Friday, January 27, 2012

The Great Debate

There's been a post going around amongst photographers the past couple of days from an upset bride in Seattle, Washington. Here's the original post, I doubt it will stay up for long, but below is what it says in case it gets deleted:

WHY is finding an amazing wedding photographer so difficult? :/

I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.

WHY because the word "WEDDING" is involved photographers think they can change you $ 3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you AT LEAST 15,000 after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!! I love all you $ 3,000 photographers out there but i think your prices are WACK. All your doing is hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them.. and thats worth $3,000!!! You're making so much money its crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the "average" persons salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around $3000. (Thats making 19$ an hour) So you're going to take someones WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen day of photos? Just because you CAN!!?????? So that maybe they will not be able to feed themselves or pay any other bills they have, right? It makes me SICK!

I know im speaking for more than just myself right now. Alot of brides out there think the same thing. & I bet all you fancy photographers wont even read this. oh-well.
Maybe there are cheaper photographers that will read this and LOVE to take my photos :)

I have to admit when I first read this I was kind of angry, but then I realized why she felt this way; she hasn't been educated on what goes into taking those "amazing" wedding photos she wants. So let's break it college degree is in Photographic Technology, just a fancy way of saying that I am a photographer. I had to pay for school to learn my trade, we'll go on the low side and say about $1,700/semester. It was a two year program so that would be $6,800 (and it took me four years to complete so that number is REALLY on the low side). I had to buy professional equipment so I can take the photos, $2500; that includes a main camera, a backup camera (accidents happen and I don't want to be stuck telling a bride I can't finish her wedding because my camera broke, but that's a whole other post), memory cards, hard drives, flash, and two portrait lenses. I had to buy Adobe Photoshop and even with my student discount it was $300 and lastly a computer $1300. Now if we add that all up that's $10,900 just to get started doing photography!!! I haven't even included ALL the overhead costs either. I've left out the prices of a website, web designers, marketing material, advertising, legal services, insurance, and MANY more. But we'll leave it at what it is, so say I shoot 20 weddings a year, that puts the overhead at $545/wedding.

Okay, so now to break down a wedding. I might catch some grief for putting this out there, but I want to be honest and show that we really don't make what the Seattle Bride thinks. My wedding collection prices aren't anywhere near $3,000, but I'll base it off my prices anyway. So take the middle package I offer, the I Do Collection for $1,500. It includes 8 hour coverage from two photographers, fully retouched proofs in an online gallery, $175 print credit and a 10x10 leather album. I pay my assistant $160, the online gallery costs $145 to run, the album is around $260 and the couple is getting $175 worth of products/prints. So right off the bat that takes the overall price down to $760. Most of my weddings are within a half an hour drive time of my home so that takes $20 in gas. You figure an hour's drive time total + 8 hours of shooting is 9 hours of work, a typical work day for the average adult. Then take out the $545 in overhead out and that leaves $195.

Then what the client doesn't see, the editing part. I allow myself one month to edit the images and post them to the gallery. There's roughly 1500 images to go through between mine and my assistant's images. I look at each one and choose the photos that make the cut. Then I retouch them, ie. color correction, exposure correction if needed, if I take the remaining $195 and divide that by the 30 days, it comes out to be $6.50/day. Does that really sound like we make $3,000?! I could only dream of making that much. I think the Seattle Bride forgets that we have bills to pay and mouths to feed as well, $195 doesn't go very far these days.

Just some food for thought on this wonderful Friday :)


  1. Love how many photographers are addressing this. People need education on why photographers charge what they do. It is a necessity.

  2. I agree with what you are saying, so many people think it´s just a days work and thats all, they don´t think about all the extras we need to cover, thanks for sharing this.

  3. I wanted to make a blog post about why we are the price we are, but someone from my family said people don't care to know about how difficult it is for us, it's not their business...
    What I truly think is that this girl isn't the client that will ever pay this price.
    Somebody paying 3000$ her photographer earns much more, and truly appreciate great photography.
    All that said, I completely agree with you ;)



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