Why Should I Invest In Wedding Photography?
In other words: why should I hire a professional wedding photographer rather than using my friend or family member who will do it for free?
Going into my own wedding at 21 (way before I was in the wedding industry myself), I was completely overwhelmed at the prices I was being quoted for wedding vendors. I had never researched pricing for myself beforehand, like I said I was barely 21! Honestly, my first thought as a college drop out who was completely overwhelmed was “I can find people to do this for free!”. I really didn’t understand why things were priced the way that they were (photography included) and I thought I was gaming the system by doing DIY or finding someone who could do it for as cheap as possible.
While some things are great done DIY or saving money on (a backyard setting or elopement for example is often a wonderful way to save on food costs while still being intimate and beautiful), wedding photography is the one thing that lasts- besides your marriage of course! Your dress, flowers, food, and other details will be over with after your wedding day, but they will remain in your photos. Especially if you hang your wedding photos in your house, wedding photography is a service that is going to be with you every single day, not just once.
I won’t beat around the bush here: wedding photography is an investment. It’s not something that can (legally) or should be done for cheap. But the question is: why? Won’t my friend who takes good photos be just as good?
Wedding photography is an investment because you’re paying for so much more than just a photographer’s time on your wedding day. And since it outlasts all the other details of your wedding, photography/ videography is the one thing you shouldn’t cut corners on when it comes to budgeting.
I’ve outlined some of the things that go into a wedding photographer’s work that ultimately determines their cost of doing business, and why photography is a worthwhile investment and expense!
Some wedding vendors are involved in your wedding only on the day of, such as catering, bar staff, and your DJ (besides initial consultations that is). Certain vendors such as wedding photographers, wedding planners, and videographers are so much more involved because their job spans months before and after your actual wedding date.
Something I hear a lot is “Why are photographers charging 350+ per hour when a normal job pays $15-20 per hour?” That’s a great question and completely reasonable to ask. Some photographers charge a rate per hour of shooting to make things simple, but there is so much more that goes into that number besides just that hour of time. Answering questions from potential clients, scheduling video calls, drawing up contracts, and discussing details are just a few of the pre-wedding things that are already going into your vendor’s cost.
On the day of there is travel time, travel expenses, and the scheduled amount of time that your photographer is actively with you and photographing.
But the real work for wedding photographers begins after your wedding day. While you’re breathing a sigh of relief that all your planning has paid off and enjoying your time as newlyweds, your photographer and videographer are busy uploading, sorting images, and editing, editing, editing. Every image delivered to you is hand edited to your photographer’s style, and checked for quality. This can take an additional 1-3 hours of backend work per hour that your photographer was actually with you! For example, if you hired a photographer for 6 hours, they are most likely spending between 6-18 hours editing your photos before you even see them.
You likely hired a wedding photographer because you fell in love with their style and quality of work. While some photography talent is natural, there is still a ton of education and learning involved in photography. How to use equipment, software, posing couples, creating a website, marketing, branding, legality, etc. No matter how naturally gifted a person is, to be a successful wedding photographer or videographer requires a lot of personal and professional education, which has often come as a financial investment to your photographer.
Now on the topic of legality: let’s talk about event or liability insurance. This is something that you must make sure your vendors have prior to hiring them for your event. While some venues require proof of insurance to be submitted, many do not. They rely on and trust the couple to vet their vendors to make sure they are legal and have the necessary insurance and licenses. Liability insurance is an insurance policy your vendors take out that protects against accidental incidents at a wedding they are working. For instance, your photographer is leaning over something really far to get a great shot, and they knock something over that belongs to the venue and breaks it. If a photographer/ videographer has liability insurance, they file a claim just like a car insurance policy. If they don’t have one, it often falls on the couple to pay for the damages since they are ultimately in charge of making sure their vendors are legit.
This liability insurance is another cost of doing business to your photographer that ultimately goes into their package rates and cost to you.
Software/ Galleries/ Website
Besides your photographer’s website, they are also using invoicing and contract software to make things easy and legally protect you both, photo editing software, as well as gallery and storage space to deliver your images. All these services are a cost to your photographer, which again, goes into the final cost of packages.
I am very transparent about my wedding pricing, I create custom packages for all my couple’s to fit their needs, and I don’t believe in making anyone pay for services that they aren’t using. That being said, photography is still an investment, no matter what package you choose. What will remain of all your hard planning and your wedding day is your photos, and video if you hire a wedding videographer. But even a wedding video can’t be displayed on your wall to look at day in and day out.
We have a saying in the photography industry, “Good photography isn’t cheap, and cheap photography isn’t good.” You’re always going to be able to find a cheaper photographer, but keep in mind that they might not have the experience, equipment, insurance, and legal tax reporting that will ultimately make your wedding photographer experience easy and provide you with beautiful images that will last you a lifetime.
Just like purchasing a house, wedding photography is an investment. But one that will pay off in the years to come as you look back on your day.
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