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Wedding photographer explains the reasons behind 'unrealistic' prices

By dpreview staff on Jan 27, 2012 at 02:31 GMT

PetaPixel has published an excellent response from a photographer to a Seattle-area bride criticizing the pricing of wedding photographers. In a remarkably calm response, Nikki Wagner details the expenses connected to her wedding photography business, dismissing the idea that wedding photographers set their prices high simply because they can. After reading Wagner's response it's understandable why the bride is having so much trouble finding an 'exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer' that she also deems 'decently priced.' The post also acts as a reminder that there can be good reasons why there's a gap between what a product or service costs and how much you think it should be priced. (From PetaPixel)

The poster 'has yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.'

Comments

Total comments: 784
23456
boffin44
By boffin44 (Jan 27, 2012)

Possibly among the costs she should have included events like this....

http://video.repubblica.it/tecno-e-scienze/il-fotografo-degli-sposi-cade-nell-acqua-santa/50283/49723

1 upvote
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 27, 2012)

Unfortunate, but awesome.

1 upvote
mikeoregon
By mikeoregon (Jan 27, 2012)

My heart goes out to that guy, he was doing his job. Hope the weathersealing really worked!

0 upvotes
jrg
By jrg (Jan 27, 2012)

People getting married have no qualms shelling a lot of money out for limos and flowers, but they immediately moan and complain when they look at prices for a wedding photographer. It’s actually amusing. As the years pass there will ne no limo, no flowers, but the photos will be there as loving testimony to the event.

4 upvotes
janneman02
By janneman02 (Jan 27, 2012)

It is not something which is exlcusive to the wedding pro... In my line of work (not wedding photography) I can say that I have made offers for weddings at my place... About 5-600 have actually taken place at my work but I have made many more offers...

It is a rare couple indeed who gladly pay all. Almost invariably there is at least one thing they want on the cheap ands sometimes it is the photographer, sometimes the videoshooter, often catering or location, or the car they want to (yes I have seen many cars and even helicopters that for one day are even more expensive than a good pro). The only extra disadvantage the wedding pro has is that with the popularity of digital shooting everybody knows at least one person with a digital DSLR and also many more who think of themselves as pros...

0 upvotes
DonAndre
By DonAndre (Jan 27, 2012)

That's a gross generalization. I think generally people that are getting married pay a premium everywhere. It's not just photography, and trust me, they also don't like the price of the flowers or the limo. The problem is that the other people are selling them goods and the photographer sells a service and the goods later.

0 upvotes
capteneo
By capteneo (Jan 27, 2012)

This conversation confirms what I've long believed about the DPReview community: that it consists mostly of tech-heads who care little for the craft of photography. Many of the comments below are predicated on the belief that with expensive equipment comes good photos (a convenient fiction for all of these hobbyists with pricey kits!); few take the perspective that photography is, in fact, art. When you hire a photographer for your wedding, you're commissioning an artist to bring his vision to bear on your event. If said artist is conscientious, the process will surely require much time, effort, and gear. But that's not the point. You're paying for the art, not the bodies and lenses and flashes. Wedding photography is not some mercenary business, like plugging holes in leaky pipes. It's an artistic endeavor. If you're happy with the results that $2000 of raw gear can buy, more power to you. For those who take photography more seriously, the eye of an artist is worth paying for.

12 upvotes
skrulm8
By skrulm8 (Jan 27, 2012)

I doubt that most pro photographers are any good as artists. There's just so many of them...

0 upvotes
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 27, 2012)

No, but there are just so many who claim to be.
Just like those losers who claim to be ex SAS.

2 upvotes
DonAndre
By DonAndre (Jan 27, 2012)

I can't hear this pro = artist stuff anymore. It's not true, not if you know real artists. Pros are work horses. An artist makes a painting, a pro paints a wall. Both can make great work, but you can't compare them.

5 upvotes
JoshKline
By JoshKline (Jan 27, 2012)

Anyone who creates something with subjectivity is an artist. The artist that can find an audience that values their work will prosper. The marketplace will decide. I for one am amazed at how much great work is being done. Wedding photography is more about art now than ever before.

2 upvotes
Ilkka Nissilä
By Ilkka Nissilä (Jan 27, 2012)

The point is that the photography budgets of many (most?) brides are much smaller than what it takes to cover the true costs of photographing the whole event (including post-processing and the costs of running a business). Paying for the "art" is not possible when even basic costs are not covered. Only in regions where excessively wealthy people live (or where the culture places excessive emphasis on the wedding) is it possible to even talk about charging more than required for the photographer to cover their costs and maybe put food on the table (normally they also have to photograph other things for money to sustain a living). In many places of this world, the professional aspect of wedding photography concerns taking the studio portrait, or a location portrait shot; the event itself is photographed by trusted friends. This is the case at the overwhelming majority of weddings where I've attended. There might be a budget of 300 EUR for photography. So be realistic.

0 upvotes
capteneo
By capteneo (Feb 1, 2012)

Obviously, not every professional photographer is a great artist. In fact, the guy who did my wedding was a complete hack (family friend--what are you going to do?). But that doesn't change the fact that an increasingly large proportion of modern weddings are designed by the couple to reflect a particular aesthetic vision, and the photographer is a part of that. As JoshKline points out, the wedding photography business is changing to reflect that reality. In my case, we didn't get what we paid for; we feel wronged not because the photog didn't cover the bases, but because he had no sense of artistry whatsoever.

Re Ilkka, I appreciate that artistic photography (as well as expensive dresses, catered meals, etc.) is a concern only for a wealthy fraction of the world's population. But it's that wealthy community from which the OP hails, and in which the photog respondent works. That most of the world can't hire an artist to shoot their weddings isn't directly relevant to this context.

0 upvotes
Dan Pettus
By Dan Pettus (Jan 27, 2012)

Photography as a business is unregulated and unlicensed. The market will ultimately dictate what is a fair fee for value returned. And, photography as a business is one of the truly free market industries.

A free market business can be debated about price, full-time vs. part-time, professional vs. amateur, etc. An unfortunate outcome of no regulations is a bride (or any client) has no idea what they are going to get.

Our average wedding photo package is well north of $3K. If we didn’t book any business then we would need to adjust price to market conditions or find something else to do with our skills.

In the end we strive for value and assurance that our customers are completely satisfied and convinced they got their money’s worth plus more. Our business is rated five starts out of five on the Weddingchannel forum from brides who have no other incentive to rate us but how they perceived our service and products. And of course value for the fees they paid.

3 upvotes
7enderbender
By 7enderbender (Jan 27, 2012)

Here is the problem: this discussion can go back and forth and back and forth. "You're a rip-off" - "But here are my expenses plus markup" etc etc.

I think part of the reason why a lot of photographers, artists and actually a lot of other businesses aren't doing so well is because they don't understand pricing.

Here's the rule: Never - and I mean never - justify your price based on your expenses. Yes, calculate your expenses to understand your profit margin. But that's between you, your spouse and the IRS. It is irrelevant to your client. They can care less about your three 5D Mark IIs and how much they cost you. The only reason they hire you is their perceived value they get from your pictures. That's it. End of story. There is no cost+markup argument.

Getting to the actual value is of course difficult in an artistic and emotional field.

That being said: Nikki Wagner should rethink her cost structure and business model a bit. Something is off there.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
18 upvotes
BrianK
By BrianK (Jan 27, 2012)

You're hitting the nail on the head.

Far too many people are thinking like bean counters, and not like business people.

As a photographer, you create value by providing a service that your client is willing to pay for. It has nothing to do with costs; it has everything to do with value.

People have to realize that the "profit" that so many mistakenly treat as something evil, is really a necessary payment to reward entrepreneurship and is just as essential to the successful functioning of a business as any of the other expenses (assistants, insurance, etc.).

The person posting on Craiglist is a complete idiot. I certainly wouldn't want her as a client; I would spend far too much time fending off her attempts to nickel-and-dime my invoice down to something she thought was "fair" or "reasonable". In the meantime, I would end up losing money doing the job thereby lessening my ability to stay in business.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
1 upvote
ipribadi
By ipribadi (Jan 27, 2012)

Nikki was offended coz the notion the Craigslist poster implies that “he/she has it easy, cos he/she makes $3K per wedding” while in reality Nikki struggles to make ends meet. Thus Nikki goes off explaining the costs involved.

OTOH I 100% agree that from a customer’s perspective the seller’s cost structure is irrelevant.
If a chef can make such an amazing doughnut and sell them for $10 tho it only cost him $.10 to make, I wouldn’t care, the market will decide.

If wedding photography is such easy money, there’ll be a flood of photographers going pro which would eventually lower prices.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
DaveCS
By DaveCS (Jan 27, 2012)

Actually.. if you have been in the wedding photography industry for the past 10 years or so you'd see that there actually IS a flood of new photographers going pro. More and more do this every year because of a number of issues: 1) the ease of use and availability of good DSLRs 2) umpteen "pro" photographers (who've been in the biz for 5 yrs or less) giving "workshops" using ethereal descriptions to inflate new photographers egos and 3) the fact that it IS an unregulated industry. Digital Photography has been a boon and an albatross to the wedding industry...

2 upvotes
sean000
By sean000 (Jan 27, 2012)

I think Nikki Wagner was trying to show what it is like to be a wedding photographer and I doubt she shows this information to potential clients to justify her price. That's up to the clients who must compare her prices and quality of service to other local photogs.

We can all debate her itemized expenses, but I do think that her essay provides some useful information that future brides and grooms should understand. Of course what matters at the end of the day is the perceived value of your services, but obviously the wedding photography industry has a PR problem: Most regional markets obviously support $3,000 wedding photography packages (if you're good enough), but many clients pay these prices while grumbling that the photographer is making hundreds of dollars an hour... which just isn't true. I have seen wedding planning websites that explain exactly what Nikki Wagner explained, but of course there will always be some who think wedding vendors conspire to jack up prices.

1 upvote
JoshKline
By JoshKline (Jan 27, 2012)

Gross-Costs= profit this will determine whether or not you can stay in business and thrive.
7enderbender is correct though, the market doesn't care about your cost- the buyers determine what they are willing to pay for a given service and that is a complex thing based on thousands of variables.

0 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (Jan 27, 2012)

As a small business owner (not photography), I feel for the photographers and other small business owners. I put out a lot of quotes and get few bites. I know people get "sticker shock" when they want something custom produced. Photography is like that. Owning a business is not easy, nor is it cheap.

I'm not complaining though. It can also be fun and rewarding. After years of struggling, I'm doing much better.

4 upvotes
jsis
By jsis (Jan 27, 2012)

Also, the craigslist poster obviously does not know how much pain in the rear it is to individually post-process photos to get rid of her wrinkles and unwanted blemishes... I know photographers that does it using batch scripts but that's just lazy work and would not get the best results.

0 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Jan 27, 2012)

Getting rid of wrinkles, that's more than photography.

0 upvotes
DLBlack
By DLBlack (Jan 27, 2012)

Getting rid of wrinkles is still part of the job that weddingphotographers must do. Also one reason it takes two weeks of labor to do one wedding.

0 upvotes
david mackenzie
By david mackenzie (Jan 27, 2012)

I one did a course at college for photographers trying to run a business. There were very talent phographers there from the fields of Wedding, Fashion, Jounalism, Music photography etc. The one thing they all had in common was they were making no money at all. These were very talented people but all they every got was 'we can't afford to pay you but this would be great experience and a great for your portfoliio' This was from editors of very famous publications.It's the same here in that the bride wants the best but doesn't want to pay. Tell her to ask uncle Charlie to do her wedding photos. He'll probably even do it for free. When she says she doesn't want that ask her why?

2 upvotes
jsis
By jsis (Jan 27, 2012)

Photography should be a part-time job then, if the photographer spends that amount of dedication and resources to keep up the business. I never thought in my mind that photography is a good full-time career, because the amount of work you get is spotty at best depending on your area and what time of the year it is.

As far as I know there is a shortage of good photographers. Anyone these days assumes that he/she is a good photographer by picking up a DSLR camera and charge $3000. Photography takes talent, skills, and planning. Not all of those skills are learned through experience, some people are artistic, so they're naturally skilled.

0 upvotes
Navmark77
By Navmark77 (Jan 27, 2012)

That is true of artists, it is true of musicians, it is true of actors. I don't know of any creative fields that don't require supplemental income for all but the top 1%.

0 upvotes
Don sebasto
By Don sebasto (Jan 27, 2012)

Its sad to see how the photography industry has now become unappreciated....
Digital photography has made people believe that taking a good picture is easy...
She obviously does not understand the amount of work that is involved in making a good picture....
Take into account the amount of material a photographer needs to take pictures during a wedding....
I have seen cheap wedding photographer and the result are not pretty...
Let me add one more thing....How much was her wedding dress that she will use ounce ???

2 upvotes
Christoph v Ballmoos
By Christoph v Ballmoos (Jan 27, 2012)

the actual work to make a good picture is the same as making a bad one. Press the shutter. The rest is talent, patience and a good eye. All these you can't buy for money, the are priceless. But also, you can't charge anybody for those. And then there is practice that can replace some of the above mentioned. Again, you can not charge your training...
the original poster is a douche, but the reply is not much better either.... common, 20 weddings a year is just not the amount of work that deserve to be sufficient for a living...

1 upvote
Uaru
By Uaru (Jan 28, 2012)

If you cannot charge for talent, patience, good eye and experience, it follows that in principle we should be paying the same for bad and good photo.

I believe that it is to the contrary: paying for a picture we are paying exactly for talent, patience, good eye, training etc. Also planning and preparation, choosing equipment...
Taking picture starts long before pressing the shutter, and ends long after it.

If you ignore this, you cannot have a business... you can offer it once, or even twice, but if you do not finance your actions from a large legacy, either you set reasonable prices (including all those) or perish (die out of hunger?). If there are not enough potential customers who can meet those reasonable prices, then maybe it is time to change business...

I mean, hiring a professional photographer is a not a basic human right. Not everybody has a house maid, so maybe not everybody should hire a photographer?

0 upvotes
Ganondorf
By Ganondorf (Jan 27, 2012)

What a lame response.
"Wedding season only last about 4 months here, so I photograph an average of 20 weddings per year for an average of $2,500/wedding (which totals about $50,000/year)."

So.. you practically just work 4 months a year and then go on holiday?

1 upvote
BMWX5
By BMWX5 (Jan 27, 2012)

Yes because couples usually don't want to get married during winter. She lives in Erie, PA which has a long winter. And remember out of those 4 months, couples usually choose Saturday and Sunday only to get married.

0 upvotes
jvkelley
By jvkelley (Jan 27, 2012)

Here is a quote from the article
"I’m usually in the hole at the end of the year, and take on many family portraits, senior portraits and corporate jobs in order to make ends meet."

0 upvotes
Ganondorf
By Ganondorf (Jan 27, 2012)

Well, why not then include those incomes in the calculation?

0 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Jan 27, 2012)

It's normal. How many of us can make end meets by working 4 month/year? So she needs to take other jobs to make ends meet.

0 upvotes
fransams
By fransams (Jan 27, 2012)

If you are a Pro, and photograpy is your job, you should have to work at least about 1800 hours a year. Then you can do about 50 weddings or other orders per year. So US$ 1500.- is more realistic. There is no reason why the client should pay for an 8 month holiday each year.

And if the Pro would not be a Pro, would he/she not have a car, a computer and internet?

0 upvotes
Steven Blackwood
By Steven Blackwood (Jan 27, 2012)

Wow, I bet you pulled that 1800 hours out of your a**.
That $50000 that she makes is before taxes AND before her business related expenses. Plus, she indicated that she takes other jobs the rest of the year. Also, living in Erie PA, it would be impossible to do more than the 20 or so jobs she does, due to weather concerns.

0 upvotes
John Motts
By John Motts (Jan 27, 2012)

To Fransams

So you believe that the photographer doesn't pay anything for albums or other expenses?

Do you actually know how much good albums cost?

And photographers don't need to spend any time on other work required to run any business?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (Jan 27, 2012)

The year has 52 weeks so 50 weddings is plain crazy for anyone else but a big studio.
The resulting post-processing work after 50 weddings alone would simply overwhelm a single person operation.

2 upvotes
JoshKline
By JoshKline (Jan 27, 2012)

fransams
I look forward to seeing you at WPPI during our "8 month vacation" I am sure you are filling out your business license right this very minute eager to join the rest of us on vacation!

1 upvote
jtyoung
By jtyoung (Jan 27, 2012)

Assuming you can get 50 weddings a year, I agree to an extent. Although factoring in vacation, stat holidays (which you don't get), sick days and what not, let's assume 46 weeks of the year or $69,000 based on $1500/wedding. As a gross take home salary, that's reasonable, since you have to pay all of your own taxes and whatnot that factors into the 15-20% benefits most employers have to pay. But start adding the business expenses like equipment, studio space rental, advertising, second shooter, cost of goods (printing, albums, professional services) and guess what, you're likely pushing back up to the $3000/wedding.

0 upvotes
ReeseFuzz
By ReeseFuzz (Jan 27, 2012)

I'm not sure if it was mentioned anywhere else yet but the other thing to think about is brides will many times book 1 year out in advance. The photographer is blocking this weekend day (usually Sat or Sun) that usually does not change or can be cancelled. That is a firm commitment of the photographers time a year out. A year later you have no idea what kind of price the photographer is paying for giving up that day a year out. Maybe their kid made it to the championship end of season game and they will miss out on that. Tons of life opportunities can form during this time that they don't get to take part in. You can reschedule a senior shoot, or a portrait session...but you cannot reschedule a wedding day. What price does the wedding photographer put on being committed come hell or high water to that particular day. Do these brides even give that one thought about the price they are paying for that photographer's time?

1 upvote
Christoph v Ballmoos
By Christoph v Ballmoos (Jan 27, 2012)

this is really a lame excuse. The whole thing is called professionalism...

0 upvotes
odl
By odl (Jan 27, 2012)

Why was he deducting his business expenses from the post tax amount?

I dont know how much high speed internet costs, but $200 a month? Either way his point is valid, but his numbers are messy. You dont deduct your expenses from your income, you deduct them from your sales (the $50,000), then work out what your your inco,e is and therefore your income taxes.

0 upvotes
Simon Elwell
By Simon Elwell (Jan 27, 2012)

Whilst I agree with the pro photographer's sentiment - ie you need to pay for quality or you get rubbish - she doesn't make a compelling case.

Most families have to run a car and pay for health insurance etc. Those expenses are not specific to being a photographer.

The real answer is in the Bride's question - if photographers were really making excessive profit - others would step into the local market and fill the gap - that's the economy working. The fact that they "can" charge $3000 means that's what the market will stand.

All this assumes there isn't a local photographers' cartel operating of course - which in some towns may well happen...

1 upvote
zoomring
By zoomring (Jan 27, 2012)

Goofy rant and the response was unrealistic. Basically someone can try to save $500 or $1,000 by hiring an unexperienced photographer, but when they're not happy with the pictures, how much will it cost them to recreate the whole wedding and re-take the shots?

Pennywise and Pound foolish

1 upvote
midou
By midou (Jan 27, 2012)

if there is so short wedding season, she should look around for another opportunity on the top. How about funerals?

1 upvote
Graydog
By Graydog (Jan 27, 2012)

Even worse is the attitude from businesses regarding commercial photography. The media cost is the same whether you grace your ad etc. with a fine professional photograph or some horrific digital 'snapshot'. If as business owner you believe it doesn't matter, that is your decision. But in a world inundated with visual images, it may just be worth the expense to grab your intended audience's attention.

0 upvotes
Dominic G Smith
By Dominic G Smith (Jan 27, 2012)

How many people (Poul Jensen below), earning $2k per year can buy a D700, plus the lens and flashguns needed. I started with 2 bodies,2 lenses and 1 flash. Cost $1,000. The female photographerwho replied to the initial Craiglist post, earns about $50 per hour before tax etc. Low for a professional. Some photographers advertise prices that will lose them money. Most work 12-14 hour days including weekends. Spread over the cost of the business, you can earn the same per hour working at a supermarket checkout ($10/hour) approx. I wonder how much Bridezilla was willing to pay and what she expected to get for it? Occasionally when couples do query the price, I tell them, after the cost of the album(s), they are paying form my time, experience and abilities as a wedding photogarpher. That is basically what we are selling - and although this is what this bride seemed to be looking for, she did not seem to want her photographer to make a profit or a living

http://www.bridalimage.co.uk

2 upvotes
Poul Jensen
By Poul Jensen (Jan 27, 2012)

You'll have to do some pretty manipulative math to make a $10/hr job as profitable as $2.5K wedding shoots, but that aside...

The problem is the level of profit and standard of living that you demand. You're extremely privileged to be able to make a living doing photography, and you owe thanks to the guy at the checkout not to mention the people risking their lives in Chinese coal mines for the hard work they're doing that allows you to spend your time doing photography. I'm pretty sure you don't envy them their jobs, yet if they were to have an income comparable to yours you'd feel the world was unjust.

0 upvotes
jadot
By jadot (Jan 27, 2012)

My response here : http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1000&thread=40432288

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
dnarich
By dnarich (Jan 27, 2012)

Great reply.

I am a reasonably competent landscape photographer (not my job, just my hobby, but I do sell my photos), and I've been asked many times to shoot weddings for friends. I always have to make it clear that "I am not a wedding photographer" (though I'm happy to shoot images of their wedding - I won't do the official photography).

What people seem to forget is how much time it takes for a photographer to learn a broad range of poses, understand the ceremony well enough to capture every important moment, learn great lighting...it is a real challenge, and those that have talent at wedding photography have spent a lot of time becoming great wedding photographers.

Great wedding photographers deserve their pay for their skill as well as their time and in addition to the customary costs of running a business.

Thanks for your comment!

5 upvotes
Ibida Bab
By Ibida Bab (Jan 27, 2012)

At my wedding I hired all the kids there for 5 bucks each and gave them a Vivitar digital camera to snap away. Some crazy pictures... let me tell you. I am just saying that if you need a professional, you will have to pay. Just like you pay for the dress, the ring, the cake, and so on. And you are not in the business, so do not question the integrity of the pros. If you don't like any of it, get key rings for wedding rings, get you clothes at Goodwill, the cake at Sam's Club, etc. In this case, she should have done exactly the latter. Why spend all the money when she will be divorced in a year anyways...

1 upvote
kenghor
By kenghor (Jan 27, 2012)

This is a totally flawed reasoning from the photographer.
Every business has its responsiblity to trim its operating cost.
The volume of business it too low to support the overheads. And the way the the photographer allocates his entire operating cost is totally unfair.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Cineski2
By Cineski2 (Jan 27, 2012)

It's obvious by your comments you're not a pro.

1 upvote
kenghor
By kenghor (Jan 27, 2012)

I'm not a pro photog.
But I do cost accounting for a living.

3 upvotes
Dustinash
By Dustinash (Jan 30, 2012)

ha ha.. pwned by the accountant.. that was a refreshing answer.

0 upvotes
Charlie boots
By Charlie boots (Jan 27, 2012)

Try hiring a skilled backhoe operator for the same amount of time. The septic pumper charges $200 and spends only 1 hour here. If I need an electrician or plumber it costs around $100 for them to come and take a look. The furnace burner tech charges around $200 for a service call even if it is only to change a nozzle and filter.

The garage which fixes my car has a shop rate of $80 per hour excluding materials and parts.

$3k for a wedding is not excessive. The bride should shop around, it is a free market and invariabley you get what you pay for.

3 upvotes
JackM
By JackM (Jan 27, 2012)

Exactly.

1 upvote
JIMMYCHENG
By JIMMYCHENG (Jan 27, 2012)

Absolutely. People have the freedom to shop around. And I can say, you DO GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! No offense to anyone but do look around. And if you happen to have a friend or uncle or Mr Bob who can take brilliant wedding photos and portraits, then you save a bucket. But don't say anything if his/her equipment breaks down in the middle of your wedding and no back up. You can't sue your uncle can't you? That's why professionals charge more because of PEACE OF MIND and GOOD QUALITY service. Can't say more now. People just don't get it. You can easily find a £300 photographer or just give the money to your friend. Full stop.

0 upvotes
dnarich
By dnarich (Jan 27, 2012)

Yes - you get what you pay for! I remember shooting gymnastics photos for my son's team. I didn't charge fully "professional" rates - but I did charge for my time at a reasonable rate (I'm a pretty good photographer with experience and great equipment and a good eye - and had great success with gymnastic photos). For the team and individual photos, I brought in 4 lights and backdrops and got great shots.

The following year, a local individual (amateur photographer - trying to make it a business) offered to shoot the photos - for something like $6 per kid for the full charge (about $60 total), including an 8x10 and some 4x5s, and came equipped with her digital Rebel (and no auxillary flash gear) - and the parents got what they paid for - amateur photos.

When I was told what she would charge, I didn't even offer to compete. I figured that I couldn't even pack the car with gear, set up, and photograph the kids for $6/kid, let alone do the printing or pay for prints.

2 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Jan 27, 2012)

Plumber is $65 in Queens, NY / per task.

0 upvotes
HarrieD7000
By HarrieD7000 (Jan 27, 2012)

No one is telling you to pay $ 3000 or more, for your wedding pictures. But never complain when you get a cheaper offer and you don't like the result.
When a photographer can show you results, you like, he can deliver same quality and look and feel, for the price he is asking. That is where the pro is different from the amateur.

0 upvotes
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

If only that were true... Unfortunately you don't always get what you pay for. I know a few case in points where the wedding photographer charged over $3k and the results were amateurish at best... Galleries can be very misleading. You may see awesome pictures, but the work you get maybe just avg. I've seen it many times.

0 upvotes
danieljp
By danieljp (Jan 27, 2012)

What can I say that hasn't already been said. If you are a legal photographer meaning you pay ALL OF YOUR TAXES then it's expensive to run a business and provide a quality and consistent product and make a living doing it. One of the things this bride fails to realize is the word "edit"; she makes it seem as though that process is quick and easy; I spend much more time editing a wedding than shooting it. Go ahead and let your guests take pictures; she'll be sorry in the end. You see there's a saying: "People don't know what they don't know," and this bride simply has no idea.

1 upvote
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

If you spent the time to get the shot right in the camera, you wouldn't have to spend so much time editing it on the computer. Skills 101. I shot a wedding for a friend for free.. It was hard work, but my results were just as good as the so called Pros

2 upvotes
danieljp
By danieljp (Jan 27, 2012)

:-)

0 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (Jan 27, 2012)

Fullframer, you shot ONE wedding free for a friend in which I believe you did not have the responsabillity of capturing just about everything, including some obscure relative MOB absolutely wants to have a picture with but fails to say anything before the event ends. If you ever shot weddings for a living you'd know no two of those are the same, conditions are not the best usually and the events could be quite fluid while no one will wait for you. In short, getting everything right in the camera has, along with skills 101, a good dose of luck in it.
Shoot a few indian weddings and you'll know what I mean...

1 upvote
sspivey
By sspivey (Jan 27, 2012)

Editing can also just mean selecting. When someone smiles you tend to lean on the shutter button, and there's no shortcut to inspecting to find that one 'best' image to keep. 10x more true for group photos. You take 4+, because there'll be someone blinking in each one. Opening 1200 RAW images takes time. Only friends can do that for free.

1 upvote
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

Poss
I shot one wedding for free, where I was the only main photographer, I've shot many others ones as hobby for far cheaper than the so called pros. I'm fully aware of the conditions, dim-dark like venues that are very challenging. I've never taken photos of a Indian wedding. So I can't comment there. What I call skill (getting it right in camera), you call luck. I get it right with very minimal post processing. To each their own.

1 upvote
Poss
By Poss (Jan 28, 2012)

Fullframer, I would not mid a few samples of your most skilled wedding shots. Stuff that was done on the go, not formals (I get those 100% in camera as well ... Easy stuff). Even after years in this business I'm always open at learning something new. Please share.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
DLBlack
By DLBlack (Jan 27, 2012)

I am just an old retired geologist and don't make a living with my photography. From professional wedding photographers I know they all mention that it takes atleast two week worth of their time to do a wedding. What is 80 to 100 hours of professional labor and equipment time worth? I would guess that $3,000 is a good average price for the Puget Sound area.

1 upvote
Bernd M
By Bernd M (Jan 27, 2012)

Nikki Wagner forgot to mention, that the statistic average liftime or a professional camera is 18 month!!!! People (even photographers) often take for granted, that a 2,500$ camera will live forever. This way they are cheating themseves. In Nikki's case she should count 160$ in for her two Canon 5DII, for every wedding, making it 3,200$ a year.

0 upvotes
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

Depends on how many shutter activations you go through, but my Pro cameras, esp in the film era, lasted far longer than 18 months..

0 upvotes
JMartinP
By JMartinP (Jan 27, 2012)

So a professional camera should not be expected to survive more than 30 days of operation?

0 upvotes
Magnus W
By Magnus W (Jan 27, 2012)

The problem here is also that photographers shoot away like morons because "it's free" (which it's not). The same photographers would hardly have used A HUNDRED ROLLS OF FILM on a single wedding. The thought is absurd.

So that's just sloppiness.

2 upvotes
JMartinP
By JMartinP (Jan 27, 2012)

The shutter life expectancy of a 5DII is 150000 cycles. Thats 5000 shots per wedding! I guess I'd charge at least $3000 to process all those photos too.

0 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Jan 27, 2012)

You can change the shutter for a few hundreds bucks. You don't need to buy new camera all the time

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Teila Day
By Teila Day (Jan 27, 2012)

I think that's a ridiculous statistic. I can understand replacing the shutter, etc., but I don't think *most* professional wedding photographers (or *most* other professional photographers for that matter) are re-buying a brand new D3s x 2 (for example) every 1.5 years.

0 upvotes
Bernd M
By Bernd M (Jan 28, 2012)

I was not talking of the "physical" lifetime of the camera but the "statistical" lifetime, that includes loss, damage, theft or simply the fact that the camera becomes "outdated" because of the fast technical development in this market.

0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Jan 27, 2012)

Lucky guys in US. Here its around 500 USD.. But its logical when average wage is under 1000 USD per month (and we live in middle of EU.. funny isnt it? well reality and statistics are different things). And yes ppl complain even about those 500 USD..

0 upvotes
sws1
By sws1 (Jan 27, 2012)

The response demonstrates a lack of knowledge about economics, but I suppose it's easier to explain away the $3000 fee than using the real answer.

Specifically, he charges $3000 because that is what the market will bare. If absolutely no one was willing to pay more than $500 for a wedding, I can assure you, his equipment list would be shorter, and he'd spend far less time / money on this, because he'd need to make a profit at the end of the day.

Prices are not determined by the cost elements. They are determined by the people buying the service. If you want to blame anyone, blame the scores of other women who DO pay through the nose for these photographers.

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
12 upvotes
dark goob
By dark goob (Jan 27, 2012)

It's all supply & demand. Demand for wedding photographers is high in the summer (wedding season). "Good" wedding photographers are a limited resource for many reasons I won't go into. But suffice it to say, if I could work half a year and make a full year's pay, hell yeah I would do it. Would that mean I was living large, lazy, and over-charging people? Hell yes.

4 upvotes
Cbar
By Cbar (Jan 27, 2012)

You obviously don't know anything about economics. The only reason for an industry to exist is because there is a profit to be made. So the cost element plays a big role. No one is going to open a business to "break even" or lose money forever.

If people paid $500 for a wedding, there would be a lot less wedding photographers. This in turn would cause the price to go up from $500 because demand would overcome supply. This in turn would cause supply to go up because now there is money to be made doing wedding photography. So, $3000 is where the demand and supply curve has settled.

0 upvotes
sws1
By sws1 (Jan 27, 2012)

WRONG. While the equipment determines his profit margin, or lack thereof, it is the market and the market alone that determines what high quality wedding photography is worth. If they didn't think it was worth it to them to pay $3000, then they absolutely wouldn't.

The need for lots of equipment has come as a by product of the amount of money (aka value) that is put on photography. Those that think it's worth $10k, will demand better results, which means better equipment and more effort. The pricing did not result from the 'cost of goods".

(25 years in the services and sales industry.)

0 upvotes
dcraton
By dcraton (Jan 27, 2012)

Being a full time working photographer is no longer a privilege (30+ years). 80% of all full time working pros or companies over the past 5 years have gone into business failure or are struggling. It's just business. We have changed directions for our company and are doing OK. Technology, the divorce rate, the multitudes of hobbyists and part timers flooding the market have shifted the entire business landscape in the last 10 years. No complaining here, but I wouldn't want her as a customer. It's a business first with marketing and understanding what a photographer can do to make a living. The key is to be flexible and find the areas that make money. Wedding money is shrinking for the true pro as many do not want to spend 3000.00 for one day (hah!) on a relationship that in the back of their mind may not last. The economy has left us short as well. So, be flexible. Seek good advice and add other related areas to you biz plan. BTW, I thought this was a forum not FB...:).

2 upvotes
Dave Weinstein
By Dave Weinstein (Jan 27, 2012)

I agree, the market has spoken on this issue.

But as a non-professional photographer, I think I've got a different perspective on the $3000 that the couple "doesn't want to spend".

It's not completely about the cost, but also about the other options that are available for the same budget. When faced with being able to give the cash to someone who has COOL toys, or buying the toys to keep for themselves (and use on their honeymoon and vacations for years), it becomes hard to justify spending the money on the photographer.

I don't think that cameras and lenses are "toys" but most consumers do consider them to be high tech gadgets, and feel that the results come from the gear, not the man (or woman).

1 upvote
Shooshanddo
By Shooshanddo (Jan 27, 2012)

hey guys, I can suggest you that if you own let's say the old Nikon D3s to buy the new Nikon D4 or the new Canon 1DX and with the help of the new lenses EF II you'll become for sure at list a mix of Ansel Adams Irving Penn & Helmut Newton. In this case maybe after your death you'll be rich and famous.

0 upvotes
aleckurgan
By aleckurgan (Jan 27, 2012)

That "Bride" clearly has some problems with logic - she wants to hire an "exceptional, amazingly talented, fun" person for the price of an "average" one.

3 upvotes
CharlieDIY
By CharlieDIY (Jan 27, 2012)

Or simply a mediocre one. It's likely she won't be able to tell the difference.

0 upvotes
Dave Weinstein
By Dave Weinstein (Jan 27, 2012)

Actually, this illustrates a deeper problem. The "event" photography business was doomed to a slow death when digital cameras started dominating the market.

The cameras, editing tools and book printing services for consumers are quite good, and its become increasingly difficult to spend a US$5K or US$8K budget for photos on a "professional" that will fight with you over the ownership of your memories.

When faced with the prospect of buying 10 digital cameras and handing them out to trusted guests instead of paying a one time fee to a "consultant", many people are taking their chances and getting their friends to take the photos as part of the fun.

This was actually possible years ago, in fact I did this myself in 2003! The results were wonderful, the people taking the photos were our friends, so not "interrupting" the event, and there was enough redundancy to ensure we didn't miss anything.

We printed photo books with http://mypublisher.com, we even waited for a coupon to print!

3 upvotes
Teila Day
By Teila Day (Jan 27, 2012)

While I think most people would agree that handing out cameras at an event and getting "decent" photos in return is unlikely for *most* people, you have somewhat touched on a truth, which is the decline in the market due to results by non professional photographers being deemed worthy by many bride/groom or event holders.

It is no secret (although photographers always like to bring up horrible photographers on Craigslist, etc..) that there are a lot of competent part time photographers that do weddings for $400-600 and create results that are not as great as photographers charging $8k... but in comparison... not too shabby either. Many couples weight the difference. (1) Excellent for $8k or (2) "pretty good to us" for $300-600. It's not rocket science to the customer.

Additionally, many pros see weddings as a horrible waste of time/effort/money once they start doing other contract work.

0 upvotes
DonAndre
By DonAndre (Jan 27, 2012)

$2,500 for phone/internet that seems way too much. I would have believed $500, even $1000, but $2,500 is just overblown.

Anyway the whole calculation is pretty laughable. You can't deduct the yearly costs on the wedding season only. I mean if she still gets out of that with profit, that means that the studio and everything she has is more than paid off in just 4 months and she has 8 months to make real money. Isn't that awesome!? I mean the studio, the car, the whole gear, the shoes (lol!) and everything else is also used during the rest of the year.

I think there's no denying that wedding photography pays of a lot.

1 upvote
Patrick McMahon
By Patrick McMahon (Jan 27, 2012)

I paid much more than 3k for mine because he was worth it.

That being said, it is hard to believe that a photographer would be so incensed by a craigslist complaint as to respond in such detail. Clearly the woman cannot afford the photographer she wants and is venting.

Does this photographer spend hours in bathroom stalls scrawling response to each sophmoric comment? Wow, excellent response? It is like bragging you just beat up a pre-schooler... In the land of the blind...

The original poster will no-doubt hire a "semi-pro" photograper for less than $1k as there is a plethora of them today...

Comment edited 53 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

I know a friend that payed $3k for this wedding photographer, they researched the guy, saw his galleries and the pictures were not that good in the end... an avg Joe could have taken the same or better. It just shows that you don't always get what you pay for.

1 upvote
Patrick McMahon
By Patrick McMahon (Jan 27, 2012)

True, but "proper" research proves very valuable. Basing worth on price is precisely what the original replyer, exalted by dpreview, is arguing by inference.

I am suprised by what many people deem sufficient research before paying for a service or product.

0 upvotes
Poul Jensen
By Poul Jensen (Jan 27, 2012)

$50K/yr for 20 jobs of ~30 hours, and she complains that she has to take on other jobs to make ends meet? Even worse, somebody at DPReview posted this as "an excellent response"?

Some people need to come down to Earth. The world median income is about $2K/yr, and the "median job" is not somehting as luxurious as taking/processing photos. Please take a moment to think about just how privileged you are.

Yes, $3K for wedding photography is definitely too much.

5 upvotes
CharlieDIY
By CharlieDIY (Jan 27, 2012)

I don't do weddings, but I think you need to quit worrying about the median income of the world. Try understanding that photographers in the U.S. cannot live on $2000 a year. Hell, you can't even replace worn out or broken gear for that. Too, 50K is gross, not net. Way different.

This has nothing to do with world median incomes or privilege. It has to do with making a decent living with a small business in the United States--and I'd guess much of Oz, NZ, and Europe, as well as Canada and more places in our hemisphere.

And to think that 20 weddings equates to 30 hours is goofy. It may be around 30 hours for each wedding in some cases, and probably no fewer than a dozen for the efficiently run ones.

Many years ago, I did a few weddings. It wasn't for me. Too short a season; too many mothers-of-the-bride (and sometimes the groom) who should be working in a SEAL training camp, and so on. But those who develop the skills and choose to do it should be able to make a decent living.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Bob Meyer
By Bob Meyer (Jan 27, 2012)

Geez, the number of idiots here who on't understand that running your own business is far more costly, than being a salaried or hourly employee is frightening. Those of you who are employed by someone else don't have to worry about paying the rent on the office space, business insurance, the employer portion of FICA, a business accountant, and the hundreds of other expenses that a business owner has to pay for.

Does she make money photographing other things the rest of the year? I sincerely hope so. But that doesn't change the fact that $50K in *revenue* is not the same as $50K in salary. Ask you boss how much it costs to employ you, over and above your salary.

I work in a field where people are often billed to clients on an hourly basis. The typical cost of overhead expenses (rent, utilities, insurance, administrative costs, taxes, marketing, equipment, etc., etc.) is equal to the total salary load. So it costs a company twice as much to employ you as they pay you.

4 upvotes
Dennis
By Dennis (Jan 27, 2012)

$50K in revenue isn't $50K in salary, but it's pretty darned good for 4 months work ! And claiming it's not because you have annual house rental expenses (because her studio is in her garage) is seriously lame ... everyone has house rental expenses and she'd have them whether her studio was there or not. Ditto the car lease.

0 upvotes
Biggs23
By Biggs23 (Jan 27, 2012)

The fact that you believe 50k in revenue during the busiest time of year is good means that you've never actually run a business where you have to worry about all the things Bob mentioned. 50k in revenue certainly isn't awful but it's not 'pretty darned good' either!

2 upvotes
andersf
By andersf (Jan 27, 2012)

Did I miss something? "Excellent response"? The response actually just confirms her suspicion?

The photographer does 20 weddings (that is 20 days at the most, in other words not a full time job by a long stretch, rather a side income as a semi-pro enjoying a hobby), and then goes on to motivate the cost with *living expenses*? I understand the reasoning behind the costs of gear/software, transportation to/from the shoots and so on. But living costs?

If I just made one wedding per year, I could motivate a price of $50k then, using the same logic?

That said, I don't care if a photographer wants to charge $3k or $10k, I'm free to choose not to hire them, and I'm sure there are cheaper options. But I'd prefer motivation to be an honest "because I can", or "because I don't want to work more than 20 days per year"...

2 upvotes
Biggs23
By Biggs23 (Jan 27, 2012)

Apparently you didn't actually read the response. A photographer who shoots 20 weddings a year doesn't ONLY work those twenty days. They work those 20 days, plus at least 3-5 on the back end for every wedding editing photos and designing albums and contacting clients. Not even to mention all the business upkeep like taxes and accounting, all the marketing needed to actually get 20 weddings, etc. Your post clearly shows you have little experience with how the business works.

3 upvotes
Le Photographe
By Le Photographe (Jan 27, 2012)

Nikki posted a good response.
But most of the people responding here are perfectly right: it is a free market.
Ever wondered, why all professional photographers are about on the same price level?? I suppose no.
So feel free to try a really cheap offer on the free market for a wedding. I bet 100% you would be heavily disappointed.
Or better: try to do a wedding shooting yourself for a good friend. No?

Good and reliable quality = a lot of knowledge, experience, onstage work, a LOT of backstage work and expensive, reliable quality equipment. There is no way around it, it is not cheap.

3 upvotes
Magnus W
By Magnus W (Jan 27, 2012)

I have done several weddings at one tenth of that price (and I have way more, and more expensive, equipment than this photographer). Of course it's impossible to live on that. But I'm not trying to.

Both bride and photographer is acting like someone is forcing them to do something; the bride "waaah I must pay $3000"! The photographer "waaaah I must lower my prices"! Neither is true. There is no such conflict.

The conflict, and the only thing that matters, is in price versus quality, and that is 100% subjective ("marginal utility"). In that conflict lies that someone eventually might not get what they want. To that I say: boo hoo!

0 upvotes
Shooshanddo
By Shooshanddo (Jan 27, 2012)

As a idiot I can buy for 10$ a poster of a Picasso painting instead of paying for the original 40 million $ and think at the same time that I have the original and why not I'm the one who painted

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
TORN
By TORN (Jan 27, 2012)

To me standard (!) wedding photography is pretty much "worth" the same money as every similar complex service, like for example a car repair. The freelancer has to cover his cost and keep some more to live on it. Here in Germany you would pay for a car repair something like 40-80$ per hour. With an average of 60$ this would mean 50 hours for 3000$ budget. If I take 8h for the wedding + 8h for a secondary photographer + 24h image processing and then I add travel cost + consulting + extra equippment then I do have pretty much the same relation of budget and what service you get for it.

You get what you pay for and if you are satisfied by 10 unprocessed wedding pictures from an amateur photographer then you can well get off for 50-100$. But if you want to have a professional service than you need to pay for it.

I did 4 weddings for friends and for free. Afterwards I decided they either pay me for all the stress & hassle or I enjoy the wedding and have some drinks & fun instead.

2 upvotes
Andreas-AM
By Andreas-AM (Jan 27, 2012)

This is a good point here.
But I repeat: The reply from this specific photographer was far from "remrcably calm", she did not for one second take the customer's view into account.
It hurts if you have to pay 20 houirs to get your car repaired - and of course it also hurts to pay 50 hours to any other service.
This needs to be explained tio the customer, but expressing the understanding of his position - not baning him.

0 upvotes
Biggs23
By Biggs23 (Jan 27, 2012)

You're missing a HUGE thing Andreas, while it does hurt to have to pay 20 hours worth of labor to get your car repaired, if you're doing so it's because it absolutely necessary. No one is being forced to pay any amount for wedding photography. She's 'hurting' because she can't have what she wants, not needs, at the price she's willing to pay.

1 upvote
Father Anderson
By Father Anderson (Jan 27, 2012)

What a grand assemblage of pure louts and ruffians you are....constantly arguing over the numbers of everything...as if you were really qualified to discuss more that the number of feet a pig possesses!

Even the most unwashed, unlettered and unrepentant among you must be well enough educated to realise the writer was simply trying to explain the costs involved in developing a lifetime profession.

Grow up...or go back to arguing about the number of angels that can dance on the head of pin and leave photograpghy to the practitioners

9 upvotes
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 27, 2012)

Well said.
Far too many armchair experts without a clue about what it takes to shoot weddings.

6 upvotes
skrulm8
By skrulm8 (Jan 27, 2012)

As a businessman I feel that if the wedding season lasts only a few months, the gentleman is not supposed to make a living from it. It's a part time job and he should be doing something else for the remaining 67% of the year. I'm not saying $500 per wedding is the answer, but $1000 is more than enough if you ask me.

I mean, for $3,000 I can buy two 550Ds, a Canon 70-200 f/4.0 L, a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and rent the two flashes out. I'm sure there's relatives of mine with hands that have fingers on them, who would gladly take the pictures for free. For the few potos that need post processing, I'll do it myself.

And, yes, I've done wedding photography myself.

3 upvotes
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

100% agreed Skrulm8. I've also photographed weddings for $$ and for free for a few friends over the years. I charged far less than these so-called pros.. my pics were just as nice if not better.

1 upvote
Biggs23
By Biggs23 (Jan 27, 2012)

A real businessman wouldn't have posted what you did, so I'm forced to conclude you've never actually been in business for yourself. For 3k you can purchase that stuff, but 3k is really more like 2k when you take out taxes. And that 2k is really more like 1900 when you add in insurance. And that 1900 is really more like 1600 when you subtract the cost of the album. And that 1600 is really more like 1500 when you count in the cost of depreciation. And that 1500 is more like...

I think you get my point. Anyone who thinks that 3k is pure profit is an utter fool.

2 upvotes
Loring von Palleske
By Loring von Palleske (Jan 27, 2012)

There is also a hell of a lot of marketing done on the off season - bridal shows and the like. None of that time is paid for until you actually book. To actually book, you often spend a couple of hours with each potential client, and many don't book. Those are also hours that invested into the business.

Shooting a couple of weddings is not the same as trying to make a living at it.

0 upvotes
skrulm8
By skrulm8 (Jan 27, 2012)

Here's my business, @Biggs23 - http://brelil.blogspot.com/. But I feel you're answering a comment nobody made.

@Loring von Palleske - Well, apparently, it's not worth it. I'd just build a website and lure people in with organic traffic. And I'd get a real job for the other 300+ days clueless people don't want to spend a car's worth on pictures.

And, how about this. Why not spend that $3,000 on renting, say, 7 fully equipped DSLRs, and giving them to whoever's most competent and willing among guests, to take loads and loads of pictures? I bet there would be many more good ones than from a single photographer and his buddy.

0 upvotes
CharlieDIY
By CharlieDIY (Jan 27, 2012)

Little things. Insurance. Advertisin...ah, what's the use.

0 upvotes
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 29, 2012)

skrulm8 - Renting high end dslrs for guests to shoot at a wedding in low light when they are getting drunk.

That's your increasingly huge deposit gone every time for damage to the rented cameras, snapped off flashes, sticky drink damaged lenses, dropped bodies etc.

0 upvotes
photowipe
By photowipe (Jan 27, 2012)

Everybody here seems to be saying that this photographer works 4 months out of the year and earns $50K for her efforts. She actually works 20 days for that (plus whatever additional time she spends selling and servicing those 20 wedding clients). Whether she's charging too much or not will be determined by her market, and she obviously has found clients who will pay her fee. We do not charge based solely on our cost of doing business, but on the perceived value of what we provide, and anyone in business deserves to charge whatever their clients are willing to pay for what they do. $3K is about a low average in the US for basic wedding photo services. Has anyone else here looked at this photographer's website to determine if they would chose to hire her for their own wedding based on the quality of her work?

1 upvote
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 27, 2012)

AS W C Fields said.. "a sucker is born every minute" I won't pay $3k to $5k for a weding photographer, but to each their own.

0 upvotes
jvkelley
By jvkelley (Jan 27, 2012)

According to the post, she works 8-10 hours at the wedding and 20-25 hours per wedding on post-wedding activities. She didn't mention how much time she spends doing consultations, travel and marketing. She doesn't earn 50k for 20 days of wedding work, she breaks even for 20 weeks of wedding work and spends the rest of the year trying to make a profit.

1 upvote
photowipe
By photowipe (Jan 27, 2012)

I did mention that there are additional hours spent in selling and servicing each client before and after the event. She just shouldn't be justifying her fee based on what her overhead is. I met a photographer about 10 years ago who was shooting for extremely high-end wedding clients- he told me he didn't answer the phone for less than $10K. I was a guest at a wedding he shot, and was pretty impressed to see him shooting the entire event with a 50 year old Kodak Retina Reflex and a Contax G2 rangefinder and dedicated flash unit (keeping each in his jacket pocket when he was shooting with the other). Good gear, but together worth less than $3000. His photographs were extraordinary. Justifying our fees by how much we spend on gear and rent and insurance sends the wrong message- people should understand that they hire a pro because of what we can deliver, every time, regardless of the circumstances. The cost of doing business is just that, and it's not the customer's problem- it's ours.

0 upvotes
chiane
By chiane (Jan 27, 2012)

If wedding season is 4 months and that's what you base a business model on, $50,000 for 4 months of work is pretty good.

But really, I don't think snow plow drivers just snow plow driveways for 4 months of the year and work on watching tv the other 8 months either. If you are going to be a photographer, I hope to God you are doing more than weddings to feed your family.

2 upvotes
zxaar
By zxaar (Jan 27, 2012)

"That would technically leave me with about $7,000/year to feed myself, " ------------- He is very stupid to live on this. Any sane person would change his profession if it is that un-paying as he claims it to be.

1 upvote
CharlieDIY
By CharlieDIY (Jan 27, 2012)

Four month seasons aren't the entire year. Most wedding photographers I know do portraits, events, senior photography and a host of other types of shooting.

There is an incredible amount of hostility shown here to a small businesswoman (in case you hadn't noticed) who is trying to make a decent living by working hard, sort of in the American mold, or so I was told many years ago.

One has to wonder what generates that hostility. Is it misunderstanding? A dislike of small businesspeople in general? Not liking someone who tries to make it on her own?

I don't think this photographer provided a really top response, but it was a lot better than the semi-literate diatribe from CL.

1 upvote
Rocker44
By Rocker44 (Jan 27, 2012)

Christ you are miserable bunch aren't you.

Picking holes in this photographer's maths is missing the point of the actual argument. As I'm sure you well know

There is only one point here, if you are a wedding photographer you are freelance, you can charge what you want and if people don't want to pay, they won't pay and you don't eat.

This guy can get 20 weddings a year because he is good enough to get 20 weddings a year @$5,000.

I say good luck to him, the rest of you stop moaning and go take to flipping photos.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
Shooshanddo
By Shooshanddo (Jan 27, 2012)

I definitely can understand her. I would like Beyonce to sing at my wedding but some told me that she is asking for one million $ for 15 min. Than I asked Spielberg to shoot with a digital video camera a 30 minutes movie of my birthday, an he asked 2 millions $. And another time I asked my bank for a 30 years loan, they gave me that immediately. Wow banks are good. they gave me 200000$ and after 10 years I have already paid 150000$. So i went to them and asked to pay the remain 50000$ in cash, and you know what they told me???? that I have to pay 180000$ more. So just guessing that after 30 years I will have a 30years+20years = 50years old house and I have paid the Bank at list 3/4 time more. Than again I become really mad when I saw MTV's program sweet 16 and a * a father paying half a million$ for a night party for a 16years old spoiled child. 99.9% of us professional photographers are struggling to survive economically, 0.01% are doing good and maybe one in a million is famous.

1 upvote
skrulm8
By skrulm8 (Jan 27, 2012)

well, then I guess you can't really make a living from photography... and shouldn't even try to

0 upvotes
Shooshanddo
By Shooshanddo (Jan 28, 2012)

that's true, photography now more than ever isn't a profession. digital "revolution" change it 100% making it really easy even for a idiot, and there are too many out there. that's gave the opportunity to think that we are all photographers. those same smart ass that think that the new model of a camera will transform their photography into art. than most of them discovered programs that with a click can transform their sh.. into a extremely artistic photo. it's like driving a car is easy and everyone feels like a pilot, than a crash. it's the same story with many other profession that don't even exist any more because a machine now is doing it with out arguing or asking for something more than what it's suppose to "ask". It's the culture of the new era =a small elite have the right to ask for everything they want and let's make people cut each other throat by arguing about stupid things. being a pro photographer isn't only about correct images, how doesn't understand that it's idiot

0 upvotes
Shooshanddo
By Shooshanddo (Jan 28, 2012)

I'm not a wedding photographer. I admire the work of some of them (very few compare the multitude) those few that are such talented have re right to ask for the fee that they like in same way that singers, athletes, actors, bankers & CO will ask for.
I'm a pro since 1988 and magazines are publishing my work since a first start, but this isn't important because is not about me but about society.
through all those years i saw and learn many things, but most of all I saw changes that are destroying our society and our planet. Studies are saying that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000. I'm sure that now those 1% owns more than 60%
That's a story to tell and understand, and not if the new canon will transform you into Ansel Adams because it won't ,or if you are the only one to have the right to ask for what you like to, or simply been jealous of somebody.

0 upvotes
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Jan 27, 2012)

The intentions were good, but the logic was flawed.
By adding a great number of expenses that are ammortized over longer periods, and that are used also for professional and hopefully paid work on other subjects than the 20 weddings, the reasoning is easily punctured.
It would be better, IMHO:
* to give a reasonable impression of all the work (hours) and specific expenses involved in one wedding, to create a less inflated look at earnings per hour than the simplistic $3000 for 8 hours of hanging around
* and then to compare that (and the photographer's commitment and responsibilities) to other services that are taken for granted as obligatory for the grand day (venue, catering, clothes, flowers, band, DJ, ...)
Roel

1 upvote
sir_bazz
By sir_bazz (Jan 27, 2012)

So this tog makes $50K per year and gets the luxury of 8months holidays every year? Nice work/life balance he's going got there and one that many othjers would love to have as well.

Poor wedding tog's really doin' it hard.

7 upvotes
sterlingv86
By sterlingv86 (Jan 27, 2012)

.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sterlingv86
By sterlingv86 (Jan 27, 2012)

.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
1 upvote
sterlingv86
By sterlingv86 (Jan 27, 2012)

whaaa

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Biggs23
By Biggs23 (Jan 27, 2012)

Again, if you believe that is the case you're a fool. 50k in revenue is NOT 50k IN PROFIT! Sheesh.

2 upvotes
sir_bazz
By sir_bazz (Jan 28, 2012)

Did I say profit?.....No. It was you who said profit.

As a contractor in an unrelated field, I know the difference between gross and net earnings, but I don't get to pay off all my annual bills in just 3 months of the year and then cry poor on the interweb either.

0 upvotes
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