Let’s be honest; for some of you it will always be “too much” for others it will be “whatever it costs”. People are different and so are priorities. Here are my 2 cents on this whole topic and I promise to not blame anyone. Neither the photographers charging less nor the people who would never ever pay more than a couple of hundred bucks but expecting the luxury product. So, how much is a Wedding Photographer?
When I went fully self-employed I left a well-paid management job behind to chase my dream of a creative life. There has been hard days and weeks when I didn’t know how to pay the bills. There has been success celebrated and every time I receive a booking I am still doing a happy dance in my PJs at home. I am making only a little over 100k a year which comes after all expenses and taxes down to a salary that is most likely way less than ALL of my clients.
Setting my prices as they are always mean struggling with self-doubts and hard calculations. When I received an email yesterday saying that I am way too overpriced for family pictures those doubts hit hard. I am glad she has a well-paid job in the pharma industry and I am sure she will never ever agree on a job offer for less, she knows her worth but so do I. I totally get that some people value lifelong captured memories higher than others and I totally understand when you don’t want to spend “a fortune” on your Wedding pictures (or family pictures). She said she “just wanted some nice pictures with my family” – so yes. This is going to cost something. It is NOT done with just pushing the shutter button and uploading the images. I am pouring my heart into my work, literally everything I have. Yes, you are not just paying for some nice pictures, you are also paying for my struggles, the time it took me to be a good photographer, the time it took me to develop my art, to build the whole business that is providing me. I am not getting rich from being a photographer, I am living an ordinary mid- European life with having a car, going on holidays from time to time and affording a nice apartment. Just as you do.
I don’t want to talk about the value of pictures. This is something totally up to your own decision. But most people spend a lot of money (especially on Wedding days) on just having a huge amount of people with them, catering and entertaining 150 people is a priority as well. As well as buying a 6k dress or booking that fancy location is a priority. I don’t want to judge whether the one or the other is more important. But most likely people ARE able to afford a professional photographer at 4k plus, as well as they are able to afford the honeymoon on the Maldives. It is just a matter of priorities.
And yes, a professional photographer for an 8 hours wedding coverage costs about 4000 $ so they can afford a normal life just as you do.
So dear Wedding couples; whenever you book a creative professional a real human is doing an actual happy dance. You are supporting someone who is chasing a dream. Those images will be the one you want to save when your house is burning down. Those images will be lifelong (and even longer) memories of your Wedding day as the real memories quickly fade. Don’t save some bucks just because it seems to be a lot of money now. In a span of a lifetime, it’s only 70 bucks per month, this is a coffee every other day (at least here in Switzerland ;) If you are still not sure about hiring a professional, just ask someone who is already married how much they value their images.
And dear Creatives; it is up to us to know our worth. We are not less worthy than our clients with well-paid jobs and luxurious lifestyles. And once you know your worth, add tax. In the beginning, it is scary to charge real prices, it seems to be easier to charge less to not lose the lead. Know your numbers and do your homework. Building a business is a real thing that requires some hard calculations. (Given that your intention is to make a living from it.)
Maybe this comparison helps; taking pictures with a small camera or with an iPhone which is literally available to everyone is like buying your clothes at Zara. Cheap, quick, dirty. But hiring a professional is like treating yourself something special you only get in boutiques, something you don’t afford every day, but will treasure forever <3
Love, Isabel ❤