Monday, January 19, 2015

Cost of Wedding Photography

In talking to brides who are considering me for their wedding photography I am sometimes asked “Why is your photography more than the other photographer I spoke with?” Although I am not the most expensive photographer I am not the cheapest. Here is an explanation as to why a good photographer has to charge a little more.
Typically a bride first calls me and asks “How much do you charge for a wedding?” I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour on the phone finding out what day and how she has it planned. Places, times, size of bridal party and so on. I explain in detail what I can do with what she has planned and go over prices with her.
I spend just as much time if I am already booked that day and cannot do the photography. I will also give her some suggestions in looking for a photographer. Either way there is never any obligation.
If I am available and she wants to meet with me I spend anywhere from one hour to two going over in great detail the day of the wedding. Again, there is no obligation or cost.
If she hires me we set up a time to do an engagement photo session. She chooses the location and day. I suggest the best time and go over clothing and make-up. Between driving to the location, the photography and driving back I easily spend three to four hours.
When I get back I download the photos to the computer and edit them. I correct for color and density (brightness). They are not major corrections, as I was taught to get it right when taking the photo, just little tweaks here and there. I then convert them to JPGs so they can be viewed on any computer. I then burn them onto a disc for back-up and erase the memory cards after making sure everything was downloaded. This process takes about 2 hours sometimes more. I then call the couple to come in and choose their favorite which is enlarged, matted and brought to the wedding for guests to sign.
I do not charge extra to do this nor do I charge less not to. It is free because I like working with the couple so we are not strangers on the day of the wedding.
A month or two before the wedding I call the couple to coordinate the wedding day. Times, places, who I need when and where, list of family group photos, what time we need the flowers, and any special requests. I then type it up and email the schedule to the couple to make sure we have not left anything or anybody out. It’s important that we get beautiful photos in the least amount of time so the bride and groom can get on with enjoying their party. This all takes about an hour but it will ensure a smooth and fun wedding day.
On the day of the wedding I usually start two hours before the ceremony wherever the girls are getting dressed. I take the photos we discussed and more as well as keep everyone on schedule for the ceremony. Most weddings are about eight hours. Some are a little less and some a little more plus travel time.
When I get back to the office the editing process starts all over again. Download the photos, and color and density correct each photo. Then convert them to JPGs and burn them twice onto two DVDs for back-up. Create a slide show onto another DVD of all photos so they enjoy on their large screen TV. Erase all the memory cards after they each have been double checked that all images downloaded.
For every hour I spend at the wedding I will spend two on the editing process. If a wedding is eight hours I will spend sixteen editing. There is no short cut to this if I want the images to be outstanding.
I call the newly married couple and they come in and we typically look at the photos together. Sometimes they live far away so I mail them the DVDs or meet them half way. If the couple does not want a wedding album it stops here with about 30 hours invested.
Then there is the shiny equipment everyone tells me they wish they had. I bring three light stands, two tripods, five flashes, three cameras, six lenses, battery packs, cords, camera cases, filters, light meter, reflectors. I buy the most current and the best (most expensive). Do I use all of it? No, but I have all the equipment necessary to handle any lighting situation or challenge with ease. Not to mention computers, specialized software, liability insurance and fixed overhead of doing business.
Last but most important there is the cost of education. Anyone claiming they are self taught is unknowingly living in a small bubble of limited knowledge and expertise. Through the years I have invested a little over sixty-five thousand dollars in seminars, week long workshops, classes, trade shows, conventions, professional organizations, books, video tapes, and now DVDs.
Staying on top with the most current trends and equipment is expensive but is essential in being able to deliver photos with the “wow” factor.
As a comparison, for commercial jobs only the first hour consultation is free. After, I charge $250 for the first hour and $175 for each extra hour. If I would charge this the average bride could not afford my photography. Like most photographers I discount the wedding photography.
So to all my photographer friends, the next time someone asks you why you cost more. Ask then “Why do you think the other photographer costs less?”   

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