, the 21.1 figure could be inflated, as the number does not specify if the respondent photographer was the sole photographer at the event. If multiple photographers are counting a particular wedding as their own, the number should be lower. To account for these factors, we created a sensitivity analysis in the graph below.

Number of Wedding Photographers in the US

Avg Number of US Weddings Annually : 2,183,300
Avg # of Weddings/Year/Photographer : 21.1 19 18 17 16 15
Estimate 1 (90%) : 93,127 103,419 109,165 115,586 122,811 130,998
Estimate 2 (75%) : 77,605 86,183 90,971 96,322 102,342 109,165
Estimate 3 (50%) : 51,737 57,455 60,647 64,215 68,228 72,777


If professional wedding photographers averaged 21.1 weddings per year, there are 2,400,000 weddings annually, and every wedding used the services of a professional wedding photographer, the estimation for the number of wedding photographers would be 114,000 (2.4M/21.1). However, not every wedding uses a professional or even amateur photographer, hence the use of 90%, 75% and 50% breakdowns.

The calculations are pretty straight-forward, taking the total annual weddings, multiplying that number by either 90%, 75%, or 50%, and dividing those figures bythe average number of weddings photographed by awedding photographer per year (21.1, 20, and so on).

From this calculation, we believe that 100,000 is a reasonable estimate for the number of wedding photographers in the United States, as the combinations of average number of weddings per year per photographer and number of weddings that hire a wedding photographer seem reasonable (16 and 75%, 19 and 90%, etc).

We realize the limitations of this analysis; however, this is the best estimate we could calculate based on the available information. If any of you have any other alternative methods, feel free to share. We’d love to hear from you.

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Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me traveling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

Q&A Discussions

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  1. John Billingsley

    I am so sorry that happened to you. There are a lot of people out there that think they can be and call them selfies professionals photographers. When in truth they are not at all. I have been working as a professional photographer for over 10 years now. I mostly photograph wedding, bridals and engagement session. I photograph about 30 weddings a year. I would like to do more but i pride my self on my custom services and I treat all my clients like royalty. You have to do your researcher and check out who ever you want to photograph your weeding, event or family photo session not just hire them because you like there work. Please check out there reviews and talk to there past clients so you know who you are hiring .

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    HELLO IAM Becky . We are having a doulpe wedding so had are our engangment photography’s done . The lady asked us to pay up fount so we did. didn’t think she would rip us off . Well after a few weeks went by we went on sit she put two pic’ on the she sit and she did not do any touchs nothing to it . then we called her and then just got the run around then no pic’s or cd that we payed for .

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  3. Dave

    I’m not sure there is such a thing as a “normal wedding photographer”, there are so many amateurs, semi-professionals, professionals, and people that do it on the side that it’s impossible to say. I strive about 20 a year though, so you’re on to something!

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