“Why are wedding photographers so expensive?” It’s a question most photographers wince at answering. Not because you asked, but because everyone has asked.
We get it. We understand. Planning a wedding is so expensive, but, there’s a wrong and right way to go about cost-analyzing. And honestly, I didn’t understand why photography was such an investment until I became a photographer. So, I’ve shared in your pain, but I want to deliver some relief to that sticker-shock you’re worried about!
Why “investment”? Because the word “expense” doesn’t appear when you have a relationship with someone. Let me explain: your wedding photographer spends more time with you than any of your other vendors. It’s a relationship that continues even after your wedding day. The most important part of this whole investment, is the time they spend with you and the time they spend being all about you. This isn’t just dollars and cents anymore, this is phone calls and emails and excellent communication with you about your story, your day, your love. Photographers want to know you, right from the start – they invest in you with their equipment that costs thousands and thousands of dollars. They invest in you with their time. No matter what time of day or night. They invest in not only you, as a bride, but your groom, your mom, your dad who has a list of questions, your cousin who doesn’t want to pose for the camera, and they still invest in you when it’s no longer your day, but theirs. They spend all of their days making sure your one day will be the smoothest, most beautifully documented day ever. It’s an investment.
When I asked expert wedding photographers to speak on the importance of choosing a photographer to invest with, they were happy to share their insights and perspective on cost.
The answer I kept getting across the board was this: wedding photographers are expensive because they are a business just like every other business… they have to keep their doors open, too. You wouldn’t go into any other professional business and ask for a deal, so don’t do that when you’re considering expense of a photographer, either. So, how do you ask about the details behind the sticker price in a sincere and considerate way? With openness, ask how your preferred photographer breaks down their price. Don’t ask, “why does this cost so much?” Do ask, “what is the framework behind our investment?”
Athens-based wedding photographer, Izzy Hudgins, said that “On average, a wedding photographer will spend about 40 hours on a wedding client from start to finish!” The truth is, you’re not paying for those countless hours of emailing, calling, texting, and communicating specifics and plans and contracts. Your investing goes toward the 12+ hours spent on location for the wedding, the many, many hours spent editing photos, creating photobooks, etc. The amount of personal investment a photographer does into your personal story is where your true treasure is. (And if you pick the right one for you, it’s priceless.)
But, like I mentioned in the beginning, I was once in your shoes -uneducated on the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of photographic work. “[Most clients] aren’t educated, and that’s okay – ask, listen and leave room to trust your photographer,” says St. Augustine area photographer Rob Futrell. No matter what the numbers say, trust is a piece of the wedding photographer-client equation that makes an investment truly worth it in the end. Let your photographer educate you. Ask them questions, so you can further understand their business and why they do what they do. Wedding photographers are some of the most passionate and compassionate people I’ve met. Believe me when I say that they want to share their story with you, just as much as they want to document yours!
Your photographer holds your story in their hands, and they realize how big of a job that is, which is why investing in them is more than a dollar-product exchange. Not only are they there for you, every frame of the day, but they are there for you before and after; taking care of you like a sister or a best friend because you are their friend, their pride, the reason they do what they do. Investing in them isn’t as scary when you think of it in this way: they are in business to tell the love stories of generations, for generations to come (which really, for both parties, has no price).