PetaPixel

Why Cheap Craigslist Photogs Won’t Kill the Wedding Photography Business

Poke around on Craigslist, and you’ll find that it’s filled with ads selling professional services at dirt-cheap prices, including photographers offering to shoot weddings for just a few hundred dollars. Does this spell doom for the wedding photography business? Probably not.

Jeff Revell over at PhotoWalkPro writes,

Well yesterday [a friend] called me and I could tell he was kind of upset. I asked what was wrong and he said “Jeff, do you know what they are charging for weddings on Craigslist? How can I compete with a $300 wedding?” I told him flat out that he can’t, nor should he. It took me a few minutes to get through to him but when I did, he finally saw the light. I asked him if he thought that the people that were hiring a $300 wedding photographer would pay $2500 for the same service. Probably not. That’s means that he isn’t really competing for those customers. His customer is the one that recognizes the value of a true professional that will deliver professional results. Get that? The key word here is professional.

His point is that you shouldn’t be competing on price, but on quality. Focus on that, and you’ll be targeting a different segment of the market.

Are Cheap Craigslist Weddings Killing the Wedding Photography Business? [PhotoWalkPro]


Image credit: Wedding Photographer by Kip Praslowicz


 
  • http://www.facebook.com/joeDlohr Joe Lohr

    Exactly…

  • Marlon

    You can get a hamburger for a dollar at McDonalds… yet there are still many restaurants still open around them.

  • http://twitter.com/Focaldesign Stefaan Ellebaut

    I can pull your teeth for free, there are still dentists :)

  • Simon

    At what point do you decide that you are a “professional” wedding photographer? How do you get started? Surely you can’t do your first wedding shoot charging the thousands that seasoned professionals do?

  • Gabriel Bousquet

    I am one of those Craigslist photographers right now. I am hopeing to not be soon. I shoot weddings for less to people that don’t want to pay more. I tell them out the gate how many weddings I have shot, show them my work and let them know the risks of dealing with me versus a high end photographer. Most of these people just want pictures of their special day but don’t have the budget to go high end. 

    I use these weddings to gain experience and boost my portfolio. Each wedding I get better and better. I buy more equipment and become more comfortable in my craft. After a few weddings I raise my prices. After a few more I do it again. I do extensive surveys of customer satisfaction after the job and monitor client approval. 
    I consider myself a professional photographer because I am 100% serious about my craft. I train, study and kill my self to get better. I shoot all the time and my customers are blown away by what I gave them in the end. 

    To me, professional is in the mind. Take it seriously and it’s all good. Your mileage may vary.  

  • http://sljonesdigital.com SLJonesDigital

    “Use a Pro. Your prints will last longer than the marriage.”  No … wait. That’s not quite right.

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    It’s accurate though.

  • http://www.kpraslowicz.com K. Praslowicz

    Ha ha ha. Seeing my image as the theme post totally took me off-guard. :D

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    :D

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    :D

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    :D

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    :D

  • RobertB

    I was recently asked, by a friend of a friend, to photograph their wedding, which I promptly turned down, even though I could have made a quick $700. I advised them to hire a seasoned professional. My reasoning…I have no experience as a wedding photographer, I don’t have a second or assistant, I don’t have backup cameras & lenses, nor do I have a proper back up system for the images to use on location. There is only one chance to captures these once-in-a-lifetime images and if things went wrong, I’d never be able to look myself in the face. It’s a job for the experienced wedding photographer, not for a novice. As it happened, they did hire a hack. Most of the images were out of focus because of a malfunctioning crappy lens, some of the images evaporated because the photographer misplaced an SD card, there were no close ups, there were lots of backside shots, and any salvageable images were printed at Costco with non archival paper and ink. They were extremely unhappy and have very little to show for the big day.

  • Ranger 9

    Yikes, it’s the Return of the Evil Craigslist Wedding Photographer! One thing not often noted in these discussions, probably because the big-dollar wedding photographers hate to think about it, is that for SOME kinds of wedding coverage, $300 is perfectly appropriate, and for some customers, it’s exactly what they need.

    I think about a friend of mine who got married a couple of years ago. She and her groom were both in their late 50s; it was her third wedding and his second, so they didn’t really care about spending thousands of dollars to have their Precious Memories Documented for a Lifetime. They were just having a simple wedding in a park, with a party afterward, and all they wanted was a nice set of good clear photos they could post on Facebook so their out-of-town friends could see how everyone looked.

    They hired a competent event photographer to cover it strictly as an event, for two hours at a flat $150 an hour, with the understanding that they didn’t expect any post-production. It worked out great for everyone. The bride gave the photog her Facebook password (she changed it later) so that at the end of the shoot, he just did a quick rough edit and dumped the selects right into an FB album for her, so they were there for everybody to look at almost as soon as they got home from the party. The photos were exactly what the couple wanted, their friends enjoyed them, and the shooter was able to monetize what otherwise would have been slack time at a reasonable rate. Who’s to kick?

  • Ranger 9

    Yikes, it’s the Return of the Evil Craigslist Wedding Photographer! One thing not often noted in these discussions, probably because the big-dollar wedding photographers hate to think about it, is that for SOME kinds of wedding coverage, $300 is perfectly appropriate, and for some customers, it’s exactly what they need.

    I think about a friend of mine who got married a couple of years ago. She and her groom were both in their late 50s; it was her third wedding and his second, so they didn’t really care about spending thousands of dollars to have their Precious Memories Documented for a Lifetime. They were just having a simple wedding in a park, with a party afterward, and all they wanted was a nice set of good clear photos they could post on Facebook so their out-of-town friends could see how everyone looked.

    They hired a competent event photographer to cover it strictly as an event, for two hours at a flat $150 an hour, with the understanding that they didn’t expect any post-production. It worked out great for everyone. The bride gave the photog her Facebook password (she changed it later) so that at the end of the shoot, he just did a quick rough edit and dumped the selects right into an FB album for her, so they were there for everybody to look at almost as soon as they got home from the party. The photos were exactly what the couple wanted, their friends enjoyed them, and the shooter was able to monetize what otherwise would have been slack time at a reasonable rate. Who’s to kick?

  • Ranger 9

    Yikes, it’s the Return of the Evil Craigslist Wedding Photographer! One thing not often noted in these discussions, probably because the big-dollar wedding photographers hate to think about it, is that for SOME kinds of wedding coverage, $300 is perfectly appropriate, and for some customers, it’s exactly what they need.

    I think about a friend of mine who got married a couple of years ago. She and her groom were both in their late 50s; it was her third wedding and his second, so they didn’t really care about spending thousands of dollars to have their Precious Memories Documented for a Lifetime. They were just having a simple wedding in a park, with a party afterward, and all they wanted was a nice set of good clear photos they could post on Facebook so their out-of-town friends could see how everyone looked.

    They hired a competent event photographer to cover it strictly as an event, for two hours at a flat $150 an hour, with the understanding that they didn’t expect any post-production. It worked out great for everyone. The bride gave the photog her Facebook password (she changed it later) so that at the end of the shoot, he just did a quick rough edit and dumped the selects right into an FB album for her, so they were there for everybody to look at almost as soon as they got home from the party. The photos were exactly what the couple wanted, their friends enjoyed them, and the shooter was able to monetize what otherwise would have been slack time at a reasonable rate. Who’s to kick?

  • Slwilliams84

    Have you thought about 2nd shooting?  This way you are still making the same amount of money (or close to when you work with a real professional) plus you are making a positive impact on the industry plus you walk away with images from beautiful wedding rather then the law budget look?  Just a thought!  Best of luck in your endeavors!

  • Slwilliams84

    Have you thought about 2nd shooting?  This way you are still making the same amount of money (or close to when you work with a real professional) plus you are making a positive impact on the industry plus you walk away with images from beautiful wedding rather then the law budget look?  Just a thought!  Best of luck in your endeavors!

  • Slwilliams84

    Have you thought about 2nd shooting?  This way you are still making the same amount of money (or close to when you work with a real professional) plus you are making a positive impact on the industry plus you walk away with images from beautiful wedding rather then the law budget look?  Just a thought!  Best of luck in your endeavors!

  • Slwilliams84

    Have you thought about 2nd shooting?  This way you are still making the same amount of money (or close to when you work with a real professional) plus you are making a positive impact on the industry plus you walk away with images from beautiful wedding rather then the law budget look?  Just a thought!  Best of luck in your endeavors!

  • Slwilliams84

    As in all cases there are the small exception to a big rule, I would say this example falls into this case.  This isn’t a case of a Craig’s list photographer, this is the case of someone just needing a smaller package which even a professional photographer can and do offer.

  • Slwilliams84

    As in all cases there are the small exception to a big rule, I would say this example falls into this case.  This isn’t a case of a Craig’s list photographer, this is the case of someone just needing a smaller package which even a professional photographer can and do offer.

  • Slwilliams84

    As in all cases there are the small exception to a big rule, I would say this example falls into this case.  This isn’t a case of a Craig’s list photographer, this is the case of someone just needing a smaller package which even a professional photographer can and do offer.

  • Slwilliams84

    As in all cases there are the small exception to a big rule, I would say this example falls into this case.  This isn’t a case of a Craig’s list photographer, this is the case of someone just needing a smaller package which even a professional photographer can and do offer.

  • Slwilliams84

    2nd shooting is the best way to get started.  You not only make money, you get training and great portfolio images rather than low budget images.  Plus you can still take shoots on the side.

  • Slwilliams84

    2nd shooting is the best way to get started.  You not only make money, you get training and great portfolio images rather than low budget images.  Plus you can still take shoots on the side.

  • Slwilliams84

    2nd shooting is the best way to get started.  You not only make money, you get training and great portfolio images rather than low budget images.  Plus you can still take shoots on the side.

  • Slwilliams84

    2nd shooting is the best way to get started.  You not only make money, you get training and great portfolio images rather than low budget images.  Plus you can still take shoots on the side.

  • Slwilliams84

    *low budget look.  Sorry about the typo!

  • Slwilliams84

    *low budget look.  Sorry about the typo!

  • Slwilliams84

    *low budget look.  Sorry about the typo!

  • Slwilliams84

    *low budget look.  Sorry about the typo!

  • Charshop

    tough love alert: you do realize you’re effing up the market rates of the industry you’re aspiring to break into? and when/if you do become a full time pro you’ll have contributed to the problem that you’ll have to deal with? low ballers are the scourge of the industry. if you can’t get clients without charging low ball rates then you should be a second photographer until you can. in addition, you can learn professional business practices from the photographer you work for. sorry for the stern lecture but its the one I got from a pro I was working for 21 years ago, now Im passing it on to you. good luck!

  • http://dandenong-ranges-photography.com.au/blog/ Kathiemt

    You probably would have done a much better job for them I’m sure.  I did agree to do a friend’s wedding because otherwise they wouldn’t have had any photos. They didn’t want a professional.  Out of it they got some quite good shots and I did them a photobook too – a keepsake of their wedding.

  • Harvey0154

    call me 312-671-2096 I need a photographer and or videographer for july first from 10-5pm

  • Harvey0154

    who is available for photography and or videography on july first from 10am-5pm. Please call now 312-671-2096.

  • Harvey0154

    call me at 312-671-2096 for work july first from 10-5pm

  • http://twitter.com/WeddingPhotoSA JasonBrown

    Exactly, very good point! There are beginners, intermediate and Superstars

  • TrP

    What about people who are serious, but can’t find someone to 2nd shoot with. Do you wait for that opportunity or go out and start shooting?