“You want to charge how much?”
“You seriously charge that much just to show up and take photos?”
“All It takes to get good photos is a good camera…my cousin can do it, she just picked up a new camera from Costco”
I don’t mean to take it out on your cousin, I bet she takes lovely pictures. She’s probably an absolutely wonderful person, and if you want to take the risk, go for it. More power to you, lady. However, there’s this horrendous myth that floats around that all it takes to take good pictures, is a good camera. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a big difference between a $300 point and shoot and a $3000 DSLR. The quality you’ll get from taking a picture of your new vase of flowers your fiancé got you is going to be super evident. But the fact is, that it MATTERS who is behind the lens.
I’m going to preface this right now, I’m not going to sugar-coat this. Okay, now, think about it. You can’t plop a fast food worker in a 4-star kitchen and expect them to pop out beautifully seared salmon that you’d drop $40 on. You wouldn’t trust a pilot who knows how to fly a little two-seater Cessna to man a Boeing 787. It isn’t just the tools, it’s about the expertise of the person handling them. People understand these things, but for some reason, the myth about photography stands strong. So, let’s break this down.
Let’s talk about what you think you’re paying for first
(you may be the exception to the rule but stay with me here).
Someone who can take photos.
That’s it. That’s the list. That’s what you think a photographer does. It’s right up there with telling a stay-at-home Mom that all she does is sit at home with the kids. It’s just flat out untrue. Ask any stay-at-home-mom and she’ll run you through her day. Her actual job title is somewhere along the lines of laundress/cook/dishwasher/tutor/maid/accountant/personal shopper/gardener/auto detailer/nurse. A photographer’s job doesn’t begin and end at, in my case, the wedding. And the cost isn’t just the camera.
Let’s look at what you are actually paying for.
Someone who can create images to meet your requirements.
Your wedding day should play out like a story through your images. You should be able to look upon your photos and relive the day. Not just remembering who wore what or when your Dad got teary-eyed for the third time that night. You should feel a narrative coursing through the collection.
That’s the big one, the difference between the person standing behind the lens. But, there’s more.
When photographers factor in price, they’re also factoring in:
- The cost of their camera equipment. Lenses and camera bodies ain’t cheap, y’all. And that’s just the basic package.
- There’s lighting equipment, because no wedding takes place in perfect lighting, and most transition into the evening.
- The computer equipment to work on editing your photos. As picture perfect as you are destined to look on your wedding, I’m still going to have touchups to do. No wedding is perfect, but it’s my job to make it look like it was.
- Gotta pay for that image editing software to get those pictures just right.
- HUNDREDS of hours spent to learn how to use all my equipment correctly, quickly, and how to trouble shoot. It’s not as if I can shout out, “Hold on, Reverend! I have to get my shot in focus!” There are no second chances for that first kiss as Mr. & Mrs/Mrs. & Mrs./Mr. & Mr.
- My assistant. How do you get a photo of you walking up the aisle and a shot of your fiancé’s beaming face all in the same 10 seconds? How do I get that shot with your veil appearing to float effortlessly in the breeze? My assistant, and she doesn’t work for free.
- Data storage and back-ups. Until you have huge files to transfer and save, this one is a hard one to visualize. But those high-quality images require a lot of space. And you want me to have them on back-up!
- Transportation costs. I have to get to your venue, after all.
- General office expenses, paper, envelopes, postage, ribbon etc. I like to pamper my brides with pretty packaging, it’s all in the details, after all.
- Promotion and website costs.
- Telephone and internet costs. You know that storage transfer I was talking about…it’s a doozy.
- Income and Sales Tax. Oh, you thought I got to keep all of the money I charge you? Oh, I wish. Honestly, that was something I underestimated, too. So, I can’t hold that one against anyone. Lesson learned, though.
- Business insurance, because things happen. Sometimes trees fall blocking your driveway, sometimes some jerk steals your camera equipment. Sometimes, in the worst of cases, memory cards malfunction. So, there’s business insurance.
Plus, a photographer deserves to earn a living wage, just like any other hard-working person so they can enjoy the luxuries of paying rent, eating, buying the coffee they need to get through the third hour of editing photos.
The bottom line is, you get what you pay for.
If you pick your photographer based on the fact that they were the cheapest you could find, don’t be surprised when you’re less than underwhelmed when your photos are delivered. It’s the brutal truth, but there it is.
Just spreading the good word!