For most photographers including myself, it's conventional wisdom to not discuss price. The idea is to have potential clients focus on your work. After all, these images are of a once in a lifetime event and are going to be passed on to future generations. We want you to value that important aspect and not think of your wedding photography as just another product. We want you to get to know us as well, the person(s) who will be spending this very important day with you. However, as someone who has never been conventional and who understands the pressures of bills and real life, I thought I'd tackle the subject today.
I recently showcased at a bridal show and heard several times "Why are wedding photographers so expensive?" and "What are your prices?", often before a single image was even looked at. This tells me it's a burning subject that needs to be addressed. Of course, I don't know what would be considered expensive by various clients either. I'm going to approach this article with an attempt to give you insight into a professional, full time photographer and assume that you are considering a professional because you value photography. So let's dig in...
One of the most common misconceptions is that your photographer is an hourly worker and that the "work day" is over after the last shutter press. I can understand this because people are used to cell phones and other digital cameras and the instant gratification they provide. Let's talk about this and other myths.
- Example: photographer charges $2000 for a wedding and stays for 10 hours. This means he or she is getting paid $200 per hour, right?
On the surface this seems to add up, but a pro is going to keep working for you long after. I spend approximately 12 hours shooting the wedding, 30 hours editing the images after the wedding, 10 hours designing the album. Add on expenses for products of each wedding, cost of online gallery hosting and the time to upload the images and you see very quickly that the "hourly rate" has dropped dramatically.
The difficult part for you the client and one of the reasons I'm writing this is how varied things are from photographer to photographer. So, why is that?
- The typical "Facebook photographer" probably does this on the side in addition to their day job. They may or may not have the skills to photograph your wedding. They may or may not be there on your big day. More than likely it's an extra money for the weekend type of situation. They aren't investing it back into their business, learning new techniques, replacing equipment, paying for insurance, etc. Your images are probably not going to be edited. They will typically charge a lot less.
- Some pro photographers have additional expenses to cover such as a brick and mortar storefront, secretary and more. Perhaps they outsource the editing and book designing. They typically will charge a little more for seemingly the same service and quality.
Just like in anything, the wedding industry is also a haven for those who want to just make a quick buck. Many times these are service companies who are doing multiple weddings on the same night and sending out hired hands with few skills who are getting paid a minimum. These are companies that hurt the client as well as photographers such as myself. I'm often concerned that potential clients will mistake me for this type of company due to Region Weddings being a "generic name". I wanted the site to be helpful to brides and grooms and not just about my photography with articles such as this, so hence the name. Rest assured, you meet with me and I'm the one who will be showing up on wedding day.
- Photo editing: This means you are fixing mistakes, right? After all, the image is already done. I just saw it on the back of the screen. So, how about skipping that part and bring this price down a bit?
Back in the day photographers shot on film and they sent the rolls to the darkroom and contrast was added, saturation, slight exposure adjustment, etc. and a photograph was made. In digital, it's exactly the same way. What happens on a cell phone or on the back of a DSLR is the computer in the device makes a guess and does this for you. However, any pro is going to shoot a digital negative and do all of this by hand. This takes time, effort and skill in the digital darkroom known as Photoshop. This ensures a higher quality image and no guessing from a machine. I do all of this myself, hence the additional 30 hours of work. Yep, we can do stuff like swap peoples heads, etc. but in reality, we are usually just doing the basics. The best thing is to capture a good image to start with and to not "fix it in Photoshop".
As a client, you have the rent or mortgage, car payments, insurance and more. I get it. Me too. Please don't take this as a defensive article either. I wrote this to simply give you a little bit of inside baseball and an understanding of how the process works. We as photographers are sometimes a bit secretive about this subject and I wanted to address it head on. When you sit down with me to discuss your wedding photography, feel free to ask the difficult or awkward questions. I'd be glad to answer them openly and honestly. By the way, my rates can be found here. I have a lot of 2014 booked, but various dates are available. Bookings for 2015 are well underway.
As I always say, I'd be glad to refer you to another photographer if I'm not right for you or if the date is booked. I feel that strongly about you getting super images and quality service. Hope this helps!!