Yes I am stating the obvious but sometimes it has to be done. I am also running the risk of alienating some potential customers, but I believe you have to be straight with people…whether they are potential customers or not. I feel safe in the knowledge that if I don’t sound like a good fit you can go and find someone who is and I wish you the best of luck.
So what got me on to this potentially dangerous topic? Well, I was doing a bit of market research and to be honest I was quite daunted by the average…NOT the MOST, just the average…amount couples spend on weddings. Depending on where you look it ranges from around £15,000 to £25,000. I know this won’t be news to a lot of you but for someone who has never had big white wedding fantasies (me) the idea of spending…lets say 20 grand on one day + honeymoon, made me feel quite ill. I can’t imagine being able to relax and enjoy the day knowing the deposit for a house has been sunk on it…if it doesn’t worry you I’m probably not the girl for you.
“What is she going on about?” I hear you ask. “She’s a wedding photographer, she wants our money as much as the next person”…well yes and no.
I’m a family photographer who does weddings. “What difference does that make?” Well what I mean by that is I love photographing people. I want to be there for the important things in life…falling in love, having children or, in photograph speak ‘Engagement’ ‘Maternity’ ‘Newborn’ etc…and weddings are a huge part of that. The more I get to know and care about people the better pictures I can take. So in essence I am a wedding photographer. And as far as wanting you money goes…I get a huge buzz from begin involved in the story of people’s lives and if it was possible I would do it for free.
However, get real people we’ve all got a living to make, so yes I do want your money. I also want you to have a clearer understanding of what you are paying for, but most importantly I want to start a conversation about how wedding photography could be paid for.
So what are you paying for?
I could go all evangelical about being an artist who is capturing one of the most important events in your lives, creating beautiful one off products that you can keep it forever…unlike the other 85% (average spend is 5% photography video and rings make up the rest of the 15%) of what you spent your money on…but I won’t. I do believe it’s true, but it’s generally not what you’re spending your money on. What you’re spending your money on, in the most part is ‘time’.
I saw this sweet little video recently that explains it much better than I ever could, so I’m going to hand you over to Magnus Bogucki, who is a very talented photographer based in Switzerland, and his 3min video, for a rough idea of what a wedding photographer does http://youtu.be/GookRvKAJJE?hd=1
So, Magnus estimated he spent 60-70 hours in total on each wedding. Personally I’m not sure how practical that is, I’d be tempted to knock it back to 50, but you can still appreciate it’s a lot of time and effort. I’m not going to justify pricing, especially as it’s other peoples, so far as to say you have to work pretty hard to make money, which is as it should be in my opinion. All I ask is that when you are talking to photographers about their prices be gentle they can get a bit sensitive, but I’m getting off topic as usual.
Now on to my final point. How wedding photography should be paid for…this is very important to me as I really don’t want to ask bride and grooms for masses of money, but it is not fair on the rest of the industry, never mind feasible to do it for peanuts, so what’s the answer?
The standard way to price is tiered ‘packages’ which are easy to understand for the client and a known quantity for the photographer. This creates another problem for me as the term ‘package’ brings me out in hives…ok I’m being melodramatic, but I still don’t like it. Package deal, package holiday…nope don’t like. The only good ones in my opinion are the ones you get in the post, but I digress. So you see my dilemma how do I charge enough money, so I’m not living with my parents when I’m 40, 8 years to go (that’s another story) but avoid the dreaded ‘package’ pricing. Don’t get me wrong it is a great idea and it works for both the client and the photographer. The problem I have is that I would never buy it, so I don’t feel right selling it…it’s the story of my life…I have to make things difficult for myself ;P
I do have hope, partly inspired by some words of wisdom by a very great lady, Grace Hopper (look her up if you get a chance) who said: “The most damaging phrase in the language is: ‘It’s always been done that way.'”
I have a few ideas about how to change how I price weddings to make it a more positive experience for the happy, if completely skint (translation: having no money) couple, but what I’d really like is to hear everyone else’s ideas. So please comment on how you’d prefer to pay for your photographer or if you have any points to make on this entry, agree or disagreeing I’d love to hear them.
Apologies if this blog isn’t as coherent as it could be…I’m knackered so it might need a polishing edit tomorrow. Please don’t hold it against me ;P