My friend is going to shoot my wedding for $500.
I know this sounds tempting and it's hard to sway some people from this. So here's a few things to keep in mind. Your friend most likely doesn't have insurance for his or her gear, they break it the day before the wedding or during the wedding then you're fresh out of luck. They may have a beautiful eye for photography but don't shoot weddings a dozen times a year. Do they have backup equipment for lighting and camera bodies and lenses, dozens of memory cards and batteries. How many years have they been shooting wedding photography, have you seen other weddings they've shot? Did they buy their camera at a Radio Shack or Best Buy or CVS? Did they go to school for photography, what happens if they can't make it the day of your wedding? Do they have an assistant they could bring along to help orchestrate the wedding party for photos. Have they checked with the DJ or MC to figure out a schedule for photos. How many groups of people have they organized for traditional wedding photos after the ceremony. Do they know how to direct you for cake cutting photos. The reception hall is very dark, do they have studio lighting to take the best possible photos.
I'm mentioning all these small questions because I've seen the photos of a non-proffesional and know that there are no do overs for wedding photos and I would absolutely hate to see this happen to anyone. There's a million more questions that I could post but it would get very redundant. If you don't go with me for wedding photos then make sure you go with another professional.
The big picture.
So here's what I end with when I do hear that people are price shopping. I get it all the time, I understand... you're on a budget. But you really do get what you pay for. If you hire a $500 dollar wedding photographer thats exactly what you will get. What you're paying for is someone who can roll with the punches who shows up regardless of anything they have going on in their lives and also who produces. If you can't afford my regular package then i'm always still willing to help out. I really don't want to see anyone get duped or go with second best for a photographer when they don't have to.
Why do wedding photographers charge so much?
So in addition to just hanging out at a wedding, taking tons of photos and spending a little time editing here's a bit more behind the scenes of a wedding photographer. An average wedding I will spend nine to twelve hours shooting and sometimes twenty to thirty hours editing photos.
I need space to edit your photos, I pay rent for a local studio to work in and also have converted a small area in my apartment into an office in which to work out of and pay rent for there as well. I have a laptop which I have to upgrade every few years to keep up with wedding photos so that I may process them as fast as possible. I own a smart phone in which I can communicate with new clients and also update my social media accounts as well as a tablet for when I meet with clients to show them my portfolio and take notes. I also have external hard drives which have your wedding photos and a backup of your wedding photos in addition to that I have another hard drive back-up of your photos at a separate location. I pay for smaller hard drives as well as flash drives for my clients. I have spent money on programs to edit, catalog and backup your photos, I update my software each time a new version comes out as well.
I pay for a car which I drive to meet my new clients and also to attend the ceremony and reception and car insurance as well. I pay for gas to get to multiple locations as well as paying to shoot professional models to attract new business. I have insurance in the unlikely event i'm ever sued and insurance for my equipment if a guest ever knocks over a light or my camera is damaged at the wedding, insurance also covers me if my camera is stolen before the wedding so that I can be back on my feet in the span of a few days. I have home owners insurance as well to cover smaller items that aren't listed by serial numbers on my camera's insurance.
I spend money on books, periodicals and video training and also workshops so that I can develop and hone my skills. My camera equipment is top notch and my wedding photography kit which follows me to a wedding is around twenty thousand dollars. In fact all the equipment I have would be enough for a down payment for a house. My equipment ranges from camera bodies and lenses to lighting, lighting modifiers, cases, cords, batteries, memory cards, speciality straps, stands. I also have a professional printer to print large prints which requires premium papers and inks. I have a wireless printer and scanner to assist me with paperwork which requires paper and ink as well.
I cover around two dozen weddings a year and have to look professional and blend well with the wedding party. Most weddings are traditional but others casual. I have multiple outfits for various weddings. I have multiple dress shirts, suits, slacks and shoes, ties, bow ties, dress socks, belts. I carry a small kit with me of shoes, belts, safety pins, tape, gum, string, first aid kit and other various items that are vital in the chance that a groom can't pin a flower or the best man's belt breaks. I also will go above and beyond at some weddings and bring food and drinks when I know they don't have the time to get it themselves.
Most of my weddings I bring an assistant or another photographer and pay for their gas or travel to the wedding as well as for their time that day. I've spent money on a lawyer to review contracts and double check that they're ironclad. I hire a professional to go through my taxes and receipts to make sure i'm dotting all my I's and crossing the T's, we both figure out all the taxes I will be covering on the weddings that I shoot. I pay premiums for social media to advertise and attract new weddings as well as a professional website service to showcase my work and communicate with my clients.
There's also the fact of my strict diet of lobster, filet mignon or caviar and the cost of my masseuse and weekly trips to the Bahamas'. Okay, that last line is a bit exaggerated, most times when I receive a payment for a wedding I am ordering new equipment for your wedding such as lenses or upgrading current equipment and bills. I also have a regular job which I take time off from to meet with clients, shoot weddings and edit photos. I love shooting weddings and there is definitely a lot more to it then most people know. I hope this has been insightful and I hope to keep my prices very affordable for my new clients.