It finally happened. He got down on one knee and asked you to be his bride. It truly is one of the best moments of your life. You finally get to plan that wedding you’ve always dreamed of. But then reality sets in- weddings can have quite the price tag.
Maybe being part of the industry has made me more aware of it, but it seems like wedding photography in particular has become extremely highlighted. Between the blog posts, the publications, and the overflow of photography education, it seems the “why” behind wedding photography has become blurred. Yes, it’s great to have our work published in order to gain more traffic and business. But let’s be honest, our clients aren’t shelling out thousands of dollars just to have their wedding published in a magazine or on a blog. So why the hefty price tag?
You may have heard wedding photography referred to as an “investment” rather than “cost”. You’ll find me referring to it as this on my own website. But even I needed to delve deeper into why I refer to it this way. After all, if I expect my customers to delegate a major part of their budget on my services, I better be able to back it up. So let’s start with the basics- what does the word “investment” mean? The dictionary defines it as “The action or process of investing money for profit or material result.” Obviously wedding photography does not yield a monetary profit for its investor. But it certainly does yield a material result- that being your wedding images and the preservation of precious memories. So that brings us to our next question and the topic of this post: why does this investment cost so much? I’ve been reflecting on my worth and this particular question a lot lately. How do I justify charging customers this much? Here are four major components to consider.
Have you ever heard the phrase “You get what you pay for”? This phrase really comes to fruition when hiring a wedding photographer. In the digital world we live in today, many people have access to great quality cameras for an affordable price. But the question is, do they know how to operate that equipment? You’re paying for a photographer who has not only invested in high quality gear, but in to education and time committed to learning how to use this equipment properly to yield high quality, beautiful images. Do you want your images to be published in a magazine or at least look like they could be? That requires knowledge and experience. Do you want your images to be clear and sharp? Experience. Do you want those special candid moments captured? Experience. An experienced photographer is able to capture both beautiful, natural looking portraits as well as anticipate those candid moments that happen throughout the day. When you scroll though a potential photographer’s Instagram or galleries on their website, are they consistent in lighting and overall “feel?” That means that photographer has taken the time to perfect their art and style. Consistency is a huge factor that can instill confidence in clients that the photographer knows how to deliver the same type of images over an over with a consistent and predictable style.
We’ve all heard the horror stories. Ones like “I paid my deposit and then didn’t hear from the photographer until a few days before the wedding.” Or, “I’ve been waiting 6 months and still haven’t seen any of my wedding images.” I think it is both an expectation and a demand that investing thousands of dollars means having an amazing experience. I personally choose to only take on a certain number of weddings per year in order to deliver a personal client experience. I want to make myself available to my couples and be able to help guide them through the wedding planning process. One way I do this is by guiding them through their timeline both during consultation and via a wedding day questionnaire that I send prior to wedding day. This allows us to establish a timeline that will allow us to maximize photography time in order to get the images that they love and are hiring me for. Not only that, but I have established a workflow that allows me to deliver their sneak peeks, blog post, and edited, high resolution images in less than 2 weeks.
You might think, “Gee, they must be making a ton charging that much for one day’s work.” But don’t forget, there is so much more to be done before and after wedding day. Between your engagement session, email conversations that help prepare for wedding day, the actual wedding day, culling (aka sifting through THOUSANDS of images to pick out the best ones), editing, uploading galleries, writing blog posts, and designing albums- okay, I think you get it. There’s a lot of time that goes in to wedding photography besides just showing up with my camera on wedding day.
Think about it. Weekends are prime time for family and personal events. So with 99% of weddings occurring on the weekend, photographers are spending time away from their families and friends in order to do their job. You might say “Well that’s their choice.” True. Is there any price worth time away from family? I would say no. But it does have to be financially worthwhile for us to make the decision to support our families in this way.
I’ll admit, I’ve had seasons of doubt and questioning my worth in this industry. But while reflecting on these practical justifications for the wedding photography investment, I’ve also come to realize that it’s so much deeper and personal than that. I am passionate about preserving memories. It can be quite nerve-wracking when thinking about the huge responsibility of making sure I am capturing this day so that it can be relived for generations to come. But that’s what keeps me humble. And for me, I hold this responsibility with such high regard. That in itself, I believe, holds the highest value- the fact that a seamless, stress-free experience as well as beautiful, natural images are a priority for me as your photographer.