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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
4567
Gustavo Brand
By Gustavo Brand (Jan 27, 2012)

For me the bottom line is simple: every product or service will deliver a respective amount of quality. I paid around 2K at my wedding, but I saw that for a higher price, around 3.5K I could have had a photograph team with more people and better equipment.... and more quality as well. It's a matter of choice.

0 upvotes
absentaneous
By absentaneous (Jan 27, 2012)

the argument of the photographer is flawed from the very first beginning: "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)." what she is saying here is that there is not enough demand, available jobs to cover the costs of entire year. well, then that simply means there is not enough business. second thing is she says she is left with $7,000/year. this is again flawed. she is left with $7,000 profit by working for 20 days! she doesn't work on weddings all year but just 20 days! plus of course time she needs to edit things and print them and so on so lets say 60 days a year! And actually this $7,000 number would be even higher because she is subtracting expenses of the whole year not just for those 60 days that she should because that's how much she works. if there was enough business to do that it would mean she would have a PROFIT of at least $42,000 a year.

5 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

But the point is, the market she is in. You can't take that out of context. Also it's pretty much true wedding photography is seasonal. So if you want in that area wedding photographers that's how that rolls. Do note the point the original request makes about having a hard time finding "cheap/talented photographers"- that sounds to me like someone who wants something for nothing.

I would avoid that as a wedding photographer like the plague. This can't be had both ways. Finally, photographing a wedding is a huge responsibility and a lot of hard word either way. Assuming weddings year round you make it sound like she would earn that "only 60 days" but we are not seeing the amount of hours that would go into it per week….

Remember what she said about having to do the sales / marketing/ blog and all that. That would have to be done even with jobs year round. That is a lot of work.

1 upvote
absentaneous
By absentaneous (Jan 27, 2012)

@raist3d, I am not taking it out of the context but quite the opposite. what she actually expects is to be able to work 20 days a year and earn enough to cover the expenses and costs of the whole year. just tell me who does that? so, what does this mean? that wedding photography should be just a segment in a photographers business because there is not enough demand available. the fact is she makes $2,500/wedding. she covers 20 weddings. lets say she spends 60 days for that. which means she earns $50,000 in 60 days. that's the real picture not that she earns $50,000 in year because she doesn't work the whole year on wedding photography. so, she got the math all wrong.

Comment edited 51 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Jan 27, 2012)

She doesn't "work just 20 days", she photographs for 20 days, but works much of the year on all the back end business. Plus, she has to eat 365 days a year, so that is irrelevant.

0 upvotes
olyflyer
By olyflyer (Jan 27, 2012)

tkbslc, while you are right, 20 wedding may be more than 20 days, but even if take the whole season, 4 mounts, don't tell me it is more than a just a part time activity. Part time job = part time salary for crying out loud. Just because she is unable to fill her calendar with assignments it does not mean that the whole years expenses must be paid by that little work she is doing. Get more jobs, or get ANOTHER type of job and run this as a side activity. She is a very good example of what the "bride" means. Takes $3000 because she can, not because she deserves it.

0 upvotes
nicanddi
By nicanddi (Jan 27, 2012)

What a fantastic response. Great though it is, the sad thing is that it only ever seems to be wedding photography businesses that are forced to justify their pricing like this?

If you've got to explain to your market why you charge what you do, you've already lost half the battle. That said we get so many unrealistic enquiries these days that we felt last year that we needed a page of information on our own site.

It's funny but it's now one of the most visited pages of our own website, (probably by other wedding photographers if we're honest,) but it does contains similar info and sentiment to the reply this photographer sent:

http://www.niccleave.com/wedding-photography-prices-uk/

Cheers,

Nic
--
www.niccleave.com
Nic Cleave Photography

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

Yes, why do we not hear many complaints about the hourly rates of commercial photographers, which are far higher?

0 upvotes
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (Jan 27, 2012)

It is not all that much complicated.

On one side - the photographer needs to set his price such that he gets the bills payed and make for a decent living. If the price he comes up with is too high (or low) compared to others he just simply needs to recheck his business strategy (how many weddings, where, only weddings, other photo-jobs, etc). Of course - if one "has a name" than more can be charged - as in any business.

On the other side are the customers. Here everybody has to decide what he/she is willing to pay and what is the budget and what are the priorities. If what comes out is that every photographer out there is too expensive or trying to 'rip you off', than probably friend with camera can do too. It is no different like when choosing the hotel, restaurant, live music or brides' dress.

Side note to the article - it makes all valid point, but if a photographer wants to survive all year long from just 20 weddings per year, than it is going to be tough one way or another.

0 upvotes
Martin_PTA
By Martin_PTA (Jan 27, 2012)

I don't want to play devil's advocate here, but I feel I must mention that in South Africa wedding photographers are fortunate (or exceptionally talented) if they're able to get a couple to pay even $1500.00! Adding further insult to injury, the cost of photographic equipment is generally between 20% & 40% higher here than in the USA or Canada.

I must also say that $15 000.00 weddings are quite rare here, except for the relatively wealthy. The wedding budgets I often observe, are in the region of about $7000 to $8000!

0 upvotes
lajka
By lajka (Jan 27, 2012)

Wonder how much was the recent royal wedding?

0 upvotes
Tapani Tarvainen
By Tapani Tarvainen (Jan 27, 2012)

Some people take weddings too seriously. $15000 for a wedding sounds outrageous to me; ours cost about one tenth of that (EUR 1200), with photos taken by my brother-in-law at no charge - although I'd photographed his wedding earlier - and they were perfectly adequate.

While I'm no wedding photographer I've shoot some relative's weddings and everybody's been happy with the results - but that probably tells more of the expectations than of me. The talk about "regret the rest of their lives" and whatever sounds just weird to me; if my brother-in-law had gotten sick or had his camera stolen before saving the pictures it wouldn't've been a disaster to us.

But otherwise, if you want the kind of service the photographer in question apparently provides, the price seems fair enough. Why anyone would want it is what I don't understand.

1 upvote
KeeChiuPeng
By KeeChiuPeng (Jan 27, 2012)

Tell the bride the package upfront, subsequent weddings within the next 2 years will be charged at discounted rates.

1 upvote
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

LOL!

0 upvotes
kevroc
By kevroc (Jan 27, 2012)

Yeah, I bet she didn't complain about her 5k wedding dress...bitch...

2 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Jan 27, 2012)

I saw my friend's 3K+ wedding pictures. The photographer has an degree and nice web site. But when I saw the wedding pictures, I can honestly do it at that level. I think most wedding pictures should be charged between 1-2K without prints, and post processing. Added services need pay extra. There are a lot photographers don't composed or expose correctly now. They won't give their clients straight pictures. So they add all the processing cost to the clients.

1 upvote
cxsparc
By cxsparc (Jan 27, 2012)

Funny, it is ok to spend 15 k$ for a wedding, but not 3k$ for the photographer?

For our wedding in '95 we rented an entire mountain hotel for two days and stayed well below 1500 $.

A wedding photographer here has shot two weddings in 2011 and both have cost below 1 kEuro.

The problem with prices is that equipment has become so cheap, amateurs like myself are widespread and chances are that there is a friend of the bride who would do it for free and still deliver 80% of what a pro might be able to.
Emotional connection with the brides might even make up partly for lack of perfection.

1 upvote
lcsjk
By lcsjk (Jan 27, 2012)

I am appalled. Both bride and photographer are like politicians.

She hates your price and you need to learn to run a business. Start with your insurance companies.
You travel 250 miles per wedding. Do your consultation in your living room.

Get yourself a good accountant - Geez!

Get two pairs of shoes, one for weddings only.

Your photo equipment should last 3-10 years.

Keep prints at 8x10 and even 6x8 if price is a problem. My daughter paid for a beautiful 16x20 and no place to show it in her house.

Be a little innovative. Get a few one-use cameras for the reception and tell each table to make pics of all table guests. Include a few candied pictures with your work.
You can even get a couple of cheap p/s for the "after the wedding" pics. Tell them to wait until after your flash.

You have good equipment. Use your eyes. If you are a good photographer you will not have to edit so much.

Go and enjoy the wedding and reception. You will leave happy.

3 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

It's all nonsense that one has to spend thousands on equipment and photos. It's not a sporting event that requires super fast shooting in low light, it's all staged in good light, for petes sake. A $1000-2000 of equipment is all one needs. And printing is super cheap nowadays, Costco charges $2.99 for 12x18" prints, even 20x30" poster is just $8.99. And there is nothing to process 3 days, I do my 1000 vacation pictures in one weekend. If one needs to babysit every picture he is a novice.
The market offers much less now to wedding photographers than before exactly because the process became cheaper and easier and there is a lot more supply than demand.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

" it's all staged in good light, for petes sake. " Looks like you have never shot a reception at night.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
1 upvote
John Motts
By John Motts (Jan 27, 2012)

Forpetesake: we're not talking about some weekend operator who does a half baked job. We're talking about someone who does it properly and professionally. Big difference.

Clearly you've never done weddings professionally..

0 upvotes
GeorgeZ
By GeorgeZ (Jan 27, 2012)

Am I missing something here or is this lady explaining why she needs to charge that kind of money because she can work only 4 months of the year and this income has to pay for her car, her social insurance and other? Doesn't she find any work the other 8 months?
I'd say both sides exaggerate here.

10 upvotes
dcraton
By dcraton (Jan 27, 2012)

From a still full time working pro: Well, bless her little heart for my 4.5 years of a college degree, 30 years of experience, a company van, continuing ed, advertising fees, association fees, gear costs, software and computer investments, and oh what the heck, experience to give her the best of shots than an amateur, insurances, liabilities for screwing up that one day, the job costs for assistants, job costs for ALL the processing and printing and that's just some of it if you leave out studio/office space, accountants, lawyers, etc.

But, I love it and the same people who complain ignorantly at our prices are the same ones who will disappointed for life at their wedding pics when they get them back from their cousin who has a D40 with a kit lens and read "Wedding Photography for Dummies" the week before the shoot.

Yeah, the market is flooded with people who will do it for next to nothing. It happens and I have had a great run. She doesn't know and I hope she gets good pics.

1 upvote
Sandr62
By Sandr62 (Jan 27, 2012)

I am in this business for over 25 years.
I don't know who was she speaking to about 3000 dollars package, but for this price she suppose to get 1 bride and groom and 2 parent's albums, plus around 500 proofs 4x6 and some enlargements.
And all of this cost money.
Real money that comes from your pocket.
Needless to say the price for your time at the wedding day around 10-12 hours of hard work, time for post production, time for creating digital album (layout), etc...
I am skipping expenses for keeping the studio, rent, gears, insurance, taxes etc...
The net profit is not that big as it sounds at the beginning.
You end up with 15-20 bucks an hour.Sometimes even less.
Is that too much?
If the photographer was smart enough to explain her all those details, she wouldn't post this message.
Some photographers estimate their prices based on their talent.
Which is different story.
If you are famous photographer and booked for 2 years in advance, then you can charge as much as you want.

2 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (Jan 27, 2012)

Studio for wedding photos?
Rent for lenses?
The whole equipment like Canon 5Dmk2 + 7D + couple of lenses + light will buy themselves in a 2 or 3 weddings shoots.
You buy it once and use for years.

Shooting takes 1-1,5 days
Postprocessing takes like 2 or 3 days (I did it with my wedding photos).
So in the end you get 4 weddings/month and easily get 2 days a week free.

The other question is if you want to have the newest camera on the market, the best and always-new-lenses. But this is just grown man's games.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (Jan 27, 2012)

In reality, even 3K a DAY IS USUALLY NOT ENOUGH these days .. Business / Wedding Photographer is no different than other independent service provider and they need to made a profit as well as covering all and then some.

1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

And whose fault you chose to do a job that doesn't pay enough? Get the one that does. I don't understand all that whining. Nobody forces you to be a wedding photographer. Find a place that provides for your needs and enjoy the photos as a hobby since you can't do it as a business.

3 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

Nobody forces anyone to pay for a good wedding photographer :-) Yet look at the craig list complainer :-)

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

If someone says that you're ripping them off, it's perfectly legitimate and reasonable to explain why you're not.

It sounds like forpetesake is the one that's whining (hence the name!)

0 upvotes
Bronze Age Man
By Bronze Age Man (Jan 27, 2012)

When did a mediocre article that belongs in a blog or a forum become 'news' for DP review?
I do hope this is not a trend that will continue.

6 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (Jan 27, 2012)

Seems DPR are also commenting on rumours now too.

2 upvotes
Kweide
By Kweide (Jan 27, 2012)

Some will, some wont, so what ?? Move on.
So she is a bride not willing to pay the price for high quality outcome. Thats OK. She will use a 2 ord 3rd or even 4th class shooter for 300 bucks and will be unhappy untill the end of her life....
Cheaper, cheaper, cheaper is the wrong way, leads to low qualtity, leads to poverty

0 upvotes
DaveMarx
By DaveMarx (Jan 27, 2012)

Unfortunately, too many small businesses are essentially hobbies. If the photographer spent 8 months profitably doing types of photography she doesn't like, in order to spend 4 months shooting what she does like... that's subsidizing a hobby. If 8 months of commercial photography is enough to squeak through the year, 12 months of commercial photography would be even better. Save the hobby for the weekends.

Over the years, I've heard of lecturers at wedding photography conferences telling the audience to charge twice whatever they're currently charging. It sounds cynical out of context - the bride would feel vindicated if she heard it - but double is probably what most of them need to charge to make a proper living. If double is not competitive in the marketplace, then they have to figure out other ways to be profitable. If the numbers still don't work... maybe owning a business is the wrong choice. Some are good at it, some aren't. It has nothing to do with being a good photographer.

1 upvote
jj74e
By jj74e (Jan 27, 2012)

Personally, I wouldn't pay $3000 for a photographer. Lawyers, architects, dentists, some surgery procedures, etc. don't cost as much for some high-skill services that also require arguably the same or more amount of equipment. I think it's a predicament, because couples (and people in general) are uneducated about the works that go on besides snapping a few photos, and think they are essentially paying for for a fancy point and shoot job, while pro photogs are becoming increasingly sparse as cameras get better and peoples' needs for high standard photos are dropping and kind of do need to over charge to make end's meet (a lot of the costs the response mentioned were one time purchases, and she made it sound like she's broke the entire year; you would think that a professional photographer can do more than weddings). I'm not saying it can't be worth it, but dropping $3K on a service whose cream of the crop quality demand is dropping is a bit hard to swallow.

3 upvotes
jj74e
By jj74e (Jan 27, 2012)

Before anyone jumps on my back, I could be wrong in my analysis. But all I'm saying is that photographers know what industry they are joining, and they would be stupid to jump into it without doing research first. And you can't blame customers for wanting a cheaper price; there are a lot of overcharged services. For example, it costs 30 bucks for ordering a few prints for senior portraits? Any photo enthusiast with a good camera can do a good portrait, edit it up a little with basic software, and produce satisfying results. Will it be as good as a professional result (which again, is often not very professional. I have seen some unsightly photos)? Probably not. But my point is that many consumers aren't necessarily looking for top notch photos. Just satisfactory. And you could hire 4 very good non-pro photos for $500 each, save $1000 and still get a satisfactory album.

3 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

Looks like all those whining "pros" should find better jobs, since they obviously can't live on what market is willing to pay to them.
What do you think would have been a response from an employer if a guy came looking for a job telling he deserved being paid $200k just because he had all those student loans, mortgage, and a young wife, who likes spending a lot.

5 upvotes
olyflyer
By olyflyer (Jan 27, 2012)

Nikki Wagner, the photographer who answered, works part time and wants to get a full time income. Perhaps she should look for other type of work for the rest of the year if the wedding season is so short and she can not do more than 20 wedding per year. After all, she has 7 more months to work, which still leaves her with a month of holiday leave, like every other ordinary people has to do. It is also my understanding that even my 1 month yearly holiday is a luxury in the US but even my generosity would result in considerably higher income for her if she worked 7 more months. If Nikki Wagner is really representing the life and the views of the photographers than they live very far from reality of other human beings.

1 upvote
intruder61
By intruder61 (Jan 27, 2012)

she's a to-be-bride under stress, she vented, lets move on....next.

2 upvotes
taojones
By taojones (Jan 27, 2012)

Last time I did a wedding I gave a Point Shot to a few kids and they came back with heaps of good shots now I am a divorce photographer and hardly get paid at all.....

3 upvotes
jtmon
By jtmon (Jan 27, 2012)

Here's the best part, the lady wants a cheaper photographer, her whining ad states it's NOT ok to contact her.

0 upvotes
jj74e
By jj74e (Jan 27, 2012)

$15,000 for a wedding? so much for low budget.

0 upvotes
NineFace
By NineFace (Jan 27, 2012)

it's really depend on the photographer skills I saw some $3000 wedding photos and it isn't great at all :(

2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

There is no correlation whatsoever.

1 upvote
unlearny
By unlearny (Jan 27, 2012)

This photographer doesn't understand anything. She should have said, "1000 dollars could capture the history, but 5000 dollars will permanently record the emotional truth of your love for all time. Not even a divorce can erase the love preserved therein. For another 2000 I can capture the emotional truth of your wedding night, but you'll have to sign releases, etc."

3 upvotes
Jaelkay
By Jaelkay (Jan 27, 2012)

The last wedding I did, the bride's mother was such a PITA, I wound up putting the camera around her neck and walking out. Hate photographing weddings.

2 upvotes
DioCanon
By DioCanon (Jan 27, 2012)

3 grand is not too bad,
my friend spent $7000 plus the album (Australia)

2 upvotes
LeonXTR
By LeonXTR (Jan 27, 2012)

Then don't get a pro photographer for your wedding.
Get a realive of yours,buy him a digital rebel and a $400 digicam and do your job for free.
Off course that will get you the crappiest wedding photos ever but,hey,its cheap.

1 upvote
olyflyer
By olyflyer (Jan 27, 2012)

How do you know that it will get her the crappiest wedding photos ever? That's just assumptions, isn't it?

2 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

He's probably right though, on average.

0 upvotes
Jeff Seltzer
By Jeff Seltzer (Jan 27, 2012)

Wedding photography is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Just because you have a lot of expenses doesn't mean the market will pay you enough to make a profit.

2 upvotes
Kevinator
By Kevinator (Jan 27, 2012)

Either the photographer was exaggerating or she wasted her $500 on a crappy accountant.

She made it sound like she's not making money with all these car, rental, marketing expenses. But they are business expense and are deducted fully against her income when calculating tax. Her camera equipment cost is also deducted by depreciation over a five year period.

So why list a big fat $15k tax expense out front? If she's not making money, she will pay $0 in taxes. She admittedly makes most of her money from other photoshoots which are the actual basis for the big tax bill. Putting the $15k tax as solely from wedding sessions is grossly misleading.

10 upvotes
Older N Dirt
By Older N Dirt (Jan 27, 2012)

Such anger from this lady who thinks all lunches are free!
Is it because she is confusing uncle Louie and aunt May who take pictures for a free meal and think they are professionals?
We pros have seen those disasters
I get plenty of business fixing the messes they make!
So let uncle Louie take the crooked, green and badly exposed pictures.
And please do hire a kid cheap out of photo school who does not understand a business model and is bankrupt in one year.
I do great repair business but also have package prices to suit my clients budget.
Ferrari and Chevrolet appeal to different markets.
So this bride should stop whining, not pay 15 grand for a wedding hall and 300 guests and move on. Clearly the photographers she has met do not know how to communicate the value of what they do and should close shop.
I enjoy this kind of whining as it clearly shows you who the amateurs are and the angry people who wish they had our talent!

0 upvotes
sparkston
By sparkston (Jan 27, 2012)

You seem to suggest that pro's have a monopoly on technical competence. There are plenty of messages in this thread that show that a high fee is no guarantee of ability, and that a motivated amateur can provide excellent results.

Nikki has erred in trying to justify her fees on the basis of her expenses, rather than stopping at "all my brides are satisfied and think that I am worth the price"- that is the only relevant argument.

1 upvote
Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee
By Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee (Jan 27, 2012)

I'm an amateur for nearly 40 years and I do weddings as presents for close friends or relatives only. I do not do it for money, though some of the people I do them for insist on giving me expensive presents. I do one or two a year. I think the bride's complaint is totally unreasonable. Wedding photography is difficult, very stressful and involves a LOT of post-processing, choosing photos etc. It's not a job I would ever choose to do and the equipment is very expensive. If I did it for money I don't think that 2000 euro would be expensive for what's involved.
Nowadays people expect everything for nothing. Nothing costs nothing.,

1 upvote
RGBCMYK
By RGBCMYK (Jan 27, 2012)

I wish I could truly explain to everyone the difference between taking photographs and being a photographer. The value / cost in hiring someone to take photographs is very different from hiring a photographer. You hire a photographer for a vision and what they bring to the project. A photographer is chosen based upon their style and vision for the project I know there will be a lot of people who disagree with this or don't understand this concept. I know it took me a long time to grasp the concept. It would have been a very different discussion on a commercial job where the photographer billed for expenses and then added their creative fee. Yes their creative fee and this is what a photographer charges because they are hired for this. I don't believe the client who is looking for a low price is looking for a photographer because they are just looking for someone to take photographs.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
dmartin92
By dmartin92 (Jan 27, 2012)

I wonder if there is any correlation between how much a couple spends on the wedding photographer and how likely the couple is to divorce.

That is to say, the more they spend, the more likely they will divorce.

You know, they want so much that there be some serious "documentation" that they are living "a fairly tale of happiness"... and they've got the photos to prove it.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Holgs
By Holgs (Jan 27, 2012)

Very good point - I don't really understand why many people engage expensive photography services when they can't really afford it. Wedding photography is seen as an essential rather than an extravagance. Really people need to decide whether they're documenting some memories or out to create a glamorous fairy-tail that won't live up to reality.

3 upvotes
DaveMarx
By DaveMarx (Jan 27, 2012)

That's the entire nature of the modern fairytale wedding. What part of a $50,000 wedding is essential? The $50 wedding license. But, if you are spending $50,000, how can you not spend 10% more to memorialize the event in similar style? The caterer's work is flushed down the drain 24 hours later. Flowers? Wilted. Dress? Never worn again. Drink? It was only on loan. Photos are a far more durable investment. Ditch the caterer, order in some pizza, and keep the photographer!

In this particular controversy, the real problem is that the photographer is the last to be paid. The pain inflicted by writing checks to the caterer, florist, and DJ/band is dumped on the photographer, as the only target within reach.

0 upvotes
Hennie de Ruyter
By Hennie de Ruyter (Jan 27, 2012)

Our wedding costed about $500 honeymoon included. We are 20 years married this year and unless death us part we will go for 30,40... . We have had fabulous holidays since then. My only regret is not having good pictures from that day. Even the honeymoon pictures we took ourselves was better than the wedding pictures!

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

Honestly some of the 'pros' out there are so jaded by the work that you'd actually get better results and pricing from an amateur who's day job isn't a wedding photog.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

As it's often the case, somebody who does it for fun does a lot better work than the one who does it for hire. Professional photographer compared to an enthusiast is like a kitchen worker compared to a gourmet home-cook.
On my friend's wedding I was taking pictures for fun, nobody asked me. They turned out to be a lot more interesting than those staged lifeless pictures from a hired help. I did it for free and I liked it.
So whether one decides to hire a photographer or not, more importantly they should ask their friends to take pictures, in all likelihood those will be a lot better.

5 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

Sounds like they hired a real bad photographer.

1 upvote
Fullframer
By Fullframer (Jan 29, 2012)

People also forget that many times then pro wedding photographer has to contend with the guests who are constantly jumping in front taking their own pictures. that can cause alot of issues. Ive known people that have spent up to $7k on a photographer and the results are amature level at best. So , sorry you dont always get what you pay for.

0 upvotes
William Kuo
By William Kuo (Jan 27, 2012)

If he simply starts with he does about 20 wedding/year, this would be better. (instead of mentioning wedding season is 4 months)

1 upvote
abi170845
By abi170845 (Jan 27, 2012)

better yet, let the bride buy the gear and I'll photograph her for cheap.

0 upvotes
David Hull
By David Hull (Jan 27, 2012)

She could always find someone on Craig's List who would shoot her wedding for $500-$1000. They might even be "exceptional", "amazingly talented" and "fun". There ae lots of people who will shoot weddings for less than $3k but you get what you pay for.

0 upvotes
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Jan 27, 2012)

She is right. Same why 25 minute root canals at the dentist cost $ 1650. Or why a Tylenol at an emergency office is $ 400. Welcome to America. Undocumented plumbers with no American papers making $ 300 an hour.

2 upvotes
Sosua
By Sosua (Jan 27, 2012)

Pretty weak response, but it was hardly required - any professional can charge what they like - the market will decide if its appropriate or not.

So what was so justified about the other $12,000 spent on an average wedding?

What goes into a $2000 dress?

3 upvotes
abi170845
By abi170845 (Jan 27, 2012)

I don't understand it, a wedding is a very very special occasion, and newly weds want a bargain? It's like everybody want to be photographed for cheap or free. It is a business just like any other.

Find a cheap one then, even a high school student with a DSLR can photograph you. You get what you pay for.

0 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

My friend is a wedding photographer, and I know for sure, you never get what you paid for. The prices and quality of work don't correlate at all. Wedding doesn't need to be more expensive than it is, finding a good photographer for $500 is pretty easy, it would be stupid to pay more. That's how much market values this service. If somebody isn't satisfied they should look for another line of work.

2 upvotes
em_dee_aitch
By em_dee_aitch (Jan 27, 2012)

You are correct that price and photographer competence don't correlate. There are many terrible photographers who excel at collecting high fees and vice versa. However, what you neglect to mention is that if you are willing to pay only $500 then you must also be willing to settle for an amateur with crappy equipment, because that's about all that $500 can sustain. Unless of course you luck into a rich hobbyist or a salaried photographer who just picks up cheap weddings on weekends. But for the most part the $500 photographers are newbies with little experience who make giant mistakes and have crappy equipment. There will always be exceptions, but good luck finding them.

1 upvote
abi170845
By abi170845 (Jan 27, 2012)

Fair enough, but if one does the homework and search for that one photographer that fits one VISION, then it's priceless. If you just want the run of the mill photographer, there are millions.

0 upvotes
Hulamike
By Hulamike (Jan 27, 2012)

So far everyone is missing the point. The bride thinks you're ripping her off because most young people today don't see anything special about photography. It's something "everyone" does with their cellphones all the time. There's a new paradigm in place and professional wedding photographers are ignoring the obvious. It will only get worse as the immediacy of uploading to social media is trumping tradition and eroding whatever special place photography used to inhabit.

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

Actually I think you are missing the point- a real photographer will take pictures that the amateurs or hobbysts won't.

0 upvotes
em_dee_aitch
By em_dee_aitch (Jan 27, 2012)

For those of you who don't understand the response, what it comes down to is this: A typical wedding generates five days of actual work for the photographer. If you don't believe that, try starting a wedding business, and you'll know it's true. $600/day, and 50 to 70 percent of that (depending on how many weddings per year you shoot) will end up just paying expenses. That leaves you with somewhere between $180 to $300 per day in post expense salary, out of which you have to pay both regular income taxes and the self employment tax. The respondents tax figure was actually inflated, because she calculated her taxes prior to her expenses. There is no way she would end up actually paying $15k in tax after all expenses taken out. But in any case it does not leave you with a "crazy" profit. It leaves you with a very middle class profit. And like the respondent said, you take on other types of jobs to balance out. The solution for the bride is to hire an amateur if she doesn't want a pro.

1 upvote
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Jan 27, 2012)

... the photographer did list fixed equipment totaling $13,800... it's not like he has to buy a new set for each wedding, nor for each season.
20 weddings will not wear out 2 dSLRs plus lenses in a single working season...

besides, as a BUSINESS, why can't one write-off expenses against income taxes??? it is the USA, don't they have that rule for income tax deductions?

otherwise... at $7000 net for living expenses... that's NOT much left for himself for one years profit.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
em_dee_aitch
By em_dee_aitch (Jan 27, 2012)

Speaking as a photog, you typically turn over (depreciate) your DSLR bodies every 2 to 3 years to stay current, and you typically own 3 to 4 bodies to have 2 in service and at least one spare. Owning only 2 is risky. If you shoot the $5k range pro bodies, you can depreciate two of them for $140 to $200 per month, depending on how good you are at reselling them when you're done with them.

2 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Jan 27, 2012)

As the tax season (in the US) begins, I would like to point out, that writing the business expenses off the tax is not equivalent to getting all the money back. You only get back a percentage corresponding to your tax bracket. So if your business expense is 10K, and your tax bracket 20% you only get 2K back, the remaining 8K still need to be paid from your income.

0 upvotes
hanugro
By hanugro (Jan 27, 2012)

Well, in my country photography and video for wedding cost between $3000 up to $5000. It is usually all in with 2-3 photographers + 1-2 videographers following you from 6am to 10pm. You end up with up to 5 photo albums, 1 big 60-80cm painting and up to 2 bluray/DVDs.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

What a stupud response. She is stating how much income she wants to have, how much she spends, what the taxes are, etc., etc. Nobody really cares, the price on the market is established on the basis of what the customer wants and what the serviceman provides. And in all those types of work, a customer has much better position negotiating. Lawers can easily charge $300/hour, but a water would work for $8/h. It's a free market, stupid. So if you can't satisfy your "needs" for less than $3k per wedding, then probably you need to find a different job, because there are plenty of people who can.

3 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Jan 27, 2012)

It's not really a stupid response. Apparently she is working in that field and gets clients to pay $3k.

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

You are 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 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.

0 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Jan 27, 2012)

No professional will be able to offer services below cost+living expenses on a sustainable basis. Amateurs can, because they have another source of income. But if customers won't pay rates that allows to pay photographers' bills, then the whole area will disappear as a professional field.

0 upvotes
wlachan
By wlachan (Jan 27, 2012)

The general public simply don't understand how wedding photography works. A better explanation would be breaking down the hours involved after the wedding, like post-processing, preparing for the album, setting up web display etc, which all can be very stressful and time consuming and cost many times more hours than the wedding shoot itself. However, all these works are hidden from the public and they simply do not understand. Also, photography is a creative process which is hard to quantify. There are bad apples in every industry but should not be the reason of insulting the true working pros. CEOs are overpaid, but not those true wedding photographers who charge 3k for each wedding.

2 upvotes
Jan_Shim
By Jan_Shim (Jan 27, 2012)

Funny how a good diamond ring should "cost 3 month's salary" but a good photographer shouldn't even cost a month's salary?

1 upvote
wlachan
By wlachan (Jan 27, 2012)

At least gold worth something, but the value of diamond is artificially greatly inflated and worth nothing when you try to sell it. Try to tell this to any women!

Gold is forever, diamond is for suckers.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Dvlee
By Dvlee (Jan 27, 2012)

@wlachen..Gold does not really have any special properties that make it intrinsicly valuable. Its value is that it's rare and it's pretty. Same is true with diamonds...Iron on the otherhand is one of the most common elements of Earth and it's not particularly pretty but it's valuable in that it is incredibly usefull. Millions of tos of it are produced and sold every year. You'll spend much more money on iron in your lifetime than you will on gold,even though much o fit will sit out in your driveway,slowly degrading into rust and losing value. It's true value is in it's usefullness.

The value of GOOD wedding photography is not in it's usefulness but in it's scarcity and beauty.

0 upvotes
Razgriz
By Razgriz (Jan 27, 2012)

Well look at the bright side, the $3000 for the photographer will be a lot cheaper than the divorce !

Comment edited 53 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

No photographer and no divorce is even cheaper!

1 upvote
Alvatrus
By Alvatrus (Jan 27, 2012)

Depends whether you're the bride or the groom.

0 upvotes
Mike Ronesia
By Mike Ronesia (Jan 27, 2012)

Most of the listed pricing is just stupid. Rent, All sorts of other things that are just part of life. And who pays $30 a month for a website??? Let alone another $30 so people can see it??? I pay $10 a month and build a page for each customer to access at no extra cost to me. I'm not saying they don't deserve to be paid fairly for their services but to itemize their life to me is just petty and proves her point. If all he works is 20 weddings a year then why should he make a fortune?

I'd surely like to see a much better reply so people could understand it in a rational way and not like they did in this reply.

7 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Jan 27, 2012)

Sure, some of her costs could be brought down. And she probably does not pay a lawyer to draft a new contract every single year. Nevertheless, such expenses as car, rent, printer ink, and others that are "just part of life" still have to be paid, and if photography is your business, then they are paid from the money your charge for the photoshoot. How else would you pay them?

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 27, 2012)

@Vlad: "How else would you pay them?" -- Get a real job that pays? If I want a certain life style I chose to do things that provide for that, not trying to pursuade my customers that they should pay more because of I want a new Porsche, or a new house, or a new camera, or ... whatever.

3 upvotes
elester
By elester (Jan 27, 2012)

i think it's all relevant information. detailing her business/life expenses certainly helps to put the price in proper perspective.

let's face it, uninformed consumers may initially feel that $3000 is a bit pricy - but that's because they don't understand the cost of running your own business as a photographer. nikki's was clear and to the point, and i think she made an excellent rebuttal.

1 upvote
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