Q : Why is good wedding photography so expensive?
A : Brides and Grooms often ask this question, after all, the photographer is at my wedding for anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, then they go home and I'm paying up to $10K for that.....! Well, I don't charge anywhere near $10K but here are just some of the reasons :
- Weddings mainly occur on Saturdays. Take out the winter months leaves us with approximately 32 shooting days per year. Yes, there is a trend to Friday weddings but these are often (but not always) smaller weddings. Weddings are less frequent in the shoulder months too so we may only end up with 26 days to earn our annual income.
- I spend anywhere from 2 to 8 hours at a wedding, my wife Francesca usually attends too. When we get home I upload the images to my iMac, and then make a backup, and then a third backup on a separate PC. Then (depending on the package selected) my wife and I spend a further 8 to 40 hours culling down the images to a manageable number, working on the images in Lightroom, Photoshop and other specialist software, exporting images, creating slideshows, printing discs and covers, burning discs and then posting or delivering the finished product to our clients.
- On larger weddings I hire an assistant and he likes to be paid..... :-)
- There is the time we spend consulting with clients via phone or email, scheduled meetings with clients, etc, this can add up to 3 - 4 hours per wedding.
- Prior to the day all equipment is checked and double checked, back up equipment as well, numerous batteries charged, lenses cleaned etc.
- Quality camera gear is expensive. I use 4 Nikon camera bodies, each with pro lenses, and have two backup bodies.
- Quality software is expensive, and requires frequent updates. Did I mention time spent learning how to use the software?
- There is also the cost of the studio, website, advertising, brochures, wedding expos, car, fuel, phone, not to mention keeping up the training, taking classes and attending seminars in order to improve skills and keep up with the latest trends and innovations.
- Insurance for equipment and public liability can add up to $1000's.
But Uncle Frank has recently bought a new DLSR, and has some lovely photographs of his garden, and say's he'll do the job as your "wedding present". Your call.....
Q : So why then are there photographers who will shoot my wedding for just $500 - $1000?
A : There are many reasons, here are a few possible answers :
- Wedding photography is not their only source of income, they often have full time jobs in other industries and just shoot weddings to supplement their income, often for cash.
- They probably don't do any post production work on the images and if they do use free or cheap software. They may even give you a disc on the night.
- They probably don't have professional equipment, let alone backup equipment.
- It's unlikely they have insurance.
- It is quite possible they are new to the industry and do not possess the necessary skills, portfolio and experience therefore need to discount their price to get work.
Most of my business now comes from referrals, I often photograph a wedding and then later photograph the brother or sister of the bride or grooms wedding as they loved the photographs and enjoyed the experience. I can't afford to do a bad job, in this day of social media word gets around very quickly if you are not doing the job properly.
Q : Is wedding photography difficult?
A : Personally I think it is the most difficult of all photography, (with the exception of photojournalism in a war zone) but happily it is also the most rewarding - nothing beats getting a phone call or email from a bride who has just received her photos and absolutely loved them :)
A wedding photographer has control over virtually nothing on the day, the weather, the venue, the guests, the light, etc - he or she must be a diplomat, able to handle all personality types, deal with nervous mothers, frazelled brides and sometimes grooms that think smiling is a criminal offence. Also keep to a predetermined schedule, deal with videographers and other service providers, sometimes intoxicated guests, all with grace, compassion, patience and a smile. Oh, and make them all look great!
Q : Why should I spend my hard earned $ on a wedding photographer?
A : Well, simply speaking, long after the flowers have died, the wedding dress turned yellow, food at the reception consumed, your wedding photo's are all you will have to remember these things by.
Not just tomorrow, but 5, 10, 20 years later you will have photographs to relive your wedding day with, and it is often only then you will realize a true appreciation of professional wedding photography.
Q : I just want informal, candid shots - is that something you do?
A : Yes, but I have to tell you I think we should do a few formal photographs too.
I believe a photo journalistic approach tells the story of the day, capturing fun and emotions possibly not seen in previous generations wedding photographs. But I also believe that the classic wedding portrait will stand the test of time. After 20 or more years your children and grandchildren are looking at your wedding photographs it's the more formal photographs that will be most appreciated - so I tend to do both. Why not, you only get one shot at it, lets cover our bases!
I sometimes get brides that only want informal photography. That's fine, less work for me. But, I always try to nudge them into letting me do a few things that are a step above a "snapshot." Why? Because right now she is a 25-year old bride who loves fun, candid pictures from her wedding, but 40 years from now it will be the nice, beautiful formal that will have a place of honor on the wall of her bedroom or on a bookcase . Plus, her parents and grandparents will want the formal now.
Q : Why is your booking sheet so long?
A : Most of the information on the booking sheet is completed by myself during our pre-wedding meeting. I need some info from you to start up a file for your wedding day, get contact details, times, correct names and the names of the celebrant and venue.
I have developed this system over a number of years and it works extremely well, I have never double booked a day and with vigilance I hope I never will :-)