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01/25/2010 04:34:20 PM · #1
food for thought.

And You Call Yourself a Professional?
01/25/2010 04:42:38 PM · #2
Crap...I'm doing a wedding this spring for, you guessed it, five hundred dollars. In my defense
a) this is the first wedding I've done
b) I had the price in mind before I did the engagement shoot. Had I even remotely guess at how much work it would be I would have at least tripled my price. Unfortunately, I mentioned this price to my friends who organized the gig and they presumably passed it on.

At least I get to learn AND I still intend to shoot like I am getting paid full price.

eta: Oh yes...One day I do hope to demand Scott Bourne prices (i.e. $20K+)

:)

Message edited by author 2010-01-25 16:43:50.
01/25/2010 04:58:24 PM · #3
I can understand other photographers getting annoyed if you're under pricing. But if you are providing a quality service, I think what you charge is your own business. When I started my own business as a computer consultant, I charged $35/hour. It was what I could get, and it allowed me to quit my job and get started. If I would have waited for someone to offer me the $100/hour that I ended at, it never would have happened. I was not a known quantity, I did not have the credentials or the experience. I had the knowledge and I was extremely good, but didn't have the track record. As I got more clients, I raised my rates for new clients, but kept those who started with me at lower rates.

If I started doing weddings (and I've had two people ask me, though I've done one in the past and I'm not sure I'll ever do another one), I would probably start off the same exact way.
01/25/2010 05:04:26 PM · #4
There is also the point that poor people get married too. Not everyone has a £2000 budget for a photographer. I'd like to think there are good photographers out there for all budgets.
01/25/2010 05:36:05 PM · #5
Originally posted by clive_patric_nolan:

There is also the point that poor people get married too. Not everyone has a £2000 budget for a photographer. I'd like to think there are good photographers out there for all budgets.


I'm a good photographer who shot two weddings for 'poor people' because the photographers that they had already arranged knew less than I did. The best equipment that they had were point and shoots that were cheap cameras even for being point and shoot cameras.

Even though I consider myself a good photographer, I had no business shooting a wedding and only did so because I was somewhat of a bonus as the other point and shoot photographers (friends of the couples) showed up anyway. But because I seemed to the couples to be a good photographer they expected professional results.

Neither were disappointed, but the results were embarassing for me. I won't do it again until I am properly equipped and experienced in this type of photography.

Even 'poor people' deserve a photographer who has the knowledge and experience to deliver something acceptable on this one time occasion.
01/25/2010 05:43:23 PM · #6
Originally posted by yakatme:


Even 'poor people' deserve a photographer who has the knowledge and experience to deliver something acceptable on this one time occasion.


Yes, totally agree.
01/25/2010 05:45:37 PM · #7
I don't think I am really undercutting the market when I offer my clients the ability to buy a wedding package for $625.00. With that particular package I really don't offer the client much but it is affordable and I do give them the option to personally buy more pictures later down the road. My highest package is $3,150.00 and compared to the older photographers in the area it's still a pretty low price. Do I think my photography is worth more than that, not really. It's a good quality image, I provide exactly what the client looks for and while I am making money the client doesn't necessarily need to spend an arm and a leg doing it.

The more I shoot weddings and the more demanding I become as a wedding photographer the more my prices will go up.

The way I see it, I'm running a business by offering my services, I have contracts and agreements that I require clients to sign. I make sure they read and fully understand everything before I start shooting and if they aren't satisfied with the quality of my work I refund them their money.
01/25/2010 05:54:37 PM · #8
Originally posted by yakatme:

Even 'poor people' deserve a photographer who has the knowledge and experience to deliver something acceptable on this one time occasion.

And that's why I am lobbying Congress to pass comprehensive Wedding Photography reform that includes a public option whereby the DMV Drivers License camera operator will moonlight as a government appointed wedding photographer. :P

On a more relevant, but not directly related note, this argument is played out in many different fields: Computer consultant (like Wendy mentioned), Web design, graphic design, to mention a few. And the points on both sides are typically the same. I am inclined to go with the free market side of things - a $500 wedding photo gig is an agreement between two parties, both of whom are presumably adults. Each party is responsible for knowing what they should expect. I understand the other point of undercutting the market and possibly hurting the industry, but don't agree that that issue trumps the choice of any two parties to enter into a mutually agreed upon transaction.

My capitalist two cents. :-)
01/25/2010 06:50:20 PM · #9
great blog post, thanks for the link.
01/25/2010 07:04:17 PM · #10
I think it's less about the money than the end result. If you screw it up, it doesn't matter whether you've charged the industry standard, or $1, you've done damage.

I did two weddings. The first, a rousing success was one that I went to as a "Rover" where I circulated, first with the bride and her party getting ready, then at the site (A lovely outdoor wedding), then the event and the reception afterwards. I circulated and got some terrific forever heirloom candids that you just cannot plan.

The second one I was "The" wedding photographer, and it was AWFUL!!! The only upside is that the couple was pleased with the results, and since I did it cheap, they felt that they got a decent value for the money they spent.

I was horrified! I was never made so acutely aware that I had undertaken a project that I had *NO* business whatsoever doing.

Anyone who thinks that doing a wedding, and doing it well, is an easy undertaking is in for a dreadful surprise.

I will never do another as first camera. There is too much involved that as well as not really being capable due to my knowledge, it's just really a special kind of job that requires a lot of hard work and you have to be a certain kind of person to be able to take over a couple's life for a few minutes here and there, and do it gracefully. I don't have that ability as part of the makeup of my character. I imagine it would get easier with experience, but after having come so close to ruining an event, I'm simply not willing to risk it.

People who really know what they're doing, and do it well, are worth every bit of the big ticket that a major wedding package costs, because you need top-flite equipment, experience, skill, and knowledge. Top that with a special personality to make the couple, their guests, and family comfortable with the process, and you're talking a monumental task not suited for just anyone.

I quickly acquired a whole new level of respect and admiration for those who have the skill and fortitude to do weddings.
01/25/2010 07:43:53 PM · #11
Photographing people is not for everyone. I on the other hand love it and the more I do it the better I get at it.

Message edited by author 2010-01-25 19:44:33.
01/25/2010 08:12:28 PM · #12
Originally posted by Dirt_Diver:

Photographing people is not for everyone. I on the other hand love it and the more I do it the better I get at it.

I'd even qualify that. If I show up at your gathering of whomever, for whatever purpose, I can pretty much assure you that I'll get some terrific semi-random candids. I'm actually quite good at it.

It's when it comes to specialty things like weddings and formal portraits that I tend to choke......8>)
01/26/2010 03:51:04 AM · #13
Originally posted by Citadel:

Crap...I'm doing a wedding this spring for, you guessed it, five hundred dollars.


But you have already completely redeemed your self by stating:

Originally posted by Citadel:

Had I even remotely guess at how much work it would be I would have at least tripled my price. :)


It's one thing to get paid minimum wage (or less) for an early shoot or two. But if you are still making minimum wage (or less) by the time you have a half a dozen under your belt something is probably wrong. Even the average burger flipper gets a raise eventually.
01/26/2010 05:04:39 AM · #14
Originally posted by Ristyz:

Originally posted by Citadel:

Crap...I'm doing a wedding this spring for, you guessed it, five hundred dollars.


But you have already completely redeemed your self by stating:

Originally posted by Citadel:

Had I even remotely guess at how much work it would be I would have at least tripled my price. :)


It's one thing to get paid minimum wage (or less) for an early shoot or two. But if you are still making minimum wage (or less) by the time you have a half a dozen under your belt something is probably wrong. Even the average burger flipper gets a raise eventually.


Not at all - building a business (and getting experience) can take a lot of time. I knew before I went into business that I was aiming at the middle/high price range - I couldnt do that from the off though - if someone was looking at booking me and asked "how many weddings have you done" and I said "six"... I doubt they would of booked me. I do not have an issue at all with the weekend warriors or part time photographers - the way I see it is if the couple are looking to spend around £500 on a wedding package no amount of salesmanship is going to magic up that extra £700 for my basic package - let them go with the cheapy photographers. On the other hand, if a couple has budgeted £2000 then they are unlikely to take a punt on a phtoographer who only charges £500.. Its like buying a car, if you have £20000 in the bank to buy a new car,you are unlikely to buy a second hand banger for only a £1000 or if you only have £1000 to buy a car you are just not going to be able to afford to pay £5000 for a better car.

If a wedding photographer is good, then he wont have to worry about not having enough bookings to make a living out of. I think the wedding photographers who moan about it and make lots of noise are the ones who feel threatened because of their own substandard work.
01/26/2010 06:47:44 AM · #15
When I got married in 2000 we spent $400-500 we ended up with an album, a dvd & about 40-50 prints. Our whole wedding cost less than about $5000, which was absolutely all we could afford. I was working a part time job & going through uni. Am I happy, absolutely. Does anyone ever pull out the album once a week to get value out of the package?

The Photographer used film, and had been doing wedding for as long as I can remember.

unrelated to my own experience the couples that I know that have spent $5000-$8000 on the photographer, feels scammed.
01/28/2010 05:43:23 PM · #16
I'm sorry I know not everyone can charge thousands of dollars for wedding photography. But if you are only charging say $500-$700 how on earth can you stay in business? I mean taxes and insurance alone would cause you to go bankrupt in a year or so. Not to mention, web presence, new equipment, marketing, production time and about 100 other things that need to be accounted for.

I mean maybe if you shoot 6 or 7 weddings every weekend, but even the you would have to pay people to help you. I'm not saying I am the greatest and know everything, but if anyone can tell me how to do this and maintain a successful business I would be happy to listen.


01/28/2010 09:18:31 PM · #17
Originally posted by Simms:

Originally posted by Ristyz:

Originally posted by Citadel:

Crap...I'm doing a wedding this spring for, you guessed it, five hundred dollars.


But you have already completely redeemed your self by stating:

Originally posted by Citadel:

Had I even remotely guess at how much work it would be I would have at least tripled my price. :)


It's one thing to get paid minimum wage (or less) for an early shoot or two. But if you are still making minimum wage (or less) by the time you have a half a dozen under your belt something is probably wrong. Even the average burger flipper gets a raise eventually.


Not at all - building a business (and getting experience) can take a lot of time. I knew before I went into business that I was aiming at the middle/high price range - I couldnt do that from the off though - if someone was looking at booking me and asked "how many weddings have you done" and I said "six"... I doubt they would of booked me. I do not have an issue at all with the weekend warriors or part time photographers - the way I see it is if the couple are looking to spend around £500 on a wedding package no amount of salesmanship is going to magic up that extra £700 for my basic package - let them go with the cheapy photographers. On the other hand, if a couple has budgeted £2000 then they are unlikely to take a punt on a phtoographer who only charges £500.. Its like buying a car, if you have £20000 in the bank to buy a new car,you are unlikely to buy a second hand banger for only a £1000 or if you only have £1000 to buy a car you are just not going to be able to afford to pay £5000 for a better car.

If a wedding photographer is good, then he wont have to worry about not having enough bookings to make a living out of. I think the wedding photographers who moan about it and make lots of noise are the ones who feel threatened because of their own substandard work.


Very very very true.

In any industry people will eventually undercut you on price, you decide at the outset, either compete on price, quality, or something that people can't copy like technique.

When computers came along everyone said they would take our jobs, we just learnt to use computers to add more value. When people from other countries came along and said we can make it cheaper, we started to get more people working in professional services rather than production.

You either adapt or die. Or just do well at what you do.
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