Ever wonder why wedding photography is worth so much money? Well wonder no longer!
Hey there, gorgeous! This month begins my series of posts to help brides understand the why's and how's of finding the right photog for their wedding, and today, we are looking at why wedding photographers charge so much money and why it's actually a GOOD thing!
"Why is wedding photography so expensive? You're just pointing a lens and clicking a button!" Raise your hand if you have heard some version of this statement *all the crazy-passionate, heartbroken wedding photographers in the room raise their hands.*
And if you are a bride who has asked this question, I'm about to drop some serious truth bombs that will make you quite HAPPILY reconsider how you've delegated the money in your wedding budget. But first, let me say this: I get it. You have a million and one things to plan before the big day. The venue, the food, the decor, the invitations, the bridesmaid dresses, easy access for Auntie Murial's wheelchair, the list goes on and on, and each item on that list means money out of your budget. So when you finally get 'round to shopping for a wedding photographer and you click on that little button that says "Investments," your mouth drops when you see words like "Wedding Packages start at £1500." And you're like "Whoa, what? £1500? For one person? For one day? To use a camera when everybody has a camera on their phone? Da fuhh?"
But there is a reason that photogs label their pricing page as an "Investment," and I'm going to break it down for you in very simple terms so you understand that the money you're investing into that one person with that one camera does indeed have significant investment value. Oh, but one more thing before I jump in: I am not here to explain the value of wedding photography so that you automatically book me for your wedding, so know that my interests here are not self-serving. I want you to know why wedding photography is worth your hard-earned cash because no matter who you book, I want you to be absolutely ECSTATIC when you get your wedding photos back. If you decide to book me, then great! But more than anything, I want you to be over-the-moon-ready-to-print-off-each-photo-and-hang-it-on-every-wall-in-your-house-level excited about the photos that captured your wedding, no matter which photographer you choose. You DESERVE to love the images that memorialise such a precious day. A day you spent SO MUCH TIME planning for. But have you ever heard the phrase "You get what you pay for"? Yes? Well, let me tell you what you're paying for when you "invest" in that "person with the lens and the clicky button":
1 ) EXPERTISE
Although the new iPhone X makes portrait photography look like a breeze, there is actually a lot more that goes into operating a camera than the simple click of a button. Ever heard of aperture? Shutter speed? ISO? RAW vs JPEG? Depth of field? Cropped vs full-frame sensors? Yes? Great! Then you already know the value of these skills. No? That's okay-- your photographer knows! A DSLR (which stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex and is the most commonly-used type of camera body in wedding photography these days) is not an iPhone. It requires much more than a single "click" to operate. For a wedding photographer, the camera is not an accessory: it is the tool of a craftsman. And trust me, even though your Uncle Jerry has a super-fancy Canon 5D MarkIII does not mean he knows how to use it. But your wedding photographer? They will know exactly when to adjust the aperture to get that gorgeous glowing light through the trees or that sweet, low-lit first dance. They'll know when to change lenses to get the most face-flattering angle. And not only that, but they'll know how to read a situation and direct posing that flatters you and your guests. They'll have an eye for capturing the instant when grandma started crying: an image you would never have seen had the photographer not been there. They'll know, basically, how to use their camera as a tool to capture a raw moment that has been undistorted by clumsy camera usage. And that's what you're paying for. The hours and hours of time that they have put into gaining those specific, intuitive skills. In short, expertise with a camera is as valuable as your ability to look back on your photos and feel beautiful in them. The price you put on that feeling is up to you.
"Expertise with a camera is as valuable as your ability to look back on your photos and feel beautiful in them. The price you put on that feeling is up to you."
2 ) EXPENSES
Now let's talk money for just a second because I know it seems weird that your wedding photographer might have their own expenses when shooting your wedding. Like, don't people go out with their cameras and shoot every day? That doesn't cost them anything, does it? But weddings are different. First of all, you have to understand that your photographer is likely using their craft to pay their heating bills and buy their food, so they have to be able to make enough money to not starve to death because a literally starving artist is not one you want shooting your wedding. Trust me. Art suffers when people are hungry. Apart from the fact that shooting weddings pays for our livelihood, there are additional expenses involved that go into running and maintaining the business that enables us to be available for bookings. Equipment maintenance, insurance (because if the photographer accidentally hangs the dress back up where she found it and, in a fluke turn of events, the fire alarm sprinklers go off and cost the hotel £20K in damages, you better believe she's gonna need insurance), travel expenses, and annual fees to host our website and galleries are just a few things on the list. But let's break it down even further and talk about the time that is put into shooting a single wedding. Let's say your photog is only charging you £200 to shoot your wedding and that includes, say, 300 images. The average wedding, from the "getting ready" stage to the "cutting the cake/first dance" stage, lasts an average of 8-10 hours. Editing those images can take another 10-15 hours. So let's say that, in total, a single wedding took a maximum of 25 hours to do. Divide £200 by 25 hours and you get £8 an hour. That is barely above minimum wage, and any photographer who doesn't think that their skills and services are worth more than a burger-flipper's at McDonalds is not a photographer who I'd want photographing one of the most important days of my life. But hey, that's just me.
3 ) EXPRESSION
If you haven't been living under a rock, then you've probably heard of Instagram. Do me a favour and just hop onto Insta and search #weddingphotographer*insertyourcity*. Take a look at what comes up and you might notice that there are a lot of different photography styles out there. Some are light and airy, some are dark and moody, some enhance autumnal, earthy tones and others enhance bright, spring tones. Some are more documentary-style, some feel more posed. Some are, maybe, a bit over-exposed for your taste, and some have too much of a dark, grainy effect. Do you see where I'm going with this? Not all wedding photos are shot or edited equal. Different photographers have different styles, so you are not just paying for images but for a certain mood or emotion that is being expressed in those images. Your choice in wedding photographer should reflect the style you are looking for (I talk a bit more about how to define your wedding "style" here), and when you find the photog whose style is your perfect fit, you better believe that they are worth their value. I mean hey, if they were great enough to get you excited about their work, their skills are definitely worth more than a burger-flipper's, right?
Stay tuned for Part Two on this topic coming out next week, and if you want to get updates for when new posts come out, don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter!