PetaPixel

Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”

Earlier today my friend and fellow photographer posted a link to a craigslist ad from a woman in Seattle looking for a wedding photographer. The woman was upset because she thought that $3,000 for a wedding photographer was “wack” because all we do “is hang out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them” and that we are “making so much money its crazy.”

I first read this post earlier today while I was running errands and my head almost exploded. I immediately started drafting a horribly mean and punishing response in my head, but by the time I got home, I realized that this is probably a common misconception and that maybe I should try to explain why photographers charge what we do for our work.

Before I post my response, I want to thank all of my brides who appreciate my work and think that I am worth the price. This response is not meant to offend anyone. I understand many people are on a budget — especially in this economy — and I understand planning a wedding is both expensive and overwhelming. I always try my best to work with my couples and offer customized and discounted packaging options for those who are on a tighter budget.

I just want to state again, that being a photographer doesn’t mean that we wake up in the morning, photograph a wedding for 8 hours and then go home and our job is done. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to support ourselves as full time photographers don’t just work as photographers. We are also small business owners, which also comes with the job of doing all of our own marketing, sales, accounting, scouting, art directing, managing our offices and studios, being our own webmasters, doing our own post production, designing, blogging, being students, being mentors, researching, etc…

Sorry for the novel. Here was my response:


Dear Bride,

I am a wedding photographer in the Erie, PA area. 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).

  • That being said, I am a small business owner, so I pay all of my taxes, totaling about $15,000/year, which leaves me with a gross income of around $35,000
  • Of that $35,000 I pay $600/month in rent for my small house and garage which I converted into my studio (which is where I would be editing your wedding images). $35,000 – $7,200 = $27,800
  • Then I have my car, which I would use to get me to and from your wedding, which I pay $400/month for the lease, plus $200/month in car insurance. $27,800 – $7,200 = $20,600
  • To get to your (and my other brides) wedding consultation, second wedding pre-consultation, the wedding itself, and to and from the printers I spend $840/year in gas money. $20,600 – $840 = $19,760
  • I also have $500/year insurance in case you sue me, or if any of your drunk guests would happen to break any of my equipment. $19,760 – $500 = $19,260
  • You also probably found me through my website, which I pay $30/month for hosting, and another $30/month so that you can view your photos online and share the images with your friends and family. $19,260 – $720 = $18,540
  • Or perhaps you found me through my advertisements in the newspaper or local bridal magazines, or a bridal show that you attended that I paid to have a booth at. $18,540 – $1,000 = $17,540
  • I also pay $250/month for my own health insurance in case I were to get hurt at your wedding. $17,540 – $3,000 = $14,540
  • I pay $200/wedding for a second shooter for your wedding, so that you can have more images and different angles, as to make sure you get the best images possible at your wedding. $14,540 – $4,000 = $10,540
  • I also need to have a new pair of shoes ($100) every season because my shoes get worn out and dirty from season to season. $10,540 – $100 = $10,440
  • I need high speed internet so I can upload all of your images online, my home phone for my business and my cell phone so I can communicate with you. $10,440 – $2,500 = $7,940
  • Oh yes, and I also pay a lawyer to make sure my contracts are iron clad and an accountant to make sure that I am paying all of the taxes I need. $7,940 – $500 = $7,440
  • Sometimes I attend workshops and seminars to teach me how to better my business, and make my client happier (that would be you), as well as keep up on the trends and learn new techniques so that I can make sure you have the best quality images available.

That would technically leave me with about $7,000/year to feed myself, buy groceries, pay for my heat and electricity, clothe myself, etc. But, usually I end up reinvesting whatever I have left on upgrades and new equipment:

During your wedding, I bring my professional equipment that I use so that I can make sure you have the highest quality images.

  • I have 2 Canon 5D Mark II cameras (because you always need a backup in case of a camera malfunction, which would ruin your big day’s photographs) which cost $2,500/camera = $5,000
  • I also have quality lenses which can capture your special moments in low light situations:
    Canon 24-70 f/2.8 lens = $1,200
    Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens = $1,300
    Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens = $500
    Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro = $600
  • …and I have speed lights to catch the fun moments at your reception:
    2 x Canon 580EX II = $1,200
  • Also multiple battery backups and memory cards, lens filters, light stands, umbrellas, light boxes, external battery packs and a bag to carry everything in = $1,500
  • Because this is equipment, sometimes I need to have it serviced or cleaned to make sure it is all working properly = $200

After spending 8-10 hours at your wedding, I then come home to my home office and spend about 20-25 hours editing your images, creating your album, blogging about your wedding, posting pictures on Facebook, ordering you prints and burning your DVDs.

  • I edit your photographs using a 27-inch iMac computer = $2,500.
  • I edit your photographs on Adobe Lightroom ($200) and Adobe CS5 ($400 for the upgrade and $900 for the new program).
  • I print your DVDs on a printer which costs $300 and which uses $200/year in ink.
  • I buy the DVDs and jewel cases you’re getting printed for $300/year
  • I archive all of your photographs on 2 x 2TB external hard drives = $500.
  • I also back up all of my photographs online so if there was ever a fire in my office, you would never lose your photographs = $400/year.
  • I also have office expenses as far as buying paper, staples, envelopes, packaging, filing cabinets and files, etc…
  • I also spend time and money ordering your prints and albums, paying for shipping, going to the post office etc.

All of that being said, I’m usually in the hole at the end of the year, and take on many family portraits, senior portraits and corporate jobs in order to make ends meet.

Photography is my passion and my livelihood, and it is also expensive. Yes, it seems like a lot of money for one day, but one day isn’t all we spend on your photographs or on our business. You will spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress or flowers or a venue or on catering which you are going to have for only one day, but your photographs will be the only thing you have to remember that one day for the rest of your lives.

I’m extremely insulted by your craigslist post and hope this sheds a little light on why we charge $3,000 for one day of your memories that are going to last you forever.

– Nikki Wagner, Photographer


About the author: Nikki Wagner is a wedding, portrait, and event photographer based in Naples, Florida. Visit her website here.


 
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  • Cameron

    I understand the work it takes to get good pictures from such an important day…my mother is a photographer and many nights she is up until 2 and 3 in the morning editing. My problem with this article is that the typical person spends the same money going to and from work and trying to live. You make it sound like you’re any different from the rest of us trying to make it and still have some left over. Get over your self.

  • Not impressed

    I understand and agree with the value of a professional photographer and will be spending thousands of dollars for one at my wedding. But instead of truly trying to educate and help the woman, you chose to respond in a petty and condescending manner. Mentioning that you pay 20% of your net income for a car is completely irrelevant (and irresponsible) and does nothing to show your value as a professional and business owner. You complain about how you can’t support yourself on weddings alone but even with three days post production for each wedding at 20 weddings a year you’re only working for 80 days, hardly a full time gig and the large majority of your costs are one time. You want upgraded equipment? As someone who manages a business, that’s a cost that shouldn’t be passed to the consumer. Manage your money better then complain to your friends and family instead of harrassing a potential customer. No wonder you end up “in the hole” every year.

  • jp

    How can you be so insulting and completely wrong at the same time? I find it hilarious that you are commenting on the intelligence of others. The person who posted this article clearly calculated their expenses for the entire year and subtracted the amount from 4 months of earnings. Earnings for the remaining months would be pure profit because the year’s expenses have already been subtracted.

    Grow up, learn to speak to others like an adult and, for heaven’s sake read before commenting.

  • CHRISSY35MM

    I WOULD LOVE TO COMPARE YOUR IMAGES TO THE SO CALLED OVERATED ONES

  • CHRISSY35

    MAKES SENSE TO ME. THE RENT IS FOR HER HOME/STUDIO. SHE GOES ON TO EXPLAIN THAT SHE MUST BOOK SENIOR, MATERNITY AND FAMILY SESSIONS WHICH MAY REQUIRE A STUDIO. YOU NEED A STUDIO/OFFICE TO NETWORK, EDIT & CREATE AND HOUSE A VARIETY OF EQUIPMENT SOME OF WHICH IS VERY BULKY. HER FIGURES ARE BOTH ACCURATE & APPROPRIATE IN MY OPINION.

  • Anonymous

    You’re getting screwed on your technology costs. If you don’t realize this, please, go back to film and develop it yourself.

  • fu

    I don’t care what you pay in taxes, rent, other living expenses, etc… $3,000 for pictures is whack

  • Janneke Brakke

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU!

  • JHunter Photography

    There are some great comments here by genuine people and small business owners, but I am appalled at some of the extraordinary ignorance posted as well. Clearly some people have nothing better to do than complain about something they do not understand or are unhappy and want to take it out on someone they perceive to be making a lot of money. Oh wait, that’s the current trend on the web! Bash because you can with no recourse or accountability (Yelp, Wedding Wire, etc).

    Cheap is cheap is cheap. If that’s what you want and understand the risk, there is nothing wrong with going that direction. HIre your uncle to do your photos and be happy! More power to you. We all take short cuts in life on something sooner or later and we alone are responsible for the consequences. But to bash someone who is self employed and trying to make an honest living just because you can’t afford them or have no appreciation for what they offer is outrageous and very Jerry Springer.

    The surface price of photography is rarely enough to allow a comfortable living for the artist. It is typically what the market can bear. Which (hopefully) means, other people can afford it or will find a way to afford it and DO have an appreciation.

    The grass may seem greener on the other side (“photographers whack prices”), but the reality is we work 24/7 to stay afloat and do not have the luxury of clocking out at the end of a shift, health benefits, etc., etc. These are realities. When you take that in to account and break things down into the amount of time involved producing the photos, that $3000 price tag can boil down to as low as $10.00/hour. Not exactly a ‘living the highlife’ wage.

    So the next time you look to hire a photographer, give some thought to what is involved. Whether you can afford it or not, that person is simply trying to make ends meet like everyone else. Save the misdirected anger bashing for WWF or some reality TV program.

  • Annoyed

    This article is B.S. The rent on your “small house” is your own living expense, and you have the benefit of LIVING THERE for the 95% of the time you’re not working. Same thing with your car. Same with your health insurance. And what does a new pair of shoes have to do with photography? What, because I’m an accountant I also don’t need to buy shoes? Are they special photo-taking shoes? Oh, you must use them ALL THE TIME. But you somehow managed to include that price of shoes in your wack wedding photography prices.

  • Oily

    I would suggest you get a real job.

  • koko

    So, you actually don’t make any money at all? Yeah right!

  • Tom

    Bravo Nikki!!!! Bravo!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/iAmer Amer Dababneh

    So basically 20 days of work a year x 3 (for editing, logistics.. etc)= 60 Days = 2 Months of work and 10 months of relaxation time a year?! (assuming that you only doing weddings on the weekends and nothing else according to your premiss).

    I think that you’re over reacting with your response. It is still over priced for a day shooting.

    Nevertheless, we need talented folks and yes, everything has a price too. But come on!

    Do like Walmart, they depend on selling big quantities with a smaller margin of profit, and they end up making a lot of money on it.

    Think ok it as a both way blessing. Creative work+reasonable price+word of mouth= Everyone is happy!

    I’m just sayin.. :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G4RMEXSVOW4XYEQODSYG6FUKUY Cat

    “That being said, I am a small business owner, so I pay
    all of my taxes, totaling about $15,000/year, which leaves me with a gross
    income of around $35,000″

    You
    are a liar. No small business pays taxes Before expenses. You
    should be paying $0 tax every year after expenses.

  • Tj Ponds

    i agree with the post but also, part of the wedding photographers price includes top class products like Queensberry Albums that can easily cost a photographer $1000+ for just the main album and parents albums are less but still expesnive for the photographer and not to mention DVDs and prints and other products that are offered as well, some wedding photographers include these in the prices of their packages,

    so in the end a package may cost the bride $3000, but more than half of that may be eaten up by the cost of their album and products ordered

    A bride will gladly pay the caterer, the flourist, wedding planner, the DJ/Band, the venue, the cake bakery, makeup artist, the bridal shop, hair stylist, but the wedding photography who will allow you to have these memories for generations you would rather chimp on his/her price, well you know what they say “you get what you pay for”

  • Adam

    I think you miss out on the basic point that you only have to work 4 months of the year… Your apartment isn’t a business expense, nor is your car, etc, furthermore you tabulated annual costs while the work season is only 4 months. Some other expenses seemed a little high as well and a little over the top, shoes, really now? Why not add your midol and hagen daz expenses as well?

    Nice attempt but if you intelligent enough to write this in a convincing manner you probably wouldn’t be a photographer in the first place.

  • No thank you instagram!

    I would never hire a hobbist to do my photos. I’ve seen the abuse these people do to good memories – I’d be mortified if they came back to me run through instagram. Personally, I plan to hire a seasoned news photographer. Wedding photographers follow todays trend, and frankly, most aren’t good enough to hold a full time job, thats why they freelance – while holding hands in a field is pretty they will look retro in 20 years, especially with that hideous artificial yellow filter they all use. News photography is timeless. News photographers work better with light – have you ever seen a photo of an old person wrinkled to hell but the light makes them look so beautiful – you’d never see that in a wedding photographers portfolio because they are more interesting in staging an interesting photo than practicing with the light. They are also cheaper because they get paid fair and don’t tend to need to freelance. As a graphic designer I’ll edit my own photos, even an excellent photographer doesn’t know how to use photoshop as well as a trained professional, or care more than I do. For me it’s not about saving money, its about getting the best to capture a moment that represents who we were at our very best.

  • Emily

    I like this post. Its unfortunate that there are people out there who are so ignorant.
    Sweet… if you don’t want to pay 3k for your wedding photos? Then get your friends to take snaps on their iPhones and enjoy. Thanks Nikki- people should know what we endure to have a career we love.

  • http://twitter.com/BillPSmith Bill Smith

    An excellent breakdown of costs but shoes? $100 a year for shoes? Why not mention underwear, too? And a leased vehicle? That’s the most expensive way of having a car.

  • Elle

    LOTS of people work for themselves. Not all of them charge the ridiculous prices photographers charge. Know why it feels like a scam to people? Because if you were shooting a 5 hour business conference you’d NEVER get that much. The ONLY reason you can get that much is because of the monster of brainwashing that is the wedding industry. Just like the rip-off of venue sites – if it is for a 50 person retirement party the cost is “reasonable” but as soon as it is a 50 person weding you are looking at THOUSANDS of dollars. And while I respect what you do I also respect my tile guy who is a genius/artist and works about a billion times harder than any photographer. I was an interior designer and charged a fortune cause I could. You all need to be honest with youselves and admit you are being paid way more than is necessary. You don’t even have to stay in dark rooms anymore! I just wish brides would wise up and stop allowing themselves to be backed into a corner.

  • Jennifer

    That’s the stupidest thing I have heard yet. We don’t work just 4 months of the year, that’s the 4 months of wedding season. Obviously we supplement with other photography styles to continue working throughout the year. I have yet to meet a business owner that doesn’t base their prices off a yearly cost of running business, that includes the toy you buy off the shelf for your kid. Do you blame toys r us for that $60 toy they made money off you from during just christmas? Do you honestly think just a months worth of christmas sells is how that business does it’s finances? Do some research before being so closed minded and open your eyes!

  • http://twitter.com/RobSouzaSurf Rob Souza

    I was in agreement until you started victimizing yourself. Your one time expenses dont really increase your credibility. . .but make you seem resentful and defensive. The Eos and Lenses will adhere to industry standard and technology for years.

  • http://twitter.com/RobSouzaSurf Rob Souza

    Also, a 400/mo car payment. . .thats a luxury in my book.

  • Stephanie

    Technically her calculations are 100% Fraud. Having my degree in accounting with a specialty in Tax Accounting I can tell you that the “rent” she pays on the business half is a business expense and is deducted. However the rent she pays on her home where she lives should not be included at all as its a personal expense! Sorry Ma’am we ALL pay rent if we want a roof over our head its part of life-not the clients worry. It is possible to work full time and do full time Wedding photography, granted in April it kind of sucks due to income taxes as a CPA but other than that it works out fine. I have just about everything she has listed and paid about 25% of what she “claims” to have.
    In order to be accurate she would have to divide the square footage of her house by 600- than subtract the portion for the house ending with just the garage part- this is her RENT. By over estimating she makes photographers look bad and goes on to prove this lady’s point. You fluff everything to justify your price why not be real? I shoot 25 Weddings a year on average- Each wedding ranges between $500-$5000 Depending on what they are looking for. I have easy payment plan options to help them out further- And I explain it more realistically. Legal Fees, Insurance, Maintenance (Lets be realistic if you are charging that much you should have been in business long enough to have your equipment paid off) Taxes, Ect.

    Also Including your health insurance “in case you get hurt at their wedding” No, that is covered by the regular insurance dear- Again keep personal expenses into a personal account and only discuss with business prospects what is business. It is your personal choice to have health insurance- It is your personal choice to live where you do and with the rent you have. IF it is something you would have regardless your profession its not a business expense. Your car lease unless you have a second car and use that one ONLY for photography is not a business expense, you would have to divide the mileage and maintenance between the yourself and the business. My car cost me $400 a month- amazingly if I worked at Burger King I would still be paying $400 a month, my Accounting Firm does not pay for my car and I do not expect my Clients in Photography to either. Its my choice to drive the type of car that I do. In a year if your lease is $600 a month you could have went and bought a $7,200 car…. You can get a very nice car, with good gas mileage and pay it off for about $5,000 do not use your high standards of living as an exscuse.

  • JAG

    hi jp, you’re forgetting that the $7k the OP calculated was after deducting IMMEDIATE expenses, not long-term expenses (ie, cameras, lenses, computers, software, etc etc)

    While the long-term expenses (hopefully) last several years, they are still considered when calculating yearly CODBs. And digital equipment is HELLA expensive. So, to pay for those items, a wedding photographer has to do off-season work such as family portraits, senior photos, business headshots, or any other work they can get their hands on just to stay in business.

    So, *you’re* wrong for assuming “earnings for the remaining months would be pure profit.” Perhaps you are the one who should read before commenting.

  • Bryon Lape

    An interesting take. I also don’t understand photographers that don’t give their clients the negatives and raw files.

  • Andy

    wow !!!! thats the biggest load of crap Ive read in a long time and frankly i am highly insulted at this womans audasity.

    I
    work in construction and i have all the same kind of overheads (infact
    higher…) as this lady (as does anyone who is in business for
    themselves) and if i walked onto a job and attempted to charge $3000 for
    35 hours work i would be run. this lady thinks that just because she is
    in what she calls a seasonal business that she has the right to
    overcharge fo for her time ??????.It simple math woman …if your not
    making enough to pay your way maybe you should think about another
    profession.

    Seriously…… is this woman delusional…????I go
    out to work and have to bust my balls with hard physical labour and in
    the good times be lucky to get that kind of money in 3 weeks let alone
    30 odd hours.If your good at what you do, you should be able to lower
    your price and as a result get more work . if you were more reasonably
    priced you might find a greater increase in the number of jobs you get
    ,,,, in which case you might find yourself doing a 40+ hour week like
    the rest of the people whohave jobs in this world .

    YOUR HIGHLY
    OVER PRICED …. You know it and all photographers know it but you
    still feel that because its a wedding … as that original poster stated
    … you can charge what you like … Im sickened !!!!! !if i had a
    creame pie id throw it in your face !!!! You have some cheek going on
    and stating all your expenses thinking that your the only one that has
    to pay them .

  • Pete

    Does the cake maker hand over a mixture for you to cook?
    Does the dress maker hand over material for you to sew together?
    Does the florist hand over cut flowers for you to arrange??

    Usually not.

    Negatives / RAW files are not a finished product and require processing to produce a photograph to hand over to a client.

  • kat

    The fact is that anyone providing a service can charge whatever he/she wants and it is up to the client to decide if it’s a good value. In the world of personal services/personally made goods there is a tendency to not see the value in what goes into the service/item. Conversely, the client is in charge and most providers are negotiable to a certain extent. For me $3000 is $1000 over my entire wedding budget (dress, rings, food, etc..everything!). I’m hoping and pursuing a deal with photographer to pay for limited professional services (ceremony photos and a handfull of posed) and let the guests and amateurs handle the rest of the day. Photographers are people so just ask how they can work with you…and respect what limits they set (they can’t undercut their minimum revenue). If they don’t work for you then move along. Also, keep your eye out for other types of photographers. Sports and equestrian photographers can be cheaper and your wedding set will look very different from the standard (if that’s what you want). So in the end…talk, ask and above all be respectful.

  • kat

    I don’t know about that. In my observation of wedding sites the two place people are willing to spend the most are food and photography.

  • kat

    Well, she does have to self-pay medicare and social security but half of that bill ends up as a deduction on the federal taxes.

  • Mr WTF

    Wrong-o boy-o. What she does the rest of the year/ if any does factor in. Because it is a sob story of how much expense she has. Well heres a concept. Work for your living and don’t b**ch how you have to charge so much to make ends meet because you chose to only work 20 days a year. So unless she factors in the rest of her earnings of her profession and not only the ones she wants to charge the most for then her whole argument is moot because shes withholding critical information as to her plight as a photographer.

  • Ali

    Wow, lots of comments here and I’m sure this has been brought up before. Sorry Nikki, your numbers are completely skewed to justify your price. That’s not to say it’s not worth it, but let’s be accurate here! That $50K is over 4 months, so you have to divide your rent and other expenses by 3. That leaves you with 8 months to work in another line of business, drum up biz in other photography niches, etc. Furthermore, you don’t include tax write offs! All of those expenses are write offs so add back roughly 20-30% of those expenses after you’ve divided by 3 :) Finally, I have to ask for someone complaining about being able to put food on the table and provide yourself with shelter, why on earth are you driving a car with a $400/month lease and $200/month insurance! Insanity!

  • jim

    As a fellow wedding photographer, I’m with you on this, I really am; But she’s got a lot of personal expenses in there like his whole house payment and car payment. We all know that the IRS would never go for 100% of those expenses. There’s some other wildly overstated expense in there which does not help our cause. Most people will see those bogus items and invalidate the whole argument. People can smell that BS and think that we’re all like that. We need more honest advocacy.

  • jim

    The overpriced photographer can be a crap shoot too. I used to shoot for a large high end company that charged about twice what I do. They now have their daughter’s boyfriend shooting,using his year and a half experience and crappy equipment while they’re still charging brides$3,000.

  • jim

    Also, she’s netting $7,000 but paying $15,000 in income taxes? She’d double her income if she fired the lame-ass accountant that gave her those figures and got a new one!

  • Sort

    No wonder you are struggling. You are wasting your time responding to Craigslist ads that don’t change a thing.

  • not a photo rapist

    $400 a month lease on a car? Must be some Luxury SUV. Do you really need such an expensive car? $2500 on an IMAC? You can get a clean PC with way more power for around $1000. All of your lens prices are inflated . Oh so you only pay a second shooter $200 while you take in the the other $2300. You work only 4 months out of the year? poor little boo boo. I am a professional Videographer/Photographer and I have a real hard time paying soooo much for wedding photos cause I REALLY do KNOW what goes into it. Your rebutle is WHACK!

  • jackie

    If you only work 20 days a year then maybe you should get a full time real job!

  • Peter

    You idiot. The reason that a photographer works 4 months a year is because there aren’t more weddings to shoot. The photographer doesn’t dictate the wedding season, the brides do.

    Also, if he would work 12 months there would not be enough time to finish everything AND grow their business by investing time in social media and marketing AND educate themselves on the latest technology AND having a personal life.

    I am a fulltime wedding photographer in The Netherlands, which also has a 4-5 month wedding season. Nobody gets married here in the other 7 months when it’s pouring down with rain. I take on other jobs in those months in my studio to make ends meet. Is that terrible? No it isn’t. But helps me to be able to feed myself and my family.

    Get real and educate yourself about the matter or just shut the hell up.

  • Beck

    You obviously don’t understand copyright law. You don’t have to be a professional to own the copyright of your photos. The person who clicks the button owns the copyright, “professional” or not. The client never owns them. They may get a release to use them but, you’ll need a release of ownership which would mean the person who took them could never use those photos again ever in any form. That just doesn’t happen. Who wants to give over the right to use photos they took in their own portfolio…even if they aren’t “pro”

  • Beck

    What no one seems to grasp unless they are a business owner is you have a cost of sales which she was trying to demonstrate. This is for any business. What does it cost to produce the final product and what do you end up with as your net profit. Weekend warriors do not make their living doing photography and hardly ever even consider cost of sales. Nor do most clients. If you knew the profit made off of one cup of gourmet coffee you would be floored, especially how many they sell a day but, you don’t blink an eye at it because no one thinks about spending 4 bucks even though you drink it and it’s gone in ten minutes. However, thinking about spending 2,500 dollars is hard to swallow, especially if another guy is offering it for 500. The difference is you are living with the product for the rest of your life and handing it down to your children. Real business owners of photography studios are not trying to rip people off, they are REAL business owners who understand price for profit, and price to make a living not a hobby.

  • newsphotographer

    what’s the point of explaining to such people? if she wants to pay peanuts, she gets monkeys. it’s her wedding she wants to screw up. not my problem. if she doesn’t pay there are always a hundred more who will cos they see value in preserving the best memories from their wedding day.

  • http://twitter.com/PettibonPhoto Pettibon Photography

    I’m pretty sure you missed the point there, Stephanie. People complain about the expenses of nearly every service, but few realize there are people being paid to do those services. Why does a car cost $40k when the raw materials would cost pennies on the dollar? Because people are being paid to build those parts. Yes, we support the business AND the people. Why did my dad make $40/hr as a self employed mechanic? His shop and tools were paid off, so why didn’t he work for free? And why didn’t he just have a truck instead of buying one since the customers shouldn’t have to pay for his truck? And how did his house end up being paid off? That’s not the customers’ responsibility! He really stuck it to ‘em good! Gee, ain’t economics fun?! You got so hung up showing us your accounting skills that I had to go and get all sarcastic! Yeah, we’re going to charge a little extra as photographers because we’re trying to earn a living, not just pay for a business. Most of us aren’t sponsored by Nikon or Canon. We buy our own gear and try to earn enough to pay our bills and hope we have enough left over to afford spare cameras, lenses, flashes or whatever else might fail so we’re not stuck in a lawsuit when we’re not able to finish the job because we had a bad day. Yeah, we pay for our own insurance. We’ll pass some of that along to the customer, too. You got hung up on the car issue—who do you want shooting your wedding, the person driving the 1977 Pinto or the one driving the late model Honda? For many photographers, their vehicle is their store front.
    Now, that being said, I can sympathize with the woman who posted on CL. However, she was way out of line to assume $3000 is “wack.” Is the wedding, itself, wack? Will her marriage be wack?Many people realize the value of good photography but simply can’t afford it. That is when they get creative and buy disposable cameras for the guests or hire a student who can use the photos for their portfolio. I’d say it is Bridezilla who is wack.

  • Stefanie

    People you are seriously missing the point. It is 7:08 pm in South Africa and we are still editing and doing website updates. I guess those judging are having a nice meal by now and getting ready for bed. Don’t be ridiculous, if you want a $200 car, you know what to expect, but if you want a V8 engine, you are going to pay a lot more. Photographers aren’t all the same. In South Africa people do not complain. If you want to pay $100 for your photos, ask your aunt to take it. Highly paid photographers earned that status, they built a company from scratch and the people that pay for their service want the best.

  • Seanna O’Sullivan

    Relax and don’t take it personally!! As I photographer I try to stay away from explaining my prices to people who just aren’t interested in investing in my services. We all choose to pay for what is important to us. Instead of complaining about frustrated brides looking for a cheap photographer mark your prices UP and state them clearly because you obviously aren’t running your business as you should with that business plan. Then target your ads to the clients who value your services. Only way to survive in the market. The alternative is to call it a hobby and just do it for fun. Tons of people do. Don’t compete with them, work smarter. If you want to get into an ‘argument’ over rates you will lose every time because you just look like a big bitter meany. I know it can be hard for me too sometimes but I put on a good face and bite my tongue because I know they just don’t know everything. The number one mistake an artist makes is not learning how to operate like a business (which you are) that people want to pay for (which some will if they love what you do) and charge accordingly without justifying it. My dentist, doctor, lawyer, hairdressers don’t justify their rates it’s simply take it or leave it. I sometimes grumble when I pay them too. And they get plenty of flak themselves I’m sure. It’s a tough market but if you love it then you do what you have to do to make it a success. Restauranteurs would say the same. Personally I am not sure I am looking for brides on craigslist anyway……

  • cynbo

    I appreciate your post but not all photographers do such a stand up job. And seeing as this is once in a lifetime; if your photos are blurry and out of focus you are screwed for life. So let me tell you that is why people talk the way they do about photopgraphers that. Ruin your memories. My wedding photographer said she was “too busy” to put my photos on a disk and too busy to edit them. I have terrible photos of the backs of the bride and grooms heads at the alter what kind of sh*t is that!?! So while I get your point and you may do a great job you need to understand WHY no one respects a phigh price after all the shabby work out there. You never know what you are going to get. Even if the work looks excellent your photos might end up being trash so please stop wit the exxagerations. We all pay bills man relax. But from a consumer’s point of view there is good reason to be skeptical of pricey photographers. I am giving you the other side of the story.

  • Sarah Tweedale

    Amen!!!!!!

  • DD

    if you pay 200 in car insurance per month, something is wrong.