What every wedding photographer is thinking but isn't saying... until now.
So, let’s face it… if you don’t know by now, I am a very blunt person. I’m always the one to say what everyone else is thinking. Sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes it leads to amazing discussion. I’m not sure which way this one will go, but it’s on my heart and I’m going to say it.
I recently saw a post on a wedding page on Facebook that said, “ISO: a wedding photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg”. Listen… I’ve been the bride. I know weddings are SUPER expensive. My husband and I shoveled out $20,000 for our wedding and honeymoon. I can completely agree that it’s hard to see big numbers online under the “investment” tab on a photographer’s website. Let me shed a little light on why wedding photographers (and photographers in general) cost “so much”.
You know the convenient insurance card you get from your job every year? Wedding photographers don’t get that. You know that company provided computer you get to take home to do all your work on? Wedding photographers don’t get that. You know that weekly/bi-weekly paycheck you get on a consistent basis with a set rate? Wedding photographers don’t get that either.
Don’t get me wrong, for those of us that are full time wedding photographers, we knew (or should have known) what we were getting ourselves into. My intentions are not to throw a pity party but to lay out facts that most people may not realize.
We are required to pay for our own medical insurance that hardly covers anything and isn’t accepted in most places. I finallymade my last payment on a $500 chiropractic bill that my insurance wouldn’t cover. I had a pinched nerve in my neck; guess what it was from… carrying my heavy camera bag around. We are required to keep up with our own equipment to take and edit photos. Which includes, but is not limited to, a camera, camera lenses (yes, plural), a laptop, editing software, external hard drives, lighting, memory cards… the list seriously goes on and on. Not only do we have to make sure we have all of these things working but we have to keep them up-to-date. Personally, I recently had to purchase a new laptop because mine was getting too slow for all of the updates my editing software had required. And, the scariest part of all of it, we never know when our next payday will be or how much it will be. We are completely dependent on the shear hope that someone decides to book their wedding or engagement session. When someone messages us asking questions about our packages and if we have their wedding date open, we are so ecstatic to the point that we sit at our phones/laptops waiting for them to respond. After days have gone by with no response, we send friendly “hey were there any other questions you thought of?” messages just to try and grab their attention again. We lower our prices to next to nothing in the hopes that someone will be more receptive to the special we are running.
What about what happens after the wedding? Just because that’s the only time you see us, doesn’t mean our job is done. We have thousands of photos to go through to delete the bad ones and keep the good ones. We sometimes start editing the same photo over again 12 times because we just aren’t happy with the way it looks and we want it to be PERFECT…. for YOU (these photos are not hanging on our walls, people). Time flies by and before we know it, we’ve accidentally missed dinner time with our families because we “just want to get this one wedding done”… because we know we have 4 more unedited ones that we still have to start. We sacrifice weekends on the lake because weekends are our work days. So we stay at home, alone, during the week while everyone else is at work and school and guess what…. We edit MORE photos.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE.. and I mean LOVE.. my job. The amazing people I get to meet and the precious personalities they have. Watching two people express their love to one another and become one every weekend is so humbling. I know being invited to capture these events is not a privilege and they could have chosen one of the other thousands of photographers in the area, but they didn’t. They chose me. I will never take that for granted.
I’m just here to say that it’s very disheartening when someone puts such a low value on our qualitywork. I tell couples all the time.. at the end of the day, the people go home, the food is eaten, the décor is put into boxes to collect dust and the dress is hung up in the closet. The pictures, however, last forever. The person you choose to capture those moments deserves a matching compensation. We put so so so soooooooo much love and attention into your big day and we love what we do. I love and am thankful for every couple that has chosen me to capture their important day and value my work enough to pay the tab. To the couples that are still on the hunt for a wedding photographer, keep this in your heart; understand the sacrifices we make to ensure your day goes as smoothly as possible.
With much love,