This is probably a question most wedding vendors receive. “Do you ever discount your rates?” Sometimes, people just can’t believe that we charge what we charge for photography. I’ve heard acquaintances who don’t know I’m a photographer or what I charge say things to me like, “They wanted $x,xxx! That’s just insane!” or “Can you believe they wanted more than $100 for an engagement session?”
Of course, on the inside, I die a little… just a little. haha! J/k! Honestly though, this is something that a lot of people struggle to understand. I believe people have come to expect photographers to charge so little because so many people go out and buy a camera then call themselves a pro. They charge very little for their services because they want to make a quick buck and wind up bringing true professionals, who do this to feed their families, a bad reputation. So, without going into a penny by penny break down, here is some great information in understand the costs of being a professional wedding photographer.
First and foremost is time. While you think you may be paying someone hundreds of dollars an hour for an extra hour on your wedding day, you have to remember that a photographers job isn’t just on your wedding day. It’s not just after your wedding day either. It starts from the very first email you receive. People should be fairly compensated for the work that they do. This includes emails, blogging, research, development, marketing, social networking, social media marketing, shooting, editing, burning discs, uploading galleries, fielding vendor requests, working with coordinators, etc.
Most professional photographers have the below expenses in addition to their time.
- Gear! We need to be able to replace old gear, repair gear, or buy new gear to keep up with today’s technology to meet the expectations of our clients. Gear is certainly not cheap. Did you know that the standard professional camera body that photographers use typically costs around $2,400? Sometimes more? That doesn’t even include a lens! Did you know lenses cost $2,000 per lens? Yes, there are cheaper lenses, but some of the lenses required for low light situations cost $2,000+ dollars each.
- Insurance: We are required, at least in Florida, to carry liability insurance of $1M/$3M. We also carry insurance to insure our gear should it get damaged or stolen on the job. Insurance typically covers issues with gear related to an accident while on the job, not just that gear gets old and decides to croak.
- Website: The costs of a website vary, but nonetheless, the costs are still there.
- Materials: This includes packaging for welcome packets, the items that go into welcome packets, packaging for discs, online gallery fees, discs, printing, stickers, mailing labels, shipping boxes, pens, stationery, etc.
- Continued education: This one is incredibly important. Some people don’t think the cost of continued education is worth it but consider how fast technology changes and how quickly a clients’ expectations change with it. If you don’t know your gear, don’t know your lighting, don’t have a mature artistic eye, you’re less likely to exceed your goals for your business.
- Software: Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, Photomechanic, these programs are not cheap!
- Electronics: Aside from gear, most of us need computers, printers, a mouse, a keyboard, card readers, external hard drives for backing up photos, a phone, a cell phone plan with data, sometimes an iPad or something similar to show slideshows at client meetings, etc.
As you can see, these things are very expensive and just to ensure all of these things are covered, we have to charge what we charge. Not only are you paying for these things, but as with any job, you’re paying for your photographers qualifications; that includes their experience, their education, who they’ve worked with, the quality of their work, the experience overall with the photographers company, etc.
I hope this helps to give you some better insight as to why true professional photographers charge so much for their work. With that said, no, I do not discount my work. Regardless of what day of the week it is happening, what season of the year, etc. The same amount of work goes into each wedding regardless of those circumstances. While I don’t offer discounts, I do offer flexible payment plans to help you afford the photography you want for your wedding. The payment plans are all done through me. There’s no credit card, there’s no fee, no application, etc; just me understanding that sometimes people don’t have the money right away and need some help to pay everyone at the same time. Happy Friday!