I feel the need to get this off my chest... and I rarely do this publicly... usually I just mutter to myself... but today I need to get it out there. It's nothing new or groundbreaking, you'll have probably heard countless photographers moaning about this very subject. This is just my take.
It all started this morning when I heard another wedding photographer friend complaining that they had been asked by a prospective client something along the lines of "We really really love your style and it's exactly what we're looking for! But can you give us a lower price for our Saturday wedding in July and still include everything, even your blood sweat and tears? Because we've found another photographer locally who can do a package for £500 AND it includes an album, but we don't really like their photographs".
Most wedding photographers have had an email like this at one time or another. For many of them, as for me, this is our bread and butter. Our job. It's not a hobby (despite the fact that I love doing it). I'm not sure many brides would necessarily barter for cheaper shoes in John Lewis or a discount off that dream wedding dress in the bridal shop yet when it comes to photography people seem to think that because we work for ourselves that we should drop our price.
Photographing a wedding isn't just about turning up on the day and taking photos, job done. That is honestly what so many people think. An average wedding racks up about 50+ hours of work... more than an average working week! Emails and telephone calls backwards and forward, the initial meet up, preparation of contract, engagement shoot + travel to and from + editing of those photos, the wedding itself (approx 10 hours shooting) + backing up photos + editing hundreds of photos, preparation of online gallery, album design and many other things.
Then you have to take into account the money we spend on top quality camera gear, external memory, computers, software, business insurance, training and of course, we have to pay the tax man his share as well.
I also invest a lot emotionally into getting to know my couples as much as possible, taking time to help them out on other aspects of their wedding if I can and just keeping in touch to see how they are getting on. I try to find out about them so that I can make the engagement shoot a little more personal. And because I consider what I do to be art, I spend time preparing the finished images so that they reflect my individual style and are images the couple will fall completely in love with.
All of this is worth bearing in mind when someone says they can do it for a 'bargain' price. Are you going to get that same level of service, security, attention and of course, quality? I know it's a cliché but.... if it sounds too good to be true, well it IS.
This is highlighted perfectly in the article which appeared in the Telegraph and numerous other newspapers online yesterday. Don't get me wrong, it only shows a handful of shots and the couple paid WAY too much if this was what was on display on the website... but the images are bad (even though sadly I've seen much worse) and no self-respecting professional photographer who knows how to use their camera would take photos of such poor quality, let alone give them to the client. These are what we call 'Uncle Bob' photos... snaps that a family member or friend has grabbed with a camera they aren't quite sure how to use.
Anyway, back to where I was headed with this... I do understand that financially, things aren't easy for a lot of people at the moment. We've certainly had our fair share of redundancies over the past 4 years in this house... but I still genuinely believe that paying for a reputable professional wedding photographer whose style fits with your own is one of the best investments you can make when it comes to your wedding.
If you've gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that your wedding is perfect (most couples have) then you want to remember it... every little detail including all the things you missed because it flew by like some brilliant but slightly mad dream....
Many good photographers WILL consider a lower package price if your wedding is on a week day Mon-Thurs or over the quieter months Oct-March... some may even consider a discount for those planning a DIY, self-styled, one of a kind quirky affair on a budget (yes please!). However, to expect a bargain price for a Friday/Saturday in summer - dates that many photographers could sell 10 times over - is a little unrealistic. I totally can't blame you for trying but I'm just letting you know what my answer will be and explain why. : )
The Vera Wang dress
A very well-respected and incredibly talented wedding photographer told this story on a recent training course. He was contacted by a groom-to-be to ask the price of his wedding photography and to check availability. He asked for a discount because they had a wedding budget and the bride wanted a Vera Wang dress which would take up a good chunk of said budget. The photographer said no, explaining that it was a date he could sell over and over. The end. However it wasn't, because a week later the guy called back and booked, full price. When the photographer asked what had changed their minds the groom-to-be explained that his fiance decided that a Vera Wang dress shot by a cheap photographer would just look cheap. So she bought a less expensive dress, booked the photographer and having seen the photographs I can vouch for the fact that she looked absolutely incredible!
Here endeth the rant. : )
P.S. "Wow... you must have a really good camera to take such beautiful photos" - NEVER ever say this to a photographer. Please! As the photographs in the Telegraph article go some way to prove, it is not the camera but the skill, creativity and knowledge of the photographer behind it that creates beautiful photos. Fact!