Often times, We at The Q Studio, are informed that fees for our services are outrageous. We are told that we are too expensive, and at times, Our clients will share with us, that “Iam a Physician, or Lawyer, or Investment Banker, and even I dont earn that much“, whilst casually commenting that they are flying in a caterer from NYC and a DJ from Miami. Sticker Shock? You bet your desi kacchay 🙂
So, Fauzeen and I thought about this, and wondered .. why exactly does that happen, and quickly realized that it probably has to do with the misconcepton that all we do is show up, point a camera, shoot a couple of pictures, create a DVD and deliver an album. Frankly, what more could it be? Everyone owns a point and shoot coolpix, or a DSLR (yes, the big one), and they have taken a bangin’/badass picture before.
The little unknown fact about Wedding photography, is that those who practice it are not only the TOP multi talented photographers in the world (what? – seriously? Naah :P) , but, beyond that, they are also the most hard working and constantly evolving segment within the photography industry. Alongwith that, running a professional business has major expenses that are part and parcel of the service and fee.
So, at this point, you are probably asking yourself 2 questions:
1. Awright Mr Self important picture boy – why are you amongst the TOP photogs in the world?
Because I said so. Not good enough? OK. How is this for an answer: A photographer brings along many photographic specialities to the trade of wedding photography. To be at this, a photographer must be fantastic at:
1. Architectural Photography
– Church Images, Hall interiors ( oh, how did you capture those amazing wall washes, my shots get blown out by the flash?).
2. Product/Food Photography
– The amazing shot of the classic Bently that you drove in.
– The dress shot, the cufflinks
– The food,
– The shoe shot.
So what factors go into determining the cost of a wedding photographer’s service?
Equipment – Weddings are mission critical events. And for wedding photographers having equipment function without missing a beat is important. Providing images that are crisp and clean comes at a cost.
Take for example the cost of camera body that is common in the wedding industry, the Canon 5D Mark II. The cost of this camera is around $2,400 and professional grade lens to use with the camera can range from $400 to $3,000 easily. The total price of all the photographers equipment for shooting one wedding can cost from $5,000 up to $20,000. The next factor of equipment is maintenance. Cameras get old and lenses have to be serviced to keep them in great shape like cars which cost a lot for repairs and cleaning. And we have not factored in computer software to process images on computers.
Sure there are wedding photographers who have low cost overhead because they use low grade equipment for weddings, but again weddings are not the time to put trust in equipment is not designed to handle major events.
Business License and Insurance – In order to operate a legal business wedding photographers must have a business license. In order to protect the equipment invested insurance is a must! Accidents will happen at weddings (dropped lens, flower girl pouring juice on the camera, groom trips over lightstand, etc.). To replace equipment from a single accident is costly and this is why insurance is important. There are wedding venues that will not allow you to perform service at their location with out a $2 million dollar policy in place.
Advertising and Marketing – In order for you to find a wedding photographer they have to have many avenues of marketing. These include business cards, brochure, well designed website, ads in magazines, and social media advertising. We were recently approached to advertise in a magazine and a full page cost over $2000. Then there are bridal shows and the materials for presenting a bridal shows.
Workshop, Seminars, and Education – The better educated a photographer becomes in the wedding industry the better the photographer can perform efficiently and creatively. Workshops can rival the cost of college tuition but is worth it in the end. True creative photographers spends weeks or years perfecting their craft and turn around and work late nights chatting on online forums with other professional learning more skills.
Labor – Once the camera stops at the wedding the creative process begins. Wedding photographers from one wedding along can review over 3000+ images in the post process. Digital photography did not make things cheaper. A general post process for us is as follows:
1.Upload all images from wedding to the computer (1 hr)
2.Back up all images (1.5 hours)
3.Process all images through editing (8 – 9 hrs)
4.Upload gallery for client and create blog of favorite images (3hrs)
5.Create slideshow from wedding (2 hrs)
6.Create wedding album (3-5 hrs)
7.Make changes to wedding album from Bride and Groom’s request (1 hr)
Do the math.
The process is again repeated for the next wedding. In between all of this there is answering phone calls and emails from current clients and potential clients. Then meeting with clients and other vendors in the wedding industry.
Cost from other vendors – In order to give the bride and groom a final product, wedding photographers partner with other vendors to give you a beautiful product. These include wedding albums and mounted large prints. Wedding albums are very expensive and play a major factor in wedding package cost. Not to mention the time it takes to design a perfect album.
Finally I have not factored in the cost of a salary in order to make a living from wedding photography and personal expenses (donations to charities, TAXES, studio/office rent, electrical bill, car maintenance and gas during spring/summer season, babysitter for children, a meal some where in this, etc.) Yes, there are many wedding photographers who charge less than a $1000 for a wedding, but if they were to do the math they will find that they are walking a way from a wedding breaking even, $0 or going into a financial whole. Which means years from now they will not be in business. Following your dreams for a few years is great, living dreams for the rest of your life is even better.
I hope that I have enlightened you on cost and hopefully you will have a greater appreciation for the wedding photographer you choose. We’d love to hear from you from our series by your comments or you can drop us and email we’d love to hear from you.